Jazmin Alvarez began Pretty Well Beauty for the same reason most creative people begin companies — she had a problem and couldn’t find a solution.
Initially, Alvarez was just looking to clear her own skin, struggling with breakouts and adult acne that never seemed to clear up. As someone who worked in beauty and fashion at the highest level — at places like Fenty Beauty, Prada, and Ralph Lauren — she ascribed to a steady stream of expensive, department store brands that made lofty claims but never quite resolved her issues. So, about eight years ago, she reached a breaking point and decided to try life without designer skincare brands.
“It started with my own personal struggles to have clear skin,” Alvarez remembered, when we discussed her company’s early years over the phone recently. “I read an article where the editor did an experiment and didn’t use any cleansing products. So I went a whole month without washing my face at all and I didn’t break out at all. I’d been using all these really expensive brands that made all these claims, but without them, I wasn’t breaking out at all. I discovered from not washing my face that those products didn’t work.”
Still, a quick visit to her facialist revealed that not washing her skin at all was leaving residual dirt and congestion below the surface, so without really knowing what it was, Alvarez began her first clean beauty edit: not returning to her old products, but looking for alternatives with fewer, more recognizable ingredients, and slowly replacing her high-end items with simpler and sometimes homemade remedies.
“I didn’t even know it was considered ‘clean beauty’ because that wasn’t a term back then,” Alvarez said. “I had to do my own due diligence to find out what worked for me, and when I’m interested in something, I’m relentless. I became that really obnoxious friend who was inspecting what all her friends were using to see whether or not it was safe.”
Over the next several years, as an emphasis on this trend began to emerge, Jazmin’s friends began to encourage her to start working in the space in earnest. Because even if the emphasis on sustainability, ethical sourcing, and green ingredients was growing rapidly, the clientele companies touting these trends seemed to target was not exactly diverse.
“Another thing I really struggled with as a consumer in the clean beauty and wellness space is that it felt very much like this is only for the Gwyneth Paltrows of the world,” Alvarez said. “I can’t relate to that at all. I felt like I was being excluded, and a lot of people that I know felt excluded. I felt really intimidated — there wasn’t a space for us.”
Motivated by a desire to make room for women of color like herself, and increase accessibility and education for everyone, in early 2018 she created Pretty Well Beauty’s instagram page and began to share information and resources. By the end of the year, she’d finished up a project at Ralph Lauren, hired a company to do her logo and website, and was ready to bite the bullet: Pretty Well Beauty was now more than a side project — it was her full-time job.
Curating clean, accessible products in an online store, and offering resources for women looking to break free from toxic cycles with products full of chemicals and harmful ingredients, PWB functions not only as a shop, but a community hub, and also a blog that doubles as an education tool for those still learning about what clean beauty means.
Quickly growing her social following for the site to over 6000 followers, in the last year or so Alvarez has become a go-to expert on the subject — including a monthly column for Cinnamon on the subject, highlighting some of her favorite products — and working with some of the most exciting and respected new brands in the space. But to her, clean beauty isn’t just a trend to capitalize on, it’s a way of life that should be accessible to everyone. Inclusivity is just as much a priority as the cleanliness of the ingredients and sustainability of the packaging.
“When I started Pretty Well Beauty, I wanted to make sure that anybody who wanted a more holistic, healthy alternative to their personal care had somewhere to go where they wouldn’t feel the same intimidation and unwantedness I experienced,” she said. “I just don’t love that there’s a stigma around it, and there’s really not much being done about it. Clean Beauty is a real, important lifestyle, that could very well affect your health and the health of our environment. There shouldn’t be a specific demographic attached to that.”
To that end, Alvarez has started a crowdfunding campaign with iFundWomen to help bring her work with Pretty Well Beauty to the next level. She’s looking to raise $10,000 to help with marketing and promotion costs for 2020 to get the word out about her site and the services she offers. One of which, is her signature Clean Beauty Edit, a four-step consultation process that begins with a skin consultation and moves into a skincare product overhaul and suggestions for cleaner, more sustainable replacements.
This is just one of the many opportunities on offer for contribution tiers, and information on all donation levels can be found here. After beginning the campaign in October, and getting halfway to her goal, Alvarez has extended it through the end of November, giving potential supporters another month to contribute.
To get an even more clear sense of the standards that Jazmin and Pretty Well Beauty adhere to, here are the five non-negotiables for all PWB products: All ingredients adhere to the strictest non-toxic standards, all ingredients are sustainably and ethically sourced, all packaging and branding is high-quality and aesthetically beautiful, all packaging is also recyclable and/or biodegradable, and finally, all products are actually effective and live up to their claims.
Alvarez’s plans for Pretty Well Beauty go so far beyond skincare standards or product overhauls, though. By turning her focus away from working in the fashion industry and funneling her creativity into something that’s conscious and mindful, she hopes to help leave behind a better world for the next generation.
“My hope for Pretty Well Beauty is to see people making conscious decisions that impact not only their lives, but the people around them,” she said. “Even if it’s just making the conscious decision to buy things that are sustainable. Because at the end of the day, we need to leave something behind for the people who are coming behind us. And this is, in a small part, my offering to the world.”
If you can, please visit her crowdfunding page and help Alvarez take Pretty Well Beauty to the next level.