VAMIGAS: Bringing Clean Beauty to Latinas

One brunette woman on the left, an image of beauty products on an orange backdrop, and one blonde women on right wearing a black hate holding florals

“Clean beauty” continues to transform the skincare industry by moving away from products that drench our skin in synthetic chemicals.


VAMIGAS, a Latina-owned, botanicals-focused beauty brand is doing their part to transform the way we care for our skin, naturally. Founded by Ann Murray-Dunning and Christina Kelmon, VAMIGAS uses naturally-derived ingredients in their skincare products inspired by Latin American beauty regimes for Latinx skin texture.

Luz Media caught up with both Ann and Christina to discuss their growing business, the ups and downs of ownership, and the future of their brand. Read on to find out more about these mujeres poderosas and their plans for the future.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and flow.

LM: Where does the VAMIGAS name come from? And what inspired you to start your business?

VAMIGAS: Vamigas is a Latina-led, vegan, ethically sourced, cruelty-free skincare brand created from Latin American botanicals from Chile, Peru, Mexico and more, that’s helping bring clean beauty to Latinas, who have been left out of the clean space until now.

Vamigas is a play on the words amigas, and the initials of our daughters, V and M. Lately it’s also starting to mean, Vamos Amigas!

What inspired us was finding out during my [Ann’s] pregnancy and during Christina’s first year as a mom, that there are no clean beauty brands at mass that specifically target Latinas.

Image of two lip oils on a ceramic planter on a white table in front of a cactus plant

Photo courtesy of VAMIGAS

LM: Why is that important?

VAMIGAS: We were looking for clean beauty options because many studies – including a very recent study out last month - found that Latinas, who buy and use more beauty products than non-Latina consumers, have more hormone-disrupting chemicals in our bodies.

We also show higher rates of things like infertility and breast cancer and U.S.-born Latinas are even 3 times more likely to experience preterm birth than non U.S.-born Latinas.

Yet, no one is targeting us with higher-quality ingredients.

Latinos are a growing community in America and our spending power jumped to more than $1.7 trillion in the last few years, according to a report from the University of Georgia. We significantly outspend our peers in beauty by 30%. However, Latinas have remained largely marginalized in skincare and beauty. What’s more, most of the major beauty brands don’t understand how to market to our complexity.

This was more than our inspiration. It felt like a calling.

LM: What makes your products so unique?

VAMIGAS: We are the first to source 8 ingredients from Latin America in one formula and the only brand to source exclusively from Latin America. In fact, we are the only brand to only focus on primarily Mexico AND Chilean ingredients. What’s more, we are an authentic Latina team with the background that’s needed to understand our hermanas who are out there looking for green beauty options, and give them what they are looking for.

Beauty product liquid vial sitting on a marble countertop in front of plant leaves and a yellow background

Photo courtesy of VAMIGAS

LM: What words of wisdom would you share with Latinas looking to enter the beauty market as entrepreneurs?

VAMIGAS: Build key partnerships with vendors early on, find who is the best in the biz, but also who you work well with, and make sure they’re strong partners and can scale with you. It’s all about the relationships at the beginning - and that can make or break you during your journey.

LM: What about Latinas looking to enter any entrepreneurial venture; do you have any words of advice for them?

VAMIGAS: Don’t fall into the “busy trap”. In the beginning you’ll be doing a lot of things to try and move the needle. Within that year at some point, you’ll need to prioritize those tasks. What’s bringing you 80% of your success? Focus on that and forget about the things that barely give you anything in return, and that just have you running around looking busy.

LM: Have you experienced any challenges from being a Latina entrepreneur? What about positives?

VAMIGAS: Yes, sometimes as Latinas, you get the feeling that folks don’t take you as seriously as they would two young Mark Zuckerberg-esque white guys pitching their startup. Even when it comes to vendors or partners. The most random folks sometimes want you to prove yourself or your business to them even though you would be paying them. It’s a weird power imbalance. We have only partnered with folks where we feel we have that mutual respect and support.

LM: Lastly, tell us where we can find you online!

Vamigas.com | Instagram at @vamigasbotanicals | TikTok at @vamigas

In addition, you will now be able to find VAMIGAS at various JCPenney stores summer 2022 in collaboration with Thirteen June. Check out the cities below to find their products near you and get your skin going with that summer glow.

JCPenney: S 10th Street McAllen, TX

JCPenney: Whittwood Town Center Whittier, CA

JCPenney: Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI

JCPenney: Glenstone Avenue Ste 200 Springfield, MO

JCPenney: W Division St Ste 96 St. Cloud, MN

JCPenney: Greenville Blvd SE Ste 200 Greenville, NC

JCPenney: Youngstown Warren Rd, Niles, OH

JCPenney: Main St Trumbull, CT

JCPenney: Town East Mall Mesquite, TX

Vamigas: Grandview Pkwy Davenport, FL

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Navigating the Impact of Social Media on Latina Body Image

Social media. Love or hate it, it has become an integral part of our lives. With 62.3% of the world’s population using social media daily, platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok aren’t going anywhere. While people of all ages use social media, it’s most popular among Millennials and Gen Zers, including Latinas.

