you do you

‘I Want to Believe That Lemon Water Can Cure a Lot of Life’s Ills’

Entrepreneur Dee Poku on her approach to wellness and beauty.

Illustration: Samantha Hahn
Illustration: Samantha Hahn

There’s no one right approach to makeup or skin care; everyone does it a little bit differently. In You Do You, we’re talking to women about what they put on their faces and bodies and why.

Dee Poku is the founder and CEO of WIE (Women: Inspiration and Enterprise), a women’s leadership network and platform that focuses on helping entrepreneurial women work smarter and navigate the chaos of life. Past speakers at WIE events have included Naomi Campbell, Arianna Huffington, and Melinda Gates. Poku previously was a Hollywood marketing executive working on the campaigns for Brokeback Mountain and An Inconvenient Truth. Much like her career, her beauty routine is a blend of pragmatism, solution-seeking, and inspiration. Below, Poku talks about simplicity, Rihanna, and why she loves bangs.

On her beauty philosophy: I am a simple, no-fuss kind of person. I read about women who have ten-step routines with fascination. I love the idea of being that disciplined about taking care of my skin. But I can’t. I’m impatient. I don’t feel like I have the time. It’s not high enough on my personal list of priorities.

But I do care about what I am ingesting, what I put on my body and on my skin. I don’t want things that are over-chemicalized. I want very simple, natural ingredients. But ultimately I believe in inner beauty. Beauty products can mask an unhealthy lifestyle. If you want to glow naturally, if you want to exude that sort of beautiful energy, it’s about what you put in, not on.

On the first five things I do every morning: I check my email. I have fresh lemon and water. I’ve been doing it for years. It’s cleansing, and it sets me up for the day. I secretly think it’s the cure-all to everything. If I overindulged the night before or haven’t slept enough, I’ll drink that.

I get my kid up and I make him breakfast and then I take a shower. I don’t really eat breakfast; I’m not ready for it until around 11 or 12-ish. I’ve just gotten in tune with my body’s rhythms and don’t feel like I need to force myself to fit within society’s routines. I have lots of energy. I eat when I’m hungry.

On the one thing she wants to believe about beauty: I want to believe that lemon water can cure a lot of life’s ills. It might not, but I believe it does. I like drinking room-temperature water. It’s most in sync with your own body temperature. If you need help waking up, you could do cold. But I think room temperature is the most cleansing and the best at flushing your system out.

On bangs: I live in bangs. I’ve had them for at least 15 years. I love them. I prefer them for my face shape because I think I have a big forehead. Bangs are fun and friendly. I don’t love them to look perfectly groomed. After I’ve been to the hairdresser, I’ll chop it myself to give it sort of a rumpled look.

On her best piece of beauty advice: Cleanse at night, get it all off. We live in these polluted environments, which attract toxicity into our system and our skin. The best thing to do at night is to get rid of everything.

On her nighttime routine: I have to be honest, most of the beauty products I try are sent to me. I’m not someone who randomly buys something to experiment. I go into Sephora and see people trying things out and getting beauty boxes, but I am just not that person. I will use something if a close friend I trust has used it or tried it. Or I’ve been sent it in a gift bag or am testing it out.

I brush my teeth; I use an electric toothbrush from Oral B and Tom’s toothpaste. I cleanse my face with a micellar water; I use the Bioderma one. Then I use a face oil at night from Nyakio — I was given that, I really like it. The last thing I do is check my email. I also check on my son. I like to watch him sleeping.

On her dream beauty mentor: I love Pat McGrath. She’s amazing, I’ve met her a few times. She never has any makeup on, and her skin is flawless. She’s also always laughing. And obviously, she’s brilliant.

On her biggest beauty splurge: Facials. I’ve spent a crazy amount of money on them. I go to Mamie Skincare. She’s known for doing Naomi Campbell and other well-known African-American women. I don’t go regularly, maybe twice a year.

I also just bought P-50. That was expensive for me. I like it. It’s smelly and chemically. But I was feeling like my skin had a layer of dead skin that I needed help with. It felt like it cleared all of that away very quickly. I started using it ten days ago and noticed a difference within a week. I don’t think I will use it forever, but it’s a good short-term solution.

On wearing makeup: I only wear it if I’m going to a nighttime event. I do feel a bit like I wear it for other people. If I had the choice, I probably wouldn’t wear it. I feel it’s expected. Pictures do look better when you enhance certain elements. But I think every woman should be free to choose how she wants to look. I don’t like women being shamed for how they present themselves. I hate men who say that don’t like women with makeup or who want them to look a certain way.

I’m also thrilled with all the advancements driven by women in the beauty space. There are so many beauty founders changing the game and innovating. I love all things Rihanna and Fenty. She’s really paving the way with the range of shades and inclusivity. She also epitomizes a lot of what I think about beauty. She’s so happy with herself that she just glows. She surrounds herself with people who bring her joy. She loves what she does. Beyond makeup, her spirit is so beautiful.

‘I Want to Believe Lemon Water Can Cure Life’s Ills’