As a Black woman, Emilia Ramos had the perfect lens to create a skincare line specifically catered to the needs of other Black women and women of color. This Black woman-owned skincare company, Agrestal Beauty, hones in on self-care and the importance of self-love and giving oneself grace during these unprecedented times of racial injustice, unemployment, financial instabilities and a second wave of the coronavirus in the United States, which Black people are predisposed to. HelloBeautiful had the chance to speak with Emilia Ramos for Minority Mental Health Month about her skincare line, how mental health impacts the skin and how Black women can practice self-love regularly.
“Right now is definitely a really tough time, especially for women of color,” Ramos answered as I asked how her own mental health was doing during these times. Ramos has been practicing self-awareness, emotional intelligence, gratitude and listening to her body in the midst of triggering news cycles and fear of what may happen next to the Black community. “I have a daily routine [where] I write myself a little encouraging letter every morning and affirmations,” the Agrestal Beauty told us about her standard morning routine that helps to maintain her mental health. With these affirmations, Ramos channels her thoughts towards the positivity in life such as what she’s thankful for and what she is looking forward to in the near future.
“It’s really easy to focus on the negative and that can affect your mental health a lot,” she continued. “I take the time to set my intentions at the beginning of the day, surround myself at the beginning of the day with positivity, and try to carry that energy on throughout the day.”
As positive as our minds may try to exude to the outside world, our body and our spirit are connected to how we really feel. This ultimately means, especially for women, if our mind is not in the right place, it’ll show in our skin and small breakouts will slowly creep in. “I’m one of those people where stress and not eating well impacts my skin,” Ramos confessed to HelloBeautiful about her breakout patterns. “I just get one huge pimple. That is my type of breakout, which is the worst kind you can get. That just let’s me know, ‘hey, clearly you’re not taking care of yourself’.”
When her skin is not up to snuff, the Agrestal Beauty founder takes the time to communicate effectively with her body to get to the root of source. “First, I try to reevaluate what’s going on because usually it’s a pattern. It’s not like my skin experiences random breakouts,” Ramos told HelloBeautiful about her skin triggers which include faulty eating habits, lack of sleep or high levels of stress. Fortunately, Ramos never equates open pores and breakouts to the highest standards of beauty.
“Even when my skin’s not at its best, I still feel beautiful. I just know that inside I may not feel as great and it might be because I’m not getting enough sleep or drinking enough water. I don’t think it really impacts my beauty or how I look at myself in the mirror,” Ramos embraced the beauty in her flaws. Though it may be a wake-up call for her to step back into her healthy daily routine, it never diminishes her self-esteem or how she feels about herself on a day-to-day basis. “Even when I’m not breaking out, I encourage myself not to wear makeup or try to hide it because breakout or no breakout, I should be able to look at myself and feel confident and as beautiful.”
Though she currently exudes confidence and beauty, the Howard University graduate’s self-love journey was no walk-in-the-park. In the fall season of 2016, after graduating from college and moving to New York City, her true journey of self-love began when she started therapy again before her emotional and mental breakthrough in 2017. “My therapist made me take a test on self-compassion and I completely failed it,” she admitted. Ramos began to dive deeper into how negatively she talked down to herself and why she did so. “I was not loving who I really am. I was not confident in who I am and I kept trying to become something else instead of being at peace with who I am and where I am.”
She continued, “I’m also experiencing the journey of finding out who I am. What do I really love? What do I really like to do? What I think I don’t want to surround myself with and being at peace with letting those things go.” With years of practice and affirming self-love and happiness with who she is, Ramos is now the proud founder of a beauty brand, Agrestal Beauty, which encourages women to practice self-love in their day-to-day lives. In April 2017, Ramos became engulfed in researching the ins and outs of the skin care industry, which later blossomed into the idea of creating her own healthy and all-natural alternatives to bath bombs, scrubs and oils for her friends to try.
Agrestal Beauty was conceived from Emilia Ramos’ journey of self-love and mental health through confiding in friends and other women. While fostering genuine connections, she soon realized that she was not alone and there was an entire tribe of women who empathized with her. She prides herself in intentionally spreading the message of mental health through skincare. After two years of strategic planning with intention from the packaging to affirmation placement on the bottle, Ramos launched her skincare line with the definition of ‘agrestal’ being integrated into meaning and in connection to what the brand meant to her personal journey.
The beauty brand founder told HelloBeautiful, “That’s what my brand stands behind – the idea and philosophy that we, as humans, are just these wild flowers growing in the field, accepting the energy of the earth and the sun, whether that’s positive or negative. We’re just trying to be the best that we can be and that’s where the name was born.”
“I think there’s a direct [relationship] between mental health, skincare and beauty because oftentimes when we’re growing up in this environment where magazines are being shoved in our faces with the idea of what we’re supposed to look like, that directly impacts your mental health. That impacts some woman’s idea of what they’re worth, how they love themselves and how they view themselves. Every single day, women are applying beauty to themselves to try to make themselves look better than what they believe to enhance their look, but are they actually okay with what they look like without that?,” Ramos challenged the stereotypical standard of beauty in relation to how women feel daily.
“If your mental health is unstable, you can lose control over the whole beauty and skincare aspect. It has to be a balance in order to know that you love those things, but without them, you’re still a confident, amazing woman,” she reminded HelloBeautiful readers. Agrestal Beauty continues launch initiatives to push the importance of mental health in Black and brown women by donating to the Loveland Foundation and gearing up to launch their self-love blog for customers to engage with the founder about her own experience with mental health.