Latinx Beauty Brands You Just Have To Know
Growing up, there was a lack of representation of WOC and Latinas in both the beauty and wellness industry. In terms of Indigenous, Latin American ingredients to the visual representation of concealer, and foundation tones. As a result, I remember my mother creating her own wellness recipes, such as adding turmeric, orange juice, valerian, and sometimes small drops of goldenseal as a drink to boost the immune system. Or I would listen to my Tía on the phone as she would tell me how to make aromáticas, the process of boiling fruit and herbs to make tea, and the ancestral knowledge that came with keeping the idea of Beauty and Wellness in mind. Now, I see Latinas that look like me, taking these same teachings and creating something of their own to launch Latinx beauty brands.
Yianna Justo, a Dominican-American, and Founder of Oleum Skincare, established her Latinx beauty brand small business during quarantine in November of 2020. Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, in Bronx, New York.
“Oleum Skincare happened because I am a woman, a mother, a creative, a dreamer and a very proud Dominican— I want nothing more than to see more of me in places where we don’t typically see much diversity. Oleum is alive today because it created an outlet for me especially during quarantine, where I was home with my two and 13 year-old girls, waiting anxiously for my partner, a healthcare worker, to make it home safely,” Justo said.
From the age of 14, Justo remembers suffering from skin issues, when nothing seemed to work for her skin, and the lack of representation and diversity of WOC in the Beauty and Wellness industry.
“Blackheads, acne, excessively oily skin— you name it and I’ve probably dealt with it. I’ve used all kinds of products, but there simply came a point where nothing worked for me. It took a little bit of truly getting to know my skin and paying closer attention to what it needed as opposed to buying products that were compromising the needs of my unique skin,” Justo said.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Justo moved to New York with her mother with hopes of achieving a better life.
“I am my mother’s only child. We spent many years in the shadows as we were both undocumented. For her the undocumented status was much more troublesome because she had to work in order to provide for us–jobs in supermarkets and factories were really the only options she had,” Justo said.
In perfect timing, Justo was granted permanent residency just in time to apply for college. She studied a BA in political science, where she has interned for the New York State Assembly, and began working as a New York State Elected Official, and then served as a Chief of Staff for eight years.
“My love for government is one thing that for me – is nothing short of ironic! My birthday is on July 4th (Independence Day), I was undocumented and for some back in my country I am a complete success story, which is something I take very seriously,” Justo said.
For Justo, her heritage lives through the earth tone colors, ingredients, and name of her brand Oleum, meaning oil in the Latin, a classical language of which Spanish is derived from.
“The idea and concept of Oleum itself was born in my kitchen over una taza de cafe,” Justo said. “Oleum is the direct result of real life when my skin needed it most and when my mental health was suffering.”
“I get messages from people who’ve decided to try Oleum, and aside from providing motivation for us as a small business, those messages reinforce the fact that simplicity is magical. Our line consists of five products that are easy to understand, easy to use and work in harmony. The success that may come with that is really just a bonus,” Justo said.
Through Oleum, Justo looks forward to creating more jobs, supporting causes that are dear to her heart and reaching people who are far and wide.
Madre Mia Belleza Y Salud
Lizette Linares is the Founder and CEO of the Madre Mia Belleza Y Salud. She began her skin-care business in the year of 2021, after working for a supplemental manufacturer through one of her photography gigs, she became inspired to create some of her own.
“This opportunity allowed me to learn the ins and outs of making supplements. I wanted to include ingredients that we, as Latinas recognize, and grew up using. Such as, Aloe Vera, Agave, and Horsetail,” Linares said.
After mentioning her idea to the supplemental manufacturer, they had offered to invest in Linares company.
“This opportunity was great but it was scary at first,” Linares said.
Through Madre Mia Belleza y Salud, Linares hopes to create a space where women can find others who have stories just like them, and inspire them to reach for their dreams. Her mission is to provide Latinas, and moms with resources, and support to become successful.
“In our culture, we take on so much– the burden of everything, and we don’t have self-care based companies that’s by and for Latina women, and that speaks to Latina women, every Madre Mia Belleza Y Salud product has a message for every poderosa woman, a little inspiring message that gets you through your evening,” Linares said.
For women who hope to start a business, or become an entrepreneur, Linares hopes to inspire other Latinas, and Women of Color to follow and achieve their aspirations even if it might seem scary at first.
“To attain success– no matter what your situation is, no matter how you grew up, or what you’ve experienced, you can do this,” she said.
Linares looks forward to launching face masks, body scrubs, Mood & Stress Support Supplements, body butters, and bath salts by May 10th 2022.
Rebekah Jasso Jensen, the Founder of Sanara Skincare, established her company in October 2017 with the mission to Sanará, meaning to heal.
Living with Psoriasis since the age of 16, Jensen had envisioned the possibility of naturally derived products based in Indigenous Latin American botanicals and ingredients.
“Looking at the beauty industry, I noticed that nobody was using Latin American Botanicals. We have Ayurvedic, Korean, and Western skincare, but nothing from Latin America. I wanted to discover ingredients from Latin America because no one else was,” Jensen said.
Jensen had originally started Sanara to fulfill her own skincare needs. During the process she began remembering how her grandmother Jasso, would make her own arthritis medicine, and perform spiritual cleansings known as limpias.
“I began to remember how my grandmother would crush and mix her concoctions to bring health and wellness to her family. I saw her breaking the egg during the limpias, and telling the teenagers to fetch her weeds so that she can make her medicine. Throughout this process, I connect with her,” Jensen said.
Sanara Skincare embraces and features a wide range of ingredients from Latin America, two of Jensen’s favorites are Cupuaçu Butter, which grows in the Amazon rainforest, is cousin to the Cacao plant, twice more hydrating than Shea Butter, and is known to be used in making Brazilian ice cream.
Another one is Yerba Maté, which is widely used as a herbal tea in Argentina, it is antibacterial and rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
“Being Latina, there was that natural connection of wanting to understand the ingredients that come from the land that I come from,” Jensen said.
Jensen looks forward to expanding her brand into retail stores, throughout spas, and empowering other Latinas and Women of Color with every product. At the moment her products are featured at the Four Seasons Spa, and on Sanara Skincare’s online store.
Jensen’s advice to other Latinas who are looking towards starting their own business is:
“The road is hard and long but listen to the voice inside and let that lead you,” Jensen said.
To see Latin American heritage and knowledge represented in every corner of the world, media, and industry, these three Latinas are just the beginning of it.