Achieving healthy skin means washing it with soaps, scouring it with exfoliants, and replacing the moisture with expensive potions, right? Not according to founder of CRUDE Personal Care Denise Cartwright, who has built a multimillion-dollar skincare brand that debunks the “squeaky clean” image Big Beauty has been marketing for over a century. Her revolutionary oil-based approach to healthy skin is contrarian, counterintuitive, and extremely effective. In an industry with a product failure rate of nearly 80%, Cartwright has developed a formula that is not only succeeding—it’s thriving.
After over ten years of experience as a Master Esthetician, Denise was feeling frustrated and disillusioned. The common products she was using on her clients’ faces would, at best, provide temporary relief and consistently stripped the skin of its protective systems—the natural moisture barrier and healthy microbiome—leading to more problems. It was a destructive cycle of using expensive products and treatments, like chemical peels, to inflame the skin which then required other products to address the resulting damage. Denise didn’t set out to build a business or start a revolution; she was on a mission to solve her clients’ chronic skin issues. But what she discovered was that what the beauty industry had been calling the “cure” may have been the “cause.” The key suspect? Soap.
“No other animal uses a synthetic, sudsing cleanser to feel clean,” she thought. “Why do we?” Her research led down a complex, nuanced trail of sexism and capitalism dating back to the advent of mass marketing in the early 1900s. “Some of the first major advertising campaigns were from soap companies targeting American wives,” Denise acknowledged. “The ads created a world where a daily, full-body soap cleanse was necessary to attract and keep a husband. These companies learned that making women feel bad about themselves was a highly profitable strategy.”
As Denise connected the dots of biological knowledge and beauty industry history, she began mixing her own oil cleansers in her kitchen, testing countless combinations on herself and others. The more she learned, the better the results, and soon her clients were asking for bottles to take home. Denise launched CRUDE, quickly gaining a cult-like following, and she has found herself at the helm of a serious beauty movement before the age of 30. With thousands of social media followers, a booming e-commerce shop, and a recent accolade as one of Utah Business’ prestigious “20 In Their 20’s” award winners, Denise is pioneering organic skincare, and CRUDE is growing organically. “Your skin, like you, is smart and resilient,” she says. “It knows how to heal and regenerate itself, and we think the best thing you can do to help it is to get out of the way.”
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