Reintroducing Josie Maran

Josie Maran reflects on body neutrality, modeling culture in the 90s, and sustainability in beauty.
Courtesy of Coliena Rentmeester
Courtesy of Coliena Rentmeester

Josie Maran was 18 when she first realized she could do anything. She had just landed a Maybelline contract — something she'd been dreaming about for years, or at least since watching Christy Turlington sashay down the streets of New York City while the "maybe it's Maybelline" jingle echoed in the background five years prior — and instantly gained access to the best hair, makeup, talent, and photo teams in the business.

It also opened the proverbial door to a host of other lucrative projects: she went on to secure a 10-year partnership with the cosmetics company, booked gigs with brands like Guess and Victoria's Secret, starred in movies, and graced the covers of countless magazines.

"From there I had a pretty serious career in the fashion world," Maran tells POPSUGAR. "I learned about working with lots of different crews of people, traveled the world, and learned about so many beautiful cultures. Most importantly I learned about myself and my body, and how to feel comfortable in my own skin."

Notably, after more than a decade in the makeup chair, she quit everything, scraped all her money together, and launched the namesake beauty brand you've most undoubtedly heard of by now. The focus was on natural, nontoxic ingredients (hello, argan oil) that didn't compromise on luxury — it was clean beauty, if you will, but before anybody knew or talked about clean beauty.

It was also a risk. At the time, nobody had done anything like it before, but the venture made sense: she'd always been sensitive to chemicals and fragrance, having grown up with a mom with chronic fatigue syndrome and a grandmother with breast cancer, and was conscious about the products she put on her body. Sales skyrocketed to the millions.

Still, that was 16 years ago; enough time for a young adult to procure a driver's license.

Now, countless product SKUs and QVC segments later, she is giving the Josie Maran brand a tune-up. The ethos will remain the same — make eco-beauty more accessible, easier, cooler — but the packaging is getting a sustainable makeover, and the product assortment is honing in on its three bestsellers: the 100% Pure Argan Oil, the Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter, and the Argan Oil Sugar Balm Body Scrub. The reimagined line, now available at Sephora, has been carefully crafted, with every detail accounted for, from the glass jars and Polaroids etched on each refillable packet to the three scents naturally derived from plant-based fruit and plant essences.

Oh, and there's a new motto: "Feel good naked."

Josie Maran is rebranded her skin-care brand
Courtesy of Coliena Rentmeester

As a bona fide supermodel in the 1990s and early 2000s, when diet culture and blatant fatphobia reigned, you might imagine Maran has a warped view on what feeling good naked means. This is partly true.

On one hand, "I spent a lot of time wondering why everyone expected me to be perfect, but when you have 'model' in your title I guess it goes with the territory and people assume that you should be the ideal perfect person," she says. On the other, Maran's mom instilled a strong sense of self-worth and confidence in her that had nothing to do with how she looked. "So when people told me I was too short or too curvy, it didn't dim my light, which ended up benefiting me."

Her grandmother, a breast cancer survivor (and "badass," Maran adds), would always show off her mastectomy scar with pride. "I think she was trying to empower me and be like, 'I'm still alive. I'm here. This is cool. Your body is what it is.'"

It conjures the same tenets behind the term "body neutrality." When she first heard about it, she thought, Now that is something I can get behind. "I realized when I really got to the bottom of what it means to be body neutral, and started practicing it, how effed up I am deep in my subconscious in terms of how I judge myself and my body and my physical appearance. As I age, and I'm in my 40s now, it is becoming a new journey of self-acceptance."

In a way, she says, feeling good naked is just that: learning to embrace where you are physically today; looking at your body in the mirror and acknowledging all that it is and does for you instead of nitpicking all the things you don't like. That is the message she wants her brand to embody in 2024 and beyond.

"It's harder than it sounds," she says. "I'm still learning to appreciate the dimples on my ass."

Josie Maran gets honest in this POPSUGAR interview
Courtesy of Coliena Rentmeester

Part of the reason behind her rebrand is to put more intention and purpose into the beauty products she's putting out there — to make naturally derived ingredients and environmentally conscious packaging fun. It's also to set the standard of self-love for the next generation, an important feat in a world polluted with as much unrealistic imagery and negative messaging on social media as there is plastic.

"I love to remind my daughters that what makes them beautiful is the their commitment to loving the parts of themselves that the world tells them they should judge," she says. (Maran has two kids, aged 17 and 11.)

As for the products that are slowly being sunsetted, don't worry: there is more on the horizon in this new era of Josie Maran. For now, it seems this reimagined mission is her way of prompting those staring at themselves in the bathroom mirror with a tub of body butter in hand to remember, as Miranda Priestly once mused, "And you can do anything, right?"

Kelsey Castañon is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and content strategist with more than 13 years of experience in publishing. She is currently the senior content director at POPSUGAR, where you can find her stockpiling (and reporting on) everything from skin care to wine. Previously, she's worked with the brilliant minds at Refinery29, Seventeen, Shape, Allure, and Teen Vogue, and has appeared on TV segments on "The Dr. Oz Show," Cheddar News, and "Good Morning America." She still doesn't know where all the bobby pins go.