While social media has many positive aspects, such as fostering connections, allowing us to share thoughts and ideas, engaging with communities, and more, it’s also undeniable that it’s hurting many people’s mental health.

For women, in particular, social media has been shown to increase comparison and competition among females, contributing to issues like low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, and negative body image. The more time you spend on social media, the more you’re exposed to the illusion of the perfect body and the more you feel like the odd one out. Is there a way to break away from that?

How Social Media Affects Latinas’ Body Image

Body image refers to how you perceive your body, how you feel about it, and how you experience it. This can be negative, where you feel like your body is wrong and you want it to be different, leading to a sense of shame and embarrassment. Or it can be positive, where you feel satisfied, accepting, and grateful for your body, independent of external influences.

This perception of our bodies can be influenced by many factors, including lived experiences, societal messages, and beliefs. It’s also highly influenced by social media because it’s where we’re exposed to whatever beauty standard is trending at any given time. Moreover, social media exposes us to unrealistic depictions of beauty because most of the images we see are filtered or edited and posed.

Social media also creates an unhealthy culture of comparison and competition. Women are particularly susceptible to it, especially teenagers, and tend to compare themselves to what they see online. That’s because we have learned to see ourselves based on what we see in the media. What we see in the media are tons of pictures of good-looking, seemingly flawless people, and it can make us feel deeply insecure.

Many studies have looked into this cultural phenomenon, and the overall conclusion is the same: spending too much time on social media is a surefire way to feel bad about yourself and your body. Latinas are highly affected by this because beauty standards often prioritize thin white women. Meanwhile, the Latino culture idealizes curvy, hourglass body types. So, the pressure is coming from all sides for Latinas.

Considering that social media is so essential to our daily lives, this leads us to the question: is there a way for Latinas to use social media healthily? Can we take back control of the effect it can have on our body image?

How to Turn Social Media into a Source of Latina Empowerment

It’s important to remember that social media isn’t inherently all good or all bad, it’s the way we use it that defines the effect it has on us. We can’t change the way society as a whole employs social media, but we can decide how to use it ourselves and the kind of power we allow it to have in our lives.

When it comes to Latinas and the effect social media can have on our body image, many Latina influencers are helping break the cycle by promoting body positivity and sharing themselves as they are. Switching to more body-positive and honest content is an effective way to expose yourself to real bodies of all shapes and sizes, as well as find inspiration. This, in turn, can have a positive impact on the way you see yourself and your level of body satisfaction.

It’s also important to make a conscious effort to avoid comparison. Social media can be a source of inspiration and motivation, but if your mindset frames everything you see in terms of what you think you lack, it will continue to be a source of discomfort. Not just about your body, but also about your accomplishments, your career, your love life, and more.

One way to help yourself is to curate your feed and make following people a more conscious practice. When you spend time on social media, are there people who instantly trigger comparisons or make you feel bad about yourself? If so, it’s time to unfollow them and fill your feed with content that makes you feel good. Whether that’s empowering Latina influencers, cat meme accounts, nature photos, affirmations, motivational messages, etc., find content that provides positive feelings.

If you need some help, here are a few Latina influencers who champion body positivity and encourage realistic body perception:

Jessica Torres (@thisisjessicatorres)

Born in Ecuador, Jessica Torres is known for her style and joy. Not only can she serve as fashion inspiration, but her bold outlook on life and approach to body positivity will also help you embrace your feminine energy and confidence.

Massy Arias (@massy.arias)

If you need some fitness inspiration, Dominican Republican Massy Arias provides helpful tips on how to take care of your body. She’s a health coach known for her workouts, tips, and empowering takes.

Gloria Lucas (@nalgonapride)

Mexican-American Gloria Lucas is an activist who’s particularly passionate about raising awareness of eating disorders within the Latino community. Her body-positive messaging is inspiring and she will also expose you to social issues worth everyone’s attention.

Nancy Gonzalez (@nancys_journey)

Last but not least, Nancy Gonzalez is another fitness influencer and she was initially focused on sharing her weight loss journey. She’s known for her sense of humor and her tips on workout techniques and healthy meals, encouraging others by sharing her progress.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember it’s in your power to take the reins and decide what kind of effect social media can have on you. You can either use it and allow yourself to be sucked into the comparison culture or you can use it for your own empowerment by being a lot more mindful of the people you follow and the content you interact with.