I've never actually met Vancouver-based beauty entrepreneur Daniela Belmondo in person—but five minutes into our phone conversation, I knew we were on the same wavelength. She's 100 percent into natural beauty, and created her eponymous skincare line, Belmondo Skin Care, with the goal of providing people with clean, luxurious products that they'd enjoy taking time out of their day to use.
(How awesome is the packaging, by the way?) Daniela's products are now carried in chic stores all across North America, like Anthropologie and ABC Carpet and Home in NYC. She told me that the line has turned into something even more beautiful than she could've originally imagined, and that while it's a ton of work, she's in love with what she does (how many of us can say that?).
I chatted with this über-inspiring entrepreneur about what makes her tick and her unique views on beauty:
What's your background?I have an Early Childhood Education background. I worked with children for a couple of years, and I also worked in the restaurant industry because I’ve always had a love for food. But in 2004 or 2005, I began asking myself, “What am I really in love with doing?” I loved working with kids but I wasn’t IN love with it. So I explored what other things I could do that would be nurturing and still let me work with people. The idea came to me to go to a few spas and have some treatments. And I thought, “I wonder what it would be like to be an esthetician?” I had some treatments and tried to ask a bunch of questions to feel it out and see if it was something I was interested in. Ultimately, I decided it was what I wanted to do, and enrolled in a spa esthetics program, which was my entrance to that whole world.
How did you transition into having your own skincare line? I loved the massage, facial and skin part of my program and decided I just wanted to focus on that when I finished. I ended up working with a spa that just does facials, which was awesome, because it really helped me to grow, learn and understand a lot more than the basics the program taught. After that, I decided I wanted to branch out on my own, so I leased a space in a wellness centre and started offering facials and massage. It was a huge learning experience for me, with a lot more focus on the business side.
I eventually began wondering what it would be like to have my own line, and to be able to use it on my customers, who at the time were asking for specific things to suit their needs. So I started to do a bit of research, but then all the fear and negativity kicked in, and I put it out of my head for a while. It was after an inspiring trip I took in 2009 that I thought, “I’m going to revisit this idea. It’s really scary but it’s not impossible. And what do I have to lose?” I started writing ideas down, exploring options, and then suddenly, I had a line! [Laughs.] It was actually way more hard work than that, and still is, but that’s the condensed version.
Your last name, Belmondo, means “beautiful world.” Was it a no-brainer to choose it as the name of your line? It felt like the right thing to do at the time. I think it’s a beautiful last name—not to toot my own horn or anything, but I quite love it. And I thought, “Why not share that with the rest of the world?” I love the world, I love to travel and I love hearing other people’s experiences of the world and how it’s changed them. It all kind of fit and made sense.
What inspired you to use olive oil as your star ingredient? Olive oil is our hero ingredient. Growing up in Italy, olive oil was such a huge part of my life. We ate it, drank it, bathed in it and hand-washed our clothes with it. So I really wanted to make olive oil a part of the line, and bring that personal element to it. All the other ingredients I chose to work with are very clean. We don’t use actual fragrances; they’re just herbs that add scents and they’re as wild-crafted and organic as they possibly can be.
Why was making your line organic important to you? I wanted it to be as clean as possible. I’ve used a lot of different skincare brands, and I just don’t feel that all those crazy ingredients I can’t pronounce are really necessary. I don’t think they’re doing our skin or our planet any good. There are so many wonderful clean and organic lines now, and I think it’s a movement that’s happening, and there's going to be a shift. The more brands that participate, the better, because it spreads the message on a grander scale. It’s going back to the ancient ways of doing things. (Like this whole coconut oil thing. I love that people are using it, but it’s not new!) The line being organic is in alignment with how I live my life and it was important to me that what I did aligned with my beliefs and my values.
What's your beauty philosophy? Less is more. I believe in treating the skin as gently as one can and listening to what it needs, and often this means using less or nothing at all. There is serious healing power in just letting your skin breathe and repair on its own. I think we've forgotten this and feel like we have to "fix" everything with a product, cream or magic potion or lotion. Freckles and laugh lines are charming and should be embraced, and diet and exercise play an important role in beauty and overall vibrancy. There is no magic cream that will make you beautiful; it's a combination of taking good care of your health and being happy. It's a choice to be happy and I encourage you to seek this in yourself. You will begin to shine and see your own true beauty.
Which skincare products do you think are most important for people to use? For sure a cleanser, and a face cream. If I had to suggest something every week or second week, I’d say a good nourishing mask or cleanser.
