Image Source: Courtesy of Brooke Ozaydinli
Too often, the best beauty stories go Untold, solely based on a person’s skin color, religion, gender expression, disability, or socioeconomic status. Here, we’re passing the mic to some of the most ambitious and talented voices in the industry, so they can share, in their own words, the remarkable story of how they came to be — and how they’re using beauty to change the world for the better. Up next: “Naked Beauty” podcast creator Brooke DeVard Ozaydinli.
From a very young age, I understood the concept of glamour and dressing up. That’s where my experience with beauty first started. I had a dress-up drawer in my room with all of these costumes and things that my mom let me play with, like bangles and headbands, so I always had this idea that beauty and the choices you make with your hair, outfit, and makeup can transform your look. I will say that I always felt beautiful. I lived in a household where the phrase “Black is beautiful” was affirmed, and I always saw examples of Black beauty all around me. But at my school, I think I was one of four black girls in my entire grade, so I was an extreme minority. However, I didn’t feel any less beautiful because of that. I do think that going to an all-girls school taught me a lot about how much our approach to beauty and beauty rituals can bond us. I learned that you can connect with a relative stranger over what nail color you’re wearing, their haircut, or what highlighter they have on. So I see that sisterhood with other women around beauty as a bridge, as a conversation starter. The experience is something that we all go through in our own way.
I have memories of going to the hair braiding salons in Harlem. I went to this amazing guy who’s still doing hair named Johnny. I remember hearing the conversations in the hair salon, and understanding that that space was a safe haven among other women who were connecting over the experience of getting their hair done. I’ve always loved hearing stories, and that’s now a direct reflection on what I do on “Naked Beauty.” Through the podcast, I’ve been able to have my guests share their narratives and to understand who they are as people as well as through the lens of beauty.
Going back to being young and being in the hair salon — I loved to get my hair done, but I also enjoyed it on this other level where it was kind of an entry into the world of adults and what they were talking about. It also informed me on what was happening in pop culture, and subsequently their thoughts on said topics. I learned the challenges that they were going through, picked up on the jokes, relished in the laughter. It was exciting.
When it came to creating the “Naked Beauty” podcast, I’ll first say that it’s so important that we all have identities and passions outside of our work or what pays our bills. You don’t start a podcast to make money. A lot of podcasters are like me — they created the show they wanted to hear. When I think back to 2016 when I first started, I could not find honest conversations with women about their approach to beauty as well as their struggles, and I was craving that. One of the things that I hear all the time is that people waited too long to embrace their natural hair texture, or they waited too long to feel comfortable going outside of the house with makeup. In turn, this has made me more intentional about embracing my natural features. It’s also made me less judgmental than I used to be with how people approach beauty. My point of view is now unwaveringly: if it makes you feel good, then I support it. Those are the stories I wanted to hear. I remember at the time reading “Into The Gloss” every day. I loved the long form approach to skin care and beauty interviews, but I wasn’t getting that on podcasts.
I also wanted to do it from a place of passion, not necessarily one where I wanted an additional revenue stream. I taught myself how to record and edit, right from my home. I built it up over time to the place where it is now, where I’m able to interview people like Gabrielle Union. But it took time to get there.
Having a human approach to my podcast has helped tremendously. And when I say human, what I mean is for the first few years I did all of my interviews in person and they were all people I was personally invested in or interested in. I did not, and I still don’t, use or work with PR agencies to book guests. I also try not to book people in accordance with a press cycle, like when they have a book to sell or a product that they’re launching. I try to keep the conversations organic because the idea is that this person should be interesting no matter what time of the year I interview them. It’s not part of their promotional push.
That’s why I think the podcast has been successful — it’s not commercially motivated. People are there to talk about their lives and some of the tougher stuff that they go through. My favorite compliment that I get from my listeners is, “I feel like I’m listening to a conversation between girlfriends.” That’s the best praise I can get, and I always wanted to feel like that.
I wanted to name the podcast Naked Beauty to touch on this pillar of vulnerability. We’re at our most vulnerable, true selves, when we’re naked. So I wanted to use conversation to peel back people’s layers and get to their true essence — their true beauty. And then for my community on Instagram, “Naked Beauty Planet,” I was really thinking about a physical space. I always think of everyone who’s part of the community, everyone that listens to the podcast. Even though it’s virtual, when we hang out, it’s like we’re on this little planet together. I also love a lot of natural skin-care products, so I love this idea of paying homage and respect to nature and to the planet.
My “I-made-it” moment was in 2020 when “Naked Beauty” was nominated for Best Beauty Podcast for the iHeart Podcast Awards. It was this whole thing where I flew to LA, walked the red carpet, and did my hair and makeup. It was really this moment where I was like, “Wow, I would’ve never thought that I would be on a red carpet for my podcast.” I also think the interviews with Pharrell and Janelle Monáe were huge. Monáe is such a visionary — she’s one of the greatest artists of our generation — so to be able to sit down and just talk with her about her experiences with beauty and colorism, to understand that she was doing all of her own hair and makeup for the first few years of her career, and how she created her identity using black and white while also playing with gender identity — I was really in awe of her that entire conversation. It’s just one of those pinch-me moments.
My goal moving forward is to always elevate the voices of people of color, whether that’s Black women who are beauty founders or Black content creators in this space. It’s very important to me that I use my platforms to tell other people’s stories. We need more of that. Our stories are what drive empathy and that’s what clears a path for true understanding. As for the future of the beauty industry, I’m excited about a more holistic approach to skin care. I love that everyone got very excited about it during the lockdown, and we welcome the new skin-care converts into the community with open arms. However, I do think that buying a bunch of products isn’t enough. It’s really about how you take care of all of yourself from your skin down to your hormonal health.
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