I'm thrilled to introduce you to my friend Lauren Karapandzich, the brains, beauty, and sweet soul behind the green beauty blog Clean Cailín. Lauren and I met on Instagram and have become fast friends over the interwebs as we share a passion for cruelty-free cosmetics, clean beauty, green living, and of course -- organic skin care.
This is the first installment of our new interview series and I'm excited for you to get to know Lauren and her inspiring story, so let's dive in!
Can you introduce yourself to our readers? Please tell us a little about yourself + what you do?
My name is Lauren, and I’m a twenty-something from Ohio who's passionate about clean beauty and sustainable living. I’m married to my best friend, Adam, an avid environmentalist, and together we have three fur babies: Milo, an adorably ditzy shih tzu-bichon; Liam, the chillest, loveliest cat you’ll ever meet; and Aoife (ee-fah, an Irish name), a spunky angel of a dwarf rabbit who's the mascot of Clean Cailín. You can see Aoife the bun bun lookin' cute as can be in the banner/headline pic above.
After earning my bachelor’s in English and Sociology, I work in donor relations for a community foundation, and my passion for philanthropy and helping others inspired me to pursue my master’s in public administration. I love my work, but I would love to combine my passion for clean beauty with helping others in my own business venture some day.
I was a makeup hoarder for years before discovering the wonderful realm of clean, natural skincare and cosmetics. Due to a passion for social justice paired with personal experience, I began Clean Cailin as a space to advocate for clean, cruelty-free, and sustainable beauty brands, and it has grown to encompass mental wellness and self-care. I immediately found a supportive community devoted to our health and world, and I became inspired to devote my spare time to sharing my findings and advocate for women-owned brands on a public platform. Through this page I hope to empower people to choose where they spend their hard-earned money and in turn vote for a brighter future.
What inspired you to begin Clean Cailín? What path led you here?
Cailín is the Irish word for "girl" and is pronounced like my mom’s name, Kelleen. I learned about beauty regimens from her. Some of my fondest memories are going through her makeup drawers and her curling my hair before school in the morning on the bedroom floor. She was incredibly selfless for my sister and me; she taught us to walk confidently (I get my six-foot height from her) handle life with grace, and go after my dreams.
My mom was diagnosed with non-hereditary breast cancer during my senior year of college. Even as the disease swept through her body, I remember thinking how beautiful she was until her last days on this Earth.
Countless chemotherapy, radiation, and surgical treatments and two years later, I was suddenly a 24-year-old saying goodbye to her mother at a hospice center. Not only was there a new, gaping hole in my life, but our family now faced an uncertain future - and the gut-wrenching work of grief.
Over the past few years I have been forced to think about what’s most important to me and manifest a new self-identity, so I decided to sprint after what makes me feel alive.
I read about parabens and toxins in makeup, then began noticing how society - especially cosmetic companies - treat women’s health. The more I researched, the more angry and frustrated I became.
Why keep dumping my hard-earned money into those companies, who use sweatshop labor, cheap plastics, phony marketing ploys, and animal testing when there are small businesses who directly advocate for what I’m passionate about?
The reality is, it’s a Herculean effort to discover clean, ethical beauty brands without hours of research. It’s my hope to create a space where friends can explore new brands they love and feel good about supporting. I want to show that you can ditch the chemicals but still have effective, high-performance payoff.
Further, I want to help spread the importance of self-care as a sacred, ritual experience.
Of course we will never know for sure what caused my Mom’s illness, but until “the clean beauty industry” is just “the beauty industry”, women everywhere will continue paying the price. I’m beyond grateful that I found a community that is passionate, educated, and committed to making ethical beauty the norm!
What's your wellness philosophy?
Wellness is individual and holistic - it includes physical and mental health. I try to be gentle and patient with myself because I don’t thrive off of calorie-counting and measurements. I eat balanced meals and exercise when I feel up to it, but some days I like to curl up a glass of wine and Morningstar chik’n nuggets. When I have my moments - worrying about my weight, feeling anxious about getting enough done - I remember what a gift it is to have those concerns. Life is too short to worry about calories or productivity. It’s all about balance and doing what’s right for you!
