Makeup for me initially was an interest probably stemming from some subliminal message of beauty that I encountered as a young girl. As I got older, these messages continued to manifest and I found myself extremely reliant on wearing makeup. It was difficult for me to see myself as beautiful without it, which I think resulted in a lot of insecurities and eventually some social anxieties.
Loving as makeup as I did, and placing so much of an emphasis on beauty and glamour-- I, naturally, started working in the cosmetic industry as a makeup artist. Growing up, I had always been everyone's go-to friend to do their hair and makeup for going out and events. For me, putting on makeup others was less about the superficial aspect of it, and more about guiding them into recognizing their beauty. Erring on the side of more natural looks always felt best to me, I just choose to enhance what they already had to enable them to feel beautiful in their own skin.
Given my personal rocky relationship with makeup and beauty, and given the opportunity to have more conversations with other women about their own insecurities-- I started to really think deeply about WHY people feel so inclined to wear makeup, what pressures they face that have lead them to perceive themselves they way they do, etc. And especially, if women are cornered to the point of using beauty products-- what kinds of chemicals were they being exposed to as a result?
I started to articulate these concerns and values with coworkers, but it was a very taboo topic. I was even given a verbal warning by my employer at the time that if I continued to speak about my concerns of emotional health and the safety of products, there would be consequences. At the same time, I was pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies with a focus in Safe Cosmetics, being exposed to a lot of extremely scary facts and data about the unregulated state of the beauty industry-- but was still unable to apply it to my profession.
I eventually became exhausted with feeling so morally conflicted and began seeking other professional opportunities. I always dreamed of pairing my passion for makeup and beauty, with addressing the physical health and emotional consequences created by such unattainable cultural standards of beauty. What I found was Follain (Gaelic for Healthy, Wholesome & Sound), a public-health project of sorts, disguised as the most beautiful and clean (in every sense of the word) beauty store you've ever strolled into! 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 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. I feel so strongly because although I am a makeup artist and I have the ability to make people feel more beautiful, I am NOT immune! I, too, struggle with self-image, and my personal mission is to disrupt the impact of an industry that takes advantage of women by compromising their perceptions of themselves-- so that they don't continue to make people feel insecure like I do.