Like most young girls, I found makeup to be a lot of fun. Beautifying was a part of my skill set since I can first remember (including, but not limited to giving my Barbie Dolls hair cuts starting at age 5). Growing up singing and dancing, I gained a lot of practical experience under my belt. Applying red lipstick, blush, and even false lashes to “Roxy Hart” for performances came naturally to me and fostered an appreciation for makeup based on expression.
Like most other young girls in my generation, I, too, started wearing makeup at a very young age. My routine in 7th grade consisted of harsh black eyeliner (on the bottom waterline, of course), mascara, bright blue eye shadow, and a liquid foundation. While I first interpreted this desire to wear makeup as a form of expression, whether it be to “appear” older (funny how that changes as we actually get there!) or just to make a statement, by the time I was graduating from high school, I discovered that my relationship with makeup had manifested into a very different impulse.
Rather than appreciating it for it's artistic value, I found myself extremely reliant on the stuff just to walk out the door! It was difficult for me to perceive myself as beautiful without it, especially as someone who was extremely fair complected and had problem-prone skin. My cheeks flush red with the slightest breeze, my delicate translucent skin so unforgivingly reveals the darkness under my eyes and the remnants of any blemish, and you wouldn’t even know I had eyelashes if it weren’t for mascara.
I supported my makeup junkie habits through my undergrad at the University of Vermont by working at a small makeup boutique. It was there that my passion for beauty really blossomed (however, less superficially so than it sounds). I realized quickly, that we as women are all our own harshest critics, and we see ourselves through the lens of our culture's perception of beauty rather than what is realistically reflected in the mirror in front of us. There were many women, like myself, who have an easier time making a list of things they hate rather than what they love about their appearance.
Digging deeper, my passion for what is best known as “green beauty”, originated in my Environmental Studies Degree. Inspired by a few specific courses - Women’s Health, Plastics: Impact on Human Health & The Environment, Permaculture, Traditional Ecological Knowledge to name a few, I gained exposure to a whole different (and much scarier) perception of the U.S. Beauty Industry.
Did you know that the regulation on the safety of cosmetics has not been changed since the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938? The policies have not changed in almost 80 years! Given that there are now more than 12,500 ingredients on the market, don’t you think we’re overdue for an updated safety standard? The European Union has banned nearly 1,400 ingredients from their market, while the U.S. has elected to only regulate 11 toxic ingredients from use in our personal care products.
Rather than letting these facts discourage me, they triggered curiosity that drove my passions even further - I started to question everything. I invested many hours deep in the throes of learning tools such as the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, the Think Dirty App, documentaries, and Green Beauty Blogs, to name a few. When I started to articulate my concerns and values inherent in the mess of the U.S. Beauty Industry, I learned very quickly it was a very taboo topic in the conventional beauty space. So verboten that I was even given a verbal warning by my employer at the time that if I continued to speak on these topics, there would be consequences.
My conflict was this: How could I continue using products on women that I knew could compromise their health, especially when I wouldn’t use those same products on myself? I eventually became exhausted with feeling so morally conflicted and began seeking other professional opportunities. I always dreamed of pairing my passion for beauty with the desire to address the physical health and emotional consequences created by such an unattainable cultural standard of beauty.
After graduating, I moved to Boston and serendipitously stumbled upon a shop called Follain (Gaelic for Healthy, Wholesome & Sound). Follain is a public-health project, disguised as the most beautiful and clean (in every sense of the word) beauty store you've ever strolled into! I was mesmerized by the values and integrity inherent within Follain’s foundation, I felt completely aligned with what the company stood for. I knew I had to be a part of their mission, and so eventually (and pretty eagerly!), I did.
We, at Follain, pride ourselves on having the most stringent safety and performance standards in the nontoxic beauty industry, using education as a tool to advocate for the policy changes we want to see. It is here that I can freely (and with gusto!) discuss the impacts of an unregulated beauty industry with others who share the same values and ethos as I had once been told to keep quiet about. We passionately share facts and information with our customers to empower them to make more informed decisions in their personal care habits.
Contrary to many popular beliefs, there does not (and should not) have to be a compromise for safety nor performance in the products you choose to use on your skin. There are so many skilled and passionate people out there who are doing it right! I’m happy to be your resource to help guide you into products that are directly reflective of your inner and outer beauty, you are worth it.