True Believer: Janessa Leoné

True Believer: Janessa Leoné

Her best-selling straw hats may be west-coast wardrobe staples, but for designer Janessa Leoné, they’re much more than a style statement. After a battle with melasma — a skin condition that causes dark spots — made her complexion incredibly reactive to the sun, Leoné began designing the hats as a form of a chic sun protection. But her summer headwear wasn’t the only thing to get an upgrade. Here, she explains how the search for “something that worked” for her skin led her to a cleaner beauty routine and a healthier lifestyle.

TB.
Why did you start prioritizing clean beauty?
JL.

In all honesty, it wasn’t a prioritization of clean beauty that first brought me to True Botanicals. Knowing what I do now about toxins in beauty products solidifies my clean beauty regimen, but at first I was just desperate for something that worked.

When I was in college, I developed melasma that quite literally stole life from me — it consumed my face and self-esteem. At the time, I wasn’t too concerned about the negative health effects of the products I was using. I was just looking for relief. I tried every laser, chemical peel, and hydroquinone on the market. They worked…and then they didn’t, and I was left with even worse skin. When I met Hillary, the founder of True Botanicals, she recommended I try the line and the effects were almost instant.

TB.
What was the routine that ultimately did the trick?
JL.

The entire Renew Collection and the Vitamin C Booster. Later, I added in the Antioxidant Booster for more variety of antioxidants. Within weeks, I saw my skin clear up and even out in tone. Only until I noticed the dramatic effects did I start researching the implications of all the chemicals I had been using previously. I found that by removing the harmful ingredients from my routine and saturating my skin with ingredients that promote health, my body was able to stop fighting toxins—and instead work holistically with the products in my skincare routine to encourage healthy skin from the inside and out.

TB.
Favorite step in your skincare ritual?
JL.

I love lathering my skin in my Renew Pure Radiance Oil. I have such a positive olfactory association with the smell of that oil from when I first used it and saw such positive change in my skin.

TB.
How would you describe your skin journey?
JL.

It took until a few years ago to find a program that works for my skin. As a kid, I had terrible acne and fought it with the same blaze that I tried to fight my melasma later in life. I was prescribed hormonal birth control to stop the acne and when I did that I traded that problem for a new one. The melasma started shortly after the birth control, but it didn’t take over my face for a few more years. I’m finally at a place where I love my skin and spend more days than not without a stitch of makeup.

TB.
Something you love about your skin?
JL.

I love that my skin is a reflection of health and vitality. I’ve spent the majority of my life sick and my skin reflected that. My skin is proof that prioritizing a clean, healthy lifestyle and making sure everything I put in and on my body is truly nourishing pays off.

TB.
Something your skin loves?
JL.

Water and sweat.

TB.
Best skin advice — you’ve received or given?
JL.

My mom used to make me use sunscreen every day on not only my face and neck, but on the backs of my hands. I have been using sunscreen since I was a kid, and I think that extra protection is really proving beneficial now I’m in my 30s.

TB.
What gets under your skin?
JL.

Chewing sounds.

TB.
What makes you comfortable in your skin?
JL.

Laughter. If I’m in an uncomfortable social event or situation and someone I know can make me laugh, I can immediately ground back into my body and feel confident and comfortable.

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