After working in the fashion and beauty industries for 14 years, Jazmin Alvarez founded Pretty Well Beauty, a meticulously curated online beauty shop that only sells products that meet the highest standards of clean beauty and sustainability. Today, she is an advocate for ensuring that clean beauty feels inclusive and approachable for all women.
I’ve been a beauty junkie my whole life. My mom was a hairstylist, so I grew up in her salon in San Mateo, California. I’d spend my weekends there, and she would do my hair every single Saturday. I didn’t do my own hair until I moved out. Didn’t wash it, didn’t style it — nothing! Everything I learned came directly from her.
But when it came to my beauty routine, I just wanted to do what everyone else was doing. I’d follow other girls who were buying all these skin products — Noxzema, Clean & Clear — and I’d use them, too. I didn’t have acne, but I needed to have that anti-acne product! Of course, these products were way too harsh for my skin, which my mother knew. But I loved the ritual of finding things and putting them on my face and having a little routine.
Despite my love of all things beauty, I didn’t set out to work in that industry. I was a biochemistry major at Sam Houston State University in Texas, and I planned on becoming a pediatrician. But it turns out, I suck at chemistry. So, I took a year off after my sophomore year and went home to lick my wounds and work as a model scout.
I returned to school to study fashion merchandising at Miami International University, and then moved to New York City, where I got into casting and production and worked for large fashion brands like Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. I’d be on photoshoots with all these beautiful clothes, but I would find myself much more attracted to what was going on in the glam department. I’d constantly ask, “What’s this product? How do you use it? Put it on me!” I made friends with the hair and makeup teams and would go home with my hair and makeup perfectly done, but nowhere to go. I was naturally curious about it all. It started the domino effect that ultimately led me to rubbing shoulders with a lot of big brands, working as a freelance producer for Sephora and then leading the digital launch for the Fenty Beauty campaign.
For years, I had wanted to start a business of my own, but I never felt quite ready or passionate enough about anything until I read an article in Allure about a brand called Mother Dirt. They made a probiotic spray that was supposed to help balance your skin. After years of using harsh products that never seemed to clear up the skin problems I had begun to accrue as an adult, I thought, “That sounds interesting.” So, for an entire month I didn’t use any soap on my body or face — just water and this probiotic spray -— and my oily skin started to balance itself out. I didn’t get one single pimple! I bounced into my facialist’s office all excited. She said, “Yeah, your skin looks great on the surface. But beneath, you’ve got a lot of congestion.”
I didn’t want to undo all the stuff I’d just cleaned up, though, so I started doing my own research on products made only from natural ingredients. Mind you, “Clean Beauty” wasn’t even a term at this point. The packaging wasn’t cute yet. It was all very crunchy-granola. But I experimented using my own skin as a lab and, eventually, my relationship with my skin completely changed. I became confident not wearing makeup and no longer got any pimples. I don’t even suffer from fine lines or wrinkles. (Though, that may also be genetic—my 65-year-old mother doesn’t have any either.)
While using “Clean Beauty” was a revelation, the experience buying these products left me feeling deflated. I wasn’t being treated well when I shopped at specialty beauty stores in New York City, and I began to feel intimidated even walking inside their doors. That’s how the idea for Pretty Well Beauty came about. I knew that I couldn’t possibly be the only one who felt this way, and I wanted to do what these boutiques were doing, but better. There’s an unfortunate misconception that this idea of “Clean Beauty” is elitist and exclusive and only for people who look or act a certain way. But I am the consumer and I don’t fit into those boxes.
I wanted to shift the narrative and create something that felt much more approachable and inclusive. Something that celebrates indie skincare brands by diverse founders and highlights the stories and reasons why their products exist. I also wanted to create a transparent environment where consumers are educated and get one-on-one personalization. Pretty Well Beauty is essentially a Sephora, but with only clean products.
For me, “Clean Beauty” is quite simple: it’s not utilizing any ingredients or materials that can be hazardous to human consumption or the planet. The idea starts with ingredients but includes the packaging and supply chain as well. We also make sure the brands we carry actually do what they say they’ll do, and we test them all in-house for at least a month before selling them on our site.
My passion was born out of those teenage years of putting too much stuff on my face without paying attention to what was in it. All of these products that claimed to solve my problems were actually causing them. Now, my hope is that people perceive me as their best friend because I have a lot of information to help guide them towards discovering something new, healthy, and sustainable—for themselves and the world.
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