Samantha Dickey is the brains behind Dirty Beauty, a natural skincare company created with farm-made ingredients — all from her parents’ Atlanta-area USDA-certified organic farm. Dirty Beauty products include cleansers made with sunflower oil, scrubs made with cane sugar and makeup pigmented with mica. Who knew beauty secrets were hiding quite literally in our own backyard? Beyond bringing natural products made in Atlanta to the beauty market, Samantha, an engineer by trade, is passionate about STEM education, especially for girls. Since Samantha has spent years in the science industry herself, she knows just how important it is to foster the confidence to pursue a career in the field from an early age. After all, beauty IS a science, and Samantha is here to prove it. We’re thrilled to introduce you to today’s FACE of Atlanta, Samantha Dickey!
Tell us a little bit about how Dirty Beauty came to be. How was the company founded?
We started out in 2000. At first, we started as a contract company, and our aim was to work with manufacturing companies and improve their operational processes and draft warehouse layouts. A few years later, I learned the term “natural skincare,” and I was intrigued by it because I did not know there was a differentiation between types of cosmetics based on their origins and formulations. My parents are farmers, and so were my grandparents. Originally I’m from Pennsylvania, and I loved visiting my grandparents’ farms during the summer and at Christmas. When I discovered “natural skincare” meant skincare made from ingredients like sugar cane and other stuff farmers grow, I instantly felt a long lost love and discovered a connection waiting to be revealed.
Buzzwords like “organic” and “all natural” are inundating the beauty market these days. What sets your company apart from the rest?
Sourcing. We create formulas using plants from our parents’ organic farm, from other farmers and from farmers’ markets. We stay as close to the farmer as possible. We sometimes even help plant and harvest the very flowers that are included in our cosmetics. We also formulate skincare using definite methods of action, and our products are customizable. Because our skin is constantly changing, we provide skincare that can change with you. Our product collections are rooted in math and science, and therefore are predictable and customizable to achieve desired results. We also provide lifestyle information that underscores the importance of vitamin A and vitamin C consumption and other daily non-product related activities that are part of the course to clear, healthy-looking skin.
You had an extensive career in engineering prior to your role as an entrepreneur. How did your previous career set you up for success with Dirty Beauty? What lessons carried over? What lessons did you have to learn?
I love engineering. I love the fact that I am an entrepreneur who utilizes engineering every day. My previous career taught me consumer product blending, internal and external sanitation, microbiology, production and filling, quality control, lab testing, warehousing and transport. These are all things that go on behind the scenes in the beauty-making business. I carried over product blending, the formulation process, sanitation, microbiology, quality control, visual factory and much more. I had to learn sales and marketing, packaging and branding, web development and PR … just to name a few!
Part of what makes Dirty Beauty special is its deep roots (literally) in farming and in family. Tell us more about Loretta and Samuel, the farm and the role family plays in your company.
Loretta and Samuel Adderson are my amazing, hardworking parents. They are role models and leaders in their community. They have an intensive farmer training program, and they mentor many in certified organic farming practices. My mother, Loretta, is the only daughter to my grandparents in a family of lots of sons. She grew up both working on the farm and also in the family home helping my grandmother prepare meals. She can make a five-star plate with two ingredients! She met my father at Savannah State College; she has a degree in nutrition with a minor in chemistry, and my dad has a degree in mathematics. He is an engineer. Now, my parents are both retired. They decided to get back into farming, and it allows both my sister and I and our husbands and children to share in our parents’ upbringing. My parents are still involved in the very lands they were born and raised on, and we are able to follow through with that lineage and interpret it in ways that are unique to each individual and relevant to the current generation.
In addition to being passionate about natural beauty, you’re also passionate about STEM education, especially for girls. Why is this cause so important to you?
I love math so much, and I wish everyone loved math like I do. It holds keys to unlock more innovation in health and wellness. My father is the one who encouraged me to pursue engineering technology in college. I really did not know anything about engineering even though I knew my father was a Quality Control Engineer for the glass industry. I felt like I almost missed my chance to know engineering. Part of my personal enrichment comes from the fact that I can pursue solutions in a logical way using math and science. Logical math- and science-based thinking is an invisible gift. A person may not know they have it because it is a thought process. I feel that it is my responsibility to suggest engineering and STEM fields to young people, especially girls. More science equals more solutions. We require diversity in science to achieve diversity and wholeness in solutions.
Besides Dirty Beauty, what are some of your other favorite makeup or skincare lines (natural or not)?
Besides Dirty Beauty, my other favorite makeup and skincare lines are found at the local farmers’ market and at the grocery store. I love finding beauty products from indie makers. If I had to, I would use an organic yogurt face mask & a cold pressed oil moisturizer. I’d indulge in salt & milk baths and fill a spritzer with witch hazel. I’d shop farmers’ markets like a shopaholic (and I totally do this now!) for beauty balms, whipped butters, deodorants, body scrubs, face oils, clay-based cleansers and more! I also love MAC makeup. MAC is one of the brands I remember as a teen that really focused on pigment. Going to the MAC counter was edgy, cool and freeing. I’m also crushing on the FENTY brand because of all the ebony to ivory options!
It’s hard to choose favorites, but what are your go-to, favorite Dirty Beauty products? What are your best-sellers?
Number one is our REVEAL face exfoliant and daily cleanser. It’s a total favorite! It’s good for many skin types including sensitive skin because it’s soap-free, and it’s in a powder form. You just add a little water with it to activate it. It also has organic lavender from our family’s farm!
As consumers, when we’re shopping for all natural products, what should we look for? Are there ingredients to make sure we seek out?
For natural ingredients, look for formulations and systems that achieve your desired result in the most logical skin caring, skin enhancing way:
- When looking for hydration, seek water, aloe and glycerin.
- When needing exfoliation, look for enzymes and AHAs.
- When looking to prevent dryness, look for moisturizing formulas with sunflower oil, safflower oil and shea butter.
- When you want to reduce oil on the skin, look for ingredients with bentonite clay and rice powder.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?
“Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” My dad always says this! A lot of times he said it in jest when my sister and I would say, “Dad, look, we got this right!” Now, I take it to mean keep trying and keep doing it. At some point, you’ll hit the target at least twice.
Excluding faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
An iPhone. It has a camera, a GPS, can tell you where to eat, a calculator, a flashlight, a contact list, a makeshift mirror, a notepad, a calendar, music, my Bible app/quotes, a fitness tracker, FaceTime, Lyft, Netflix and Zagster. The farmers’ market/Sprouts for everything for luxe beauty, food and drink. Yoga pants.
Thank you, Samantha, for giving us the scoop on all things natural beauty. To learn more about Dirty Beauty visit dirtybeauty.com. Special thank you to Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography for these stunning photos of Samantha!
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