Can you let us in on your favorite natural beauty tips, tricks + secrets?
1) Spend for your skin! Seriously. Do it. I used to spend $40 on a gazillion different eyeshadow palettes, but only $6 on a drugstore cleanser. Now I think, where’s the logic in that?! No makeup can replicate a botanical, soulful ritual for your skin!
2) You can still achieve a glam look without heavy makeup - it’s all about the cream highlight and bronzer! Plus, I swapped out my foundations and primers for glowy serums and a bit of concealer, and I am loving it.
3) Use your facial mists over your makeup… and carry one with you for long days to refresh!
Suppose a girlfriend wanted to transition into a clean beauty + natural self-care routine, what are the top 5 products would you recommend swapping out first? And why?
- Deodorant - it is applied closest to your lymph nodes and breast tissue. It is also one of the cheapest trade-offs! Plus, the natural scents are always divine. My current fav is Humble Brand's Palo Santo, Frankincense and Vanilla scent.
- Body Wash/Soap - again, because this is applied all over your whole body. I actually traded my body wash to bar soap. It lasts longer so it is cost-effective, plus it’s zero waste! And there are some really beautiful soap artisans on Etsy that will step up your shower game. I got a few of these aromatic cedar soap racks from Amazon - they look lovely and keep your shower shelf clean.
- Moisturizer - The best thing I ever did for my dry skin was trade my cream moisturizers for botanical face oils and serums. Not only do they treat your skin concerns, but they help your skin retain hydration rather than add more moisture. It can even help repair your skin to the point of not needing foundation.
- Foundation - see #3 :) But really! Don’t undo all your hard work with a dirty foundation. My favorite clean swap is 14e Cosmetics. Her Sheer Tint and Full Tint formulas are so lovely.
- Masks - they really do make such a difference in your skin and your glow. I love the Glow Jelly from SpaGoddess. I don’t even feel like I have to wear makeup the next day!
Tell us about your morning ritual + skin care routine?
During the week I use a gel cleanser, my Balance Clarifying Mist, Plump Prickly Pear Nectar, and SPF as I get ready for work. My skincare and makeup time is my “me” time before the craziness of the day. When I have a day off, I take time to stretch, do a face mask while meditating with a crystal, and have my coffee while cuddling with the animals!
How do you get your glow: internally, externally?
My external glow comes from the love infused into my favorite skincare by their creators. The best thing I have done for my confidence is invest time and effort into my skincare and finding magical lines like SpaGoddess.
I feel glowy and happy when working in my garden, doing my skincare routine, and talking to friends who inspire me. That’s how I recharge my soul!
What's your go to SpaGoddess skin care product?
My go-to SpaGoddess product is the Balance Clarifying Toner - I could actually bathe in it, it’s my favorite mist of all time! It includes hyaluronic acid and smells like lavender and magic - there is a mysterious note that actually reminds me of my mom. I don’t know why or what it is!
What's one wellness essential you can't live without right now?
My crystals! I have about a dozen and they help immensely with my anxiety and grief. Even if you’re skeptical, crystal healing can be powerful through the attachment of a tangible, beautiful object to a memory or emotion. I think they emit an inspiring energy to a space.
What are your favorite podcasts? or books you’re loving right now?
When I do listen to podcasts, I love “Getting Curious” by Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye. It’s impossible to be in a bad mood after an episode of that. I love his contagious energy!
I have always been a bookworm, and I recently finished “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. I think she is incredibly wise and has great insight about work-life balance! I also love my new "Atlas of Natural Beauty" by Victoire de Taillac which I refer to daily.
Do you have a mantra or motto you live by?
No matter what you do, there will always be someone to criticize and disagree. So you might as well be your authentic self! As long as your actions aren’t harming yourself or others, I will support your quirks no matter what.
What makes your heart sing?
Seeing good in people. Near my work, there is a very old woman who stands at the busiest highway exit each day in snow, rain, and sun. As I was driving back from lunch today I saw a woman get out of her car to give the woman a meal and a hug. We are all human and we are all the same.
I feel most beautiful when…
I wear fun heels. For too long I felt awkward about my height, but now I realize what a gift it is from my Mom.