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The Love Witch
The Love Witch

Our craft isn’t your costume: Exploring beauty’s co-option of witchcraft


TextDazed Beauty

Witches of the world discuss using magic in their beauty routines, the co-option of witchcraft by mainstream brands, and how the industry can do better

Welcome to Witch Week, a campaign dedicated to exploring how witchcraft, magick and beauty intersect. Discover photo stories shot featuring real witches in NYC, a modern reimagining of the witch, and one witch’s mission to get a tan, as well as in-depth features exploring herbology, science and alchemy, and male witches. Elsewhere, we’ve created four special covers to celebrate the campaign and our one year anniversary – something wicked this way comes.

Should beauty brands use elements of witchcraft in their products? Is it appropriation? Appreciation? Is there a way brands can engage with witchcraft culture in a respectful way?

All of these questions came to the forefront of discussions around beauty last year when Sephora and perfume brand Pinrose and then Kat Von D Beauty revealed collections that took elements from the practice of tarot in quick succession. Many in the witch community took issue with it and Pinrose, in particular, received immense backlash for its Starter Witch Kit which alongside the tarot deck included scented oils, a white sage smudge stick and a lump of rose quartz.

Following the product’s announcement, practising witches called the brand out for cultural appropriation, for being a capitalist commodification of feminist spirituality, for its use of white sage, a herb sacred in Native American tradition. The kit was ultimately pulled from production. 

To celebrate Witch Week, we spoke to witches from all over the world about their practice, and how they’re navigating the co-option of their craft by the beauty industry. 

CHARLOTTE RICHARDSON ANDREWS AKA THE CULTURE WITCH 

Age: Ineffable 

Location: London 

Practice: Eclectic, nature-based, feminist, and queer

Time practising: On-and-off since my teens

How did you get into the craft? 

Charlotte Richardson Andrews: Pop culture. I’ve been obsessed with witches and witchcraft since I was old enough to read. My ‘in’ was YA fiction featuring uncanny protagonists (way before Harry Potter was a thing), and later, films and TV shows. Also: family dynamics. I come from a family of witchy types. I grew up around crystals, tarot, meditation, and occult and new age literature. Visualisation practices were, and still are, an everyday practice in my family’s home; So witchcraft wasn’t so much of a stretch as a natural progression.

How can the industry do better when it comes to showing appreciation for the witch community?

Charlotte Richardson Andrews: I’m not really interested in helping brands engage with or milk on our culture. That said, big money will always find a way to capitalise on our allure. And everyone has to eat, so I wouldn’t necessarily begrudge a witch for teaming up with a brand if it meant a better product. I’d recommend that any brand considering a witch-related line of products pay an IRL witch (or three) to advise them and guide them. Invite us to the table. Pay us – generously – for our consultancy services. Create products that honour our ethics and respect our varied cultural practices. Better yet, give witches the resources to create their own beauty lines. 

GRACE MCGRADE 

Age: 23

Location: Los Angeles

Practice: Influenced by her Celtic ancestry, candle magic, energy work, astrology, and new age philosophy

Time practising: Seven years 

Do you use elements of witchcraft in your beauty routine? 

Grace McGrade: I recite mantras and use visualisation before I do my beauty routine, and often use a jade crystal face roller. I try to visualise and invoke a sense of my own beauty, and pair it with music and create an environment that feels like my own personal version of what magick is. I pick colours and scents with the magical associations of what it is I am trying to bring into my day. Self-love for me has always been the most potent form of magic, so I focus on ushering that in. 

How does it make you feel when you see beauty brands using elements of witchcraft practice?

Grace McGrade: Witchcraft is inherently anti-capitalist. It suggests that we can rely on our will, and use the forces of nature and our bodies to direct energy to make things happen. You don’t need to buy a starter kit at Urban Outfitters to qualify. When you think about the history of witchcraft, all of it was borne from indigenous cultures, and a great deal of indigenous cultures were systematically murdered for engaging in these practices. This extends across continents and cultures, and predates religion. Until there is an acknowledgment that thousands of years of genocide stem from a fear and general suppression of the human engagement in witchcraft,  it feels like massive bypassing to appropriate these symbols and images and use them for financial gain. 

