As founder and master formulator of the clean skincare line Blue Beautifly, Vida Karamooz, Ph.D., finds inspiration in her Persian heritage and its reliance on ancient wisdom.
Why did you create Blue Beautifly, and would you tell us about the inspiration behind the products?
The number-one reason for creating Blue Beautifly and the inspiration behind the products is to combat the excessive exposure to harmful, if not deadly, chemicals in our everyday products. I am certain that excessive exposure to synthetics and artificial ingredients in household and personal-care products is the one of the main causes of the rapidly growing chronic disease crisis. Over the years, I have come to appreciate the merits of my personal ancestral heritage of homeopathic medicine. My curiosity and deep interest in wellness and beauty has led me to study a number of ancient sciences, including Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, and Unani medicine practiced in South and Central Asia.
A little about my past—I was born and raised in Iran (Persia), one of the oldest civilizations. As a teenager, I was intrigued with the use of flower waters, herbal pastes, precious oils, and essential oils to wash, tone, moisturize, and revitalize the skin and hair. To this day, I have vivid memories of my beautiful grandmother mixing a few drops of olive oil with rose essential oil and rose water in the palm of her hand and applying to her face and neck. It is customary among Persian women to use a blend of honey, yogurt, egg yolk, olive oil, turmeric, herbs, and spices as rejuvenating masks for the face and hair. In fact, I recall Persian families’ reliance on the ancient wisdom of Attars (homeopathic herbalists) for prescribing remedies for common ailments, such as gastrointestinal discomforts, stomach upset, rashes, burns, sleeping disorders, anxiety, and skin issues. Undoubtedly, what I do today as the master formulator of our products is deeply rooted in my Persian heritage and other ancient sciences that bring the goodness of nature to nurture the body.
Another foundational aspect of our business is our commitment to sustainability. Needless to say, the inspiration behind this commitment is the knowledge of our negative impact on natural resources, climate change, and overwhelming air, water, and land pollution that is mostly, if not entirely, caused by corporate greed.
The more I learned, the more convinced I became that nature holds the true and only secret to health and beauty.
Would you share a little bit about your life, pre-Blue Beautifly?
I have had an interesting academic and professional journey. I studied film and television at the University of Creative Arts in Kent, England. After completing my studies, I returned to Iran and joined NIRT (National Iranian Radio and Television) as a television producer and director, where I produced a series of children’s programs and documentaries.
Coming to the US and raising my two children suspended my career as a filmmaker. Once my children started school, I decided to take a different direction in my educational pursuits with a Master’s degree in communication and a Ph.D. in organizational performance management at the Pennsylvania State University. Upon graduation with my doctoral degree, I began working at Accenture in the pharmaceutical industry as a consultant. Subsequently, I joined Pfizer Pharmaceutical to spearhead the company’s adoption of emerging technologies, culture change, and business process optimization. With the graduation of our second child from college in 2008, my husband and I took early retirements from our corporate positions to travel internationally and explore other career options.
What made you change your career path from the healthcare industry to the beauty industry?
Over the years, and particularly from 2009 to 2010, my husband Saied and I traveled to a wide range of destinations in the Middle East, Asia, and Central and South America, including Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Honduras, and Costa Rica. At each stop, I would ask about the local skin and body-care practices. The more I learned, the more convinced I became that nature holds the true and only secret to health and beauty. Motivated by the practical and anecdotal lessons gained in our travels, I decided to immerse myself in the studies of Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine to learn the fundamentals of the ancient sciences. Soon thereafter, I thought about creating a company that brings the beauty of ancient sciences to the Western culture. So I started to study modern naturopathy methods and cosmetic chemistry to develop products that are not only founded on the wisdom of the ancient sciences, but also suitable for the Western market and scalable for global distribution.
With all of the travel that you’ve done, are there specific beauty practices or ingredients that captured your interest?
What I found intriguing is that traditions used by various cultures around the world have many similarities in practice with a range of differences in use of indigenous plants. An example of similar beauty rituals is the use of natural clays for washing and exfoliating the skin. Another example is the use of herbal powders mixed with water or yogurt and honey as a rejuvenating facial mask or as a hair and scalp strengthening treatment.
Some of the unique skin and hair-loving ingredients that caught my attention during our trips were argan oil and rhassoul clay in Morocco, black cumin seed in Egypt, amalaki fruit and gotu kola leaf in India, frangipani flower in Indonesia, rose flower and lotus leaf in Iran, and hibiscus flower in Hawaii. Most notable, however, is henna that is becoming more popular globally for use as a cosmetic. It has always been a integral botanical ingredient as a colorant and nourishing treatment for the skin, scalp, hair, and nails.
What else influences your formulations?
Many factors influence who we are and what we do. As a child, I was very inquisitive, creative, and imaginative. As an adult, I have had a strong interest in painting, photography, performing arts, and filmmaking. In fact, painting, which I do in my free time, has been the best way for me to escape, meditate, and express my creativity. Many years ago, I started with watercolors, but currently, I paint with acrylic on canvas. Painting helps me connect with my inner self and enhances my creativity and productivity in all aspects of my life, including formulating innovative products. As you can imagine, both art and science are the bedrock of making innovative products.
Each of our products is the fruit of my love, heart, spirit, and mind, in addition to my heritage and formulation expertise. It is with this dedication that we have never outsourced any aspect of our product formulation, development, manufacturing, or distribution. For that reason, I am very proud of and passionate about what we have created and how we operate.