As we head into summer, aka the season to finally (and safely) see and be seen again, now is the time to refresh your beauty bag with picks that will have you looking and feeling your best. To refresh your beauty collection, we asked former Cosmopolitan Associate Beauty Editor Ama Kwarteng to share what’s on her carefully curated shopping list. Her motto for the season: go big and bold with color, while maintaining an effortless, lightweight look. “A new season is a new beginning,” says Kwarteng. “As an adult, I don’t have the back-to-school September energy, so transitioning seasons gives me that vibe.”
Her one-stop-shop for testing out products and seeing what’s new on the market? Ulta Beauty. “They literally have everything—such a wide variety of products,” says Kwarteng. “They also do a great job of making sure their offerings include founders of color.” Plus, it’s so convenient to get everything you need in one place AND get rewarded for shopping through their Ultamate Rewards program. (Who doesn’t love earning points that reduce your $ total on a future purchase?!)
Ahead, check out what products Kwarteng swears by for summer, from the skincare that gives her a radiant glow to the lip gloss that she’ll be wearing from Memorial Day to Labor Day—all available at Ulta Beauty.
Clogged pores? No thanks! Summer skincare is all about opting for fewer, harder working MVPs instead of lathering on heavy creams and lotions that weigh your skin down, Kwarteng explains. “My oil production really revs up in the summer, so I look for gentle, lightweight products that calm my skin and don’t stress it out,” she says.
Her first step? Applying Tula Filter Primer Blurring & Moisturizing Primer on clean skin. “It’s like a blur tool for your face,” Kwarteng explains. “It instantly smooths everything out, which is a great canvas for makeup.” After blending it into your skin, you’ll be left with a radiant base and a sheer, lit-from-within glow. Packed with ingredients like turmeric and licorice (and free from harsh chemicals like parabens and phthalates), this is a skin-first approach to primer—plus, you barely feel it on your face, says Kwarteng. “I didn’t really think you needed primer. I was like, ‘this is an unnecessary step,’ but when you find a good one, you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot.” Okay, we’re sold.
Heavy foundations and greasy formulas have no place in Kwarteng’s complexion rotation for summer. “I’m really into the more natural, dewy look,” she says. For an everyday melt-proof cover-up, she relies on Tarte’s Shape Tape Ultra Creamy Concealer in 57S to spot correct, cover pesky zits, and hide dark circles. If you love the holy grail Tarte Shape Tape Concealer, you’ll be obsessed with this new creamy formula. It works well all over, so she doesn’t need to switch products for different types of coverage.
Another plus? You don’t have to compromise on finding the right shade. “The shades Tarte offers are amazing. They match really, really well,” she says. This is a go-to for when you don’t want to do a full face look (it will prob melt off anyways). Dab the applicator to the areas that need to be touched up, blend it on to your skin with your fingers, concealer brush, or a blending sponge—and voilà! You’re ready to make your way to brunch with your besties. It’s also super buildable, doesn’t crease, and lasts a long time. “There are days on the weekend when I’m out from morning to night, so I need products that last,” says Kwarteng.
“With summer, I’m leaning towards brighter and bolder colors,” says Kwarteng. “I like to have fun with colors, but I wouldn’t really do a bold eye and a bold lip. I’ll pick one and keep the other more neutral.” For this look, she chose to make her lips the standout star. Makeup artist Grace Pae dabbed on Ulta Beauty Collection Luxe Lipstick in Raspberry Beret, which acts as a light stain layered under Mented Lip Gloss in #1 Cran, creating just enough tint to keep the look fresh and bright. “I love this lip gloss because it’s super pigmented, so you don’t have to layer it over and over and over again to get [the color to show up],” says Kwarteng.
“A lot of Mented Cosmetics products are tailored to women of color. Sometimes you don’t know if a color is going to go on the way it looks, but they take undertones into consideration.” It also isn’t super sticky, so your hair won’t get caught in it when a summer breeze rolls through.
Ponytails sometimes get a bad rap for being a lazy girl look, but Kwarteng proves you can definitely level it up. For this low, sleek pony with volume at the lengths, hairstylist Dhairius Thomas first used Pattern Edge Control (it’s Tracee Ellis Ross’s haircare line, so you know it’s good!) to shape Kwarteng’s edges and blend them seamlessly with the rest of her hair. “I love this product so much because, unlike other edge controls, Pattern is easy to move once applied and doesn’t dry down too quickly or leave a flaky residue after a day’s wear,” Thomas says.
“This is the perfect look for summer because it’s easy, clean, and the hair is out of the face while protecting your delicate curls from breakage,” explains Thomas. For summer, Kwarteng plans to do a lot of protective styles, like brands and twists, and maybe even add a little color. “I’ve had pink braids in the past,” she says. “Being playful and fun is something that I’m really excited about. I had never really played with my natural hair before quarantine because I always had it tucked under protective styles. There was a process and trial of testing different things—some worked, some didn’t. I found a lot of joy in that.”
Kwarteng wears: Merjuri Tube Hoop earrings, $70, Lightning Bolt studs, $80; Wolf Circus Small Abbie Hoops in Sterling Silver, $100; Daisy London Aphrodite Silver necklace, $94; Mother of All Kelly dress, $303; Reformation Maly dress, $98, Rylan Two Piece set, $148; Cinq à Sept Pacey dress, $595.