Beauty as Therapy: My Journey (Part 3)

This is the third and final part of an in-depth three-part series on how I used beauty to heal myself and why I started The Lipstick Therapist. I figure if I am going to give myself this title, I ought to be transparent and back it up with my own story. Enjoy!

So much happened in between beauty school and now that I could discuss, I could likely write a book about it (and I just might!), but the highlights of how I have gotten to my current place are as follows:

For one, I landed a job as an esthetician at a local spa. During that time, I had the unique pleasure of working with clients of all ages, races, and genders with the common goal of optimizing their skin’s health while giving them space to decompress. Those three years were profound in the sense that I had many clients come in with skin that was acne-prone, irritated, dehydrated, or just plain dull and, with time, work, and a proper skin routine, they would transform before my eyes and with the help of my hands. The work in helping one reclaim their confidence was so rewarding.

Even so, not all transformations were merely skin-deep. My social work training would sometimes come out as clients came in facing all sorts of troubles and would, in the safe space of my darkened treatment room, unload their worries and talk through their issues. There were quite a few criers, and plenty of breakthroughs. In these cases, I knew that I was doing far more than just performing a facial. I was giving them a place to begin healing, to let go of their worries and, if only for an hour, give them the respite they needed so they could gather strength to face their challenges.

As for my own transformation, I made peace with myself in a number of ways. I commissioned my own private intimate photo shoot where I got to see myself through the lens of an immensely talented photographer who goes by Expressions Untold (seriously, his work is top-notch), which enabled me to finally make total peace with my body. Through changes in my diet and better stress management, my skin healed almost completely. Finally, by a few twists and turns of events, I ended up back in the beauty sphere, this time in the retail arena where I still get to help (mostly) women look and ultimately feel their best. As I have continued in this work, I have begun to wonder: what if I showed women how beauty can be inspirational rather than aspirational?

Bliss.

This is where “The Lipstick Therapist” comes into play. While working one-on-one with my customers is rewarding, it is also limiting. The conversations I have with my customers regarding their skin’s health, makeup choices, and ultimately their confidence and self-image are ones that should be had with a wider audience.

I suppose what I’m trying to get across writing this series is that I’ve been there. I have been that girl in the mirror literally picking apart her appearance and trying to shield herself from real and perceived criticism. I have been that girl who has flipped through magazines (or, in the modern age, scrolled through Instagram) and not see a single soul that even remotely resembled me. I have been that outsider on the fringe of the beauty industry looking in wondering if there would ever be a place for me. Ironically, it wasn’t until I stopped waiting for acceptance and began accepting myself that I stopped seeing beauty as something to achieve and saw it as something to enhance, as it was a quality that I had always possessed. Through “The Lipstick Therapist,” my hope is to give you the tools and the confidence to take the tool of makeup and use it as a means of empowerment rather than concealment. With lipstick tubes in hand, we are more than ready to stop using makeup as a mask and start using it to make our mark.

Beauty as Therapy: My Journey (Part 2)

This is the second of an in-depth three-part series on how I used beauty to heal myself and why I started The Lipstick Therapist. I figure if I am going to give myself this title, I ought to be transparent and back it up with my own story. Enjoy!

In senior high, I would religiously watch Oprah, most times with my mom because she worked from home. On one episode, she and supermodel Iman discussed the release of her upcoming book The Beauty of Color. Within its pages, she promised to give women of color no-nonsense solutions to skincare and makeup while showcasing the beauty of women of all shades. As its pages flashed across the screen, I knew I had to have that book. After asking my mom several (possibly a hundred) times, I got my hands on it-and it quite literally changed my life.

My Beauty Bible!

The Beauty of Color introduced me to the concept of skin care according to type, how to rock a smokey eye, and how brown skin did not have to just stick to nude and berry-colored makeup to look pretty. As my makeup collection grew, I would practice look after look from its pages, mastering everything from Old Hollywood Glam to New Wave Punk and everything in between. With the tips in this book, my skin stopped breaking out and I became quite good at makeup application.

A couple of years later, Chris Rock’s Good Hair was released, a humorous documentary that detailed the complicated relationship Black women have with their hair. I watched it during my freshman year in college, and once I saw the scene where the main chemical in a relaxer was capable of eating through a soda can, I vowed to never let a relaxer touch my scalp again. I had tried going natural in high school with less-than-stellar results, but the budding natural hair community and growing availability of hair care products for kinky-coily made this transition smoother-and permanent. With that being said, doing the “big chop” meant that for the time being, my face had no hair to frame it, and the marks on my forehead caused by acne scarring no longer had bangs to hide it. Therefore I was faced with the task of finally healing it. With tons of experimentation, I found a skincare routine that started to even my tone and I became well-versed in matching tinted moisturizer to cover the rest. Even so, I had a LOT of work to do, and a snap decision to attend beauty school after college proved to be the game-changer I needed.

On my way to my first day of class at beauty school.
I wanted to impress the teacher with my novice makeup skills, apparently.

