Self-Care + Beauty in the Summertime - Interview with Shen Beauty Founder, Jessica Richards

We are beyond excited to share a special interview today with our go-to beauty expert and wellness partner, Jessica Richards -- owner of Shen Beauty and head of the wellness and beauty department at Free People. At the beginning of the year, Jessica wrote a letter to her community sharing more background on how she started Shen as well as some challenges she was dealing with. We've always been moved by Jessica's courage to tackle projects and willingness to bare it all out in the open with her community.

What does self-care mean to you?

Self-care is a very literal term to me, meaning I take time to myself.  Sometimes this looks like a soulcycle class and sometimes this looks like laying in bed all day reading a good book that makes me cry at the end. Seriously though this happens… read When Breath Becomes Air.  I feel like most people think of self care as eating well, doing a face mask or even getting a facial. To me, those things are just my way of life, but what I realized as a working mom of two young boys is that taking time for myself is not selfish but actually self-care.

You recently were diagnosed with Vitiligo, an autoimmune disease related to stress, both environmental and emotional. Tell us a bit about how you’re taking care of yourself these days and how your diagnosis has changed you.

What I realized when I was told that I have Vitiligo is that I truly was not taking any time, or rather self care for myself.  My life is solely dedicated first to my boys and second to my two jobs - owner of Shen Beauty and also heading up the beauty and wellness department for Free People.  I have been burning the candle at two ends.  After opening Shen in 2010 I made a choice to say “yes” to everything because hell, you never know what could come of it! In turn I think it stressed me out and helped to cause my vitiligo, which is brought on by stress.  For 2017, this is the year where i say “no”. No to a meeting because it takes time from my kids. No to the late dinner with friends because I am tired and the next day I have to much to do.  This year is my year of getting rid of the old and stagnant in order to truly figure out what I want my life to be.  

So many of us are rushed for time, especially in the morning! Can you recommend a 5-minute beauty routine to get us out the door fast?

Beauty to me is always really fast because I feel like over thinking it is what makes it intimidating to people.  You just want to be you but better.  I call it the 3 minute routine.  First I wash my face with cleanser from Pai or May Lindstrom Honey Mud. Then I use a serum - vitamin c ampoules are amazing. Next I add another serum for hydration because I have terribly dry skin, usually Dr. Sturm Hyaluronic. After I add an oil. It switches on different days because I’m currently trying out a few different ones. I like Leland Francis or Pai BioRegenerate. Finally I add a cream, usually my Dr. Sturm MC1 Blood Cream with just a quick application of mascara and I’m out the door.  I also tint my brows every month at Shen with either Josh or Laura and because I always focus on my skin I don’t really wear foundation. It may sound like a lot but seriously, it only takes 3 minutes.

There are so many beauty products out there that call themselves "natural". What words should we look for on packaging to help us know what to get and what to avoid?

I think the easiest thing is downloading the app to your phone, it takes all the thinking out and rates the products on a toxicity level.

The summer is officially here this week. As our resident beauty expert, what are the five things you can’t live without in the summertime?

Sunscreen - All day every day no matter what! I LOVE the Dr. Sturm Sun Drops. I mix it with my face cream and it can also be blended in with your foundation. And remember to put sunscreen on your eyelids! If you have sunglasses and no hat sun can still get in there and melanoma is not a joke. Also don't forget back of hands.

Makeup Wipes - I carry the rms makeup wipes everywhere! I feel like I’m constantly dirty from bus exhaust or touching the poles on the subway. I use them on my neck and then wipe my hands as they don't dry me out.

Beauty from the inside out! - Always and forever I live and die by glow from The Beauty Chef Probiotic Skin Refiner. Plus I eat Provenance Meals religiously when I’m in the city. Especially when I’m in between traveling for work. Eating clean has been a game changer for my health. I had thought my diet was always pretty clean but after consulting with Caroll and the team at Provenance Meals I came to realize how much of a toll gluten, dairy, and refined sugars can take. Since I've started eating clean with Provenance I've noticed a considerable improvement in my energy levels. I snack less often than I use to, and I feel happier knowing that I'm fueling my body right.

Moisturizer - I know it's crazy to add extra moisture in the humid weather but I can't live without it! I use the blue cocoon from May Lindstrom mostly. Plus it helps to calm my sunburns.

Pedicures - They make everything better in the summer but nail salons harbor germs. I always bring my own anti-fungal products from Dr. Archer with me plus her oil doubles as a hand sanitizer with all the tea tree in it.

Known in the industry as "The Cool Hunter,” fashion stylist and Brooklyn mom Jessica Richards is a California native who looks like a surfer girl but with a downtown edge. She founded Shen in 2010 after a calamity with a face cream sent her up to Smith and Court Streets in search of a suitable replacement. Coming up empty handed with the realization that there was “no beauty in Brooklyn,” the idea of Shen was born. What began as a neighborhood haven for undiscovered, organic lines and exclusive British imports soon started attracting consumers from Manhattan, Europe, Asia and beyond. Jessica is renowned in the industry for her considered, relevant curation, and has been featured in the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Interview, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, The Huffington Post and Goop.