Transparency. That's a word that Camila Coelho has kept top of mind throughout her decade-long career as a content creator, ensuring that she only ever recommends brands and products she truly loves to her over 1 million YouTube subscribers. But transparency took on a whole new meaning for the Brazilian influencer at the beginning of the year, when she kicked off 2020 by publicly sharing her epilepsy diagnosis — and the struggles she's faced because of it — for the first time. Now, Coelho is bringing the spirit of vulnerability to her newest project: a mindful beauty brand that stands for much more than just the products.
Dropping today, Elaluz, which translates to "she is light" in Portuguese, is a curated luxury collection that focuses on essentials across all categories, including makeup, skin, and hair. Still, Coelho doesn't just want consumers to walk away with new beauty buys; she wants them to stop and think about the brand's name, and how they can draw inspiration from it. "I truly believe that everyone has a beautiful, individual light shining inside of them. Sometimes depending on what we go through or what happens to us, we block that light ourselves," she tells Refinery29 via Zoom, two weeks ahead of the launch. "It will be a reminder for people that every time they touch or see our products to remember the power of their light within and how it can completely change their lives."
Coelho has a deep connection to the importance of finding one's light: The founder recalls the personal hardships she faced as a result of epilepsy, especially during her teenage years, after her diagnosis at age nine. Coelho says she grew up as an outgoing kid who loved to dance, but she found herself changing as she came to terms with the neurological disorder, which is characterised by seizures caused by sudden surges of electrical activity in the brain. "I lost my light in a way," she shares. "I became more not like myself, from the way I used to dress to the way I was putting makeup on. After a few years, I realised that I needed to get my life back. I needed to be like myself again."
"I realised that I needed to get my life back. I needed to be like myself again."
Putting her energy into her platform led Coelho back to that light. With two successful YouTube pages offering beauty tutorials in English and her native Portuguese, numerous collaborations — including a 10-lipstick line with Lancôme — and an eponymous fashion brand, the 32-year-old is ready to manifest more of her visions with Elaluz. This brand has been a longtime dream for the one-time pro makeup artist (she worked the Dior makeup counter at her local Macy’s), who remembers her grandmother giving her her first red lipstick at six years old for her passport photo. "I grew up playing with makeup, and I have all of these memories of myself in my grandmother's house," she recalls, also crediting her mom for allowing her to "dream big."
The social media star fights back tears as she describes how she never imagined launching brands in the United States when she emigrated from a small town in Brazil at 14. "Sometimes, it seemed impossible. It gets me emotional because it's such a big dream coming true," she says. Her love for her South American roots is exactly why Coelho set out to incorporate touches of her cultural background in her brand, from the Portuguese name and messages to the Brazilian ingredients included in her formulations. "I really wanted to bring my heritage into this because I'm so proud of where I come from and how I grew up," she adds. "I want everyone to feel a little bit of Brazil and Latin America."
The attention to detail doesn't stop there: In addition to considering feedback from her social followers over the years, Coelho also committed to mindfulness in everything from the packaging to the formulations. The brand uses recyclable, reusable materials when possible and FSC-certified boxes, if boxes are needed at all. The products will also leave out any and all of the 1,600 known toxins banned by the European Union. Instead of entire collections, Coelho intends to focus on key products, adding one or two to the lineup each month. For the inaugural launch, Elaluz is releasing the hydrating 24K Lip Therapy treatment and Lip & Cheek Stain. In addition to makeup, Coelho plans to venture into hair, skin care, and more. "We're looking more to have less product and instead products that work for us and that we're actually going to use, rather than having all of these things that we don't touch," she tells us.
Ultimately, this project, with all of its personal touches and thoughtful details, signifies a full-circle moment for the beauty lover who once lost her light. While Coelho never expected that her light would lead her here, she'll always credit transparency to allowing her to find her way and claim her power — especially this year. "After sharing my epilepsy story, I realised even more how important it is to be transparent, which I had been doing with my brands and my job as an influencer," she says. "It's one of the things that got me to where I am today." With that in mind, Coelho hopes to prove that your luz always shines brighter when you pull back the curtains and let others in.