Beyond the Sheets: Jamie Sylves Shares Her Pursuit of Non-Toxic Beauty and Skincare

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Beyond the Sheets is a monthly series where we share the health and wellness journeys of fellow wellness disruptors; those, like our founder Allison, forging innovation around sleep, skincare and overall well-being.

Hey there, Jessa here and today I’m sharing my chat with Jamie Sylves, owner of online natural beauty and wellness shop, Clara Mae James. Jamie’s mission is for us women to be educated on what comes into contact with our skin. It is a topic close to our hearts here at Nollapelli, as our soft sheets and pillowcases are engineered with your skin in mind. 

Jessa (Nollapelli): Clara Mae James was once a lifestyle blog. How did it evolve into a curated natural beauty and wellness space?

Jamie: I started the blog in 2012 as a creative outlet and a place to talk about things that I loved, whether it was a recipe, fashion, or beauty. I had a lot of fun with it and I always used inspiration from my career in the beauty industry to develop content. Although I had an engaged following, it was tough to keep up with it because I had a stressful job that involved a lot of travel. When I look back at my last post, it was the day before I found out I was pregnant in early 2017. I didn’t have any intention of stopping the blog, but it just happened that way. I spent the time taking care of myself and because I made the decision to leave my full-time job to consult a few months prior, I needed to focus on work. I wasn’t going to have a maternity leave so I had to hustle; I had to generate as much income as I could to at least take three to four months off for myself.

Through that process of pregnancy and having my daughter, I gained a newfound appreciation for my body. I started to take a closer look at ingredients because when you are pregnant doctors tell you to avoid this and that.

Jessa: The list is unreal, isn’t it? I wasn’t prepared for that list when I was pregnant.

Jamie: I wasn’t either, especially with the products that I was putting on my face and having to change that entire routine. After having my daughter, I was also diagnosed with postpartum OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). What I learned is that I’ve always had OCD. I obsess over little things, over and over and over again. I have to constantly seek somebody or something to validate what I’m thinking to ease my anxiety. But this disorder has served me well in my career. I was detail-oriented, obsessed over my work, and I never stopped thinking about a project.

Now I was in motherhood. And in motherhood, you never know if you are doing the right thing. It magnified my OCD. Every little thing in those early months made me go crazy.

Jessa: I have to be honest, even as a new mother myself, I had never heard of postpartum OCD, only postpartum depression.

Jamie: I had never either. I was only looking for the signs of depression. I went to a nursing café where they help with breastfeeding. They had a guest speaker who talked about the spectrum of postpartum depression which included OCD, and I thought this sounds like me. Within a few days, I started therapy as one step in my wellness journey.

When my daughter started daycare, I decided to think about evolving my blog into a hybrid between e-commerce and wellness education. And in June of this year, I launched a clean beauty online shop, with the hope of being brick & mortar one day, to help women to discover clean beauty.

Phase two, which is launching in September, is a health and wellness event series. I am going to curate various wellness experts, whether it is on maternal health, gut health, or mindfulness, and put on informal events where you can learn about your body. While I am on this journey, I want to bring other women into it and learn together along the way. I want to reframe the narrative around wellness and make it actionable.

Jessa: It is wellness that is nonjudgmental. You are addressing how to bring clean beauty and wellness into our everyday. It is difficult; there is no one size fits all.

Jamie: It is your own personal journey. I want to be a connector; give people access to different experts in different fields, different and safe products. I don’t want to tell you how to live your life. At Clara Mae James, we believe in listening to your body because that’s when the real beauty happens..

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Jessa: We often talk about when you look good, you feel good. It has such a strong parallel with what you said about turning inward to find true beauty.

Jamie: I know it’s a beauty brand, but we don’t talk much about looks. Instead, we focus on doing what makes you feel good and listening to your body. There is this definition of beauty that you have to cover up. I want to help women feel comfortable in their own skin. Yes, you may have circles under your eyes, but you have circles under your eyes, it is what it is. Don’t try and hide that!

Jessa: What is clean beauty? There are a ton of definitions out there.

Jamie: At Clara Mae James, we define clean beauty as beauty products that don’t contain ingredients that are linked to harmful health effects like cancer or hormone disruption. It is a new industry. Beauty is very unregulated here in the U.S. It is up to the manufacturers to safeguard and validate the efficacy of products and make sure they are safe for the customers. With clean beauty, these products are mindfully created, the ingredients are ethically sourced. Less is more. You have peace of mind knowing that you are not putting ingredients on your skin that may cause serious health problems and aren't irritating to the skin. Many toxic ingredients are skin irritants. 

Jessa: What is an example of a toxic ingredient?

Jamie: The more recognizable ones are parabens and sulfates. I want to mention BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), which is a preservative. It’s not only found in cosmetics, but in food too, and it has been linked to cancer, it is a possible endocrine disruptor, and it can affect the kidneys, liver, and thyroid. A lot of products have preservatives to keep them fresh. That is one ingredient I ensure is not included in our products.

Jessa: What exactly are parabens and sulfates? Why are so many people using them?!

Jamie: Paraben is also a preservative. Sulfates are used to create a lathery, foamy feel, like in a soap or shampoo. Fragrance is another watch out and considered proprietary, so when you see  “fragrance” it could be a cocktail of 1,500 chemicals, but manufacturers don’t have to list them. When you see “fragrance,” you really have no idea how it was made.

Jessa: You should reconsider calling yourself a skincare expert.

Jamie: I am someone with a lot of anxiety. I need to have peace of mind knowing that these products are safe and work for my skin.

Jessa: Give us a glimpse into your beauty routine.

Jamie: Most of my routine happens at night. During the day, your skin is exposed to pollutants and elements in the air, so it is always good to cleanse your face. If I want a deeper cleaning, I use a toner. That also helps with redness and irritation. After that I always use a serum. A serum is a concentrated mix of potent, active ingredients. They help with more targeted concerns like fine lines or wrinkles. I love serums! Sometimes I add in an eye cream, and then I end with a moisturizer. I do everything at night to prep my skin for the morning.

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Jessa: Sounds like sleepcare; it prepares your mind and body for sleep?

Jamie: I think so. I use beauty products to either refresh or detox and slow down, depending on what I use. It helps me feel like I’ve completed my day. I wash everything away from my skin for a rejuvenating sleep.

Jessa: What Clara Mae James products would be ideal for sleepcare?

Jamie: We have an organic body butter, called PeaceFull. It has lavender which has calming and soothing properties. I like to keep it by my bed. We also sell a jade roller, the Esker Allover Roller, specifically for the body. It helps with tension, which sets you up for a good night’s sleep.

I love to sleep! I am obsessed with sleeping. I can nap like a champ.

Jessa: Oh, I am envious of that skill. I cannot nap.

Jamie: It is another way I listen to my body. Fortunately, I have the flexibility to do this, but when my body feels like I need to close my eyes, I do. I have to recharge. It is so important to me. I just LOVE sleep.

Jessa: We love sleep too!! I just wrote about moisture when we sleep. We naturally release moisture during sleep and Nollapelli's soft sheets balance that moisture. Form a skincare perspective, why does that matter?

Jamie: From a skincare perspective, the right amount of hydration slows down the aging process in terms of the visible signs of aging. It is going to makwe your skin plumper; help prevent fine lines and wrinkles. It helps rid your skin of toxins and gives you a healthy glow.

Jessa: Name one thing you do for your skin every day.

Jamie: Sunscreen, and a serum. 

Read more about Clara Mae James' products. Find out more about our soft sheets and pillowcases.

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