After getting my bachelor’s degree (and a particularly bad breakup), I decided to pursue an esthetician’s license. In addition to genuine interest in the beauty industry, I also thought that the answers to my skincare woes could be found through my education. This proved to be the case thanks to another one of my angels, Ms. Stacey. Through careful instruction and practice with a little hands-on help, Ms. Stacey helped heal my skin to near perfection. She also taught me far more about applying makeup on myself and others than I could have ever gathered from a book. Most importantly, her mentorship and encouragement to hone my skills as a professional gave me the push I needed to ultimately pursue a career in the beauty space, which in turn inspired me to start this platform.

Glowing!

So, where am I on my journey now? I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Beauty as Therapy: My Journey (Part 1)

This is the first of an in-depth three-part series on how I used beauty to heal myself and why I started The Lipstick Therapist. I figure if I am going to give myself this title, I ought to be transparent and back it up with my own story. Enjoy!

I vaguely remember my first introduction to makeup. I can remember me as a toddler watching my mom applying her brown lipstick before she left for work and spritzing me with a bit of her Versus by Versace Perfume before we left for the day. I remember stumbling upon my maternal grandmother’s makeup bag, marveling at how soft her loose translucent powder felt in my hand , and marveling at my paternal grandmother’s vanity, all covered in lipstick tubes, perfume bottles, and that ever-present bottle of red nail polish. In all of these things, I saw early on how the women in my life used makeup, in one way or another, as a way to put their best face forward as they faced their respective responsibilities.

My own personal relationship with beauty started out to be quite volatile. I did not grow up thinking very highly of my looks. To be an overweight Black girl for just about all of my young life in a 1990s and 2000s culture where thin was in was a special kind of hell. I did not see myself among the imagery marketed as “beautiful,” not even in magazines such as Essence or Ebony where the models featured came in a variety of shades but only one dress size.

Then, by some miracle, I ended up taking dance during the 7th grade where my instructor Ms. Pimentel pushed me beyond my perceived physical limits and showed me that my body was capable of doing far more than I had ever imagined. She taught me far more than how to execute a proper plie on the barre or memorize choreography; her kindness and her faith in my ability caused me to have great faith in myself. I count Ms. Pimentel among the many angels in my life; through her I finally saw tat maybe, just maybe, I was beautiful.

This segued into my first introduction to makeup application, a time where I could finally wear it with my mom’s permission. She gave us a list of things we needed and took the time showing us how to apply stage makeup for our end-of-year performance. In my little mirror, I saw my face begin to transform. Granted, stage makeup is very dramatic, but that is exactly what I needed to see. I saw how drastically makeup could transform my face, the one that I had struggled to accept-or, was still struggling to accept.

Cute filter, but still not enough to hide my skin troubles.

My skin was so uncooperative. As puberty changed my body by giving me a waistline, it wreaked havoc on my skin. No matter what I used, the pimples continued to ravage my forehead, leaving behind scars due to my incessant picking and popping. On some days, I could deal with it. On others, I would hate to leave the house. My mom did her best to affirm me, but I couldn’t quite receive the message. It wasn’t until I read a certain book and watched a certain documentary a few years later that my self-perception began to truly change and I started seeing my own potential-and began developing my ability as a makeup artist.

More on that tomorrow.

WELCOME

My name is Jasmyn Elliott and I believe in the healing power of beauty.

From when I was a teen, I was fascinated with how beautifying myself reflected my inner dialogue or provided a shield with which I could face the world when I wasn’t feeling my best. As a beauty professional, I saw firsthand how a relaxing facial, a sharp winged eyeliner, or the perfect red lipstick could revive one’s spirits and put an extra spring in their step. I also saw how a lack of self-care, even the superficial kind, can be so draining to one’s psyche, thus negatively impacting how we show up in the world.

Mind you, I am all about inner beauty being the true prize. There is no concealer powerful enough to cover an ugly spirit. With that being said, I also don’t think that beauty should be tossed out of the window in favor of a world void of aesthetic pleasure. I believe in a world where beauty can be used as an effective tool to bolster one’s confidence, boost one’s mood, and at least encourage a little fun now and again.

Thus, I am The Lipstick Therapist. I encourage people of all kinds to use beauty to their advantage, as a means to inspire strength, be seen at their best, and yes, turn a few heads. I also expose how the beauty industry can sometimes impact our mental health in a not-so-flattering way and how to navigate around that.

So, what makes me qualified to call myself “The Lipstick Therapist”? For one, I do have some clinical training. I acquired my Master of Social Work from Florida State University in 2019 and have a few years’ experience working with vulnerable populations, during which time I counseled my clients and directed them to community resources. I am also a licensed esthetician, makeup artist, and a lover of all things having to do with beauty with several years experience in these realms. By marrying these two skillsets together, I am more than qualified to discuss this and many more topics.

Overall, my hope is that The Lipstick Therapist becomes a top destination for those looking to indulge their beauty obsessions while keeping their wits about them. While my practice is not a replacement for attending therapy with a qualified professional, my hope is that The Lipstick Therapist provides a space for using beauty as a way to both enhance and empower ourselves.