I had the opportunity to speak with and interview Ms. Dana Jackson, the founder and creator of Beneath Your Mask. As a skincare enthusiast and blogger, I have tried countless skin care lines and products. Many of the products I have tried have been aesthetically pleasing and well-formulated, and some of them have truly improved my skin in specific, targeted ways. However, I never encountered a line comprised entirely of powerful, effective, healing, dynamic multi-taskers until I tried Beneath Your Mask. Having tried samples and minis from various lines, I am very occasionally inspired to buy a standout product here or there; never have I felt compelled to immediately get a full size of every product in a line—until I tried Beneath Your Mask. Every. Single. Product. Beneath Your Mask is the magic that results when a commitment to health and wellness meets a life of luxury and exquisite beauty decadence. If you have not yet read my review of the Beneath Your Mask experience, I encourage you to find out more about what all the fuss is about here.
On her website, Ms. Jackson shares the most vulnerable, beautiful story of personal transformation that I have ever read. I am not going to attempt to summarize it because it is perfect and true the way it is. You can find Ms. Jackson’s story in her own words here. I guarantee that reading it will deeply enrich your reading of and excitement about the interview below, and if you keep your heart open, it just might help you feel more connected to your fellow human beings as well.
Through her battle with lupus, Dana realized, “The most important and hardest work has been taking off my mask and facing myself. I realized that God could heal me once I removed my mask and revealed my true self — not because He wasn’t willing to before, but because I hadn’t been willing to be vulnerable and humble enough to receive that healing. Hence my company name, Beneath Your Mask.” Though fully embracing our true selves is difficult, “Beneath that mask lies a beauty that transcends being defined by society’s approval.”
Interview with Ms. Dana Jackson
Melissa (M): How has your battle with lupus informed your ideas about beauty and shaped the woman you are today?
Dana Jackson (DJ): My battle with lupus really goes back and starts with beauty; I ended up getting diagnosed because I was going to the dermatologist and having what I thought were strange skin reactions to a prescription, but it eventually turned out to be lupus. My battle with lupus resulted in me gaining 100 pounds of water weight; my skin was stretched to the point of pain and I got all sorts of stretch marks. My hair fell out. My eyes were swollen shut. I had visible lupus-related rashes. As part of my treatment, I had to be on steroids and my face swelled up from that.
I had always valued brains over beauty, and I really didn’t devote that much of my energy or attention to beauty—until it was taken. With my symptoms and treatment side effects, I felt like I looked like the Michelin Man, and I was extremely self-conscious. Being brought to that point deepened my sense of compassion, and I started seeing the beauty in things not traditionally considered beautiful. When I left my life as a business manager in the music industry in Atlanta to go for lupus treatment in Los Angeles, I took one bag and the one pair of shoes that still fit me. I left all my “stuff,” the material trappings of success behind, and its significance in my life diminished greatly. Nothing material defined me.
Lupus took away all the “supposed to be’s” about beauty, status, womanhood, and by helping me let go of all of those pressures, eventually let me be comfortable in my own skin.
M: Can you tell me a little about what was missing in your former life as an entertainment business manager in the music industry despite all the glamor and material success?
DJ: Looking back now, what was missing was purpose. I am a go-getter and faced with a challenge, I could always get a specific result, as I am very resourceful. I was successful in my work, but I was working 20-hour days. You have a huge team around entertainers, and to work well with them, you have to care about whatever they do and make it a huge priority. I was spending tons of time and energy on ridiculous things that were in no way life or death matters. So much of my energy and nearly all my time went towards superficial matters for people who were living in a bubble. This was a stressful, around-the-clock job that just felt empty.
I started praying for purpose and I got diagnosed with lupus. God answered my prayer, but not in the way I intended. I always tell people now, be very specific in your prayers. Lupus was God’s way of stripping away things I overvalued and leading me to my greater purpose.
M: You describe a strong link between vulnerability and strength. Can you speak about their connectedness?
DJ: I am thankful that God sees enough in me to give me this opportunity (through the hard work of healing physically and emotionally) to make dramatic changes in myself and my life. Not everyone has the opportunity to do that. Now I look for the good and the beauty in everything. Even in a pile of discouragement, I look for the small gems of value that I can take away.
M: How do you thrive in the face of lupus?
DJ: I try to make lupus a small part of my life. I will say I have the diagnosis of lupus, but not that I “have lupus.” I have taken supplements and incorporated Chinese medicine, but that’s really only a small part of what matters. What impacts my health more than anything is my mood and stress levels. The most important and the hardest part of thriving is the self-work. That makes the biggest difference, but trying to change who you’ve been for thirty years is not easy. There is no shortcut there, but it offers the best rewards.
M: Can you tell me the story of how and why you created Heal Whipped Skin Soufflé?
DJ: In 2011, I was in the hospital in critical care, had gained 100 pounds, and my skin was stretched beyond capacity to the point of extreme pain. My mother was trying to soothe my skin, and we had to keep things very simple. After discharge, I eventually lost a great amount of weight and was left with purple stretch marks over my body. I started looking for solutions and came across Bio Oil, but I wasn’t satisfied with all the ingredients. I started researching healing ingredients. At first, I used them individually, but my style has always been go-big-or-go-home—I wanted something that did it all. I began combining the ingredients I had researched and through many iterations, I eventually created this beautiful formula, Heal. I made it for myself but gave some to loved ones at the holidays, and to this day, those people stockpile it, afraid of running out.
M: When did you know you wanted to share your products with people more widely?
DJ: I knew I wanted to create a line in 2013/2014. I just didn’t have time, because I was still working in the entertainment industry. I had a vision of Beneath Your Mask, but I just didn’t know the when and how, and there were other logistical issues like maintaining health insurance. Eventually, the company I was working for was bought out. I knew I wanted to launch my line, but it was still a huge act of faith. I have invested literally every resource I have into launching Beneath Your Mask. There are no investors, no backers, it’s all me. I’m paying for everything myself, putting everything I have and more into this. Launching a business on your own is incredibly stressful, and I have to manage stress carefully or my symptoms (of lupus) will flare. I’m striving to not take everything about my business so personally when, at the same time, Beneath Your Mask is literally my heart, sweat, and tears, my everything.
M: How have you decided what ingredients to include in each product and where to get them?
DJ: Before I would choose an ingredient, I would research it and investigate where it’s naturally grown. I wanted to source my ingredients in their most natural state from their natural habitat. I really insist on the most therapeutic form of each ingredient, which means I source from dozens of different countries to get the very best. This makes a huge difference in the therapeutic value of each ingredient and hugely amplifies what my finished products can do for skin. I share everything I can about ingredients because I want Beneath Your Mask products to be completely transparent for customers.
M: What are your favorite things about each of your products?
DJ: Heal Whipped Skin Souffle—this is bigger than a product. I created it in an act of self-acceptance and healing, and I didn’t intend to sell it. People fell in love with how well it works. Ultimately, Heal helped give me a bigger perspective on life and helped me find my purpose.
Polish Detoxifying Body Scrub is unlike any scrub I’ve ever used. It’s not harsh, yet it’s extremely effective and doesn’t leave skin dry, it’s so luxurious, and I love how soft it makes my skin.
Indulge Body Elixir offers immediate soothing of itchiness, you name it. I love how it instantly absorbs into my skin yet feels so indulgent.
Nourish Hair and Skin Serum does everything for skin and hair. I love the scent, the glow, the hydration.
M: What’s on the horizon for Beneath Your Mask?
DJ: We will be coming out with several new products: a face mask, a face wash, a face toner, and a face serum. We will be exhibiting at the Indie Beauty Expo in New York, which we’re beyond excited about!