By: Jerusha Kamoji
Lake Louise is the CEO and founder of Lotus Moon and Plain Jane Beauty, a skincare and makeup brand focused on green business practices and inclusivity — “In 2010, we were the only green beauty brand creating foundations for dark skin,” Louise says as we begin our virtual interview.
A Green Business Model
A green brand is defined by how a company conducts its whole business. It includes how employees are treated, how much they are paid, what materials are used for packaging, and reusing those materials as much as possible in order to reduce waste. “Green business practices include how you operate, who your vendors are, who you shop with, and how you print your brochures,” states Louise.
In the Photo: From left, Fonda Johnson wearing foundation shade “I am Radiant” and Regina Nicole wearing foundation shade “I am loving.” Photo Credit: Holland Reid
Louise started her business in 2002 with Lotus Moon, a green skincare brand that uses essential oils and plant-based ingredients to products that address a variety of skin concerns. Lotus Moon began after Louise created an essential oil-based scar healing product for her mother to help heal scars after having surgery.
“It wasn’t the plan to start a business,” Louise says, “but that’s what happened.”
The essential oils used in Plain Jane Beauty and Lotus Moon products are sourced from around the world. Minerals such as Mica — which is mined in Georgia and comes in a powder form — is used to create foundation, concealer and other base powders or creams. “There is traceability because labs that we work with have the certificate of analysis,” she states. Traceability is important because it provides a course of origin for the products that Louise uses.
As Louise states, “The beauty market is supersaturated with skincare and makeup brands that call themselves vegan and cruelty-free in order to lead the consumer to believe that they are clean and non-toxic.” However, makeup and skincare brands being vegan doesn’t mean they don’t use toxic ingredients, it only means they don’t use animal products. Toxic ingredients include phthalates, polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds) and Formaldehyde to name a few.
Green Products that Include Brown Skin
Louise was born and raised in San Francisco and her focus on sustainability within the green beauty space stems from the way she was raised and lives her life today. “There wasn’t a word for sustainability, but we grew up wearing hand-me-downs and using a jam jar for a cup… we were practicing sustainability but there was no word for it,” she says.
Louise began wearing makeup as a teenager but never used foundation because of the time and effort, “I think I was 15 or 16 when I started wearing makeup and I think it was just shadow and blush because I was athletic, so my thing was being simple,” Louise states.
Louise’s focus on inclusivity is inspired by the experiences she had during the time she worked as a model. Having brown skin was a challenge for makeup artists because it was hard to find a shade that matched her skin tone — due to the limited options. Louise says, “When they would put makeup on, they’d have to combine a bunch of different shades, but it was horrible for my skin and made it break out.”
People of color tend to have two shades on their skin because the forehead is usually darker than the rest of the face, which means they either match the foundation to one shade or mix two shades to get the right color. Plain Jane Beauty strives to create foundation for all skin shades and continues to generate new shades for an expanding customer base. “When we have enough customers who are having to buy two shades to mix, we know it’s time to make a new shade, and we’ll make it,” Louise states.
Undertone and pigment play an important role when creating a foundation that includes all people. The undertone refers to the natural colors underneath the surface of the skin and pigment refers to how dark or light skin is. For instance, “Indians tend to have a red undertone, which they have a hard time matching because nobody makes the shades for that undertone when creating makeup for people of color,” Louise says.
This is the reason why women of color, particularly dark brown women, tend to believe that makeup that includes them is made primarily for them; “When darker brown women get included, they’re thinking, oh, it must be just for me because nobody includes me unless it’s made specifically for me,” Louise says. This understanding motivates Louise to create foundations for women from all ethnicities stating, “That’s why we wanted to be genuinely inclusive when we started out, we’re make-up that also includes dark brown shades.”
If you’re Ever in Georgia, Stop by Suwanee
Louise lives in Suwanee, Georgia and Plain Jane Beauty and Lotus Moon are headquartered there. “Everything is manufactured in the United States, we are certified cruelty free and 98 percent vegan,” Louise says.
Louise tests her products on herself or volunteers and continues to develop new shades of foundation and skincare products.