A make-up artist blighted by cystic acne has revealed how she transformed her problem skin by spending hours researching beauty products – and has now turned her expert knowledge into a lucrative cosmetics company.
Mel Jenkins, 27, from Brighton, started Glow Organic in 2015, and is set to turn over £250,000 in profit this year, with plans for her own range of make-up already in the pipeline.
The blossoming business was born out of frustration after Mel’s acne failed to improve with medication prescribed by doctors and would be further inflamed by popular high-end make-up.
Mel Jenkins, 27, from Brighton, was diagnosed with cystic acne at the age of 24; she was prescribed multiple drugs including the controversial acne drug Roaccutane, which she refused to take
An image of Mel, a make-up artist who has worked in bridal, television and film make-up, says her confidence was so shattered by her skin that she didn’t enjoy meeting new people for fear they were looking at her skin
When the make-up artist tried to find products that were less harsh on her skin, she was aghast at the limited offerings, with colour choices often outdated and unappealing.
And when she did happen upon more forward-thinking cosmetic companies, they were often on the other side of the world – with expensive shipping fees attached.
She tells Femail that the trials she faced with her own skin spurred her on to create a company focusing on organic/natural products: ‘Working as a make-up artist meant that I was constantly having my skin analysed by my clients.
‘I felt they would look at my skin and wouldn’t want to take my advice or take me seriously.
‘It hugely affected my confidence as I started to second-guess my abilities and the advice I was offering my clients, even though I knew it wasn’t down to lack of knowledge in my specific area of expertise, I just hadn’t found what worked for me yet.’
After regularly using big-name designer make-up, Mel embarked upon a mission to find products that suited her skin and says she struggled at first, often having to import from the US and Australia
At her lowest point, Mel would regularly be left in tears because her skin felt so irritated.
She says: ‘I would often cry in the mornings because my skin was sore and painful, and because of all the drying skin-care products I was using in an attempt to dry out my acne.’
FIVE PRODUCTS THAT HAVE HELPED TRANSFORM MEL’S SKIN
Hynt Beauty, Duet Perfecting Concealer, £22
NUI Cosmetics Liquid Foundation, £38
Hynt Beauty, Duet Perfecting Concealer, £22
A lightweight, full coverage concealer to colour correct discolouration, acne, age spots and dark circles. The formula is infused with botanical extracts and oils to help heal and protect the skin
NUI Cosmetics Liquid Foundation, £38
A nourishing, light-to-wear foundation that blends into the skin beautifully with a soft focus finish
ZAO Makeup Liquid Liner, £17
This liquid liner is long lasting with incredibly strong pigment. The colour is intense and adds definition to the eyes
Eco by Sonya Face Tan Water, £24.10
A multi-award winning gradual tanner for the face, neck and décolletage.
Ere Perez Herbal Face Tonic, £20
A potent herbal blend of Green Tea, Witch Hazel, Citrus, Geranium and Aloe Vera revives tired skin and delivers Hyaluronic Acid to reinvigorate your complexion.
Adding a layer of make-up on top ‘made it look worse’ and Mel says she would often feel uncomfortable meeting new people or even ‘leaving the house until I had figured out a way to cover the worst of the redness.’
The Southampton Solent University graduate adds: ‘Everytime I met someone new I often couldn’t relax and engage in a normal conversation as I felt like they would be constantly staring at the state of my skin.’
The light-bulb moment to start selling products to others suffering with problem skin came after she saw a dramatic improvement in how her skin looked after she changed her diet and used heavily-researched products that didn’t inflame her skin.
Mel has now hand-picked products that have helped transform her skin – and turned her research into a business
Now in its third year of business, Glow Organic is projected to turnover £250,000 this year and Mel has had to employ staff as the business continues to grow.
After six years spent working on make-up in film, fashion and the wedding industry, Mel’s research saw her scouring international sites for products that wouldn’t inflame her skin.
The budding entrepreneur says that she struggled to find anything that suited her skin and even companies who claimed to be pioneering the natural/organic beauty industry weren’t making particularly appealing products for a millennial audience.
Everytime I met someone new I often couldn’t relax and engage in a normal conversation as I felt like they would be constantly staring at the state of my skin…
Mel Jenkins, Glow Organic founder
She says a combination of eating well and using more natural, organic products gradually began to improve her skin – and her mood – and she decided she wanted to use her own experience to help others.’
She says: ‘I knew I could do better. I wanted to create a website that would feel modern and accessible for all, targeting millennials who want the bright lipsticks and modern textures, but without the harm.’
Despite having a make-up bag brimming with expensive brands including Mac and Dior, it was lighter products from lesser-known brands that began to catch Mel’s eye.
She says: ‘At the time, I was still freelancing, and started using these new products on my clients. They loved how light they felt on the skin and couldn’t even tell the difference.
‘I would hunt out new brands and products to fill in gaps in my professional kit where I was still using the mainstream brands (e.g. MAC, Dior etc..) and found there were options out there but they were difficult to get hold of, and often coming from Australia or US.’
She began her business with a pop-up shop in Brighton to test the waters and says: ‘I sold out within three days and got back in touch with the brands for an emergency delivery of stock!
She adds: ‘I knew that I had something, so I set up the website straight after that and with my £1000 savings, I bought stock from four brands to start with.
With several staff now employed at Glow Organics, Mel says she hopes to turn over £250,000 this year and eventually grow the business to include her own make-up range
A selection of the brands currently on sale with Glow Organics
‘It was slow at first but I persisted and now, two-and-a-half-years later, I have 16 brands, one part-time employee and two freelancers who work with me in my studio/office in Brighton.’
Concern over the environment also influences the products that Mel now sells to others.
She explains: ‘My research also led me to realise the devastating effects that some manufacturing processes of beauty products can have on the environment. For example, petroleum and mineral oil are used in lots of products and the petroleum extraction process fuels climate change.’
She adds that animal cruelty also played a part in choosing the products that she was prepared to sell under her company name.
‘I couldn’t knowingly use products on myself or my clients, knowing they have been tested on animals, or contain chemicals that could damage their health.
‘Many brands try to hide the fact that their products, in some shape or form, (either the ingredients, or final product, or they pay a third party) are tested on animals.
As well as encouraging customers to use refillable aspects of the products, Mel also seeks out biodegradable/non-plastic packaging in many of the products stocked.
She says: ‘I rigorously test every product before it goes on the website, everything has been approved by either myself or my ‘team’ of makeup artists/skincare experts.
‘I am always on the lookout, testing and sampling new products to see if they fit the bill.’
Mel says she plans to grow the business by expanding the range of brands, and dreams of her own studio – and make-up range – in the not-too-distant future.