Interview With Women's Empowerment & Ethical Beauty Advocate - Neha Hobson
Neha Hobson is content creator and writer for beauty brands, and has been published in various industry magazines and blogs. Her Beauty By Neha was awarded Women's Empowerment & Ethical Beauty Advocate of the Year in 2020. She has also been a judge on the Clean & Conscious Awards.
1) What inspired you to begin Beauty By Neha?
My desire to live a more authentic life, and make a positive impact through my work.
It’s an interesting story in hindsight because having my own business was never the plan. After working in makeup artistry and sales for beauty giants like Chanel and Estée Lauder, and then having a successful yet unfulfilling corporate career, I serendipitously ended up in the mineral makeup world. This was where the awakening started.
As a national educator, I had to run training seminars for partners all over the country. This required me to expand my knowledge around important, often controversial industry topics such as animal testing, the health implications of toxic ingredients in beauty products, and more. My eyes were opened to the fact that many of the brands our society respects and considers iconic, are also the ones causing a lot of the damage, and choosing profits above consumer safety or animal welfare.
Since I had developed a sizable audience on Instagram by this stage, I decided to switch gears away from a solely makeup focused account to something that might inspire change. My primary goal became to show women that glamour and ethics can go hand in hand - looking good and doing good are not mutually-exclusive.
I wanted to highlight ethical and conscious beauty brands that were choosing not to test on animals, and creating high quality, results-oriented products. I launched my editorial platform (www.beautybyneha.com) where I wrote professional reviews for brands, supplemented with makeup artistry on my Instagram account to showcase products and application techniques.
My secondary goal was a focus on holistic beauty, which is why BBN has an Inner Beauty section on the blog. Whilst you’ll see plenty of skincare and makeup articles, I give equal importance to the element of beauty that relies on what we think, how we feel, and the impact of our choices. Some of my most-read articles include topics like the psychology of beauty, morning beauty and self-care rituals, etc.
Beauty By Neha has given me a voice, unexpectedly allowing me to combine all of my degrees and experiences (media and comms, business, makeup artistry, and education) into one business. I feel truly blessed to have ended up here!
2) Why do you value women's empowerment?
When I look at the word empowerment, I think of “power” - more specifically, personal power.
For me, personal power is about purpose, and it lies in service. If I can be even a small catalyst for positive change, whether that’s, let’s say, inspiring someone to start asking, “Was this tested on an animal? Did a living thing endure pain and suffering for this product, and what can I choose instead?”
Or whether that’s encouraging a follower to switch to a healthy, nourishing beauty brand (instead of their go-to commercial brand that might be filled with chemicals and toxins). Then I’ve served them, and perhaps empowered them to make a better choice for their health, and hopefully for the planet.
Beauty can be a force for good, but it's hard to be a part of greater change without first awakening, connecting the dots, and feeling inspired. The bottom line is, I want to empower women because they are powerful beings, capable of using their empathy and nurturing qualities to bring healing to a broken world system.
3) Consumers are becoming more aware of animal testing in cosmetic products and demanding kinder and more ethical products. What caused you to make the switch, and what would you like to see in the future beauty industry?
Consumers are definitely becoming more aware because of the transparency that social media has created, but there are still huge gaps because of the way that media, historical traditions, and society at large have conditioned us to think of animals. Many still see them as objects for consumption, rather than sentient beings with a right to a life - and the freedom to choose how they live that life.
So I’d like to see increased consciousness and more changes in legislation in the beauty industry. A society where we can normalise seeing animals as individuals worthy of love and kindness, and understanding that they feel fear and pain just how we do.
The dream would be for all beauty brands to pull out of China (which demands mandatory cosmetic testing on animals in horrifying ways). I know that’s idealistic, because in a world consumed with money, China is a huge market. Which is why I have so much respect for those brands that refuse to sell there. I guess the alternative would be that China changes its laws - something that can only happen if consumers collectively take a stance to only support cruelty-free brands.
I myself used to be ignorant, and underestimated what animals actually go through behind the scenes. Not just in cosmetic labs, but also in fashion, meat, dairy, commercial eggs - the list of industries goes on. Similarly, I know many people don’t realise what a horror show it actually is, and that they are breaking their core values daily by either a lack of awareness, a minimisation of the suffering, or by deferring making a few changes.
For me the change took place when I realised I was often describing myself as an animal lover, or telling stories about my pets at social events whilst simultaneously holding a leather bag or eating a chicken sandwich. I felt like a hypocrite, and I knew I wanted to live in alignment with my values.
When I finally did make the switch, it was in stages, and so much easier than I thought. I am truly spoiled for choice, and not limited in ways that people might misconceive whether that’s beauty or fashion products, food and dietary choices, or anything else. We also have more information and resources at our fingertips now, including apps that tell us which brands are cruelty-free for example.
I am also amazed what ethical brands such as yourselves are achieving! Mango, pineapple, and eucalyptus leather bags for example - a genius idea. There isn’t a single time I haven’t received a compliment on these pieces.
4) Can you recommend any cruelty free and vegan beauty brands to our readers?
The choices when it comes to high-quality cruelty-free brands these days are truly endless. I love brands like Hourglass Cosmetics and Chantecaille. Their products epitomise luxury and their formulations are remarkable.
Similarly, Chantecaille is a purpose-driven, philanthropic brand that spotlights many global environmental issues and supports conservation efforts through their product campaigns.
Skincare brands I adore and use on a daily basis include Edible Beauty Australia, Okoko Cosmetiques, and Dr Hauschka. Their philosophy of holistic beauty, and beauty with a purpose aligns with my brand.
You’ll see many boutique brands all over my Instagram feed that I’ve discovered as a result of the Clean and Conscious Awards. Often they are “small” businesses, but I don’t like calling them that since they are doing big things. These businesses create ripples of positive impact in the world, whilst putting so much love and soul into their high-performance products.
They are such beautiful wallets (and I love that they can double-up as a clutch with their gold chain!). I think the Obsidian Orchid and Lava Kiss are ideal for corporate wear, or an evening out. You can pair them up with some gold eyeshadow or red lipstick for some oomph.
My favorite is the Paradisio wallet, which infuses vibrancy into the overall look, making it a summertime fashion staple. For a daytime look, I would style it with a neutral eye and a bright orange lip.
For some evening glamour, I personally love to enhance its peach, gold, navy, and blue tones by incorporating these shades into my eye makeup (see the look below).