Part 1 : "Switching from Conventional to Clean Beauty: My Journey as a Skin Therapist

Amélie-avatar Amélie
April 21st, 2023 8 min

In my previous article, I talked about why I started this business, but I barely touched on the reason why I chose to set its roots in the clean beauty industry… So let’s dive in.

I wish I could say that I fell into the cauldron of clean beauty when I was a baby, like Obelix fell into the one with the magic potion in it, but I can’t. (don’t know the reference, it’s here, and it used to be Belgian)
When I was a teenager, let’s be very honest, convenience was top of the list, and the planet didn’t even make a list. I used to feel very self-conscious about this, but I believe we need to normalize the conversation around the fact that, as we grow up, as we are adulting, our values do the same. It’s what happened to me. This accelerated when I became a mum.
The year before I cosmetics school, my eldest sister was about to be a mum. She’s always been, in my eyes, a “Planet Hero”. She was into knowing what goes on her skin waaaaaaay before I was. She never stopped talking about hormonal disruptors etc… I used to block my ears out and sing over the top because, again, I was oblivious to the issue and didn’t want to know.

I have always been passionate about makeup and beauty, I spent my spare time watching (and filming) Youtube videos on skin and makeup. All my money used to go into makeup and they were like pokemon… I had to have them all.
However, the difference between an individual who uses makeup or skincare on their own skin in their time and a professional is that we, professionals, spend 7 hours a day hands deeps, sometimes elbow deep in products. I hadn’t considered this even though my skin was already exacting to a lot of the things.

In order to be able to afford my second year of school, I needed to work during the summer. Luckily, the price of Cosmetics school is very low in Belgium compared to what it is here in New Zealand. I was a good student, so I went to see the school director, and she was amazing with me. She reached out to her connections and got me a job interview at Senteurs D’ailleurs. A high-end niche cosmetics skin clinic and store basically on Avenue Louise which, if you don’t know, is Brussel’s equivalent to Paris’s Champs Elysées.

As per their words to me later, I nailed my interview and got hired for the summer. I was the mani/pedi girl as well as on the floor selling products. I loved the team, I would have liked to stay there for my internship in the second year but, the skin on my hands was starting to react to the products used, and when I found out it would not be paid once school started again, I refused to stay, to do for free, a job I used to be paid for.
I found an internship at Spa Cinq Mondes in the Dolce la Hulpe Brussels. It’s a four-star hotel resort that has a spa. Spa Cinq Mondes is one of the leading spas in France, and I was stoked to find one in Belgium. It’s where I did my massage training.

After 3 weeks, without a break in-between the two places, my skin gave up and became over-sensitized. It reacted to 90% of the products I was exposed to, and I developed contact allergies. I had contact dermatitis so bad on my hands that they cracked open and bled when they moved. I had to be pulled from the treatment room, I was banned from using products. I got “stuck” at the front desk. I needed a specific amount of internship hours. I thought I would not be able to graduate. Eventually, my full-time 2.5 months of student job could qualify as an internship, and I could graduate. If I am being completely honest, knowing that I could not work in the treatment room, felt like the end of the world.

I chose to look at the positive. I was enrolled in makeup school for the next two years. That gave me a renewed purpose, but I never let go of the fear of my skin betraying me.

It turns out that it was the best thing that could happen. I stopped singing over what my sister was telling me, and I decided to take my budding professional expertise, go down the rabbit hole of reading all the labels, diving more into my histology education (the study of the skin) and go from there, all the whilst attending makeup school.

At the end of my first year, I got my first job as a “makeup extra” on a full-length movie, my career was starting, and skincare didn’t feel so important anymore because I could work with makeup without having my skin react. This is when, for a little bit, I gave up.

Eventually, though, my skin went back to acting up, and the journey started again. When I hear you say that trying to decipher the labels and skincare industry marketing tactics is tough, I hear you. I was you!
I first tried to switch to “Natural Beauty products”, which was a nightmare for my skin (essential oils are really potent ingredients and can be irritants, especially on already sensitized skin). I then moved on to “Organic Products”, it did a bit better but not amazing. Eventually, somewhere (over the rainboooow, just me ? ok) along the path, I found Clean beauty.
When I did, I wasn’t sure what it was. I looked into it quickly, initially and since it is free from toxic chemicals, free from perfumes and fragrances (which I am allergic to) and safe for the planet, it showed promise and piqued my interest.

I have now been trying clean products for 5 years, I am over the moon to say that this is it! Of course, my skin still reacts to a few products, depending on the concentration in active ingredients and concentration of essential oils etc… but, I am now back to being able to work in the treatment room, on clients, with products !!! and I love it!!! I dare say that my clients do too.

Now that the setting has been placed, you know how I got here, come back in XTIME for the next chapter… Part 2 : Clean Beauty: The 360 Impact on Personal Care Products and the Environment

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