4 local women breaking barriers in the beauty industry

International Women’s Day is March 8. But you don’t have to leave the country—or even the region—to find some major inspiration from women leading the way.

We chatted with four local women behind successful beauty brands. Here’s what they shared about starting their own business—and sneaking in some self care.

Photo courtesy of Alchimie Forever

Ada Polla
Alchimie Forever

Polla heads up the North American arm of Alchimie Forever, a Swiss skin care brand started by her father and dermatologist, Luigi Polla. Based in DC, Polla leads the family biz because “I wanted to help women and men feel better, be better,” she says. “In my family, we do this through skin care and dermatology.”

Self Care Splurge: “Self care through skin care. Spend time in your bathroom, applying lotions and creams and serums. Take a bath. Close the door. These moments of intimacy with one’s self are essential to body, heart and soul.”

Must Try: Advanced Retinol Serum with time-release technology, $99 (available at alchimie-forever.com and Bellacara in Alexandria)

Photo courtesy of Bluemercury

Marla Malcolm Beck

Marla Malcolm Beck’s ubiquitous beauty brand is available nationwide, but she launched it two decades ago in DC. “I set out to revolutionize the way women shop for cosmetics. Back then, you could only buy cosmetics at drugstores or department stores,” says Beck. “I knew there had to be a better way and created the first neighborhood beauty store.”

Self Care Splurge: “I use vitamin C every day! Vitamin C helps protect skin from environmental stressors, in addition to the amazing brightening and firming properties!”

Must Try: Lune+Aster Fabulous in Five Beauty Bag, $98 (available at all Bluemercury locations and at bluemercury.com)


Photo courtesy of Sugar + Spruce

Crystal Wellman
Sugar + Spruce

Crystal Wellman and her daughter Morgan launched Sugar + Spruce in Fredericksburg after Crystal, who had a successful aesthetics practice, decided to add a bath and body component to her studio. It was so popular, the duo now focuses solely on their handmade products. “We were able to build a brand that was authentic, original and fun,” she says. “I’m really proud of what we’ve built as women entrepreneurs.”

Self Care Splurge: Find “time to take a nice long relaxing bath at least once a week—or daily if you love bathing as much as I do. I like to incorporate bath salts, fresh or dried flowers and essential oils when available.”

Must Try: Mermaid Sugar Bath Bomb Donut, $12 (available at Sugar + Spruce, 726 Caroline St., Fredericksburg, or sugarandspruce.com)


Photo courtesy of Skincando

Sara Damelio
Launched in 2000, Damelio’s NoVA-based Skincando is the region’s largest organic skin care line. “I was inspired to launch my own business because I had problem skin and I couldn’t use traditional beauty products,” says Damelio. “I started my company when green beauty didn’t exist so my only solution was to make my own!”

Self Care Splurge: “Treat yourself to a professional spa treatment once a month. A massage or an organic facial is a wonderful way to feel pampered.”

Must Try: Miracle Cream Nighttime Repair Treatment, .5 oz for $40 (available at skincando.com)

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