As the times change, we are becoming more aware of our choices and what we put on and in our bodies. The concept of beauty goes beyond our use of traditional skincare and is a mindful practice of using conscious and sustainable products that have earned their place in the industry. It is about taking things slow, treating our skincare routines as meditative rituals, and practicing gratitude for overall wellness. At IKKIVI Zine, we had the pleasure of speaking to conscious beauty advocate Sara Rose Donahue, who lets us in on her mindful and intentional lifestyle and the importance of clean beauty in her work and personal care.
To begin with, we would love to know what a conscious and intentional lifestyle means to you and what are the ways you practice it on a daily basis.
To me, living in consciousness and intention translates to bringing purpose, love, curiosity, and grace to your daily actions. I love the challenge of bringing attention to the daily actions we go through robotically, like our beauty routines. The entire ethos of my brand is centered around switching your 'beauty routines' to intentional 'beauty rituals'. Instead of rushing through the process, try to make every step come from a place of intent and purpose. Get into a meditative state when doing your nighttime skincare to unwind and to come into the present moment so you can mindfully focus only on what you are doing in that very moment. Send gratitude and love to your skin and to the medicinal products that are healing and helping. Set up your space to be calming and energizing, and dress in clothes that make you feel good without causing harm to the planet.
As soon as I started celebrating my morning self-care, skincare, and beauty rituals as the sacred time that they are, my days started having more intention as well. If you do your routine every morning, every single day, that adds up to a lot of time. You might as well make it a conscious sacred celebration, right?
What inspired you to make the switch to a conscious lifestyle and, as a result, build your beautiful body of work around conscious beauty?
I was born and raised in Hood River, Oregon, an amazing small community focused on wind, water, and snow sports. Growing up, being outside and active in nature was a big part of my childhood. While oppositely, from a very young age, I always had a passion for beauty, fashion, art, ballet, and dance. My love for fashion led me to Savannah College of Art & Design, where I majored in fashion marketing and minored in dance. After university, I moved to New York City and worked for a beauty brand as a product developer and marketer. This is when I truly fell in love with beauty and realized how much importance you hold as a product developer. Makeup isn't just makeup, and skincare isn't just skin care - you have the power to create products that can completely change the way people feel, to give them confidence, and to inspire them. As I learned more about traditional beauty ingredients and worked with some of the top labs in the world to formulate products, my curiosity got the best of me. I loved what I was doing, but I felt a disconnect. Led by this intuition, I simultaneously began my own wellness journey. For me, it all started with food. After a health diagnosis, I began to research and evaluate everything I was putting in my body so I could better understand what nourished me and what depleted me. I then had the realization that if I became conscious of everything I was putting in my body, I also had to be equally conscious about the products I was putting on my skin. It is truly as simple as this. Everything you apply on your skin is either healing it and nourishing it, or doing the opposite. Every day you get to choose. In true product developer form, I started to try, test, and research new clean products whenever I would run out of my traditional products. I didn’t try to completely do an overhaul of my routines. Nothing was forced or overnight, and everything happened one step at a time.
After 5 years in NYC, I decided to move home to Oregon to begin a new phase in life. I started working for myself doing what I am passionate about, so I had the flexibility to find inspiration while traveling and working, but much more ended up unfolding. As my excitement for clean and conscious beauty grows, I realize why I feel such a connection to it. The whole concept is in line with how I was raised and what I believe in (using plants as medicine), mixed with what I have grown to love (cosmetics, fashion, and art). Merging the worlds of my traditional beauty background with conscious beauty felt completely in alignment and is what got me to this place of launching my social platforms, @sararosie, where I teach beauty ritual concepts, natural and glowy makeup looks, and so much more.
How is clean and conscious beauty different from the traditional skincare and wellness routines we tend to follow usually?
For starters, the language of Organic, Natural, Green, Conscious, and Clean all can be used without merit. The terms have no industry-regulated definition, so it can be hard to navigate and cut through the marketing language. But to me, having a conscious beauty routine is one that honors sustainability in its packaging and ingredient sourcing, and also one that is formulated, without any hormone-disrupting and harmful ingredients.
This is why I created my own definition of the term 'conscious beauty' and what it means to me:
AWARE: Being awake and aware of everything you choose to put on your skin.
CURIOUS: Getting curious about the ingredient lists of your beauty products.
MINDFUL: Staying mindful, not perfect. Hold yourself to the power of grace, not perfection.