What’s your stance on sun care?I’m a huge believer that sun is good for us. It obviously depends on where you live in the world; here in Vancouver, we have a lack of sunshine. It’s healthy for us as humans to be exposed to the sun and it makes us feel good. That being said, I don’t believe in going out and baking for three hours with oil. As far as sunscreen goes, I’m more into wearing a hat instead of spraying crazy chemicals on my face. It might prevent skin cancer, but what else are you getting? I wear sunscreen when I’m outside for long periods of time, but opt for something like Green Beaver, one of my favourite natural alternatives. I like what they stand for.
How important are facials?Good question. I used to think they were important, but now, I don’t know if you need to get a facial every month. Ultimately, I think facials are a really great way to take time for yourself, get cozy, relax and just "be." Does that relaxation time have a larger impact than the actual treatment? Maybe. I think it’s about taking the time out for yourself. I give myself facials at home; taking that time allows me to relax and slow down. There’s a transparency with a lot of these cleaner, organic lines that empowers people to take the products and do it on their own at home, which I really like. You don’t need to go to the spa. I no longer do them as part of my business anymore; I’m sticking strictly to skincare.
How do you take care of your skin? I love simplicity. I wake up and wipe my face with our After the Rain Face Toner.
Belmondo After the Rain Face Toner, at Anthropologie
And some mornings I apply the face oil and/or face cream.
Belmondo The Cloud Face Cream, at Anthropologie
Once a week I use The Dunes Face Exfoliant.
Belmondo The Dunes Face Exfoliant, at Anthropologie
When I want to treat myself, I apply The Earth Clay Mask and relax for 15 minutes of "me" time. In the evening, I usually cleanse my skin with The Rain.
Belmondo The Rain Face Cleanser, at Anthropologie
About once a week I'll cleanse using the oil method with The Dew Face Oil.
What about makeup? I don't wear any makeup. Just theBalm to the Rescue Vegan Lip Treatment and ILIA Beauty Balmy Days Lip Conditioner.
What fragrance do you wear? I'm a huge fan of using natural oils as fragrance—anything woodsy. I love the scent of Espionage and Finjan from Ayala Moriel Parfums.
What are the top five beauty products you can't live without? My After the Rain Face Toner, face oil, coconut oil, Sunshine Coast Natural Care Deodorant and lavender oil.
What products do you think are worth splurging on? A good cleanser and a good face cream. When I say "good," I mean products that don't contain alcohol and mineral oils. Choose a face cleanser that will clean your skin but won't strip it of its natural oils, and a face cream that will nourish and moisturize your face without clogging your pores. It doesn't have to promise to remove wrinkles. By taking good care of your skin and staying away from ingredients such as alcohol and mineral oil, and all the other junk that no one can pronounce, you'll actually be doing more favours to your skin and keeping it young and healthy-looking, instead of buying into the "miracle in a jar" theory.
Which products can you save on? A good face oil can be multi-purpose, and is awesome for cleansing, moisturizing, shaving, dry scaly patches, hair and more! You can also choose a good-quality organic coconut oil or olive oil and it will be just as great.
Who are your beauty icons? I didn't grow up looking at people as beauty icons. Since being a small girl, I remember seeing beauty in many people and things. My mom is probably a great beauty icon. She always encouraged me to take good care of myself and said, "Don't worry what other people think of you as long as you feel good in your skin. No one goes to bed worrying about you; they're too busy worrying about themselves." This has stuck with me and I always want to take care of myself and my skin and do what feels good more than what is the trendy or fashionable thing to do. She also wasn't big on wearing makeup and I'm sure influenced my own lack of love for applying makeup, which I'm completely okay with.
What's your beauty pet peeve? Women who can’t appreciate and love the lines on their faces. There’s beauty in just being able to embrace that part of you. Lines don’t make you less beautiful—they add character.
What's your best beauty tip?Know that most everyone is attracted to down-to-earth people that have love for themselves. It’s not about how many products you own or how you apply your makeup, it’s about being able to appreciate and love yourself. That’s beauty.
Do you have any advice for aspiring estheticians or skincare entrepreneurs? Be open to the different possibilities of what things could look like. Have a support system, or someone you can go to to bounce ideas off of. Mentors are huge, as is building relationships with people. Always ask, “How can I be of help to someone else?” It’s about giving, not take, take, take. Once you get rid of the negative chatter, things do end up working out!
Do you agree with Daniela's "beauty from the inside out" approach?
Have you checked out her line yet?
Got any other natural skincare products that you swear by?