The Beauty Products Helena Koudou Uses to the Last Drop

Helena Koudou Photo: Helena Koudou

Auto-Refill: Our favorite beauty pros share the products they love — the ones so good they’ll make you hit that little “auto-refill” box at checkout.

Helena Koudou is known for her intricate braid styles, including signature finger-wave braids and cornrows with swirl embellishments. In 2019, the Ivorian, Brooklyn-based braider’s work (who goes by @slayedinbraids on Instagram) gained traction after she did the hair in a viral film and photo series, The Hair Appointment, which explores the beauty of African hair braiding.

Over 12 years ago, Koudou started braiding in her aunt’s Brooklyn-based salon, Alima Hair Braiding Salon. She says her favorite part of braiding is connecting with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and careers. “Hearing their stories about what inspires them is very comforting,” she says. “It’s almost like talking to your homegirl.”

Below, Koudou shares her go-to skin-care routine for hormonal acne-prone skin, how journaling and movement keep her grounded, and more.

Helena Koudou’s favorite products. Photo: Helena Koudou


A.M. Routine

In the morning, before I check my phone, I try to take a few minutes to pray. This helps me start my day on a good note. After that, I check social media and then take a good shower and start my skin-care routine. I try to keep my skin-care routine to a minimum because I’m still trying to figure out what works for me. I’ve always been a black-soap and shea-butter girl. But due to hormonal reasons, my skin needed a little more love. I love using Tatcha’s Rice Wash Cleanser, the Ordinary’s niacinamide, and Topicals’ Faded Cream. I finish with the daily moisturizer from CeraVe and sunscreen by La Roche-Posay.

For my daily makeup, I’m a Fenty girl! From the Soft Matte Liquid Foundation to the contour and concealer stick. I just love how Fenty, especially its matte products, matches my skin tone so well. The foundation looks and feels like skin, while the contour and concealer stick make application easy. Ever since the brand came out, I’ve never switched up.


P.M. Routine

I repeat the same skin-care routine in the evening, except I use the CeraVe Nighttime Moisturizer and don’t use my sunscreen at night. I also love using the Topicals Eye Patches and the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask at night before going to bed. I end my night by journaling about my day and how I feel.

When it comes to hair, my go-to and favorite product that I love to use on braids, especially on my clients, is the Neatbraid Conditioning Shining Gel by a brand called Pure O. It helps me create the neatest parts and braids with any texture I come across. Another reason why I love to use it is because it leaves no white residue on the hair. One hair product I love to use on my hair is the Camille Rose Almond Jai Twisting Butter. After I dry my natural hair, I use this product to gently detangle and style my hair into some cornrows or twists. I love this product because not only does it smell good, but it also contains aloe vera, which feels great on my scalp.


On movement:

I love weight-lifting exercises. My favorite workout equipment that I love to use are my jump rope and Booty Band. I take my jump rope and resistance band everywhere, even on vacation. It’s very convenient, light to carry around, and a great cardio and leg workout. My body feels amazing after a great workout. I need to keep my body moving with my work because I’m so tired after a long braiding session. Also, getting massages helps a lot with my work. My hands and legs are the parts of my body that need the most love. So I love to incorporate massages into my self-care routine.


On rest:

The thing that helps me get a good night’s rest is the Downtime feature on my phone. I can get highly distracted by social media, so the Downtime feature is a great way to prioritize my sleep. Taking care of yourself makes you glow on the outside. Sometimes, with my job, I tend to use my energy to take care of other people, to the point that I don’t have the time for self-care. Before I open up my bookings to clients, I take two or three days for myself to either get a massage, go to a museum, sleep, or whatever I feel like doing. Taking those days off gives me the energy to take care of my clients.

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The Beauty Products Helena Koudou Uses to the Last Drop