Juliana Dawdy.

Hi! My name is Juliana Dawdy, and I’m the founder of Brains in Beauty. I’m a graduating senior and will be attending the University of Virginia in the fall to major in chemistry and business. I’m an outside hitter on my school’s volleyball team, a recent STEM enthusiast, and a Tollhouse Cookie fanatic!

Interviewed by Shivani Dave from Revive’s Interview Team.

I see that you are the founder of Brains in Beauty… What inspired you to start this organization?

I’m one of those people who will wait for the “perfect” time to start. However, after seeing amazing female student-leaders doing great things through their organizations, I decided to stop overthinking and just start! Along the way I’ve learned a lot and grown, but that never would’ve happened if I didn’t just say “yolo”!

How did you come up with the name, Brains in Beauty?

I get this question a lot actually, but to be transparent, it just came to me! I like alliteration, and the name refers to the brains (or the scientists) in beauty (the cosmetics industry).

What are a couple of things you want consumers to keep in mind while purchasing cosmetic makeup?

Having chemicals in your products is OKAY! Some people have a stigma that cosmetics that are natural or organic are better, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a certain ingredient that makes a product safe or effective—it’s how its formulated. The whole purpose of cosmetic chemists is to make sure products execute certain functions AND are safe with the known standards! However, if you’re going to research a product or ingredients, get your information from reliable sources like scientists’ research papers.

What was your favorite post on Instagram to research about?

Probably my “Your Moisturizer is a H.O.E.” series! Usually, I don’t get to write too often because I’m directing other initiatives, but I was able to go back and learn into one of the first things I learned when I got interested in cosmetic chemistry.

What do you want people to know about Brains in Beauty?

You don’t need to be an aspiring cosmetic chemist to follow us! We strive to provide a variety of information that everyone—whether you’re into STEM or want to see how your favorite cleanser works—can learn something from.

What inspired you to create an organization of both Cosmetic and Chemistry? (It is not a very common field, so it’s very inspiring to see someone take the initiative to research something this unique!)

For the longest time, I felt like I had to choose between my passions of beauty, science, and design. Starting Brains in Beauty allowed me to demonstrate my preexisting knowledge and learn new things about all three simultaneously! 

What skincare products do you recommend the most? As well, what products do you recommend if someone is under a lot of stress?

I don’t have a specific brand of products I recommend; instead, I have recommendations for the types  of products everyone should use: a cleaner, moisturizer, and sunscreen (SPF 30 minimum). If you want to spice it up, add a product that treats a concern you have like discoloration, acne, or aging.

Stress has real effects on the skin! It releases a catalytic enzyme commonly known as cortisone reductase that turns inactive cortisone into active cortisol, which impairs the barrier function of the stratum corneum (uppermost) layer of skin. To preserve the barrier, it’s important to wear sunscreen and give your skin extra hydration through serums, slugging, or masks. (I like using sheet masks when my skin is struggling extra hard!)

How are you able to balance your work in the organization with your personal/social life?  

To be honest, this is still something I’m working on! Based on what’s happening in my life, sometimes I have to put some ideas or tasks for BIB on the backburner and vice versa. I find I balance better when I don’t overthink how big a task will take and when I prepare in advance.

What is one mistake you made while in the organization and how did you overcome it?

One mistake is not having an onboarding process! Clarifying roles, tasks, and team communications is super important for how smooth the organization runs, and I used to just wing it, which isn’t fair to others. I also like to establish a connection with the people I’m working with. Now, I have a one-on-one meeting where I clarify expectations soon after they join.

Why do you think prioritizing mental health is so important, especially for youth?

Habits are really set in stone when you’re young, and your mental health affects the habits you adopt. Encouraging people to talk freely and nonjudgmentally about mental health, especially youth, helps them learn how to achieve and maintain a beneficial mental health. 

What does mental health mean to YOU?

To me, mental health means taking a break. It’s hanging out with my friends. It’s being gentle and patient with myself. Naturally, I’m a pretty anxious person, but since then, I’ve improved how I respond to stressful situations. Although it’s not a linear process, seeing how long I can go without a panic attack or without succumbing to my dermatillomania (stress-induced and unconscious skin-picking) is a goal I’m constantly reaching for!

Is there anything else you would like Revive’s audience to know about you?

I do a lot because I enjoy staying busy! However, I’m not perfect, and sometimes, my mental health is impacted because of all of my activities. But as someone who struggles with anxiety, I want to encourage you to learn more about how to manage your mental health! Organizations like Revive provide amazing and interesting resources that will push you to reach out and prioritize keeping your mentality healthy.

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