Clean beauty and organic skin care made quite the impression in 2020, but not all natural brands are made equal. Organic food, for example, tends to be healthier, but many of the health benefits are overstated as a marketing tool. Similarly, organic skin care and clean beauty trends can be beneficial, but it’s important to determine the difference between fancy advertising and things that actually, you know, work.
Organic skin care, like organic food items, are free of chemicals and pesticides. And while lab-made ingredients are often found in prescription skin care products for good reason, many people still benefit from using organic skin care products.
Take local resident Sharon Lewis, for example. Lewis is the founder of Made Stronger Essentials, an organic skin care line based out of Las Vegas. She turned to organic skin care to help her children overcome their eczema.
“My daughter and my middle son have real bad eczema,” Lewis says. And while dermatologists and doctors would regularly prescribe medicated ointments and creams, Lewis says they rarely had luck with those, and that some chemicals were too harsh for her children’s skin types. “That’s why I use butters,” specifically shea and cocoa butter, Lewis says, .
“I did a lot of research on finding a good product to use on eczema that isn’t too harsh on the skin, that’s going to help and not cause irritation. These are more natural products, so I was like, let’s try that and see how it works with your skin.”
The result is her natural, organic and chemical-free line of lotions, oils and body butters. The Double Butter is an all-over lotion with shea and cocoa butter to enrich, moisturize and soften all skin types (steer clear of the face, however), even those with eczema.
“Mine is a little bit stronger than usual,” Lewis says. “It’s double action. A lot of people use cocoa butter to help with scarring, and a lot of people only use shea, but to use a mixture of both, you’re getting that dual action that’s going to relieve that irritation faster and longer.”
For the face, Lewis recommends the Mango & Shea Face Butter. Formulated without cocoa butter, this face moisturizer is noncomedogenic and suitable for all skin types, while the mango provides vitamin C to brighten dull complexions.
“I was always interested in making candles and stuff, but I just did it more as a hobby,” Lewis says of her shop, which she opened in 2019. “I would give some to my friends, and they were like, ‘You should sell this.’ I was like, ‘No one’s going to buy it; it’s more of a hobby.’ But once I started, people were buying.”
The name, Made Stronger Essentials, has an even more personal story behind it.
“The abbreviation is MS for multiple sclerosis,” Lewis says, who was diagnosed with the central nervous system disease in 2018. “I was looking for something that was going to symbolize multiple sclerosis, and I was like, ‘What words can I use?’” Made Stronger Essentials, she says, is “for anybody battling with any type of illness, to know that they are strong and they can get through it.”
Lewis, who is paralyzed on her left side, was in the hospital for two weeks and underwent chemotherapy for treatment. “I was like, ‘This is it,’” she says. “I’m going to be bound to a wheelchair.”
Since then, Lewis has found a way to live with her illness and persevere. “Made Stronger is about any and everyone who has battled through life’s trials and tribulations,” the website reads. “Depression and anxiety, cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, mental illness, AIDS. You are made stronger than whatever is trying to bring you down. Continue to keep pushing through life—you’re not just strong, you’re stronger than ever.”
That uplifting message is woven into each handmade product, from body butters and the bestselling sugar scrub, to the turmeric and honey face mask (which can help with inflammation) and hydrating body oil.
Lewis is also adding an oil for scars, which contains rosehip, jojoba and geranium essential oils for the face and specific scars, including hyperpigmentation from acne. “All those oils combined help reduce scarring,” Lewis says.
As for how to keep your skin healthy in these colder months? Lewis says to “hydrate and moisturize.”
“A lot of people don’t moisturize when it’s cold, because they have full-length clothes on and long-sleeve sweaters,” she says. “But this is the best time to hydrate your skin, so by the time spring and summer gets here, your skin will be hydrated.”
A little goes a long way when it comes to her body butters, Lewis says. For the summer months, Lewis recommends using a body oil instead of a butter, or alternating the two, because oils are lighter and less greasy on the skin. “An oil is also great to add to your winter routine, as that added moisture all year long is beneficial,” she says.
Lewis’ line of skin care products is available at madestrongeressentials.com and at Easy Days Mini Mart on Maryland and Tropicana.