By Mary, The Naturalist Contributor & Body Care Buyer
Reading the label of a skincare product is like reading a nutrition label, except worse. There’s an ingredient list, common allergies, there are chemicals I know I want to avoid, chemicals that sound like I should avoid them but are really just a fancy name for Vitamin E which I don’t want to avoid, and there are ingredients I covet. There are oils we all know and love (Jojoba! Rosehip!) and oils we didn’t know about before we saw them bottled and prepared on the shelf (Moringa!). Then there are 4 different kinds of the same oil and 3 different moisturizers claiming to target sensitive skin. It reminds me of the first time I moved out of my parents house and had a panic attack, standing in the middle of the bread aisle at a supermarket in West Hollywood, overwhelmed at 18 years old by the sheer amount of options I had and wondering whether I should even be eating bread anyway.
Julia Teren, founder of Thesis Beauty and self proclaimed Beauty Purist, has created a line of incredibly pure and effective skin care while making sure labels are easy for consumers to digest. I discovered Thesis like many of you probably did: while longingly searching for non toxic skin care that actually worked. Thesis also became my first realization that skincare could be the next local food movement. By choosing Thesis I’m supporting a local family owned business that uses premium organic ingredients without charging me a premium price. By supporting Thesis, I’m helping grow the rich community of makers, artists, and healers that call New England their home.
Below, Julia shares her own experience with discovering pure beauty and how Thesis came to be.
Thesis is a local favorite among Cambridge Naturalists, what was the first product you created as a brand that led to the growth of the company?
First of all, we are so proud to be part of the awesome Camberville community and Cambridge Naturals and grateful for all the unbelievable support we are getting! Thank you so much!
The first product I came up with after months and months of extensive research was the serum Lullaby for Dry Skin. At the time I was struggling with skin dryness exacerbated by living in an urban area such as Los Angeles. The weirdest thing was that my skin was dry, but still breaking out. At times it would actually swing in the opposite direction and produce crazy amounts of sebum while still feeling awfully dehydrated, flaking, and just looked embarrassing. Nothing I got in stores (and at the time I was dead set on going organic and natural) could fix this, no matter the price. So it was my priority to make something soothing and moisturizing for the face first to alleviate dryness, clear flaking, and stop breakouts. Countless hours were spent to come up with this truly balanced, nutritious formula that was light, moisturizing, and smelling great.
They say you have to spend at least 10,000 hours to master a skill, I think I paid my dues beyond that. In the meantime I was also trying to formulate a good cream because my shins were so dry and itchy I was scratching myself to tears. Dozens of failed experiments later, a silky Lavender cream was born. Those two were my saviors and the formulas have experienced minimal changes since their debut because they were so successful.
How has Thesis changed since those beginnings?
Well, it's been a journey. We started back in 2009. We had a different name and very much homemade packaging, and the bottles and jars were blue. I had to master Photoshop and photography skills from scratch in order to come up with professional-looking labels. In fact, I had to re-design them at least 3 times. But from the very beginning, and to this day, we have been focusing on eco-friendly packaging, mostly glass with sun-protective qualities. So on the surface, the design has changed, but our organic-vegan-eco ethos is firmly rooted in all we do.
I love the term “beauty purist.” It sums up those of us searching for nontoxic and sustainable skincare products perfectly. When/how did you first become a self proclaimed “beauty purist?”
I think I have this perfectionist mentality where everything has to be done to the highest standards or it's not worth doing at all. So I can relate to how frustrating it can be to read skincare label. Say, as a beauty purist, you want to find a product that would be organic, vegan, and simple. What you find instead: asterisks on the labels with exceptions, or in-brackets explanations with the "derived from" theme, or with free-from list of ingredients while the ingredient panel would be plagued with a lot of other chemicals. So when I started Thesis I decided it must be the best or what's the point in wasting ingredients.
What’s your daily skincare routine? Does this change with the seasons or while traveling?
That is a very good question. My friend just asked me yesterday: "Which products in your line do you use?" and I replied "All of them!" - that's because I developed them originally to tackle my own skin issues. In summer, when it's hot and steamy my dry skin behaves more like combo type, so I use products intended for oily/combo skin to curb excessive sebum production and control pores. As heat subsides and we step into cooler, dryer months my skin swings back to its normal, dry self, so I begin to swap one product after another to gradually revert back to the dry skin routine. But regardless of the season, I am trying to be good about following simple steps: #1 Removing makeup, if necessary. I really only wear mineral mascara and occasionally mineral eye shadows. Lately I got obsessed with super bright lipsticks, so those may require makeup remover for sure. #2 Cleansing. I love Tender as Petals for its mildness, and it's also just very slightly scrubby and gives me a gentle massage. #3 Moisturizing - it's everything for me. The one thing that I can't forget while traveling or under any other circumstances is a moisturizer. #4 Scrubs and masks - whenever the life of a busy mom permits. I sometimes apply a mask even just for 5-10 minutes before little hands start knocking on the bathroom door, but it already makes me feel better, taken care of, and the skin is certainly very happy even with this effort. I am grateful that this routine liberated me from camouflaging my skin with foundations because there is usually nothing to camouflage anymore.
What has inspired or continues to inspire your beauty uniform?
The raw movement. Several years ago I got inspired by bloggers and recipe books describing raw, living foods - the dishes on those photographs looked better than what they were called to substitute! To that end, I feel like organizing my kitchen better played a very important role in improving cooking habits and transitioning to raw.
I try to apply raw principles to my skincare formulas as well - most ingredients are raw, unprocessed and food grade. It also made me look deeper into supplements and vitamins, so now I only use raw, organic vitamins, live probiotics, unprocessed proteins, etc. Raw and organic ingredients provide maximum benefit to the skin and the body which has been confirmed by a number of studies. I can attest to that with my own experience. I also used to get enough sleep, but with when our son came I haven't slept in probably 2 years. I attribute my energy and complexion to the beauty uniform that I am trying to uphold as best I can.
If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring beauty purists, what would it be?
Reading labels and understanding ingredients is essential, so it pretty much boils down to educating yourself about what should and shouldn't be on your plate, in your lotion, in your laundry, etc. Another aspect of it is the perceived beauty standard touted explicitly or subliminally by media, movies etc - they are forced upon us. Also at play are our inner unresolved issues, complexes that prevent us from loving and accepting ourselves as we deserve. I strongly believe that healthy is beautiful - the rest is passing trend.
Do you have a favorite Thesis product or one that is particularly special to you?
Serum for Dry Skin is my favorite moisturizer. It helped me normalize my skin, transition to a purist routine, and eventually drop camouflaging with everyday makeup.
Thank you so much for sharing your Beauty Uniform with us, Julia! For updates from Thesis follow them on instagram @thesisbeauty