On my podcast, Be Your Own Makeup Artist, I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Jennifer Norman, an award-winning author and regular contributor at Thrive Media and Medium. Jennifer is an entrepreneur, a B-Corp business leader, and founder of Humanist Beauty and the Human Beauty Movement. She’s also a member of the Female Founder Collective, where we met. Phew!
After spending 20 years in the beauty industry, Jennifer could no longer ignore the fact that more than anything, beauty really does come from within. This realization led to an inspiring pivot in her life, and now she’s dedicated to sharing her life lessons with others through her international organization, The Human Beauty Movement, and her new skincare line Humanist Beauty. Her hope is that we may all grow in self-acceptance, self-love, and self-care, knowing that we all embody our own unique form of beauty.
Jennifer worked for L’oreal for years, helping to develop and advertise lipsticks, eyeshadows, eyeliners, and hair color, among other products.
She was always attracted to the beauty industry and especially into its artistic and creative side. She loved playing with colors, wardrobe, makeup, and cosmetics. So, it really was her dream come true to land a job at a major company with so much name recognition and history.
However, Jennifer says that at some point, she really started to feel like there was something deeply wrong with the beauty industry as we knew it. The messaging to young women was that if you weren’t wearing makeup, you weren’t attractive. That you had to spend money on the latest trends, the hottest cosmetic products, and this season’s colors to be “worthwhile.”
She felt lost and couldn’t reconcile who she was in the role she was holding. She didn’t want to be part of an industry that made people afraid to be who they really are. This wake-up call led her to found The Humanist, where she is working to create an environment of self-acceptance within the beauty industry. She still loves makeup but sees it now as more playful rather than an absolute necessity.
Big companies spend a lot of money on creating a new product. Jennifer knows this first-hand. So, how do they make a profit? They use the same formula in several products from different brands, like L’oreal, Maybelline, NYX, Lancome, etc.
It’s something I’ve been saying for years, there’s even a chapter in my book dedicated to “The Business of Makeup. Many brands are owned by the same parent company, and the products you get from a drugstore brand might actually be incredibly similar to something from a high-end brand. You might pay $5 for a Maybelline product with the same formula as a $20 Lancome product. Pretty crazy, right?
People are getting more hip to this, and Jennifer is happy to see that some of these tactics are no longer working. However, that doesn’t mean the makeup industry is problem-free.
Another issue Jennifer talks about is the almost constant product launches. It seems like brands are constantly pushing out new shades, new products, new campaigns, new collabs. It’s actually very problematic because the consumer ends up thinking they need to have all of these products to achieve the look they want. You end up with a bathroom full of cosmetics you barely use.
Now is a great time for us to collectively rethink our purchasing behavior. With quarantine and social isolation, we can reassess our buying habits, especially since most of us are wearing a lot less makeup these days. Which things do we need, which things bring us joy, and which things can we skip from now on?
Inclusivity has been important to Jennifer from an early age. She was born in Seoul and was adopted by a Caucasian family, and she says that she often felt like an outsider because there was always something about her that wouldn’t fit in.
When she began to work in the beauty industry, she felt like she belonged and like she was right where she needed to be. Still, it wasn’t all good. The constant pressure to get people to buy more products (that they didn’t really need) weighed heavily on her.
However, her big moment of change came when she gave birth to her first child. He was born with a serious genetic disorder. When her son was young, she would take him to the playground and stand there helpless as she watched kids run away from him or whisper to their parents about him. Her heart broke because all she wanted was for her child to be accepted.
Her first big creative project was to turn that helplessness into art. She created children’s books that aimed to teach children about what it means to live with a disability. Her books talked about how to treat people with disabilities, how they can be good friends to someone with a disability and things like that.
Then she got her biggest idea yet. She decided she wanted to create a beauty company that would actually be an “un-beauty” company, as she calls it. The Humanist was born.
The Humanist’s purpose is to tell people they don’t need anything, that they are beautiful, wonderful, majestic, and extraordinary just the way they are. She puts inclusivity first; everything is accessible for everyone – from the website to the products that come with a compostable and recyclable 3D printed ring with English braille so you can put them around the product you’re using.
Even more than that, The Humanist is about bringing integrative wellness (mind, body, and soul connection) because beauty comes from within.
Jennifer’s favorite skincare product from The Humanist is the Herban Wisdom Facial Oil. This product contains 500mg of full-spectrum whole hemp CBD, which makes the product super powerful. She says the reason behind this amount of full-spectrum CBD has to do with the entourage effect, which happens when there’s a boost in the health benefits and overall therapeutic effect of cannabinoids due to the usage of the whole goodness of the plant.
Another reason she loves this product is because it interacts with the high amount of endocannabinoid receptors in our skin. Your skin is designed to receive the cannabinoids and create this sense of balance. It helps with eczema, rosacea, and inflammatory conditions of the skin like acne.
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Beauty is about perception, not about make-up. I think the beginning of all beauty is knowing and liking oneself. You can't put on make-up, or dress yourself, or do you hair with any sort of fun or joy if you're doing it from a position of correction.