Beaucoup Beauty

Nobody ever says “I’m going to the ladies room to tar my nose.” Even so, that’s essentially what many are doing with modern makeup. Made from coal tar, petroleum and other nasty ingredients, many cosmetics seem better suited to pave a road than cover a face. Mercelina Ogle started to see makeup as a sinister cycle: You put icky chemicals on your skin and use other icky chemicals to remove them. “To fix one problem, you cause another,” she says.

Mercelina found a more natural solution in the beauty methods of the past. Through research and a lot of experimentation, she developed a line of makeup from ingredients like avocado butter, jojoba oil, vitamin E and seaweed extract. For colors, she turned to mica, iron oxide and carmine (“the only natural way to get a deep red”).

Sensing a business opportunity, she tested her growing collection of lipsticks, eyeliners, eyeshadows, blushes and foundations on her nieces and office mates. Encouraged by their rave reviews, she and her husband, James Ogle, launched Merci Natural Cosmetics two years ago—attracting an instant base of loyal followers at the Barton Creek Farmers Market. “We have some customers with sensitivities who enjoy not having to experience the side effects of makeup,” says Mercelina. “Others just want to live a healthier lifestyle and appreciate the work we put in.”

Using age-old techniques doesn’t mean the Merci line isn’t keeping up with the fluid trends of fashion, though. This year, Mercelina revamped her lipsticks in matte colors and created a new eyeliner, called “ICU,” to keep the company competitive as it expands its online reach with a presence on Amazon. 

Of course, the Ogles are up front with customers about the realities of using natural cosmetics—they may not have the staying power of those derived from chemicals, for example. “Sometimes you really do have to slip away to go powder your nose,” says James. Still, he compares natural cosmetics to organic fruit: It might be smaller, but it’s a healthier and tastier choice. “Sometimes a [disavantage] isn’t such a bad thing.”

By Steve Wilson.

For more information, visit mercinatural.com or call 512-766-5797.