PORCIA LEWIS 

Age: 26

Location: Brooklyn

Practice: Natural, intentional, free from, and intuitive 

Time practising: About three years consciously 

How did you get into the craft?

Porcia Lewis: I’ve always been interested from a young age. I grew up in a Christian household where none of what I do is allowed – even to this day. So whatever I did or learned was through media (TV, movies, books, etc). When I moved to LA in 2016, I started digging deeper into it. It found me rather than me finding it, and I was free to indulge being away from my hometown and family.

Have you ever bought beauty products that use elements of witchcraft? 

Porcia Lewis: I’ve bought so many beauty and skincare products from other witches and healers in the community and online. If they know what they’re doing, hell yeah, I’m going to support – for myself and them. I’m not gonna go out and intentionally buy a tarot set from a large beauty company unless I truly resonate with it. There are so many decks and crystals in so many privately owned shops that I’d rather put my money into.

JERICHO MANDYBAUR

Age: 33

Location: LA

Practice:  Eclectic/DIY influenced by pantheism, chaos magic, and my Egyptian heritage

Time practising: Under different names and guises, on-and-off my whole life. But I’ve only been speaking about it publicly for three or four years

How did you get into the craft?

Jerico Mandybur: I’ve always just intuitively practised magick, since I was little (I think most kids do this). I would rent books on witchcraft from the library in primary school and hide them under the bed at night because I was spooked by them and spooked even more at the prospect of being further ostracised socially. As I’ve entered my 30s and become more OK with identifying as a witch publicly, I’ve continued to experiment and taught myself the ways in which I like to work, which is mostly in ritual. 

How can the industry do better when it comes to showing appreciation for the witch community? Is there a way brands can engage with witchcraft culture in a respectful way?

Jerico Mandybur: A more important question for me right now is: ‘How do we in the witch communities treat Native Americans and other marginalised communities around the world?’ The witchcraft community (and spiritual/wellness world in general) is rife with cultural appropriation. We should all do everything we can to make sure our side of the street is clean before we worry about whether naming make-up collections after tarot cards is offensive. For me personally, it’s annoying for sure, but there are clearly bigger fish to fry. So I think we can do better by looking for and amplifying BIPoC voices in this space and look to them as the leaders they are. For example, Marisa de la Peña of Circo Tarot is creating a library of appropriate tarot card imagery, and creating a workbook to combat appropriation in the spiritual community. 

AMELIA QUINT 

Age: 30

Location: Columbia, SC, United States

Practice: An eclectic blend of influences, with a heavy emphasis on divination 

Time practising: Publicly since 2016, studying since 2013 

Do you use elements of witchcraft in your beauty routines?

Amelia Quint: I keep my perfumes on an altar with a crystal so that every time I spray them, they’ll infuse my look with a bit of magic. I also choose make-up shades that are named for things I want to attract – for example, swiping on Marc Jacobs creme lipstick in ‘Amazing’. Finally, I also love a good magical bath with lots of sea salt for cleansing. I’ll add a bit of honey or vanilla if I need an emotional lift, too – plus, it smells amazing!

How does it make you feel when you see beauty brands using elements of witchcraft practice?

Amelia Quint: When I see brands using items that are clearly inspired by witchcraft, my first instinct is to be excited that these things are becoming more accepted, because it hasn’t always been that way, even in the very recent past. But, I do get very frustrated when I see them missing the mark by veering into cultural appropriation, like with overharvested white sage for example. It’s also sad when they relay information that isn’t accurate or that’s reductive – tarot and astrology especially are very complex systems, and those can’t always be explained in a t-shirt slogan. But, my hope is that the branded elements will inspire people to take a deeper look.

