Beauty is in my DNA.
I grew up in a hair salon and was raised by my hairdresser mother who always instilled in me that when it comes to beauty, less is more and natural is best. Of course, it wouldn’t be revealed to me until much later in life that my mom was right.
Fast forward many years later, I started a career in fashion because I was obsessed with 90’s supermodels. I got my first job at Ford Models after college. It paid next to nothing, but I didn’t care, I got access to people, places and things that made it worth it. Honestly, I have no idea how I lived off so little. A few years later I became an editor at Condé Nast, and a photo producer managing fashion and beauty shoots by Steven Meisel for Vogue and Prada and worked in-house at iconic American brands including Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. You can say, I liked fashion a lot, but when it came to beauty I was obsessed!
On set at the shoots I was producing, I always gravitated toward the hair and makeup teams wanting to know all about the products they were using, what they did and of course, I wanted them to put products on me, which they always indulged me with. They were my tribe, and many of them I’m still friends with today! When I was at Condé Nast, I was always raiding the beauty closet and have spent dozens of hours waiting in line for the annual Allure Magazine beauty sale chatting and making friends with other beauty junkies in line. To say I’ve touched, used, and experienced so much beauty would be an understatement. Which is why I could never understand why I didn’t have perfect skin or have the results that all these brands and products claimed they would do for me. I assumed, like many others, that since they were well known, and prestigious that they HAD to work. How could they not? Was I just an anomaly?
Fast forward again a couple more years, I decided to do an experiment where I would not use anything on my skin (face + body) other than water for a whole month and see what happens. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised when my oily, acne prone skin didn’t break out at all, and the oil production started to balance a bit. It was then that I realized that my mom was right and, I was not following her less is more, natural is best rule so I decided to finally listen to her after my aesthetician told me that I was not allowed to NOT wash my face. On the surface my skin looked great but there was a lot of congestion she told me. I started researching and looking for products that had ingredients I could recognize and that’s when my obsession with natural beauty began. This was long before clean beauty was even a thing and there weren’t nearly as many options then as there are today.
The relationship between my skin, and my health changed. I started to see the connection between what I put on my skin and how that affected my health, and I was able to figure out what I needed through a lot of trial and error. I spent years and OMG SO MUCH money on beauty products in my quest to unlearn everything I thought I knew. Decoding ingredient labels like it was my job (I had no idea it would be later). Don’t get me wrong, I am still and will likely always be a beauty junkie BUT the difference now is that I know what I’m putting on my skin and why. My skin rarely breaks out, it’s still oily but I know how to balance it. I’m not afraid of oils in my products, in fact my skin loves oils I found out. One fun fact about me, I’m a closeted science geek and was a Bio/Chemistry major during my first 2 years in undergrad. I was on track to go to medical school, but life had other plans for me. However, my natural curiosity to know what’s inside of everything and how things worked never went away. I’ve spent the last decade exploring, testing, learning about beauty products, ingredients, formulation, and have built up a knowledge of what makes a product not only safe but efficacious for most skin types.
When I started my journey, there were no stores that sold all clean, non-toxic beauty products in NYC so when one finally popped up, I was overjoyed. Literally I was planning to turn my shopping trips into full on immersive field trips but that’s not exactly what I was able to do. The experience I received was nothing short of unwelcoming, overwhelming and very overly exclusive. It was clear I wasn’t their ideal target customer, and I was treated accordingly. This wasn’t a one-off encounter either; I always give 2nd and sometimes 3rd chances especially when I’m determined to learn and experience something I’m passionate about. Unfortunately, that opportunity didn’t happen, and it was during that time the seed to do it better was planted.
Pretty Well Beauty was born out of my love for clean beauty and wanting to offer people an experience that felt inclusive, streamlined (read, less noisy) and makes them feel good about their decision to take better care of themselves. Pretty Well Beauty is yours just as much as it’s mine. It’s my love letter to beauty and mother earth and all her gifts that support us. I hope this inspires you no matter where you’re at in your journey. It’s never too late to find what fuels you and to do something about it whether it's beauty or saving lives or both! You can do both by the way.
Jazmin Alvarez - Founder Pretty Well Beauty