One of my favourite aspects of my journey as a skincare blogger without a shadow of doubt is the honour of connecting and interacting with passionate, strong, ambitious and highly knowledgeable brand founders. I’m thrilled today to be sharing my very first interview on my blog with Dana Jackson, founder of a truly special and unique skincare, Beneath Your Mask. Beneath Your Mask caught my eye some time ago (certain brands and their story just have a way of beguiling and drawing you in) but it wasn’t until The Clean Beauty Box (a fabulous green beauty subscription box may I add!) featured two of their products, Indulge Total Body Elixir and Nourish Skin and Hair Serum in March’s Indulge Box that I truly got to experience the magic myself and it prompted me to learn more about the founder. Provenance is of great significance to me in all aspects of personal consumption and when it comes to skincare (unquestionably my most treasured passion and pastime), I make no exception. A brand founder’s story truly reveals the essence of the brand and when that information is shared to me, I really feel compelled to spread the word. As a skincare blogger, it is inevitable that I try many, many brands and I like to think of myself as being on a voyage of discovery. I thrive on uncovering these gems, these potions of goodness brimming with nutritionally dense and ethically sourced ingredients and the brands crafting products that go beyond mere skincare. Most importantly, my skincare products need to enchant me. The thrill of discovery is what drives me. So very often, I find myself wondering if I will ever become disenchanted by the skincare world and succumb to solely using tried and tested favourites. And then, a brand like Beneath Your Mask comes along and I realise that I don’t need to worry and that there are truly inspirational people out there wanting to make a difference.
Beneath Your Mask combines wellness, healing and luxury; an invincible trio for a skincare line but there is much more depth to this unique brand. Dana is a Lupus Warrior and she shares the most raw and authentic story about her personal journey on her website which I strongly encourage you to read here. It is a story of courage and of finding your authentic self which eventually brought her line to life. It is an absolute must read. Without much more ado, I present to you my interview with Dana Jackson.
Q: Before we talk about your skincare line (because truly, what a sumptuous line), I cannot begin an interview with you without coming back to your story that you share so candidly on your page. You talk openly about some of the lowest times in your life. I imagine this was extremely hard to share, why did you feel compelled to share this?
A: It was extremely difficult to share and be that candid. In fact, writing my story out was the most difficult part of launching Beneath Your Mask. I struggled with some of the details I shared, but I felt compelled to be really transparent about my journey because I wanted other people being diagnosed with lupus to know that there is beauty on the other side of the journey. I wanted someone newly diagnosed to Google lupus and see my before and after pictures, and not the devastating images I saw when I was first diagnosed.
Q: I enjoy how you speak about your relationship with God. This may not resonate with everyone but I have always believed in a greater power, something that bigger than all of us. Do you feel that what happened to you was for a reason?
A: I absolutely believe it was for a reason. God needed to change some things within me, and God also wanted to help other people through me. I used to wonder ‘why me?’ but I realized my diagnosis was so much bigger than me. This process made me realize that our lives our not our own. That has not always been easy for me to accept, I would have planned my life differently to be honest. But, Beneath Your Mask is so much bigger than skincare. It’s a vessel to share what I’ve been through and help other people through my journey.
Q: You talk about all the physical changes that occurred to you during your battle with lupus, do you think that challenged your own perception of beauty?
A: My perception of beauty is totally different! Pre-Lupus, I had a very superficial perception of beauty, solely based on physical appearance. I also wore a lot of makeup because I was trying to cover up cystic acne . During the worst of my physical changes, I couldn’t even look in the mirror without crying, and I was embarrassed to be seen in public. I felt like everyone was staring at me when they probably weren’t paying me any attention. Now, I view beauty as something that comes from within. It’s in your energy, your spirit, it’s not physical at all. Visually, I am also much more simple in my approach. I wear very natural makeup when I do wear it, I wear my hair natural, I am much more secure in my own skin.
Q: Where does the name ‘Beneath Your Mask’ come from?
A: The name comes from the premise that you must reveal the mask you’re presenting to the world to truly be healed. God can’t heal your representative.
Q: What are the challenges you faced setting up your own business, I have read that you’ve built everything from scratch using your own savings with no loans whatsoever. That is truly amazing. Tell me, did you ever have moments when you doubted yourself or the path you were taking? What helped you stay focused?
A: The challenges are endless! Financially, I couldn’t even fathom how much it would ultimately cost me, and something is always coming up! Learning as you go is an expensive process. Now that I’ve been in business a couple years, I have resources and other brand founders that are friends that I can lean on. At first, it was very lonely, because my background wasn’t in the beauty industry, so I had no one to run anything by. I still have moments where I doubt myself all the time. The biggest thing I try not to do is compare myself to other brands or pay attention to what other brands are doing. It’s so easy to get distracted that way. I try to stay focused on what the goals are for my business!
Q: Do you think being a WOC impacts your brand or the way your business is perceived and how?
A: There aren’t many black-owned brands in the luxury space, so I do feel there are a lot of eyes on how my brand is presented and the barriers I’ve been able to break through. There’s this perception that black-owned brands must be cheap or affordable, and I’m happy to be one of the brands breaking that stereotype. Being a WOC, I do feel the pressure to be on point at all times in how I present and represent my brand.
