Comfortable In My Own Skin: Lisa Strain

May 16, 2016

image of Lisa Strain herself

This essay was written as part of an empowerment campaign, “Wear Yourself In,” led by eco-luxe skin care company Kari Gran. In response to the beauty industry pushing an impossible idea of flawless youth for years, the campaign encourages women to be kind to themselves, and their skin, as they reflect on beauty, aging, wisdom, and self-acceptance.

Lisa is the co-founder of Kari Gran, which she and her longtime friend - Kari Gran, the namesake of the brand - launched after long and successful careers in the real estate business. As the one who originally inspired Kari to take the leap, Lisa now oversees the business side of the company and everything that goes into that while Kari is in their lab developing products.


Why would I start a new business at the age of 53, especially in a category that I honestly find frightening?

The skincare and beauty world has never been my friend.  I spent my teenage years wishing my acne would just go away and leave me alone, not pouring over the latest version of the smoky eye.  My Mom was leveled by acne in her twenties.  The insecurities that lingered in her because of that experience only served to amplify my own anxiety over those awful zits.  She helped me any way she could think of, but looking back, the constant worry about how acne was making me feel just made it worse.  We both hid from the dreaded cosmetics counter.

So fast forward about 40 years: my acne has finally cleared (mostly) and my humor about the whole topic has evolved.  My good friend Nancy is famous for saying that our elderly acne bouts have kept us looking youthful.

I started feeling comfortable in my own skin when I had menopause well behind me. My skin cleared up. And then I found an opportunity to start something new with my friend, Kari.

If I was the anti-beauty-cosmetics-counter girl, Kari was the sales girl behind the counter from whom I’d always been running.  She lived and breathed the beauty industry, and now that she could combine that passion with all things green she was a force to reckon with.

Jumping into a completely new venture and leaving a very lucrative real estate career really wasn’t anything compared to the thought of being in the conventional beauty industry.  Would I need to start piling on the makeup?  Would I have to sink some serious time into how I looked?  Would other women look at me and wonder why at my age, didn’t I take advantage of Botox and fillers?  Geez, I’m ten years older than Kari. Do I really want to be compared to her?

Could I still be myself: the person I’d grown to actually feel quite comfortable within the last decade?

It’s no secret I took the plunge and found my groove.  Kari and I are a good team.  She’s passionate about our business and green beauty, and I’m passionate about being the voice of “beauty reason.”  She honestly does spend a half-hour cleaning and massaging her face at night.  I’m lucky if I spend five minutes, but I do spend those five minutes enjoying the little ritual, and not looking in the mirror, finding fault.

I’ve come to realize in addition to handling the business side of Kari Gran, I do have something to offer the beauty industry.  I’m the voice of women who don’t want to be talked down to. We don’t need ridiculous promises that we can turn back the clock with a face cream, or that beauty comes without crinkly eyes. We want to look our best, but we simply are not buying the beauty BS.

I’ve also come to understand that while I’m not a conventional beauty, I do have my own individual look.  And it’s a look I like.  Yes, there is no doubt that I would love to look like Penelope Cruz, but I’m actually pretty damn happy with who I’ve become.


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