Allison Rhone is the director of social media for Planned Parenthood — and a huge Living Single enthusiast. “I literally moved to Brooklyn so I could be an editor, like the character Khadijah James!” Here she shares her childhood beauty lessons, her celebrity idol, and her favorite drugstore dupes…
Tell me about your career.
I’ve been in marketing a long time, and previously my work had been more entertainment and fun stuff. I was getting to a place where I wondered, ‘How is my work impactful?’ So, I started thinking about switching industries. Now I oversee the development and execution of the social media strategy for Planned Parenthood on both their health and advocacy work.
What do you like about it?
It’s a dream job because I’m working with people who are passionate about the communities I care about the most. During the pandemic it’s been super intense but also rewarding. My expertise is helping people get information so they know how to access their providers and stay informed about COVID-19. It’s been really refreshing to think of my industry of social media as a tool for good. So much of it can be harmful in the wrong hands.
Did your mom ever share any beauty tips with you?
I watched my mom prioritize herself and her well-being — I call her my ‘first feminist.’ She’s one of the few people I know, in any generation, who didn’t go straight from her parents’ home to her husband’s home — she lived with her girlfriends for a few years and her mother thought it was a death sentence to be a single woman in the city. My mom just put on makeup when she felt like it, and she did it for herself. I remember that really stuck with me and now I only put on makeup if I want to, you know? She always cared way more about my work and autonomy than she did my love life. I’ll get shit at family get-togethers about when I’m gonna get a man and have a kid, and my mom totally brushes that off.
What is your makeup routine?
I’ve been wearing Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse in Cocoa for over a decade. I’ve recently started using Glossier Stretch Concealer in G4. It’s awesome for under my eyes. I also use Boy Brow. If I’m going out with my girls, I may add some NYX eye liner, and I have this Chanel eyeshadow palette that I really love. When I do wear lipstick, it’s Stunna Lip Paint by Fenty in Uncensored or Unveil with clear gloss over it. And blush! I’m obsessed with blush.
Really? Why’s that?
I have a very round face, so blush is the thing that gives my face dimension. I’ve gone to makeup counters and experimented with contour and highlighting, but nothing does what blush does for me. I’ve used NARS in Exhibit A for the past decade. It looks intense in the case, but goes on really well. I love how it looks with the golden undertones in my skin.
Who were your beauty icons growing up?
Janet Jackson was the end-all, be-all. Every time she wore braids, I got braids. I remember she wore this dark brown lip liner with a nude lip, and I did the same thing. Brandy was another huge one for me on Moesha. And I was obsessed with the show Living Single. Khadijah James — played by Queen Latifah — was just everything. She was sexy and she wore the best clothes. She felt like a boss and a good friend. I loved her.
I saw on Instagram that you met Queen Latifah a couple years ago. What was that like?
It was amazing! I met her at a work event. I got really sweaty (as you can see in the picture) and was in a daze. I told her I loved her. I did not sound smart, though I was technically at work, but she was so kind! She’s so beautiful and has this big, booming laugh. I had all these realizations like how formative she was for me, and how progressive it was to even have an image of that kind of woman on TV. Since then, we’ve met a few more times and I’ve kept it together. She’s so beautiful — one of those people who sees every single person in the room.
What are the skincare products you swear by?
At first I thought it was just for Instagram influencers, but Glossier has revolutionized my face. Particularly the Super Glow serum — I saw my skin brighten in a week or two and it’s so light! The Invisible Shield is one of the only face SPFs I’ve found that doesn’t leave a white cast on my skin.
Do you have any nightly rituals?
I’m obsessed with double cleansing and how clean it makes my skin feel — a lot fresher and more supple. Since I started using both Urban Skin RX Cleansing Bar and Milky Jelly Cleanser, I’ve seen fewer breakouts.
What are your favorite haircare products?
I co-wash my hair every three to four days with Aussie Three Minute Miracle and then put Kinky-Curly Custard or Kinky-Curly Knot Today leave-in conditioner in and let it air dry. On days in-between, I’ll maintain it with Aussie Miracle Moist Hydrating Oil on my ends and roots.
Do you sleep with a bonnet?
I sleep with the biggest bonnet possible! It retains my hair’s texture and moisture. I roll around a lot in my sleep, and if I try to sleep in a scarf, it always comes off. My bonnet is so big that I can pull it down over my eyes and use it as an eye mask! And if I have braids, I can fit all my braids in there. I remember showing my boyfriend and being like, ‘Baby, I have to show you something…’
What was his reaction?
Well, my boyfriend has a bonnet now! It’s so awesome. We keep them on our pillows and put them on at night!
Any other rituals you do together?
I’m a dark-skinned black woman so ashy skin is not something that can happen. I have a lotion in every room. I lather up completely after everything I do, and he’ll literally put one pump of lotion in his hand and slap it around, and he’s done! We’re just on different wavelengths about this, and we have several conversations about it. The other day he actually lathered up with lotion and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s using it the way it’s intended to be used!’ It was a breakthrough moment for us.
How are you doing during quarantine?
The quarantine has been a really interesting time to think about beauty. I can’t go get my nails or eyebrows done, and I don’t have all the normal products I would usually use, so the ideas of how I feel beautiful are shifting. It feels so nice because it doesn’t matter that I’m not as primped and groomed as I was.
What do you do for fun?
I watch TV! All the TV! I usually keep a running list of everything I watch with a rating for weekend brunch debates with friends. Right now I’m watching: Insecure, Homeland, Mrs. America, Little Fires Everywhere, My Brilliant Friend, Married at First Sight (it’s brilliant reality TV! No hating!), Real Housewives of New York (Team Bethenny 4eva), and Making the Cut. My boyfriend also has this incredible garden so when the weather gets nice I spend a lot of time there, taking in the sun and reading. Right now I’m finishing up a book that I love called Such a Fun Age.
When do you feel the most beautiful?
At the end of summer, when my skin is golden and my hair is in braids, I’m in a summer dress, and the sun’s on me. I love that feeling. I can’t wait! I hope it comes soon.
What is your relationship to beauty, in general?
As I approach my 40s, I feel the best I have in my life. It makes me think of how much time I spent hating what I looked like. For years, I felt too Black, too big, that my features weren’t right, that I just wasn’t inherently right. The last few years for me have really been about acceptance. I find the more I shave off societal ideals, the more beautiful I feel. Being in digital media is such a joy because there are places to go that are not society’s mainstream idea of beauty. I’ll get more from a Twitter thread of Black women showing what they look like, more than a popular magazine. It’s a radical act for a Black woman to love herself. I try to be radical every day now.
Thank you, Allison! You are amazing.
(All photos courtesy of Allison Rhone.)
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