The Self-Care Savant: Kimberlee Day

The Ode to Self founder explains why you should ignore others' expectations and tune in to you.
The Self-Care Savant: Kimberlee Day
“Self-care is about prioritizing yourself and taking a step back to really understand who you are outside of what other people know you to be,” explains Kimberlee Day, the founder of Ode to Self, a skincare range made with rediscovery in mind. “A lot of the time, I think we get so caught up in being who everyone else needs us to be, as opposed to being who we want to be and what we envision for ourselves.” It was Day’s own personal journey—which included multiple twists and turns—that inspired her to create her now best-selling line. As many often find, the path to success is never a straight shot.

Day started out at a traditional four-year college, but quickly realized she had beauty on the brain. She enrolled in the Aveda Institute, originally thinking she wanted to become a makeup artist. After studying esthiology, however, Day “fell in love with the concept of caring for yourself holistically to achieve the skin you want.” With no shortage of youthful exuberance and a goal to fill the gap in the skincare market for Black women, she started researching ways to formulate her own line of products.

Working with a lab to create skincare was an expensive proposition for a 21-year-old, so she did as any savvy millennial would do: She Googled it. “I realized that I could create the formulations on my own,” Day explains. “It just took more research on my end, which was completely worth it.” After a bit of tinkering—and a lot of trial and error—Ode to Self’s fan-favorite De Palma Face Oil was born. A cosmetic chemist she met on gave her the stamp of approval. “He took one look at the formula and said that all I needed to do was adjust the level of vitamin E, so I ran with it,” says Day. “Ever since, I’ve been learning how to write formulas and tweak them to perfect my craft.”

I needed to figure out what makes me energized and what makes me happy. I needed to get back to me.

The Nashville-based brand founder may be a shining example of what happens when you hustle, but she also believes in occasionally going off the grid. To “reset,” she takes time away from social media, email, texting, and even her partner to get back in touch with herself. "That was a huge part of how I named my company,” explains Day, who says she came up with the Ode to Self moniker after a breakup. “I needed to figure out what makes me energized and what makes me happy. I needed to get back to me.” The mission behind her simple and sensorial range is similar in that it aims to help people everywhere tap into their skin’s potential. Talk about the ultimate glow up.

Here, Day reveals her secrets for clear skin, stronger strands, and a soul-rejuvenating staycation.

Her best business advice: “Time management is key and you can never be prepared enough! Even if you think you have enough supplies and ingredients, always get more.”

Her proudest product moment: “I’m definitely proud of the fact that I’ve created an entire line, but I’m especially proud of Bask, my new cleansing balm. It has 2% salicylic acid in it, which is very rare for a cleansing balm. I made it specifically for dry and sensitive skin types that are pimple prone because they can’t really use drying acne products with salicylic or sulfuric acid. It’s unique in the way that it delivers an acne-fighting ingredient without over-drying skin. I made sure it was very nourishing and enjoyable to use while also helping you achieve clearer skin.”

Her ride-or-die beauty product: De Palma Face Oil. I love the way it smells—it has a natural rosy scent. It’s super simple and can fix anything. If I’m looking a little dull: De Palma. If need to throw something on my face before I walk out the door: De Palma. It does it all!”

Her beauty mantra: “Less is definitely more, which is something I cultivated for myself. I grew up watching my grandmother, great aunts, and aunts apply makeup before church and I realized how overdone it could be.”

Her daily complexion cures: “I cleanse, tone, and moisturize day and night. I use the Bask Cleansing Balm after I work out because it helps eliminate the sweat and excess sebum. On days I don’t work out, I use the Savant Cream Cleanser, which is great because it gently exfoliates with lactic acid. I use the Wave Toning Essence as both a toner and a serum, and I follow up with De Palma Face Oil. I finish with Supergoop’s City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30.”

Liquid error (snippets/article line 215): product form must be given a product View full details

Her makeup must-haves: “I like to keep it simple and fresh. I use concealer, mascara, lip gloss, and occasionally a brow pencil and call it a day.” Her current favorites: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, NARS Climax Mascara, Tower 28 Shine On Jelly Lip Gloss, and Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz.

Her biggest beauty indulgence: “Tom Ford Black Orchid perfume. I have a very sensitive nose, but this is never too much. It is the perfect blend of masculine and feminine notes.”

Her go-to beauty pros: “Gwen Johnson is my hairstylist here in Nashville. She’s honest and actually cares about my hair’s health. She doesn’t just do it for a quick buck! She really takes the time to help me understand how to treat my hair.”

Her secret for stronger strands: “Olly Undeniable Beauty gummies. I’ve noticed a significant change in my hair.”

Her biggest beauty mistake: “Over-using an exfoliating brush. I actually burned the skin on my cheek and I have a dark spot that I’m still trying to get rid of to this day. No more skincare tools—I don’t believe in them! I also used toothpaste on zits as a teenager, which dried out my skin.”

 Her beauty icons: Zoë Kravitz, Tessa Thompson, and Yvonne Orji because they never overdo it. Zoë always keeps her makeup super simple, soft, and radiant. She’s beautiful, just like her mother Lisa Bonet. Tessa just exudes a natural glow—it’s almost indescribable! I love Yvonne because she’s fearless in who she is and comfortable in her own skin.”

Her favorite escape: “The Dream Hotel in downtown Nashville is great for a staycation, but I’m actually going to Cairo in June, so I’m excited to escape to Egypt for a whole week! I always bring my entire skincare regimen, so it was key for me to make everything in my line TSA-friendly.”

Her dream vanity raid: “Beyoncé. Why is she so secretive? Let us know what’s in there!”

Written by Amber Kallor

More Subject:Matter

→ Matter Of Fact

Moisturizing vs Hydration— They're Different. We'll Explain.

When we say certain products are moisturizing, and others are hydrating, we aren’t just being clever. We aren’t just having fun with words, or swapping them out interchangeably, willy nilly, just to mix things up. They are indeed very different things. And we need both.

Read more