A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending my favorite beauty event of the year, the Essence Best in Beauty Awards held at the Sugar Factory in the Meatpacking District. There is just something about being in a room of women who look like you, and have a shared experience that gives you a sense of belonging and normalcy. This isn’t something I get to experience at my 9-5. This year’s panel discussion was hosted by Essence Magazine’s Beauty Editor, Julee Wilson with Vanessa Simmons and Zonnique Harris. While I enjoyed the conversation, and the lite bites, I have to admit the gift bags are a major incentive to attend. They literally give you the best in black beauty products. My favorite thus far is the Colgate Optic White toothpaste (I am convinced that, that paired with my activated charcoal are making my teeth whiter). I am also obsessed with mascaras, and I have tried many, but Essence really put me on game with COVERGRIRL So Lashy! Blastpro Mascara.