Years of searching for natural beauty products with less-than-luxurious results led Spirit Demerson to take matters into her own hands. Longing for a virtual “candy store” of environmentally friendly beauty products in which quality wasn’t sacrificed for ingredients, she used her passion and self-taught expertise to pioneer Spirit Beauty Lounge, the industry’s leading online natural beauty boutique. With a strict criterion used to evaluate every item on the site, Demerson does the dirty work to find the purest products so you don’t have to.
How did your childhood influence your passion for natural and organic beauty?
I feel lucky that I was raised with a reverence for everything natural. My Bay Area upbringing was very humanitarian, environmentalist and holistic. We were definitely the only kids in our neighborhood drinking chlorella smoothies and doing yoga every morning before school! My dad would make mud masks with bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar that I still use to this day. He’d show me how to use fresh watermelon rind as a toner or make a hair and scalp treatment with coconut oil. I was programmed to be eco, but not chic. That was something I had to bring together on my own. Once I got hold of my first fashion magazine at age nine, I was fascinated by image and glamour. I had to reconcile my lifestyle of natural wellness and sustainability with my love of luxury, beauty and fashion, and it has taken many years for me to finally bring that into balance.
You went from beauty school dropout to organic beauty expert turned entrepreneur. How did you get to where you are and what motivated you to do so?
Beauty itself has been a lifelong muse. I realized while in cosmetology school that it wasn’t giving services and treatments that I loved, it was the products. I went on to spend countless hours searching the world for products that were just as beautiful inside as they were outside – with clean, pure ingredients, high performance efficacy and glamorous packaging. I even spent a few years hand-formulating my own lotions, soaps and fragrances when I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. There wasn’t one place where you could shop in a luxury environment for products that were as clean and green as they were beautiful, so I created one.
Unfortunately, shopping for truly “clean and green” products can be a struggle. Why is it so hard for consumers to know if a product is authentic?
When it comes to everyday chemicals, such as those used in cosmetics, there’s a lack of data, research, regulation, agreement, enforcement and funding for any of the above. I’ve always been skeptical of claims that a cream can “erase dark circles” or “get rid of cellulite”, and now we have to take “natural” and “organic” claims and labels with the same grain of salt. This is why I prefer to buy only from companies I trust and believe in, even if there are less authentically clean and green companies making just as clean and green products.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face on a day-to-day basis?
There’s a lot of pressure that comes with being not just a beauty store, but a trusted resource. There are ups and downs with the “thin line” ingredients – the ones that stand between being perceived as safe or unsafe, natural or synthetic. I have to take all of the information available and make tough editing decisions from the heart and the head, which not everyone will agree with, and accept those differences, while knowing that a lot of women have put their trust in me.
You were previously in the modeling industry. How did style and fashion influence your beauty repertoire?
All those years working in fashion gave me a strong sense of the importance of presentation. I’m drawn to product packaging that photographs well and think of the site more like an art director than a web designer. Sadly, I’m often sent products with ingredients that pass the test, and packaging that does not. I think that, person or product, the exterior should be a reflection of the goodness inside, not just an afterthought.
What makes your job – and working in this industry – truly worthwhile?
Sometimes I feel out of balance – devoting so much of my life to an industry that’s all about the external, the superficial. Then I get that message from a woman in a town I’ve never heard of, saying “thank you” for bringing so many safer, more natural products together—ones that she couldn’t buy anywhere within a 100-mile radius—and making shopping responsibly and healthfully a treat instead of a headache. It’s all I need to keep going.
Six for Spring
Must-have products, from spiritbeautylounge.com, to give you a jump into spring.
|Kjaer Weis Cream Blush My spring/summer must-have! The right color cream blush takes five years off your face and adds an aura of wellness. $54|
|Vivesana Solar to Polar Ultra This SPF 40 is the highest all-natural and organic SPF you can find and works gorgeously as a makeup primer and face moisturizer. $29|
|Soapwalla Kitchen Deodorant Cream Over the years I must have tried 45 natural deodorants that didn’t work. Then one day there was Soapwalla, and now there’s no turning back. I won’t go anywhere without it. $12|
|Tata Harper Hydrating Floral Essence I use this as a cleanser, toner, moisturizer or anytime-refresher as needed. It’s spring in a bottle! $65|
|Vered Organic Botanicals Signature Scent Body Oil This body oil cured my winter-dry calves so that I can wear shorts and skirts, and it leaves me smelling subtly, not overwhelmingly, sexy. $90|
|RMS Beauty Living Luminizer Why shouldn’t I have that “springtime glow” even when I’ve been sitting at a desk all day? $38|