I don’t believe that all chemicals are bad. I believe in learning and evolving with scientific research. But I do believe that you should know what you are putting on your skin. And I think true transparency in product formulation, packaging, and company practices is a big part of the conscious beauty conversation that is still in its infancy stage. My hope for someone interested in conscious beauty? They start to become their own advocates and begin to do some research and get curious about where their products are coming from and what is actually in them.
With this gained empowerment and information on ingredient safety and the beauty industry, you will have the ability to make these choices for yourself in a conscious and intentional way, take the power back, and begin to write your own definition of what living in conscious beauty means to you - whether that be more ingredient-focused, sustainability-focused, etc.
Can you share with us if and how conventional products negatively affect us and our environment?
There is so much to say on this topic because this is where navigating the beauty industry can feel like the wild wild west. Since there are few regulations by law, brands are self-regulated and can basically hide potentially toxic ingredients in their formulations. Along with safety, sourcing, sustainability, ethics, and the environment are all at play here. Everything you use in your beauty routine then goes back down the drain and into our ecosystem, and all of the packaging that cannot be recycled or reused - is in a landfill. After learning the fine print on this subject, there is no way you cannot try every single day to do a little better. It’s truly mind blowing.
How, according to you, do clean beauty rituals coincide with our wellness and mental health? Is it way beyond just using products on our skin?
Absolutely, 100%, YES! With the right intention, skincare, makeup, and self-care all have the power to completely shift your mood, confidence, happiness, stress, and self-worth. We have an amazing tool at our fingertips that can be used to better our mental health and our overall wellness. For example, imagine if you took the time in the morning and at night that you already used to do your skincare and turned it into an active, mindful meditation. Just like that, you have meditated for 10 minutes a day without adding anything else to your schedule. It’s a sacred time you can use to connect back to you. It should be celebrated as such.
You often speak about gratitude as an integral part of the inner glow. Can you tell us more about it and how you make it a part of your routine?
Having a consistent daily gratitude practice for the past three years has had a huge impact on me, helping me to fully create a new mindset on what it means to be happy and how to live more positively, and it has altered the way I see the world. Gratitude brings us back to the present moment. Expressing gratitude has been scientifically proven to make you happier. Practicing gratitude can actually rewire your brain, kickstarting the production of dopamine and serotonin, our 'feel good' neurotransmitters, to create a feeling of happiness and contentment. I fell in love with the practice of gratitude so much I started a non-profit gratitude-based program called Gratitude University. When you are living in gratitude and radiating thanks, joy, and love - you automatically GLOW from the inside out. The gratitude and beauty connection is very real. All beauty comes from the inside, and a truly beautiful person is absolutely overflowing with gratitude. A simple gratitude practice is just starting the day with an intention of having more gratitude. With it, top of mind, call out things you are grateful for during your day and see how your perception of life can change. Let me tell you, this gratitude glow cannot be found in any products!
Can you share with us the role of sustainability and ethical practices in your process?
I still very much view myself as a student of this and work on learning more every single day. Stay curious, and it will take you far! Some resources that continue to help me:
PACT Collective - a program to recycle your beauty products and to learn more about recycling in general
EWG - the environmental working group is a database with over 70,000 products and 9,000 ingredients on the market. Search for your products and find out what ingredients in them are safe or not.
Think Dirty - an app where you can scan products as you’re shopping to see their potential level of toxicity and compare products with a cleaner alternative as you shop. Shop their recommended clean cosmetics!
You can learn a lot from reading about the ingredients they do not allow and their ethos on the subject! It is super informative. All of these resources I look to daily.
Would you like to share any tips for the ones starting out on this skincare journey?
I know hearing all of this information in the beginning can feel very overwhelming! But please don’t be overwhelmed. I believe the conscious way to 'switch' over your routine is to not completely do an overhaul of your products. Nothing has to be forced or happen overnight, and everything can be one step at a time. Next time you run out of a traditional product, research how to recycle it, and then buy a cleaner/more conscious product! It’s a journey after all, and in time it will happen! When first starting out, shop from trusted clean beauty retailers like Credo Beauty and The Detox Market to make it easier on you, or go to my 'CERTIFIED ROSIE' shop where I list all of my favorite clean and conscious products. And, of course, always reach out to me for any specific product recommendations, advice, or help! I have tried just about every beauty product, so I love helping people find their perfect product. I’m here to help! You got this.
Interviewer and Writer PRERNA MALHOTRA
Layout and Graphic Design VEDHIKA HV
IKKIVI Zine is a property of IKKIVI by Founder NIVI MURTHY