Cleo Wade is many things—a mother, artist, activist, and author, to name a few. The multi-hyphenate, who has been called "the millennial Oprah" by publications like The Cut, navigates each role with intentionality and thoughtfulness. Wade's uplifting demeanor is one of the reasons over 774K people have flocked to follow her on social media. Her powerful words on love and life are, of course, another reason.
Wade has been busy making her mark in the literary world over the last few years. In 2018, she published her first book, Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life. She produced her second book, Where to Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change in Our Crazy World, a year later. In 2020, she released a follow-up to her first release, Heart Talk: The Journal. And last year, she wrote her first children's book, the New York Times bestseller What the Road Said (and gave birth to her second child).
Amid her bustling career and family life, Wade still finds time to work on other passion projects. Case in point: her recent holiday collaboration with Burt's Bees, which includes several festive sets stocked with Wade's favorite products (like the signature lip balms). Following the launch of the collection, we caught up with Wade to discuss her relationship with beauty, self-care, and her hopes for the new year. Ahead, read everything she had to say.
You've attracted a massive digital community due to your inspiring words. How does it feel to be a source of light for so many people?
I could cry thinking about it. It is the honor of a lifetime. I don't take it for granted and accept it as a huge responsibility. People trust me, and that's why I'm so particular about what I do and what I don't do. I know that what I make and write ends up all over the world. I have so much respect and love for the people who allow my work to be in their lives, and I try to keep going for all of us.
You mentioned you're selective about the projects you take on. What made you want to work with Burt's Bees?
I got the email about this collaboration while taking time off after giving birth to my second baby. I was taking a break from everything to get through my postpartum period because I had no chance to do that with my first kid since I was so backed up on book deadlines. I wasn't anticipating taking on a project like this, but it was an easy yes because Burt's Bees is meaningful to me. I'm a pretty minimalistic person when it comes to beauty, but the lip balm is a product I've used since I was 15. Beyond that, many of my girlfriends are huge Burt's Bees fans. Whenever I'm taking on a project, I ask their opinions. This partnership was the biggest crowd-pleaser amongst my friend group and brought back so much nostalgia from my childhood.
What does your usual makeup and skincare routine consist of? How do you incorporate Burt's Bee's products into it?
My skincare routine is minimal, and I don't wear makeup regularly. When I wear makeup, I'm lucky to work with fancy people who can do it for me. But, I will say that having a tinted lip balm and brushing your eyebrows will take you pretty far in your day. One of my go-to beauty tricks has always been to tap my Burt's Bees Lip Balm on my cheekbones, right under my eyebrows, and on the bridge of my nose to add color and highlight to my face.
What's the best beauty tip you've received from a family member, friend, or beauty expert?
I learned the importance of massaging your face. I love using natural products and rubbing them onto my skin. I'll often rub under my cheekbones for a few minutes before I leave the house, and I can feel a difference in terms of tension.
What are some lessons about self-love you hope to teach your children?
Self-care and self-love are important things to have, harness, and share. I try to show my daughters that I take self-care moments. They know I take an afternoon shower every day because I need 30 minutes to restart my day after I've been writing since 6 a.m. Taking that moment for myself helps bring some energy back to my day so I can be with my kids.
It's important to show our daughters that because, as women, especially Black women, we tend to be the people who take care of everything and everyone. We don't get the time and space to be anything less than high functioning. I want to show my daughters that rest and repair are a huge part of self-care. Beyond that, I want to show them that loving yourself also means loving the planet and the people around you. Self-love is not one big thing we're either good at or not good at. Instead, it's a constellation of small, thoughtful acts toward ourselves and the people around us.
What are some of the things you're reflecting on as we approach the end of the year? What are you most proud of doing this year?
I'm proud of only doing things that felt authentic to me. This extends to my relationship and even how I parent. I'm not trying to be Supermom or Superwoman. I'm not trying to hold as much as I could in previous years. I'm not pressuring myself to take on projects that don't feel right. I'm being honest about the things I want to do.
What are you looking forward to in 2023?
I don't think I'm alone when I say 2022 was like a year with training wheels on as far as getting back into your community in a way that didn't make you tired or anxious. In 2023, I'm excited to remove the training wheels and be with my community more. I have some big announcements about my writing coming soon.