Gloria Noto Wasn’t Going to Wait Around for the Beauty Industry to Change
Gloria Noto Wasn’t Going to Wait Around for the Beauty Industry to Change

Interviews

Gloria Noto Wasn’t Going to Wait Around for the Beauty Industry to Change

12 min read

Essential Takeaways

  • After working as a makeup artist for years, Gloria Noto realized that she was sick of the cookie cutter mold that the beauty industry had declared as its standard–not to mention the lack of deference to sustainability and wholesome ingredients. So she decided to create her own brand that ticked off all those boxes.
  • The result: NOTO, a skincare and makeup line that celebrates natural beauty in every sense—from a skin-first, botanics-driven philosophy to the freedom of gender expression. And this celebration of self extends to Noto's daily life, which she peppers with rituals that allow her to feel and do her very best.

The greatest tool in a woman’s toolbox isn’t a cosmetic or a brush. It’s self-determination—the daily commitment you make to yourself and your future, and the hard work and rituals that create the foundation for that journey. Make Your Self is a series that spotlights the stories of women who fiercely embody this relentless pursuit.


If you need reminding that the beauty industry has come a long way in just the past few years, consider the story of Gloria Noto: It was less than four years ago that the veteran makeup artist (whose signature "less is more" aesthetic probably populates your "saved" folder on Instagram) found that she was having trouble relating to a market that was, at the time, sorely lacking in both sustainability and gender fluidity.

"I was just in the industry for so long and was looking at how things were being done and working through it, and started to feel less connected to my work," she says. "I started wondering what I could do to feel a little bit more involved in my output in life."

As this itch started to fester in her career, Noto was making shifts in her personal life that only exacerbated the matter. "My wellbeing was changing, my diet was changing, the things I do with my body was changing, my experience in herbalism was growing and natural cosmetics were becoming more and more of a staple," she recalls. It all came to a head when she realized that if the beauty industry didn't have the space for something that allowed inclusivity, sustainability, and plant-based ingredients to coalesce, she'd carve that path out herself. And that's when NOTO, a botanics-driven skincare and makeup line, was born.

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Three-and-a-half years later, NOTO has taken off: The brand is set to open its first LA storefront in the coming months and Noto is eyeing expansion in other cities. The label positions itself as the embodiment of natural beauty in every sense, from its premium on botanical skincare and high standards for sustainability to a celebration of raw self-expression for all, bucking and blurring any kind of gender binary. And while Noto created her namesake brand in the face of a clear industry gap, in the years since its inception, we've slowly but surely seen a larger shift to embrace beauty that's conscious from both an environmental standpoint and a gender-inclusive one.

For Noto, the future is looking bright—and she's proud of the path she's created for herself. Below, learn more about the work that went into setting a new industry standard—and why she credits her success to taking care of herself, first and foremost.

gloria-body-1

On realizing she had the ability to create a new industry standard…

"I just kind of got to a point where I was just like, what am I even doing with my life anymore? As an artist, you want to be connected to the things you put out in the world. And I was really feeling that pull and I felt that there was a missing gap in the natural wellness world of cosmetics. I wasn't seeing a lot of inclusivity and diversity. I had this background of being the editor-in-chief of an art magazine and working behind the camera—sometimes art direction, always makeup. And then with my personal interest in ingredients and cosmetics, I felt like I could marry all those worlds together and cultivate a unique brand that I wasn't really seeing out there."

Did you know?

Your skin is an incredibly dynamic organ with properties you might not even realize. For example, did you know that your skin has certain olfactory receptors? This suggests that odor detection may not just be limited to your nose. (1)

On defining "transparency…"

"Beyond [sustainable ingredients], it's about that transparency of self as well. I was super punk, super goth—I would paint my face, like a mask. It was fun, it was cool. But I remember getting to a point where I'd wake up in the morning and look in the mirror without makeup on just kind of feel gross and disgusting in my own skin—not even recognizing my own features—and felt like I had to change them to feel my identity and that kind of freaked me out.

"So I really tapered it all back and started going really, really natural so I could begin to love my skin again. And then as I got older, I stripped it back even more by using good skincare. It changed my skin. Good skincare and good diet, it changed my skin overall. So I actually felt good with less on as well. As I started to feel better about the quality of my skin, that made me want to use less on my skin.

