Unisex Beauty is Just Beauty, And That’s That.
It’s in our DNA as people to be attracted to what is beautiful, and to want to embody it. The skincare and cosmetic world has quite literally bottled this desire and given industry to ritual and practice. To withhold this kind of routine and pleasure from roughly half of the population seems not only cruel and confusing, but also fiscally irresponsible, no? But enough about my opinions. I reached out to some of our favorite pioneers in the clean beauty industry that are paving the path in a very cool, sought-after way to give their take on the “movement,” aka pursuing truth, via our nature.
Neada Deters, founder of Lesse, an organic and clean skincare line for every body, understands first and foremost that beauty is nonbinary. “This is an industry built on wellness and self-expression— why would that ever be gendered? It's time to archive these social constructs. We should be focused on creating space for products that resolve real skin concerns, makeup that is truly innovative, and community that supports and celebrates all of us.”
Lesse embodies this philosophy completely, spearheaded by it’s loving and warm, very wizened mother. Deters has never thought of beauty as segregated by gender, which is what elevates her perspective from the get-go. “There isn't anything grounded in science to say that a product is better for a man or a woman. It's just the industry repackaging the same product for greater profit. The truth is that any high quality, safe skincare product will be safe during pregnancy or other sex-specific health concerns. If a product isn't safe for women during pregnancy, should any of us be using it?”
Lesse Image by Drew Escriva
Another product range we love is Sigil Scent, a truly evocative line of wearable auras that are at once earthy and sensual, and yet somehow evoke neither a distinctively femme or masculine context— they are purely natural and sexy. Perfume is notoriously toxic, but not the way Patrick Kelly, Sigil’s founder concocts them. Not only is he an alchemist of pure and clean, alluring nostalgia and cult favorite scents, but another institutionalist for nonbinary beauty.
To Kelly, beauty is “about embracing, showcasing, and honoring a broader range of expressions of gender than is usually represented in the market. It’s not a washing away of expressions of gender, but rather highlighting of a broader range of identities.” This perspective is especially refreshing to me, because it doesn’t throw away the appeal of the ultra feminine or the antithesis of such, if that’s what appeals to someone. His perspective simply offers more; it enriches.
And this enrichment is exciting. Kelly thrives off of the power he’s creating to share in this world. “I love seeing more and more beauty brands including queer folx in their messaging and marketing. I appreciate that [we ask ourselves] about gendered self-care, more broadly than beauty, because there is still so much opportunity in wellness and sexual health to expand on the dialogue about inclusion and representation of queer, non-binary, and trans folx.” To that I say, amen, baby.
Sigil Image by John Von Pamer
To Gloria Noto, founder of Noto Botanics— a natural, multi-use cosmetic line that marries skincare with makeup she dubs “uni-versally-sexy,” because to Noto, beauty is on an extremely colorful spectrum. Beauty and self care is resolutely not gendered, because for Noto, it simply means “listening to what my body is telling me it needs or wants and moving into that direction.” We aren’t simplifying it by gendering it, we’re complicating things. Let’s go right ahead and… knock that shit off.
“I think beauty means anything we choose to see as such. The world is based on our perception of It, therefore you have the power to choose to see beauty, or choose not to. I choose to see it, rather than judge It for what I have been told to believe beauty is,” Noto shares. While that may seem like a rebellious statement to previously binary ideals, we support doing away with that here in this space.
Image by Noto
This extends to other products, too. Patrick Kelly hopes that one day we can see trans men included in tampon ads, trans women included in condom marketing, etc. Identity is more powerful than birth assignment, especially when it matters most—our actual years of sexuality and expression.
Neada Deter echos this when she states, “As new founders in this industry, it's essential that we change the way we frame beauty. In the way we develop products, our marketing, how we educate our community."
Our industry is long overdue for radical transformation and, as newer brands, we have the opportunity to establish a new way of thinking: one that empowers everyone. The days of exclusionary beauty are over.
Not only do I and the rest of us at Materiae urge others to support brands like these, we urge us all to pursue what self care really means to ourselves. To Deter, it’s a long dinner with friends, a glass of wine with a book, feeling physically and mentally balanced, and connected to the world around us in a meaningful way. To Kelly, it means feeling attuned to what makes you feel powerful, complete, and in your wholemost self.
Also for Kelly, how that’s expressed is “less important than giving yourself permission to explore and play with that through experimentation.” And to Deters, “beauty is curiosity, compassion and the absence of judgement— towards others and ourselves. It's something that already exists within all of us.” We couldn’t agree harder. Now please excuse me while I cry.
Written by Nicole Lesmeister
Main Photos by Ryan Pfluger
The Aussie Skin Sage: Saya McDermott
Necessity is undoubtedly the mother of invention—especially when it comes to unpredictable skin. “It was never my intention to create a brand,” says Saya McDermott, founder of an eponymous range of natural products for face, body, and hair.Read more