LYNSEY AYALA

Age: 31

Location: Brooklyn

Practice: My own mash-up of traditional and intuitive practices; I grew up Catholic in the front and Brujeria in the back

Time practising: It began subconsciously from childhood

Do you use elements of witchcraft in your beauty routines? 

Lynsey Ayala: I like to set intentions and say affirmations as I’m applying my make-up and even at the end of the day when removing make-up and jewellery. I often play with colour and will sometimes use specific coloUr palettes to call in certain energies. For instance, using a bold red lip colour creates a sense of confidence and power. Using yellow eyeshadow when it’s gloomy outside can literally brighten up my day. I still use my love spells book from the Scholastic book fair, creating my own blends of flower and gem essences, essential oils, and herbs to protect my aura, promote self-love, and call in abundance. My mom was always intentional about jewellery and make-up and I always thought of her as my first beauty icon.

How can the industry do better when it comes to showing appreciation for the witch community? Is there a way brands can engage with witchcraft culture in a respectful way?

Lynsey Ayala: If brands want to explore witchcraft, find a real witch to work with! Highlight the Brujx who are practising their traditions and creating products with their cultural magic. The industry should stop trying to copy-and-paste culture. We see you, the real ones are not having it and definitely are not giving you our money. For the brands who are currently profiting off of appropriation, they can begin by giving some of those dollars back to communities who have been ripped off. 

SARAH POTTER

Age: A mystery! 

Location: Manhattan

Practice: Rooted in Paganism

Time practising: From when I was 12

Have you ever bought beauty products that use elements of witchcraft? 

Sarah Potter: I have and I use many of these products everyday! Witchcraft relies on our universal connection and something that is really important to me is to use cruelty-free, vegan products. I love how everyday beauty rituals can use the intention of crystals to enhance my everyday routines with conscious intentions. I love rose quartz and its ability to remind us of the importance of self-love and self-care, so I use a lot of products that utilise it like House of Intuition’s salt scrubs, Herbivore’s Rose Quartz oil, plus Witchbaby’s bath bombs for the Full Moon. I always wear Smashbox’s Crystallised Primeriser created by my dear friend The Hoodwitch using the power of crystals, Her entire line is AMAZING! 

Self-care needs to be number one, and I think a lot of people, especially women have a hard time justifying satisfying our own needs. As a tarot reader, I give a lot of myself to my clients and I need to be in top shape on every level to be of service to them. It’s hard to remember to fill your own glass or to do so without guilt and beauty rituals filled with intention help me to do that.

Brands like Pinrose and Kat von D have been criticised by the witch community for co-opting Tarots cards. How does it make you feel when you see beauty brands using elements of witchcraft practice for example palo santo, tarot imagery, crystals etc.?

Sarah Potter: I have very mixed feelings about the commodification of witchcraft and sacred practices. I do believe that witchcraft should be accessible and available to all as this is a practice that has been for marginalised people, for those who feel like ‘others’, for those who need to be empowered. I think about the next generation of witches, for the teenagers who feel alone and misunderstood, for those who need this, but how will they find it? Maybe there are children and teens whose only access to the beginning of witchcraft will be through seeing symbols on make-up packaging at the mall because that is their only access to the craft. Seeing those powerful symbols can strike interest and lead them down the path that can truly change their lives. That is what happened to me and now I am a professional witch in Manhattan! I mean how magical is that? 

I wish for anyone who needs to have the connection with witch-hunting craft to have that. At the end of the day, I do not think it matters how we find our path as long as we do so with respect and curiosity and love. If a company is commodifying witchcraft as a trend, we feel that fakery. It lacks authenticity and it’s so surface level. They will be on to the next trend as soon as they feel that this has served their purpose. For me and so many others, there is nothing trendy about witchcraft. This is part of my life now and always, and I take it very seriously.

We need to be conscious of where we put our energy and mindful of where our products are coming from, and moments like the uproar over the Sephora witch kits and other commodifications of this craft should remind conies to be sensitive to sacred practices of other cultures. We as consumers must continue to educate ourselves in order to make empowered choices when buying. After all, money is one of the most powerful energies and where we put our money shows where we align ourselves.

