Zestfull Beauty Contributor, Keila Alleyne shares her nut-free beauty tips and an interview on how she began a career in the beauty industry while managing food allergies as an adult.
This article is part of our “In the Community series” where we spotlight people in the food allergy community making a difference.
Who is our nut-free beauty queen, Keila?
Keila is the founder of Keila Alleyne Beauty. She is a professional makeup artist, skincare consultant, esthetician and educator. Keila has worked in the beauty industry for more than fifteen years in New York City and Boston. She launched her lipgloss and lipstick collection in 2015.
Keila offers virtual clean beauty and skincare consultations and services. Her mission is to empower others to “honor themselves with self-care and self-love”. And, help awaken women to their inner beauty.
How did you get into the beauty industry?
I enrolled in esthetics school so that I could understand skincare and the basics of makeup artistry. I struggled with acne since my early teens which affected my self-esteem and contributed to my lack of confidence. My goal was to be able to support people that were also struggling with acne and other skincare issues.
Even as one of the few Black students, my classmates wanted to “play” with my skin, so they could learn and understand the beautiful complexities of my melanated skin. During school, I would practice my makeup skills any chance I got; on myself, family, friends, co-workers and community.
After graduation, I constantly researched beauty books, magazines, music videos, television and movies. I gained inspiration from films featuring Black excellence, Spike Lee and John Singleton were my favorite actor/directors.
In addition, my favorite performers included legends like Aaliyah, Dorothy Dandridge, Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne and Josephine Baker to name a few. Drawing from these icons, I realized that I could turn my passion into a career.
After a lot of hard work and leaning into my faith, I was accepted into one of the best makeup artistry schools in the country, at Makeup Designory in New York City.
What are some challenges you’ve faced living with food allergies while working in the beauty industry?
I didn’t develop food allergies (peanuts, tree nuts, apples, avocado, pectin) until my late 30’s so it wasn’t difficult until my diagnosis. Prior to that I was able to try anything I wanted, before thinking “what’s in this product?” and having to be diligent about reading labels.
When I was first diagnosed with food allergies, I had to explain my allergies to co-workers to keep myself safe from any makeup allergy symptoms. I felt ashamed and embarrassed to disclose my allergies. It is challenging to disclose personal information like a health condition when you are still adjusting to a new lifestyle.
I received compassion from colleagues who would ask questions like “is this safe for you to try?” Often, founders/ brand creators were generous with sharing samples with me. I would pass many products onto family and friends because of my allergens in cosmetics.
Other times, people showed a total lack of concern for my well-being. For example, people would ask ” what can you use then?” I understand now not to take things personally. Their comments were more a reflection of their lack of empathy than hurtful remarks.
I have come to realize that you can enjoy all kinds of beauty products without your allergens in them. I don’t need to feel ashamed or embarrassed about my allergies because food allergies aren’t who I am, or all of me. They are just a minor detail amongst all the super dope attributes about me.
What would you tell people with food allergies to be aware of when buying beauty products?
Please do your research about food allergens in cosmetics before heading to the store, or online to shop.
Should someone with a nut-allergy consider clean beauty brands?
I suggest investing in clean beauty products that are cruelty-free, non-toxic, and vegan, because you’ll actually be able to understand the ingredients. The cleaner the ingredients, the less probability of an allergic reaction.
Luckily, today, the beauty industry has come a long way, especially with amazing platforms like Credo Beauty, Thirteen Lune, and The Detox Market . You can shop with confidence for many nut-free beauty products because they are all about showcasing brands that believe in ingredient transparency.
Advice for someone who has food allergies or a makeup allergy and wants to work in the beauty industry?
Research companies that you want to work for including the ingredients used in their products. Find a brand that you’re passionate about and one that aligns with your values and ethics- this will help lead the way!
Trust me when I say, there are many options out there for beauty, skincare, haircare, body care, nail care and soul-care. Or you can be fierce and create your own allergy-friendly, nut-free cosmetics brand! Go for it!
Beauty is more than just makeup. Can you share how beauty is also self care and what that means to you?
Beauty is awakening your unlimited potential, honoring your voice and emotions, self-acceptance, and unconditionally loving yourself.
This Black History Month and always, join Keila in celebrating her favorite Black and women owned beauty brands that also carry nut-free cosmetics!
Keila’s top 3 beauty brands
Shahla is a mom of two girls who live with environmental allergies such as asthma and eczema. Their food allergies include tree nuts, peanuts, sesame and other seeds. Shahla is trained as a Natural Chef who wants to share the comfort that cooking has brought her family. She believes that everyone, regardless of dietary requirements, deserves a plate full of color and flavor.