Camila Coelho on Skin-Care Therapy, the Perfect Lip for a Passport Photo and Her Love for Jen Atkin

Before she was an influencer, before she had almost 9 million Instagram followers, before the fashion lines, the skin-care line and the countless collabs, there was six-year-old Camila Coelho, a little girl from Brazil who insisted on wearing red lipstick for her passport photo.

“Beauty has always been a part of my life,” the 33-year-old says. “I always knew it was going to be something I wanted to pursue; I just didn’t realize how empowering and transformative it really is.”

That “a-ha” moment: A job at the Dior counter at Macy’s (her mom didn’t approve, she wanted her to go to college).

“Working at a counter—working in retail—is hard. There can be long hours, there can be weekend hours, and you’re dealing with people every day. Dealing with people is tough, but it’s that connection with people that made me even more passionate about beauty. I remember people from different backgrounds coming up to the counter; they all had different needs and different moods. Some would come in stressed out, and then they would leave with a smile on their face after. That would make my day every single day—that I put the products on their faces, sold them a product and was responsible for a smile.”

Coelho says those “first-job memories” are what made her want to become a makeup artist and still help inspire her to create the products for her Elaluz beauty line today. “Making people smile and making them feel confident and beautiful is what it’s all about.”

What was the hardest thing about starting your own beauty line?

“There are a lot of little things when you start a brand, that don’t seem like a big deal, but they’re huge responsibilities. Things like: What is this brand going to look like? What are the products going to look like? I think the hardest thing for me was making sure that each product I created was really something that I was proud of. There’s so much in the market. You look at the beauty world today, you have everything. How do you make it different?

For example, when we started creating our best-selling Overnight Facial Glow, it was just an ‘idea’ of mine…it was something that I didn’t even know we could create, especially while still having a clean formula, because it has a self-tanning effect. I would think, ‘Okay, let’s create a self-tanner, without the chemicals and stuff, that’s like a mask, that’s going to hydrate your skin, make your skin feel amazing, and you’ll wake up with this bronzy natural glow the next day.’

That’s one of the products that I’m most proud of because it’s such a hit right now. Everyone who uses it loves it, and it’s buildable. That’s just one example…there’s so much that goes into it, and it’s not just formulas and ingredients, but also packaging. That’s something that we really do a lot of back and forth on, because we have to have the packaging be sustainable. I’m making this answer long, but the short answer is the biggest pressure is creating products that I’m really proud of that can stand out in this crazy market.”

How did the pandemic change how you launched the line?

“I was really scared, to be honest. I was supposed to launch end of March and then we had the lockdown. We basically said, ‘Okay, then we’ll do April,’ but still thinking, ‘This is not going to last that long.’ Little did we know!

Things started getting worse and we kept delaying our launch…I had all of these plans for a launch party because, when you launch a brand, you want to make a buzz. It really makes a difference in the beginning. But we did what we had to do. We focused our time, as a team, on brainstorming ideas, and figuring out how we could still make a buzz, bring excitement to people and do a virtual launch. We really had to make sure that our consumers who were seeing the product had this 360-experience with the product. It was a whole strategy—a whole virtual strategy—to get people excited, but it worked out, we had a great launch.”

Are there any other lines that that you really look up to?

“There’s so many brands I love! I love OUAI so much; I loved Jen Atkin, she’s a close friend, and I just love everything she makes. Her hair and body, her scalp, and body scrub, is something I tell her, ‘Jen, I wish I made this product because it’s so good and it works.’ All of her products have such an amazing smell to it. I love the clean look that she has to her brand and how sustainable they are. It’s one of my favorite brands.”

What would be your dream product to create?

“I love this question because we’re in a place now where we’re so excited for what’s to come. I’m launching a whole new category next—and it’s the category that I wanted to start out with. I’m so glad that we waited and perfected it. It’s very me. I think, when we launch, people are going to be like ‘Yes, this is very Camila.’ It has to do with bronzing and it has to do with body and face. I think I’ve said too much already, but it’s something I’m really, really excited about!”

Is there anything that you still want to figure out for the line?

“Since day one, the priority has been, ‘How can we be more sustainable?’ As an influencer and as someone who has received the packages, for so many years, from other brands…it looks exciting when you see it and when you open it, but then you just have a ton of trash that you have to throw out. There’s all this waste.

With my brand, I used that as an example. Instead of creating huge PR boxes that were just hoping, ‘Yes, maybe people will post on social,’ I wanted to create something exciting that people will actually use in their home or in their life.

Overall, we’re really taking a look at the whole lifecycle of our products—and making sure that we address as many steps as possible. We’re still learning but, for example, with the glass bottle from our Beauty Water, we chose a glass renewable resource, and after the product has been used up, we encourage our customers to repurpose the bottle. We actually have seen people use it to water plants—it is such a beautiful bottle. The same with our beauty oil, you can put a little plant inside of it because the glass bottle is so beautiful.

The goal is to always make sure we keep rebuilding. We now have a partnership with One Tree Planted, where, whenever someone purchases a product from Elaluz, a percentage of that will go towards planting trees in Brazil, my home country. We’re actually planting trees here in Malibu as well, which is very exciting. We’re also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for our outer carton. With packaging, it’s hard sometimes because there’s something specific I want to use—I want my products to look beautiful, but then there are limits with being sustainable, so then there comes a lot of back and forth. When a product is finally in my hands, I feel like I’m winning an award because it took so much between the formulas and the packaging to get it right.”

Besides skin care, are there any other beauty treatments you love getting?

“Oh my gosh, I love lymphatic massages! It’s kind of a Brazilian thing, but I’m really glad that it’s getting more popular now, especially in LA. It’s something that I love doing for my body—they’re great for when I have my period or when I have a photoshoot and I want to look better and feel better. They really detox you and they help shape your body. They’re so great. I even do my own little lymphatic massage on my face in the morning, after I applied my oil.”

Is there anything crazy you’ve ever done beauty-wise or any mistakes in the past you care to share?

“So many mistakes! If you look at my old videos, there’s too much bronzer on my face at a lot of points—I have phases of too much brown there, too dark here, too much powder, too much baking. I guess they’re not mistakes, they’re more following a trend too hard. I also used to feel like I needed more makeup to be beautiful…today, I feel like I need less to look good and feel good. It’s also a process of your own self—getting more mature and loving yourself more as you get older.”

Is there anything beauty-wise people might be surprised to hear about you?

“I think people would be surprised to know that I don’t have the patience to put body lotion on, and it’s something I know I need to do! I think it’s because I do my own skin care on my face—it’s like therapy for me—but, when it comes to the body, I’m too tired after the whole skin-care thing. That’s the one thing I have to admit I’m kind of lazy about.”

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