Makeup artist sisters Andrea and Ashley Lauren are a multifaceted brand: salon owners, production mavens and organic lifestyle champions.
In October of 2012 they opened Alba Organic Beauty Studio and Cincy Organic Stylebar in the same building in Hyde Park, offering myriad services to make both men and women look beautiful, all in a nontoxic environment.
Alba houses the spa and salon aspect of the business (waxing, facials, hair cut and color), whereas Stylebar offers pre-going-out services like men’s and women’s hairstyling, makeup application, the ever-trendy blowout and more.
Because they use only organic products, the salon is absent of the strong chemical odors that inhabit most others.
“Both of us have always been into health and fitness and taking care of ourselves,” Andrea says, “and being makeup and hair stylists, we realized that the products we were putting on people were not healthy. So we wanted to open up a healthier option in Cincinnati.”
So far, they’re the only organic salon in the area. Their makeup, hair coloring and tanning products are free of sulfates and toxic substances, meaning they’re not applying anything harmful to your skin or hair.
“People will look at the back of a food package to see what ingredients are in there but they don’t necessarily look at products, and your skin’s your largest organ,” Ashley says. “So it’s really important [to know] what you’re putting inside is just as important as what you’re putting on the outside.”
The sisters compare it to buying organic foods. Some products are pricier than the conventional options but, overall, you’re going to get better products, like the Priti NYC nail polish they use for their nail services, which is devoid of typical polish chemicals like the carcinogen formaldehyde.
Another accomplishment: They were the first blowout and makeup bar in the Midwest. Blowouts, where the hair gets styled — not cut or colored — started in L.A.
at a chain called Drybar, then moved to New York City and have become a standard offering in many salons across the country.
Besides owning their own place, the sisters are adroit in doing makeup for film production. As a teenager, Andrea discovered her passion for makeup when a makeup artist visited her high school in Fort Wright, Ky. She moved to Los Angeles when she was 19, earned her first makeup artist certification and later returned to L.A. to attend and graduate from the famous Make-up Designory (MUD). Seeing how much fun her older sister was having, Ashley jumped on her sister’s career path.
“I think, as a stylist and an artist, you get more out of [it] than what you give, and I think that’s one of the main things that I loved,” Ashley says. “Growing up, I always wanted to own my own business and I didn’t know what that was, but then being able to have her as a mentor, I loved it just as much as she did. Being able to work with her and see what she can do and what we can do together — I can’t say enough good stuff about her.”
Both sisters have extensive training. Andrea also trained at Cincinnati’s Aveda Institute and has her esthetician and nail technician licenses; Ashley has a cosmetology license and both hold bachelor’s degrees from Northern Kentucky University. Even though they give manicures, do wedding prep and teach classes, their main focus is makeup artistry for film production, like the work they did on the movie Carol.
The ’50s-era period piece starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara finished filming in the Cincinnati area in April, and the sisters did makeup on some of the principal actors and the extras. Ashley was a key makeup artist (reports to the head makeup artist) and had the chance to apply red lips and bold eyebrows to actresses Mara and Sarah Paulson. (Blanchett had her own makeup artist and stylist on set, but she did visit Alba and get a manicure from Ashley.)
Because The Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit gives a refundable tax credit to films shot in the state, it’s appealing for Hollywood productions to come to Ohio. The girls got on Carol through their film and TV industry union, IATSE Local 209, which enables them to network with other members and find out about gigs.
And it’s not just Carol. Ashley and Andrea have managed to balance running the business while working on other movies, like The Hallmark Chanel’s A Christmas Spirit, starring Nicollette Sheridan, which filmed in Lebanon last year; doing special effects makeup for the haunted Halloween ship the USS Nightmare; and styling music videos for local bands the Seedy Seeds and 500 Miles to Memphis.
“I love our salon and what we created,” Andrea says, “but I started out in production so that’s my first love.”
While they’re waiting to hear about getting work on the Miles Davis biopic being filmed here this summer called Miles Ahead (starring Don Cheadle and Ewan McGregor), the Laurens will be focusing on their Makeovers and Margaritas nights — monthly classes for fashion, makeup and hairstyling tips. They also have other specials nights, such as a couples date night, where the men put the makeup on their dates, a zombie 101 tutorial and a class on braiding. One aspect they try to emphasize in these classes is the importance of how less makeup is more.
“People are beautiful the way they are and they just need a little bit to enhance their look,” says Ashley, who notes that many women come to the studio with lots of caked-on makeup. “They feel like they have to look like that. You don’t need a lot to look great.”
With the classes, they want to make more people aware of the toxins in a lot of cosmetics, especially preservatives like parabens, which have been loosely linked to breast tumors.
“We ran a class a couple of weeks ago and there were so many people there who had no idea even what a paraben was,” Andrea says. “They’ve actually found parabens in breast tissues, so whatever you put on your body goes into your body.”
As for the future, the Lauren sisters want to expand the salon to more parts of the city and, of course, you’ll be seeing their makeup work soon in Carol and other fun places. ©
CINCY ORGANIC STYLEBAR and ALBA BEAUTY STUDIO are located at 2882 Wasson Road, Hyde Park. To see their list of services, visit cincystylebar.com.