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We're teaming up with Squarespace to showcase the unique histories behind the creators, entrepreneurs and artists who call Squarespace home. Join us as we explore how modern day craftsmen are using the online platform to sell their products in a more beautiful way. 

Why do most of us buy our beauty products at the drugstore in a fluorescent-lit fugue state? Partly because it’s convenient, partly because we’ve been using the same five brands since high school. Our collective obsession with the CVS makeup aisle isn’t without historical precedent; drugstore shopping binges have been a popular national pastime ever since Napoleon Bonaparte's ex-army pharmacist set up shop in Philadelphia in 1825. 

Here’s something you might not know, but should: the FDA doesn’t require any pre-market testing before beauty products go to market. Which means your morning primping routine probably involves a horrifying list of toxic chemicals. Detoxing your beauty arsenal can be a daunting task. Self-administering a daily dose of poison is a lot worse. 

How'd things get so dire in the USofA? Because the beauty industry is a regulatory wasteland governed by an obsolete law from the Roosevelt era. Here’s the pickle: the United States Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was passed by Congress in 1938. Other portions of the FD&C have been amended, but the Cosmetic Act hasn’t changed a jot. Over the past two decades, the European Union has banned or restricted the use of more than 1,300 ingredients. The FDA has only banned eleven. 

Ditching the toxins is clearly the way to go, but shady labelling practices have made that far more complicated than it should be. Many beauty products are falsely labelled as “organic” and “natural.” If you're serious about avoiding the snake oil salesman, you’re going to have to educate yourself on organic chemistry and read the ingredient list. You can also check for independent organic certifications

In the market for a less onerous approach? Skip the Industrial Revolution and set yourself down in the pre-Columbian Americas. If you’re a history buff, you already know that the Maya excelled at pyramid building, calendar-making, and mathematics. Guess what else they were awesome at? Inventing plant-based products devoid of hazardous chemicals. 

                                Baiser Beauty's Erika Arguello crafting an organic blush

Although the organic beauty industry continues to see double-digit growth, the market isn’t exactly flooded with products from the Maya golden age. Which is why we’re excited to sit down with the women behind Baiser Beauty. Created by three friends of Mayan heritage — Erika Arguello, Claudia Llamosa, and Maria Copello — the Miami Beach-based company specializes in natural skincare and makeup handcrafted with 100% certified organic ingredients. Key takeaway: You only have to read the labels if you want to. 

The online home of Baiser Beauty, hosted by Squarespace

How'd Baiser get their business off the ground? They turned to Squarespace. Launched in 2004, the website builder's elegant templates and easy-to-use design quickly gained a cult following. We asked Mario Copello to tell us a little about Baiser Beauty's experience with the pioneering platform:

"It takes courage to start a business and become a young entrepreneur, not only because it's an unknown path but also because you want to make the best impression possible. Your website is your presentation to the world and to potential customers, you will be successful as long as you have a an amazing digital space with outstanding features, easy navigation and great design. It is important for us to develop an atmosphere and to create a unique experience for our visitors."

"With that in mind, we are so thankful to be part of the Squarespace generation, where old problems of programing and depending on a third party are solved by this amazing platform, who not only has made our journey easy, but it has giving us the best presentation possible for our now loyal customers who enjoy our online store."

Baiser Beauty's Squarespace template of choice? Galapagos

The civilization’s roots stretch back 3,000 years, but the Maya golden age lasted from about 200 AD to 900 AD — when the Empire went into unexplained decline. The remaining population was decimated by smallpox when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1519. How’d the culture’s indigenous healing tradition survive these cataclysmic events? Traditional Maya healers, known as h’men, passed the recipes from one generation to the next by word of mouth. 

                                                Baiser Beauty face essentials

How does Baiser Beauty (pronounced Bee-z) stand out in an oversaturated market? Because their formulas are handcrafted, cruelty free, chemical/toxic free and vegan friendly. Oh, and one more thing: they’re based on ancient Maya remedies from Erika’s grandmother’s recipe book. Born in the beautiful region of Cancun, Erika was strongly influenced by her grandparents, both of whom are leaders in the local Maya community. Her grandmother, Norma Marin, is a dream interpreter and her grandfather, Eduardo Loria, is a farmer and pioneer in the gum industry. Interesting fact: The sap of the Manilkara zapota tree is the natural raw material for chewing gum or chicle.

The three friends hail from different corners of the Maya Empire. But they share a common cultural background. Instead of raiding the pharmacy aisles, they grew up using plant-based recipes that had been in their families for generations. 

The holistic healing tradition of the Maya was based on the belief that ailments of the body and mind are interconnected. Baiser Beauty was founded on the same principle: all of their products are designed to balance the body, spirit, and mind. Which is why they only use plant-based, aroma-therapeutic grade ingredients. (They also keep their workspace super zen.) They’re particularly partial to lavender, rosemary, and mint. 

                                                        Baiser Beauty cosmetics

What do they do when they need inspiration? They go on fact-finding research trips through the Yucatán Peninsula. After spending time with the local Maya community, they recently came back with a ton of new ideas (and plants). Here’s what to expect from their upcoming collection: 100% organic concealer and foundation and Chakra-balancing body spray — that actually vibrates.

Need another reason to love Baiser? Their "Love You More" foundation supports organizations that care for animals and protect the environment. You can find out more here

Squarespace is a website publishing platform that makes it easy to create beautiful websites, portfolios, blogs, and online stores without touching a line of code. Start a 14-day free trial today and use offer code HISTORYBUFF for 10% off your subscription.

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