Skin, Deep is a series that explores the ways in which our heritage, culture, upbringing, and life experiences impact the relationship we have with our skin.
My name is Leah Guerrero, aka Brujita from Brujita Skincare. All of my family is from Guayaquil, Ecuador. I’m first-generation, born in the U.S. I live in Los Angeles. I grew up in many areas of LA, but I currently live in East LA.
I take a lot of pride in my family’s homeland because I don’t meet too many Ecuadorians in LA. When I do, there’s usually a big connection and comfort of knowing that we are around. My father’s partner is Mexicana, and her family is from Sinaloa. I’ve been living and learning from her heritage for about seven years now. This is where my love for Mexico came from—through her and her love for me.
My Relationship To My Skin
My relationship with taking care of my skin came at a super young age. I used to be obsessed with the way my mother took care of herself, because she would take her time and not feel bad about it. If there’s anything that I learned from her, it was to take my time caring for myself and use natural, from-the-earth ingredients!
Oils are a huge part of our routine. My grandmother used oats a lot in her traditional Ecuadorian beverages, and also used oats for her face. Nothing fancy, just water and oats. The simplicity is so crucial and the same mentality has been passed down to my brand Brujita Skincare.
I always felt a strong connection to my skin—especially because I wanted to have healthy skin. That was always the main goal. My earliest memory of skincare is my mother teaching me how to wash my face, oil up my body, and massaging. I started taking care of it by the time I reached 10 years old. I mimicked my mother and wanted to use everything she used, because I thought she had the most perfect, porcelain skin. My mother has porcelain, fair skin and I have amazing brown skin, so people would be confused and ask her if she was my babysitter. She always laughed and corrected them. I never felt a disconnect because my parents always told me how beautiful I am and made me feel worthy at a young age. They also made sure that me and my brothers never felt isolated because of all our skin being different from one another (two of my brothers are fair and another is brown like me). We are this dope mixed family and always have been.
Do I feel that commercial skincare brands understand my skin? Hell, no. Mainly because most commercial brands are poisoning our skin with chemicals. Presently, some brands are getting smart with regard to branding and formulating with natural ingredients, because of the trend of “green beauty,” but they’re not fooling me. Being transparent is definitely something bigger brands should be into, but they choose not to be. When I buy skincare, its usually from POC-owned small businesses. Now that Instagram has taken over, it’s much easier to find healthier options.
How I Developed Brujita Skincare
My own skincare line Brujita was born in the mercados of Mexico City. My friends started calling me “Brujita” [in English, “little witch”] because of the natural products I brewed up.
I didn’t take the name seriously until a vendor at a mercado called me “Brujita” after finding out why I was taking 20 pounds of Tepezcohuite back home. After that, the Phoenix rose from the ashes and I became unstoppable. Brujita Skincare is turning one year old in October, and now has nine products ranging from facial cleansers, face creams, facial masks, and facial serums made with ingredients sourced from mercados in Mexico. I personally source the ingredients and am always traveling to Mexico. I vend at local LA markets like Molcajete Dominguero and Mercado Downey. The brand has been featured in Teen Vogue and Dazed Beauty, which is pretty cool for me to write!
I have a morning ritual and nightly ritual when it comes to skincare—taking my time forever and no one can ever rush me! HA! Honestly, this is the time when I’m most vulnerable. Cleansing my body is very therapeutic for me, so it’s super serious—as ridiculous as it might sound.
I use Brujita products like Santa Limpia Facial Scrub, Hechizo Facial Serum, and Crema. I use treatment facial masks from Filthy Cosmetics which has leveled up my glow. I always use hydrating soaps from brands like Where’s the Bano, La Placita Soapery, and Skin To Soul. I’m always switching natural deodorants because I haven’t found the perfect one. Essential oils are also big in my life. I usually use frankincense, rose, and rosemary.
Through this, I’ve seen my skin go from perfect to breakouts and scars to healthy again. It’s what makes me, me and I love it!