There I was standing in the middle of the cosmetics department with my head pounding and my skin stinging. Two days before that my eyes had nearly swollen shut. Leaving would be the healthy thing to do, but I couldn’t, I worked there. My whole career was in the beauty industry.
I had taken the opportunity to become a wildly respected makeup artist, service provider, as well as mentor and educator, in the beauty industry. I was successful in my career. But those 20 years spent devoted to fragrances, dyes, preservatives, and the slew of other irritating and toxic ingredients also triggered health issues. Repeated exposure to these beauty products caused me to have to take prescription nasal sprays, antihistamines, and pain killers just to get through work each day.
Every day I was faced with the truth, I was selling people the products that were making me sick. I knew there were clean (free of toxins, fragrance, gluten and dyes while being ethical and sustainable) options available, because as a customer I had started using them myself. But I could not talk about these great brands, because it was a conflict of interest. It didn’t sit right with me (I told people anyway I had to). I was frustrated. Every day I was reading labels with my clients, trying to help them avoid ingredients because of allergies or opting for healthier lifestyles. Many were dealing with Cancer, autoimmune conditions, or celiac disease. Finding products they could use in the mainstream beauty world was challenging, if not impossible, ESPECIALLY considering that on top of ingredient sensitivity, many were also seeking ethical brands. I understood their needs I too, had become a conscious consumer, I personally boycotted many of the products I was assigned to sell!
I wasn’t allowed to speak of my views. As an expert, I was being told to hold back my best advice after years of dedicated personal and professional research. I began imagining a beauty department where makeup artists could inform clients on the ethics of different brands and their environmental impact as part of the product information. A place where beauty is defined as people feeling as good as they look and looking as good as they feel without our planet paying the ultimate price. Choosing to say YES to change opened my world to meeting like-minded business people. Together, this dream was to become a reality.