By Kalea Hall
Twenty-one years ago, Lissa Bell was just being a mom when she made her young son a bar of soap to clear up eczema.
Now, she is a natural skin-care business owner with a line of products, a book she wrote about what natural ingredients do for the skin and a laundry list of clients who swear by her products.
“It started as a necessity and became an obsession,” Bell said.
Bell’s small business, Lissa’s Natural Skin Care, 480 S. Broad St., recently got a boost to help it grow in the form of $25,000.
Bell entered Discover’s “Dared to Dream” small-business contest with a 5,000-word essay and won.
“It was hard to believe until the check actually came,” she said.
The boost meant more training for Bell in oncology esthetics, a purchase of a new multifunction facial machine and a micro-current machine and materials to make her products.
“I am not back where I started,” she said. “I am 10 steps ahead.”
The writer turned skin-care professional has always been into understanding how natural ingredients can be used for the skin.
As a teenager, Bell was diagnosed with vitiligo, a disease where pigment-producing cells die or stop functioning, which causes the loss of skin color. The late pop superstar Michael Jackson also suffered from vitiligo.
“It took several years before it took all of my pigment,” Bell said.
Bell started to pay more attention to the products she used. She learned about essential oils and everything they do. These are oils directly extracted from plants. Bell calls them the “life force” of the plant.
“It is what makes a plant do what it wants it to do,” she said. “Because our bodies are organic, when we use [products] that have chemicals in them our body doesn’t know how to process them.”
The chemicals cause problems resulting from skin reactions to cysts and other issues.
With organically sourced oils, the body recognizes the elements and knows exactly how to process them, Bell explained.
“It’s just doing what nature does,” Bell said.
When Bell first started to make her own skin-care products, she began with a product that wouldn’t take the oils out of her skin.
She swears by the use of toner. She uses witch hazel, which balances the skin’s pH, and flower water. The toner keeps the skin hydrated longer. It will pull moisturizer into the skin.
Bell went to market with her products five years ago. Before that, she would make products for family and friends while she was researching and developing them. She did this while attending Casal Aveda Institute in Austintown for esthetics. She graduated in 2010 and got a job at Magnolia’s on the Green in Canfield as an esthetician. There she was able to use some of her own products and gained a following.
“She knows her stuff,” said Patricia Crooks of Berlin Center. “She is very careful with my skin. I have combination skin, and she pays attention to that. She is very careful to not upset the balance.”
Crooks uses Bell’s moisturizer and facial cleansers, and she can’t do without her toner mister with rose water or lavender water and witch hazel.
JoAnne Maloney of New Middletown, another customer of Bell’s, is also a small-business owner.
Maloney owns her own fitness business and believes there’s more to staying healthy than just exercising. Taking care of your skin, your largest organ, is also important.
“Lissa doesn’t put any garbage in her products,” she said. “She is very educational.”
Bell’s products now include a lifting and firming mask, cleansing grains and eye cream. She also recently started to make her own makeup for her clients.
Her client list is growing, too. Last year, she saw 500 new clients.
Her best sellers include a whipped-lavender shea butter and a skin rejuvenating serum.
She eventually would like to have a natural skin-care apothecary, where she has all the ingredients there to make whatever product requested. She does this to some extent now, but she would like to expand it.
“I don’t think you should pay [high] prices to have nice skin,” she said. “Nature is very forgiving, and it’s never too late. I just want to continue helping people.”
For information on Lissa’s Natural Skin Care and pricing, go to: lissabell.skincaretherapy.net/.