Growing up, the products that worked well for Beth Beanish’s skin and her acne were always outnumbered by the products that didn’t.
“I tried so many things,” she says now. “So many promises they made.”
As the old saying goes, a need that you can’t seem to fill is often the mother of all invention. It was while she was a student at Carleton University that Beanish began futzing with making her own skin care — researching, daydreaming, and testing (lots of testing) for what is today B Masked — a small, one-woman producer of natural skin care products based in Kinburn.
“In between exams, and in class, and studying, I would be thinking of new mask recipes,” Beanish says. “It was kind of my happy place.”
Her obsessive research — Beanish is a self-annointed perfectionist — brought her to honey: a natural anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory substance that is an ideal natural product around which to build a skincare line.
“Honey is just so healthy,” Beanish says. “It’s anti-bacterial, it goes with oily skin, dry skin, combination skin…it’s an all-around good, natural ingredient.”
The line of B Masked products so far includes three main products: a facemask; a lip-balm; and a dandelion salve. All the products seem to fit firmly within a folksy aesthetic that, if nothing else, feels distinct from the wash of minimalist, chic skincare products on most store shelves.
As she's started sales back up after theCOVID-19 lockdown, the masks have started to catch on and earn praise on social media. And all of them have a distinct Ottawa flavour: honey from Blue Shoes Honey, pollen from McCaig Honey, and coffee (an ingredient in the Sweet Tooth facemask) from Fluid Solar Roasted Coffee.
“I wanted B Masked to be fun, I wanted it to be colourful, I wanted it to be fun, and I wanted it to be different,” Beanish says.
She also wanted it to be sustainable, and environmentally friendly, and recyclable — a troika of values that have been infused with a certain social urgency these days.It’s been a long enough road from those study-break skincare sessions to launching the business in late 2019, and now to growing B Masked as a business that Beanish can run full-time. (She’s not quite there yet, and holds down a day job while making and selling the products.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” she says, and “sometimes you can’t start a dream right off the bat.) COVID hasn’t helped, either. Like just about everything else, the lockdown stopped her business in its tracks, at least temporarily.
“I put a pause on B Masked,” she explains. With virtually everything else putting a strain on Canada Post, meaning also that shipping times were a crapshoot at the best of times, Beanish says she “felt kind of guilty” trying to promote and grow a new business. “I essentially just shut it down until Canada Post got back on track,” she adds.
Now, she’s back in the swing of things. A new logo, designed locally, has given a facelift to the product, and Beanish is working towards a new product launch in November, some like-minded accessories like scrunchies and natural-ingredient candles, and expanding sales of the product. (Currently she sells them herself online, and in All Eco in the Glebe.)
In the longer term, she’s hoping to get the logistics in place to do fresh face masks, made with fresh ingredients that require refrigeration.
“My vision for B Masked is to stay small,” she says, however. A lot of that comes back to where the product started, for her — in her little escapes, her self-care sessions, the little zen moments away from the world. It is, after all, what skincare was all about — clear skin, of course, but also all the personal moments it takes to get there.
“Masks were my me time,” says Beanish. “I wanted B Masked to have that exact same me-time vibe.”
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