Q: What you do now is such a contrast to your previous glamorous job in the Entertainment Industry, do you ever miss that part of your life?
A: I miss the financial security, but not the industry. It definitely served its purpose in my life. At one point I LOVED it, but you do get burned out. It became stressful, but not rewarding after a while. I am grateful for that time in my life though. It’s also what made me receptive to natural healing because one of my clients visited Dr. Sebi in Honduras often.
Q: What was the first product you ever created and why did you make it?
A: Heal Whipped Skin Soufflé is the first product I ever made back in my kitchen in Chicago. I was still working in entertainment at the time. I created Heal to repair the deep purple stretch marks from gaining 100lbs in water weight over 30 days , thin, dry skin from chemo and the marks from the rashes that covered my body head to toe. I was looking for a product online for a while to do what I needed, and when I couldn’t find something non-toxic, I decided to make it myself. I never intended to sell it!
Q: You started making skincare for yourself but at what moment did you feel you needed to share this with the world?
A: When I could finally fly again (I couldn’t fly for a while after being diagnosed due to the risk of blood clots) my now-fiancé and I were going to Dubai for my birthday. We had a layover in Paris. When we stopped in Paris, my legs were dry and itchy from being in compression tights. I bought this really popular, expensive, cream and applied it and 2 minutes later, my skin was dry, itchy and tight again. That was the moment I knew I had something with Heal. Plus, people that I’d gifted Heal to over the years would harass be about it all the time!
Q: I feel that as women, we are often very reticent to talk about our achievements when in fact they should be celebrated. Tell me something you are proud of?
A: I’m extremely proud that I’ve been able to find success in the beauty industry when this isn’t my background at all. I went into this are totally blind, with no help, investment, mentor, direction or celebrity cosign. It means a lot to me that Beneath Your Mask is well-received and loved based on me being uncompromising on my vision.
Q: What is the best thing about owning your own brand?
A: I know that I can trust the integrity of our products and ingredients. My standards are really high for everything I use for myself, so I create these products as if I were making them for me because I am also making them for me. I don’t skimp when it comes to my products and supplements. Also, I love that I can just shut down if I need to. As difficult as that is for me to do, it’s necessary for my health. So I remind myself often that I can get to something tomorrow, or I can go have lunch with my fiancé on his off day.
Q: For anyone new to your brand, what is the one product that you would love for them to try and why?
A: Our Heal Whipped Skin Soufflé because it’s our hero product and it literally just works for everything. Couples fight over it, children love it, it hydrates where everything else fails, and it is the product our entire line is based around. I get so many messages about how it’s helped for someone’s rash or eczema or dermatitis or psoriasis or insanely dry skin. It leaves skin soft and supple, and the scent is so uplifting!
Q: You pack 11-18 Botanicals in each of your products for efficacy and I am impressed that ingredient quality and sourcing is important to you. Can you talk to us about the ingredients that you use?
A: All botanicals aren’t created equal, for example, the population lavender essential oil that we source is incredibly expensive. It’s sourced at the highest altitude in France and is the most therapeutic form that we’ve been able to find. It’s nothing like the lavender that will be in most products. We don’t cut costs when it comes to ingredient quality. We only source our organic or wild harvested ingredients from the country they’re natively grown in, and source unrefined and unfiltered ingredients where possible.
Q: I notice that your formulations are very multifunctional and can be used on both face and hair, why was this important for you to do this?
A: Like I mentioned above, my life is much more simple now. I love having a simplified routine, and with natural ingredients, they can be used head to toe. I didn’t want to be in the business of trying to sell someone a different product for every single thing when one product can have multiple functions.
Q: The scent across your product range is so citrusy and uplifting, was this intentional?
A: It was intentional that they were uplifting because while I wanted the products to be effective and therapeutic, I didn’t want them to feel or smell medicinal. I wanted them to appeal to all of your senses and make you feel good!
Q: What does your own skincare routine look like, you are always so supportive of other Indie brands from what I can see on Instagram, do you exclusively use Beneath Your Mask products or are there other brands you like to use as well?
A: My daily routine is :
Evening – I wash with a cleanser that I’ve been working on for a while. I spray Ranavat Botanics Jasmine Tonique, and I follow with our Nourish Skin & Hair Serum or Heal Whipped Skin Soufflé depending on if my skin is dry or not.
Mornings – I don’t always wash my face in the mornings. I may spritz my skin and re-moisturize or I may not do anything. It just depends on what my skin needs. Like I said, my routing is very simple!
My weekly routine is:
I mask with our Illuminate Clarifying Face Mask at least 1x/week mixed with a few drops of our Nourish Skin & Hair Serum.
I do a body and scalp scrub with our Polish Detoxifying Body Scrub 1x/week (2 if I can squeeze it in).
I deep condition my hair by parting my hair into 4 sections and mixing a few drops of Nourish with my conditioner for a deep conditioning treatment.
There are so many other brands I love! I use Ranavat’s Jasmine Tonique, KNC Beauty’s eye masks, Agent Nateur’s deodorants (I love the Rose, Original and HoliMan) and Lauren Napier Beauty’s face wipes.
Q: What does the future hold for Beneath Your Mask, are there any launches you wish to share with us?
A: We are launching two new products this year for face, plus a tool for body. That’s all I can share for now, but hope to share more soon!