Chi Ossé on Juggling Politics & Self-Care

Welcome to The Glow Up, Highsnobiety’s new column examining the who, what, when, where, and why of all things beauty.

What gets City Council Member Chi Ossé ready for a day at work? A brow pencil, a double-duty moisturizer, and an unexpected K-beauty tip.

But before we get into that, let’s rewind.

Ossé, New York’s youngest City Council Member, is about to enter his fourth month on the job representing District 36, encompassing Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights.

Two years ago, Ossé was pursuing a career in hospitality. Following the murder of George Floyd, the Gen Z’er quickly established himself as a leader at Black Lives Matter protests that began sweeping the city. Eventually, he helped form social justice collective Warriors in the Garden.

Energized and angered by the slowly dwindling crowds at these protests, Ossé decided to run for City Council.

Quickly, a slew of media outlets picked up on Ossé’s campaign — most surprisingly, fashion publications flocked to the political newcomer, a suave figure dressed in Telfar, Wales Bonner, and a black beret (a reference to the Black Panthers).

Ossé cuts a stylish figure (he works with stylist Brandon Tan), but more importantly, he does the work. He helped launch Wellness Wednesdays, a weekly food and PPE distribution program at Bed-Stuy’s Restoration Plaza. And recently, he proposed a bill that would provide bars and nightclubs with Narcan.

“I stepped into office in January and really hit the ground running,” Ossé tells me over Zoom. “It’s been hectic; there have been some sleepless night. But the fact that I get to do what I’m doing every single day is a blessing.”

When I ask how he manages to find time for self-care, Ossé gives me a knowing smile. “That’s a great question — this is a seven-day-a-week job,” he says.

“This is really corny, but giving back to my community, spending time in my community, and interacting with people is care for me. Maybe not necessarily self-care, but it is something that fills my heart with joy.”

“My nighttime and morning routines are definitely something that I don’t take for granted. And I do still enjoy spending time with my friends and going out to see music — that’s the type of self-care that really keeps me sane.”

Here, Ossé shares the behind-the-scenes that gets the history-making politician looking and feeling his best.

First-ever beauty purchase

“The first beauty product I ever bought was this Covergirl brow pencil. I had a friend that taught me how to shape my brows and brush them and give them more of a structure.”

Biggest splurge

“The Futuredew serum from Glossier. It gives me a glow… buoyant and fresh and youthful. I don’t even think it’s crazy expensive.”

Holygrail

“Kiehl’s Ultra Face Cream. If I ever leave my house dry — which doesn’t happen often — it gets me light and fresh in the immediate. Also, I use it as a hand cream. If any Black people read this article, you know that your palms are dangerous in the cold and wintery times. You never want to get caught with ashy innards of a palm! This face cream not only helps with the crevices on your face, but also that ashy section of your hand.”

Favorite drug store

“A Maybelline brow pencil — it really shapes my face. I use it every single day.”

Best under-the-radar beauty brand

“There’s a street vendor in my district that usually sells this product on Fulton Street. It’s a cocoa butter leave-in conditioner. It’s perfect for my hair; it gives it a nice, sleek shine. And it smells good! You’ve got to come out to Bed Stuy to get it from this mysterious woman that comes out every summer.”

beauty hot tip

“I remember when I was getting into skincare, I watched this Korean skincare [YouTuber]. And the tip that has stuck in my brain for half a decade is to never pull down. When doing your face or your décolletage, always brush up, because gravity is already pulling your face down. So when applying serums and moisturizers and lotions: up, up, up.”

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