LEAH GUERRERO AKA BRUJITA

Age: 31

Location: Los Angeles 

Practice: Earth/Magic 

Time practising: 12 years

Have you ever bought beauty products that use elements of witchcraft? 

Brujita: Yes! It’s very easy to find beauty products from real witches on Instagram. I’m a huge fan of aura sprays from Olde Ways and I regularly buy from another witch Kelly Elvina from Lunam Love. When beauty products are made with specific intention there is no denying the magick you leave behind whenever you step. My skincare brand, Brujita Skincare, focuses on reconnecting communities with earth through facial products. I source most ingredients which come from mercados in Mexico. Many people tell me they feel closer to their ancestry when using Brujita. Tapping into realms is what we are all about at Brujita. It’s rewarding to know that earth elements can transport people to certain times or feel a certain nostalgia. 

How does it make you feel when you see beauty brands using elements of witchcraft practice?

Brujita: Annoyed. Mass-produced companies have no idea what they are doing when it comes to anything occult or sacred. I do applaud SmashBox Cosmetics for making Bri Luna AKA The Hoodwitch a muse and creative director when releasing a crystal-inspired collection. That’s the perfect example of how it can be done properly.  

EMILIA ORTIZ

Location: Brooklyn

Practice: Mainly plant magic and I work with my ancestors and their cultural influences/traditions

Time practising: From curiosity as a child, to seeking answers as a teen, to being a public healer and bruja in my 20s who doesn’t just practice for self now

How does it make you feel when you see beauty brands using elements of witchcraft practice?

Emilia Ortiz: I have mixed feelings around the use of witchcraft or spirituality in branding. In part, there’s nothing wrong with it because it caters to a market that can often feel unseen/underrepresented. However, capitalism tends to make these efforts to cater to these markets problematic. The sourcing of ingredients is often unethical, the imagery sometimes inaccurate or cheesy, and actual practitioners are not always consulted in the process. Am I against practitioners being able to brand their practice in a way such as an eyeshadow palette? Not at all. I think if anyone is going to be doing it, it should be practitioners. The truth is make-up and beauty rituals are based in witchcraft and healing. The ingredients used can be part of someone’s practice, such as ones for casting glamour spells on themselves for self-love. I’m not in the business of stopping someone’s coin, but I do think actual practitioners are who should be making these products. The beauty industry needs to keep in mind, that appropriation is not appreciation. 

How can the industry do better when it comes to showing appreciation for the witch community? Is there a way brands can engage with witchcraft culture in a respectful way? 

Emilia Ortiz: Hire some practitioners to consult on the products, or do a collab with one. Look into the ingredients you’re using: Is it endangered? Is it at risk of being endangered? Is it sacred to a certain culture that has been denied access to it due to racism? What ties do you as a brand have to this? If it’s endangered or at risk don’t include it. While everyone wants to tap a hot market, ethics matter. You don’t want to upset any spirits with your products. Being cancelled in today’s society is one thing, spirits cancelling you is a whole other story.

ERIN AQUARIAN

Age: 37

Location: Occupied Chinook land in Portland Oregon

Practice: Very solitary, intuitive, creative, radical, DIY and personal 

Time practising: About 12 years

What kind of witchcraft do you practice?

Erin Aquarian: I had a spiritual awakening in 2008 and my witchcraft is oriented towards helping me heal and cope with the stressors of modern life within systemic oppression. I’m strongly connected to justice, spirit and nature, and a lineage of witches and healers, which I lean into to support me through the human challenges of being a highly empathic/psychic being with a lot of trauma navigating the perils of late-stage capitalism. Much of my witchcraft is in channelling through reading tarot or writing and my spellwork is in the form of music (my band Void Realm) and the art I do.

How does it make you feel when you see beauty brands using elements of witchcraft practice?

