I’m not sure how Denise Foley (the founding editor of Irish Philadelphia) found us, but I’m sure glad she did. One of our biggest markets is Philadelphia, and Denise wrote this lovely article about Celtic Complexion for their website. The article was originally published here: http://irishphiladelphia.com/2015/01/skin-care-just-for-us/
A BIG thank you to Denise for her support!
Celtic fair skin stems from a single gene from a single person who lived 10,000 years ago in the Middle East or the Indian continent, found a recent Penn State University study.
I know what you’re thinking: Damn him! Not only can’t we tan, that ghost-pale sensitive skin makes us more susceptible to skin cancer and rosacea, an acne-like condition characterized by reddened facial skin and pimples.
And cosmetics? If you’re like me, you have a closet filled with potions and creams that promised you youth and beauty but made your skin look and feel like you’d dozed off under the broiler.
Jennifer Devlin found herself in a similar situation, and she was filling up that closet for free. For 10 years, she worked for many of the top names like Estee Lauder and Lancome and was once the beauty director for Nordstrom’s.
“We were given all the products to use because they wanted us to sell them. I would put them on my skin and they would sting and they would tell me, oh. It’s just your skin, not our products. I never thought to ask what was in the product that was causing the skin to fall off my face,” says the red-haired Devlin, the founder of a rising company called Celtic Complexion, headquartered in Raleigh, NC. Celtic Complexion is one of the sponsors—and an apt one–of the Philadelphia Rose of Tralee event and seven others across the US. Celtic Complexion was also a sponsor of the Philadelphia’s Mary from Dungloe pageant and the Mayo Ball in 2014.
Devlin has had rosacea since she was in her 20s (she’s in her 40s now) and used her makeup artist skills to conceal her overly rosy cheeks. And she tried every product on the market to curb that permanent blush, with few results.
Then she met a holistic esthetician. “I told her what I was using and thought she’d be impressed with all the labels, but she just rolled her eyes and told me that the chemicals, fragrances and dyes were exacerbating my rosacea and prematurely aging my skin,” recalls Devlin.
And as someone whose livelihood depended on the sale of beauty products, she was understandably reluctant to follow the esthetician’s advice. “I believed in those companies and their products—why would they lie to me?—but she said to get off all the chemicals and use only coconut oil on my skin. I did it because this woman was in her early 50s and had gorgeous skin. I figured she must know something.”
She did what the woman recommended and, over the course of a few months, she experienced results: No more redness, no more burning—and no more concealing makeup. (In fact, she rarely wears makeup anymore, she says).
She also said goodbye to the big name beauty industry. “At 31, I went back to school to become an esthetician and began experimenting with making my own beauty products.”
Unlike mainstream brands, Devlin’s homemade beauty treatments weren’t 70 to 80 percent water. “In fact, there’s no water in them,” she says. “Once you put a water-based product on your skin, it feels good but an hour later you don’t feel anything. Once the water evaporates, your skin is left vulnerable.”
At first she just shared her products with family and friends. Then 10 years in, she decided to write a business plan and, with an angel investor, launch her own brand for women with skin like hers, women who trace their fair skin back to that one individual with the unfortunate pale skin gene from the Middle East or India. Celtic Complexion was born.
She sells her artisanal products online and makes them in her home studio, prepared and blended all by hand, by herself, in micro batches of no more than 24 products at one time. “I don’t have things sitting on the shelves getting old,” she says.
They include a non-foaming cleanser made from organic aloe juice, coconut oil, green tea extract, and several essential oils, oils made from the aromatic compounds of plants such as rosemary and lavender; a cream moisturizer rich in fatty acids from coconut and shea butter, vitamins, and pure essential oils; a hydrating winter skin bar available only October 1 through March 31 since it doesn’t withstand warm temperatures; several serums to combat aging and hypersensitive skin; an exfoliant, and tinted moisturizers containing 25% zinc oxide with an SPF of 31 for sun protection.
“Most over-the-counter products contain about 3-5% zinc oxide. Celtic complexions are usually quite fair and burn with anything, and most products don’t have enough of the active ingredient to keep you protected,” says Devlin.
She also provides a number of kits which also serve as samplers for newbies who aren’t sure they want to spring for a $60 or $70 moisturizer or pay $97.50 for a high potency anti-aging serum, her highest priced item. They include winter skin, antiaging, acne and rosacea, hydrating, or love your skin travel kits that range in price from $36 to $79.
The testimonials on her website are impressive: Her products have garnered stellar reviews from beauty bloggers and from the various Roses who have used her product. The North Carolina Rose, Nancy Boyce, even wrote about her and her products in the magazine, Carolina Style.
Devlin got involved with the Rose of Tralee pageant when someone from her local Rose Center reached out to her. She contacted other Rose centers and some, like Philadelphia, tapped her. “I became friends on the phone or on email with a lot of people at the centers,” she says.
It’s a perfect match. The Rose of Tralee International is one of the longest running festivals in Ireland (this summer it will be 56 years old) and the selection of the International Rose—who this year is the Philadelphia Rose, Maria Walsh—is one of the best-watched shows on Irish television. The young women fall right into Celtic Complexion’s demographic–women of Celtic descent. Devlin attended last summer to cheer on her local Rose.
Full disclosure: I’ve been using Devlin’s cleanser, moisturizer and anti-aging serum for several months now and my Irish skin has never looked or felt healthier. Well, maybe it looked a little better when I was the right age to enter the Rose of Tralee pageant, but the last few decades have wrought some changes and, while the products haven’t totally reversed them, they’ve made a visible difference.
If your Celtic skin doesn’t respond the way mine did, no worries. Devlin offers a 100% money back guarantee and, in keeping with the personal nature of her business, when you contact the complaints department, you get Devlin herself. “I have no storefront, so I live and die by testimonials,” she says. “I like to take care of problems right away. You can use a whole bottle of something and if it doesn’t do what I say it can do, you get a refund and we part friends.”
You can find out more about Celtic Complexion products by visiting Jennifer’s website.