If you've heard of Mary Louise Cosmetics, you probably know by now that the brand touts a Miracle Serum ($35) that's one of the most buzzy skincare products on social media right now — but did you know it was conceptualized in a college dorm room?
Before launching her brand, founder Akilah Releford was studying at Howard University to become a doctor, and it wasn't until her junior year that she decided to leave and pursue a career in the beauty realm with a "fix-it-all" skincare item that would contain most of the properties lacking in the products in her own facial regimen.
In April 2017, at 20 years old, Releford launched Mary Louise Cosmetics — which is vegan, organic, and cruelty-free — with the goal of creating products that can "allow affordability, quality, and ingredients you can pronounce to coexist in the same space," she told POPSUGAR.
"I've always had dry skin and occasional eczema flare-ups, so I was always applying a variety of oils, creams, and body butters on my skin to try and alleviate some of my discomfort," she said. "The oils and serums I would use seemed to be either too heavy on my skin or too irritating. While sharing skincare tips online, I noticed that a lot of girls shared the same problem and also wanted a natural remedy for acne scars."
With that in mind, Releford and her father, a surgeon based in Los Angeles, worked together to create a formula that would alleviate most of her skin concerns using all-natural ingredients like baobab oil, sunflower oil, and vitamin C to fade acne scars, dark spots, and razor bumps and treat hyperpigmentation — a "miracle" product, if you will. Fast forward to 2020, and she already has a bestseller on her hands.
The Miracle Serum and the Mississippi Mud Facial Mask, another bestseller, were both designed to mimic the natural skincare techniques used by her grandmothers, Mary and Louise, whom she named the brand after.
"They're both from Mississippi, and they each had their own personal natural remedies that they used," Releford said. "It feels really amazing to keep the legacy of my grandmothers alive, and it's also quite cool to hear people all over the world say their names every day."