Sean Garrette Talks His Skincare Industry Glow-Up
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The esthetician, who often shares video tutorials, wants to make skincare education more accessible. PHOTO BY TONE WOOLFE
Few skincare influencers have made as much of a positive impact on the beauty industry as Sean Garrette. He initially became interested in skincare because he couldn’t find any resources on how to treat acne in skin of color— particularly deep skin like his—so he did his own research to treat his symptoms. He turned this newfound knowledge into a career working at department store makeup and skincare counters, then went on to work at a spa to deepen his skincare vocabulary. While working there, he found that many of the procedures, from products and facials to laser treatments, weren’t catered to skin of color—and even worse, the technicians and estheticians weren’t trained to care for dark skin. “I got tired of that narrative and it really pushed me to start my platform on Instagram,” Garrette tells EDITION.
“I started to share skin knowledge, education and really focus on Black skin and people of color.” His budding social media following inspired him to get his esthetician license so he could treat patients professionally. Garrette has since worked with what seems like every brand stocked at Sephora, Nordstrom, CVS and beyond, and was even tapped by Rihanna herself to be Fenty Skin’s inaugural global ambassador. Here, he speaks more about what inspires him, some of his favorite Black-owned skincare brands and the beauty industry’s future.
What is your approach to skincare?
The pandemic opened our eyes to how much we do not care for ourselves. Especially living in New York City, we work to the bone. This is a fast-paced city. Even people who live in the South or even slower areas of the country, we are still all hustling because we all have some type of goal. Especially if you’re a person of color, you’re working two, three, four times harder than others to be able to accomplish them. It’s why self-care and skincare became such a huge conversation because people actually have the time to invest in themselves again.
As an esthetician, my goal is to always educate, but I also want people to enjoy what they’re doing. I’m not someone who’s going to preach or force. If you’re going through a hard time and you can’t get up and wash your face, I’m never going to make you feel bad about that. I want you to take care of your mental health because that affects your skin. That affects how you see yourself and it affects how you take care of yourself. So for me, beauty is a tool to just love on yourself a little bit, because I don’t think a lot of us do that.
Garrette uses social media to his advantage, from interacting with followers in real-time to securing brand collaborations. PHOTO BY TONE WOOLFE
What are some of your favorite Black-owned skincare brands?
Hyper Skin (try the Hyper Even Brightening Dark Spot Vitamin C Serum serum, which is specifically formulated for people of color); TOPICALS (my favorite products are LIKE BUTTER and FADED); epi. logic, founded by oculofacial plastic surgeon Dr. Chaneve Jeanniton; ROSE Ingleton MD, founded by dermatologist Rosemarie Ingleton; and SKNMUSE (the Devine body oil is one of the best I’ve ever tried).
What impact do you hope to make on the industry, and how are you going about doing that?
I never really thought what I did was impactful—it just felt like something that I was supposed to be doing. I feel like when you have information and you can help a community, it’s almost your duty to share that. My small impact can at least help people who can’t afford to go to estheticians [or] dermatologists, because that is an expense. I want my platform and social content to help people at home, because that’s where you’re going to get the most benefits, and that’s where people can kind of create their own treatment plans. I talk about products that are $3.99 and $300 and up. Because when skin is [someone’s] last thought because of budget concerns, I want them to still be able to get beneficial products.
I also want people who have an unlimited budget to know what’s good and what works for them. Because I think a lot of times, in the space when people think of creators of color, they automatically think of affordability, which I think is like a form of racism. I never want to just target or fall into a stereotype of, for people of color and Black people, it has to be affordable or drugstore.
Obviously, we are marginalized and our wages are much lower than the rest of our peers, but I also want people to feel comfortable in celebrating and just loving beauty as well. We can enjoy La Mer, Barbara Sturm or Augustinus Bader. We can enjoy that luxury experience. So, adding to that platform is about making beauty a part of your lifestyle and not letting the things that are holding us back really ruin that experience for us, while also educating my audience.