Erin Aquarian: I have a lot of anger and grief about the way capitalism devours culture to turn a profit, particularly because it requires the destruction of natural resources (crystals/white sage/palo santo, etc) and the exploitation of human beings. Witches are connected to the earth/natural world and believe all life is sacred and it is infuriating to live within a culture of rampant capitalism that is devastating the environment and all life. We are in a time where we can continue to uphold the old paradigm of greed and destruction, or create something new that can save the life that is left. I personally would rather humanity make sacrifices instead of more stuff.

ALIZA KELLY 

Location: Manhattan

Practice: A blend of Ceremonial Magick and Folk Magick

Time practising: Several lifetimes

How did you get into the craft? 

Aliza Kelly: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by esotericism, spirituality, and the occult. For my astrology aficionados out there: I have a massive eighth house stellium, so that should explain everything. I would turn every sleepover into a séance, gather herbs to cast spells, and mix liquids in my medicine cabinet to create potions (this definitely wasn’t safe). As an adult, I found out that I could formalise my interests, which is when I began studying and practising Ceremonial Magick through astrology and correspondences. I really enjoy the accessibility of Folk Magick, however, so I also incorporate elements of that into my work – especially when I’m leading workshops or working one-on-one with clients.

How can the industry do better when it comes to showing appreciation for the witch community? Is there a way brands can engage with witchcraft culture in a respectful way? 

Aliza Kelly: As a rule, brands should always consult (and *ahem* fairly compensate!) experts before entering the occult/spirituality space. Otherwise, brands run the risk of making enemies… and a lot of pissed off witches means a lot of powerful hexes, so let’s hope the brands know about uncrossing spells!

VALERIA RUELAS 

Age: 25

Location: New Orleans 

Practice: Mexican brujeria

Time practising: I was born into this life

Do you use elements of witchcraft in your beauty routines? 

Valeria Ruelas: I love using my crystal roller to ease my muscles and to reduce wrinkles – cold therapy on my face. I love to use ancestral magick when I mix face masks or baths as well. In Mexico, we have a clay called ‘Aztec clay’ which heals the skin and removes impurities. You can also use a bit of clay in your baths to tone and clean your skin as well as provide it with minerals. I love using French green clay for beauty baths. A bath and a face mask can be made with the intention to increase beauty. 

You can accomplish almost anything my magick and spellwork if you set the right intention. I have really been enjoying the ritual of lathering myself in body-safe protection spell oil and then bathing in herbs or using bath bomb from one of my favourite witchy soap companies. I bought the HoodWitch crystal collection and I love that she designed this after crystal healing. Glamour is important to witches and to feeling better, so I think witchy make-up lines and witchy beauty products are amazing, I want to see more with the input of witches.

Brands like Pinrose and Kat Von D have been criticised by the witch community for co-opting Tarots cards. How does it make you feel when you see beauty brands using elements of witchcraft practice, for example, palo santo, tarot imagery, crystals etc.?

Valeria Ruelas: As long as the images of witches are positive, this being in the media is a good thing! There is a lot of witch hate and false information about who we are. I personally think Kat Von D represents the occult community really positively and she is Latina. I suspect she delves into the occult like many celebrities do and I really love her goth aesthetic.

I have a huge problem with how certain traditions are appropriated though. I have a huge problem with corporations making money off witchcraft because most companies don’t practice with reverence to nature. My message to larger companies is that they try to work with real witches and brujas, and that they employ diversity in their brand representation of witches. I encourage brands to choose their models and representatives from the actual witch community and to celebrate women of colour as much as they can. I do think that the craft should stay in the hands of small businesses because this ensures that magick isn’t mass manufactured. Every good witch knows that if something is made with ease it loses its magick. Real magick takes dedication and time. It takes spiritual energy, which factories and large companies just can’t bring into the ‘witchy’ goodies they try to sell. If it hasn’t been in the hands of a witch and has their energy, it’s just a toy and not real magick.

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