GAINESVILLE, Ga. (AP) - Terri Gabriel’s philosophy is simple.
“If you can’t put it in your mouth, you shouldn’t put it on your skin,” she said.
She came to this realization after suffering from health issues, such as eczema, which resulted in poor skin. But rather than complain about needing makeup that wouldn’t harm her skin, she jumped into action.
Gabriel created her makeup line, Red Umbrella Cosmetics, in 2010. She runs it with her husband, TJ, who helps on the business side with purchasing materials and the like.
Her three children - Davis, 23, Elliot, 20, and Hayes, 13 - also assist. Elliot models the products while Hayes helps create products and pack orders. Davis helps as needed.
“I think the idea of a family business … because … when I’m done, it’ll be over,” TJ said. “But with a family business, it either stays with your family, or you sell it.”
The family of five’s cosmetics line, which is beneficial to the skin, is mainly sold online at www.redumbrellacosmetics.com. But Terri wields her products at specialty shows, such as the Hearts and Hands Emporium at First Baptist Church in Gainesville, and health retreats.
However, the mother of three markets the gentle-on-the-skin and nearly edible makeup to women dealing with health issues, particularly cancer.
“They need to feel good about themselves, but they’re afraid to put stuff on their skin,” Terri said, explaining her cosmetics would not compromise look or coverage. “They don’t want to put any toxic load on their skin.”
She said she understands their concerns. She said she’s noticed several cosmetic companies claim “all natural” ingredients, but that’s not the case. Products with an “all-natural” label are not regulated.
Red Umbrella products, however, are mineral-based and regulated by the FDA. Ingredients for the powder and pigment are minerals straight from the earth.
“The minerals that I use are generally the same minerals you would get when you’re eating food,” she said.
Her products include foundation, blush, concealer, bronzer, finishing powder and lipsticks. Multi-use colors double as eyeshadows and eyeliners.
Lipsticks also are made with minerals, natural oils and butters. Terri said she uses those materials, because they will find their way inside the body at some point.
“They’re almost all actually food ingredients,” she said. “Because the lipstick in particular, it’s going in.”
And Gabriel’s customers approve of her mineral-based products.
“I like the idea of a more natural makeup,” said Jessica Knight, who gave Red Umbrella Cosmetics a try after TJ casually mentioned his wife’s business during a class at the University of North Georgia. “I like to feel good about what I put on my skin.”
Knight said she previously struggled with acne and oily skin, so using a powder was appealing. So she ordered it, becoming one of Red Umbrella Cosmetics’ first customer’s five years ago. Now, she uses the mineral melt foundation, blush, eye shadow and Finale finishing powder.
“(Terri’s makeup) always feels real lightweight,” said Knight, who now lives in Gautier, Miss.
Terri creates each product, developing formulas and colors in a room dedicated to the business in her Gainesville home. The room is sealed and separated. Anyone who comes in must wear a mask to keep the work area sanitary, she said.
She said her education in fashion merchandising and work in interior design also helped her in devising the color palates for her cosmetics.
And through lots of research and trial and error, Terri has grown her product line slowly. It’s just been a matter of seeing which ingredients can be used in what capacity, she said. She experiments with ingredients until she gets a specific consistency and look.
“It’s kind of a matter of baking a cake,” she said. “Do you need two eggs or do you need one?”
Since it is a meticulous process, the Gabriels have grown the business slow and steady.
“We wanted to develop a quality product that could grow with time,” Terri said.
She said women of all ages use the products, especially if they are careful about what goes on their skin.
“I leave out a lot of those nasty ingredients that are considered fillers,” she said.
For customers curious about her ingredients, Terri supplies the information on her website, which serves as an educational resource.
“So people understand why we use each ingredient and why it’s beneficial to them,” she said.
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