Part of the reason I created Melanglow was to provide a space for women of color to support black skin care makers. As someone who works in the beauty industry, staying abreast of every facet is essential for content creation. When I scroll through Instagram multiple times a day, I notice so many artisans and realize that if it was not for the explore page or users sharing, there would be no way for me to learn about these entrepreneurial women. With ranking and monetizing being two goals of most social media platforms, I was left wondering how much the visibility of these small brands are being affected by constant updates and what would happen if or when Instagram is no longer one of the largest social channels where users consume content. Yes, my brain went that far. These women need a space for prospective customers to find them.
A few weeks ago I stumbled across 80th + May Apothecary on someone’s feed. I am an avid bather and don’t regularly see brands making or highlighting their bath products aside from LUSH. So when I saw bath products as the primary skus of 80th + May, I reached out to learn more about its therapeutic personal care products.
Introduce yourself & why you do what you do.
I’m Lauren and I created 80th + May Apothecary when I learned that almost everything I consumed and applied to my skin has some form of chemical in it, which might contribute to some serious health issues that are killing black women at alarming rates. It’s only right that I provide what I can to keep us healthy and our skin glowing without using chemicals or breaking our budget.
Tell us how you chose the name 80th + May and how long you’ve been around?
I started 80th + May Apothecary in December 2014. It caused me to change my entire lifestyle; it saved me. I wanted the name to hold sentimental value and represent natural healing. Growing up my paternal grandmother, my personal healer, lived at 80th & May Apothecary in Chicago. When I was at her house I could be myself. I remember always feeling free and overwhelmed with love when I was with her. She made nearly everything by hand and all her food was made from scratch. When I’m making products I feel like I’m in the kitchen with her making her popular sweet potato pie. Up until her death, my grandmother was my voice of reason. She always called at the right time and always said the right thing. She cured everything. 80th + May Apothecary represents her home and how her love always healed.
Describe what sets 80th + May apart from other personal care lines.
Everyday I learn about a new personal care brand that inspires me. I love to research their growth and creative process. My intention has always been to set 80th + May Apothecary apart from other brands through intent and purpose.
Each 80th + May Apothecary promotes healthy skin and helps to treat depression, insomnia, addiction, eczema, acne, or ingrown hairs. I want healthy skin to be top priority with each product, along with healing of the mind and soul. Currently, I am creating several products that aid with all of the previously mentioned conditioned as well as many others with healthy skin as the top priority.
Let’s talk quality standards. How do you define “natural” and “non-toxic”?
Natural to me is anything that doesn’t have to be altered by a chemical in order for it to do what nature intended. Same law applies with life. If there’s anything in your life that requires you to not be your natural self in order to receive it, it’s not meant to be. Everything the grows from the earth, within you, and on you is just the way it should be.
Do you plan to continue with the artisanal route or do you see mass production in the future?
My plan is to always go the artisanal route. I thoroughly enjoy making each product, designing each label, writing each note, and the growth it creates within me. This entire process causes me to create things I never thought I could. I can’t see myself giving that up for mass production. Unless creating unlimited opportunities for my community is considered mass production, then I’m all about that.
What does your personal care line entail and what concerns do they address?
80th + May’s current focus is skin and mental healing via bath enhancement products. The two Milk Baths focus on moisturizing, remineralizing, and detoxing skin while the Bath Teas serve the same purpose along with different aromatherapy benefits. Lastly, there’s the Hand Butter, which is a necessity for everyone with hands.
My next product launch will include different aromatherapy shower steamers, a few products for men, and some special body oils. I am so excited about these new products. I’ve been working on them for awhile and I am finally happy with the finished products. This summer I’ll be teaming up with my cousin, who is a licensed esthetician, to create some amazing face products.
Getting into the Mix
Milk Baths: What is the difference between milk baths, bath salts, and bath teas?
A milk bath’s primary focus is to soften and detox the skin with essential fatty acids and vitamins found in the milk and clay. Bath salts focus on remineralizing the skin as well soothing muscles. Bath teas use herbs and essential oil blends to aid in a specific purpose like insomnia or anxiety.
Bath Teas: Is the tea loose or in sachets? For the record, are they edible?
The Bath Teas come in a heat sealed tea bag that you put in a muslin bag and hang from your faucet. Please don’t ingest.
Hand Butter: Does this need to be kept at a certain temperature to maintain nutrients?
I always recommend leaving your hand butter at room temperature or cooler. It will melt once it gets over 80 degrees. You can always put it in the fridge for a few minutes and it will harden back up. Nutrients will still be in there if it melts. No worries.
Cuticle oil: When will this be available? Is it an alternative to the hand butter?
The cuticle oil is currently in the works. Oils are being infused with powerful herbs at this very second. I created this product with one of my best friends in mind who’s a nail artist, so it has to be unique. She has a huge following and some high profile clients, so I want it to be the best of the best. The cuticle oil includes ingredients that strengthen the nails, promote growth, and repair the cuticle, whereas the hand butter will soften cuticles but won’t yield the same results as the cuticle oil.
Beard cream: I saw an IG follower requested this. Is it still in the works?
Beard Oil will be available before a cream. Summer is knocking on our door, so I want to create something light for the brothas.
Anything coming soon?
So many goodies are coming soon. I plan to do at least two product rollouts per month. My goal is to provide a natural alternative to everyday necessities, from car air fresheners to skin care to cleaning products. Eventually, I will open a brick and mortar location with all of my products as well as items from other artisans.
Share your skin care regimen.
Water, African black soap, and apricot kernel or marula oil. I literally don’t use anything else.
What’s on your vanity and what’s in your purse?
In my purse I keep a cocoa butter stick for my lips, YSL Lipstick, & 80th + May Hand Butter. On my vanity you will find some cheap mascara, Mac Blush, and Marula Oil Angel perfume by Thierry Mugler.
What are your best sellers and what are your favorites?
Without a doubt Hand Butter is my top seller probably because not many have time for baths. I love all of my products, but I would have to say my absolute favorite is the Uplift Bath Tea. I get so creative when I use it and it makes me happy.
What skin care tip do you live by?
Drink lots of water, preferably alkaline.
How do your customers inspire you?
I’ve created relationships with all of my customers. Most of us are friends on social media, so I’m aware of their likes, dislikes, and challenges. I push myself to create products that they don’t know they need. When I started this I made products that I wanted. Now every one of my products is inspired by a customer or friend.
Where can we find 80th + May?
Follow 80th + May here: