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6 Questions With... Skin Care Pioneer Jane Iredale

Jane Iredale began her eponymous brand in New York in 1994. As a casting director for television commercials, she worked with models like Lauren Hutton, Jaclyn Smith, and Cybill Shepherd. Later, she helped cast film and television actresses like Susan Sarandon, Glenn Close, and Sarah Jessica Parker. It was during this period of her career that she discovered that the professional makeup the models and actresses were using was causing skin sensitivity and a host of other skin problems.

Instead of suggesting more makeup to cover problems — as people were wont to do back then — Iredale created a mineral powder that would do its job while helping promote beautiful, clear skin. From there the Jane Iredale brand grew, helping people from all walks of life achieve naturally beautiful complexions and operating with a cruelty-free mission.

We sat down with Iredale to ask a few questions about how her company is making a difference with commitments to no animal testing and giving back.

How did your skin care line begin?

I had a career in the entertainment industry in New York but eventually got show-biz burnout. I’d always wanted to be involved with something that would enhance the lives of women and have some healing aspect to it. I’d seen the bad effects of makeup when I worked with actresses and models. The heavy makeup they were using to cover up skin problems was aggravating their skin concerns, and it occurred to me that there was a place for makeup that was good for the skin. I started thinking about a solution — a makeup with true skin care benefits. I have always been interested in wellness and beauty, and in personal expression, so the leap into makeup was a very natural one for me.

Why is being a cruelty-free brand important to you?

We are all one. I really mean that. There’s nothing we do, good or bad, large or small, that doesn’t have an impact on everything else. When we don’t protect and appreciate animals — and nature in general — we aren’t protecting ourselves.

Your company supports a number of causes, which ones are you working with now? 

We direct our attention primarily toward women, animals, and the environment. Our environmental organizations include Greenpeace, Wildlife Conservation Society, and The Nature Conservancy. Our love of animals is directed to helping animals worldwide – wolves, polar bears, tigers, endangered frogs. Every species is stressed and would benefit from our help. Locally, we support the Berkshire Humane Society and, we’re proud to say, we have a cat-spa named in our honor.

In 2011, we designed and built a playground in our hometown of Great Barrington called Giggle Park. We believe in thinking locally, so we’re supporters of our local Community Center. People on our staff are on the boards of The Literacy Network, the local domestic violence center, and the operational committee of ReStore. I sit on the board of The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center. One of our longest-running partnerships is with Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

Besides healing women’s skin, what are you passionate about?

I love to garden. I have a large organic garden where I grow everything from berries to potatoes. Ingredients in the garden inspire me constantly. One of my personal philosophies is “find beauty every day.” I can look at a flower and be overwhelmed by appreciation for its beauty. I surround myself with as many local flowers as possible. When summer’s over, I bring in orchids. I also keep bees! They are the happiest bees alive foraging on flowers, veggies, and fruit right outside their hive. And the honey makes a great gift.

You obviously love animals. Tell us about your dog, Cookie.

Cookie is a Mi-Ki, a fairly new breed developed in the 1980s that incorporates aspects of the Papillon, Maltese, and Japanese Chin. She is my constant companion. Just looking at her makes me smile, which I know has a positive effect on my health. Caring about and for animals brings out the best out in all of us, and we learn so much from them — like patience. They find joy in the simplest of things. I live to see how long Cookie will smell a flower. She really gets into it.

What’s the newest from the Jane Iredale brand?

This fall we launched a new lipstick collection. Triple Luxe Long-Lasting Naturally Moist Lipstick comes in 15 matte shades and contains nourishing antioxidant-rich mooring oil. We also launched a limited-edition, rosy-pink lip crayon called Sunny PlayOn. Profits from each sale of that product support organizations that benefit women and girls.

Shar Veda is an ayurveda lifestyle counselor, health educator, yoga therapist, and energy worker in Portland, Oregon. Learn more about her work at sharveda.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Jane Iredale

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