"And so I think that for me, it’s feeling good at looking at your bare self, feeling good at looking at your own pure reflection and loving that first. And then being able to then add on to that. It’s saying, 'Today I want to wear a thick brow and a bold lip and a star on my face.' But at the end of the day I feel really great washing it all off, you know?"

gloria-body-2

Did you know?

Mind over matter: It's really a thing. A Harvard study suggests that simply reframing stress in your mind as a positive can make you feel that much more optimistic. (2) Another way of looking at it? Stressing out about being stressed is counterproductive.

On refusing to see obstacles as obstacles…

"I have such a hard time answering this because part of me is like, no. Of course it isn’t always easy, but I just don't view them as roadblocks. I just never had any doubts. I don't have any self-doubts with my company. I think that's really key and pivotal to understanding the success of something is knowing that sure, little bumps come along, but there's no doubt about it.

"I would say if anything it’s just the learning curve, learning so much about so many things I had no idea about. And then building a team and finding the right people that stick around—they’re responsible, excited, and able to help move past these sorts of obstacles that may come along. They find answers and solutions. It’s always been more about piecing each little bit together day by day, sticking with it and just remembering what your core message is and what your purpose and point is and why you're even doing it."

"You should always have the space to be able to explore your identity. But I do think it's really important to love your bare self before any of that."

On calling out outdated narratives in the beauty industry…

"I personally feel that when cosmetics are targeted to a gender…everything at the end of the day comes down to advertising and you have to, obviously, make money as a company and know what your niche is. But so much of cosmetics come targeted towards women and so-called 'women’s issues' like your wrinkles. 'Age-defying.' And why are these 'women's issues?' At the end of the day all genders want to look good, feel good, feel beautiful, feel attractive, look healthy, have clear skin, have healthy skin. So to me I felt duped as a woman being targeted in that way.

"The other aspect was why does it have to be just women? Why can't male-identified or non-binary individuals want to wear makeup, have glowing skin, or have more of what would be considered in society a 'feminine' approach to their well-being, skincare and cosmetics?

"I just didn't feel that the industry was speaking to all the voices out there; the consumers and people that are interested in their own self-care. The wellness world was very targeted towards one type of demographic only. What about all those other people? Queer identities, non-binary identities that cared about ingredients, that cared about sustainability, that cared about what they were buying? What about all those voices? I am one of those people and have a lot of friends and acquaintances that are also those people. I didn't feel that we were being represented."

On making time for herself every single morning…

"When I wake up, I have to burn something. I usually like to burn a resin, a frankincense resin—the smoke clears the room. Then it’s a moment of meditation, even if it's just a few minutes of breathwork and then writing something—intentions or the goals for the day. Sometimes the writing is really creative, like poetry, and sometimes it’s a little bit more practical.

"I like to make a warm drink, usually matcha that has adaptogens and collagen in it. Kind of my internal skin care for the day. Taking my Ritual vitamin is part of that whole supplementation space. If anything, it's a mindset. You take that vitamin and you know that you've given your body the fuel in those ways that it needs. I know I've done this for myself today.

"And then I do some sort of body movement, whether that's dancing or something with leg weights. There’s this funky little leg weight movement workout that I do that’s almost a Pilates sort of dance thing. Then it’s a shower and skincare, and I take my dog outside. And that’s kind of my morning."

"The days that I don't take care of myself first, I just feel off. So off."

Did you know?

Muay Thai is a Thai martial art with similarities to kickboxing.

On self-defense as a form of self-care…

"Just to brag: I feel really confident that I could kick someone's ass because I know Muay Thai. If I needed to kick someone's ass, I feel really strongly that I could."

On feeling stoked about the future…

"I'm looking forward to so many things. We're opening a store in the fall. We hired a couple of new people on the team and I'm really excited to see their growth. I'm really looking forward to traveling more with my partner and just kind of looking at everything around me that I am so grateful for. Just watching all this unfold, it's made me so gracious and grateful and I'm just looking forward to seeing things bloom."

*References:

  1. Olfactory receptors in the skin: Sandalwood scent facilitates wound healing, skin regeneration. (2014, July 8). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140708092555.htm
  2. Jamieson, J. P., Nock, M. K., & Mendes, W. B. (2012). Mind over matter: Reappraising arousal improves cardiovascular and cognitive responses to stress. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141(3), 417–422. doi: 10.1037/a0025719

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