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My Good Day Face: Rhonda Davis, Cosmetic Chemist

When a shampoo caused hair loss—and anxiety—product developer Rhonda Davis took her frustration into the lab…and came out with salves to restore both hair and confidence.

“My Good Day Face” is a Mental series about the feel-good beauty products people use to boost their moods. 

Rhonda Davis has been a cosmetic chemist for over a decade, but when her hair started falling out, even her first reaction wasn’t: Maybe it’s the hair product. Her reaction was far more human. “I immediately thought the worst, Am I ill?” she says. “I would cry in the shower as more hair came out. I was confused and worried and this created anxiety—anxiety I did not need due to my neurological disorder.” 
Davis, 39, is referring to epilepsy, a neurological disorder she was diagnosed with at age 11. “I have done a great job with being seizure-free during my adult life,” she says. “I make sure to take care of my body and give it the proper rest and nutrients it needs.”
Which made it all the more frustrating when she discovered that, in fact, her hair loss—and many others’, as well—was due to to a hair product she’d been using. A class-action lawsuit against the company was legal symbolism of what Davis knows as a product formulator herself: “Beauty products can have a positive or negative impact on both our physical and mental health. The ingredients may be effective, but are they safe? Are there any side effects? Will the product cause breakouts and rashes? Will the consumer lose their hair?” she says. “We’ve heard countless horror stories surrounding products and their negative side effects that occur physically, but what is not talked about are the side effects that can cause mental grief, anguish, and emotional scarring.” 
After the hair-loss incident, Alabama-based Davis began developing Ayira Beauty, what she calls a “hair restoration” brand that’s plant-based, vegan, cruelty-free—and gentle. The products cleanse, condition, detangle, and style while reinforcing hair’s keratin—structural proteins found naturally in hair—with amino acids and other strengthening, hydrating ingredients.
She’s also attuned to the way her products, or any products, can make people feel in the moment. “As cosmetic chemists, our job is to not only create effective products for the face, body, and hair, but we also seek to connect with the consumers through their senses. From color theory to textures and scents, beauty products can have an effect on our daily moods,” Davis says. “A scent could remind you of your childhood summers at the beach; a certain red shade could bring back memories of your mother’s makeup that you secretly played in as a kid; or the texture of a product is similar to your grandmother’s Pond’s cold cream.” Bam: Grandma on the brain (in a good way).
The idea that beauty products can evoke emotions, particularly through scent, has been proven. Even textures have an effect. Take the findings of the Kansei Science Research and Skincare Products Research Laboratories of KAO Corporation (the parent company of such beauty brands as Jergens and Bioré). Using their “affect scale for consumer behavior,” scientists were able to map skin-product textures to feelings of calm, comfort, awakeness, and liveliness.
Like everything these days, the ability to quantify emotional response to a beauty product is getting techier. In a 2021 study published in Applied Sciences, an EEG allowed researchers to test what percentage of positive or negative emotion—called valence—was created when women applied two skin creams. The product women said they “most appreciated”? Also the one with the most positive valence. (Science + beauty—fascinating, ain’t it?) 
Despite the stresses of her entrepreneurial beauty work, Davis is prioritizing her health. “I no longer overextend myself, I don’t feel bad saying ‘no,’ and if I cannot physically or mentally complete a task, I do not beat myself up about it. I like my nervous system calm,” she says. “Whether it’s being out in nature, exercising, visiting an art museum, a trip to the flower market, cuddling with my dogs, or simply watching a marathon of Bob’s Burgers, I will take time out for my physical, spiritual and mental health.”
That happens to include a few crucial minutes for her a.m. face routine, long-lasting red lipstick, and (ooh!) occasional CBD-infused bath. All the deets, right here.

Gua Sha Tool + Moisturizing Oil

Daily Concepts Gua Sha Facial Jade Tool, $16

Ayira Beauty Nourishing Oil, $22

“Every morning I use my gua sha tool along with the Ayira Beauty Nourishing Oil. It’s non-comedogenic and gives my skin an amazing glow, and when coupled with the gua sha, it feels absolutely amazing! My muscles are relaxed and any puffiness on my face is gone.”

Matte Red Lipstick

CoverGirl Outlast UltiMatte Liquid Lipstick in Wine O Clock, $7.54

“Because of my field of work (laboratory/manufacturing) and an on-going COVID environment, I have a mask on all day. My main focus is on my skin and hair health but I do love a red lippie! For a minimalist look, I love the CoverGirl Outlast UltiMatte Liquid Lipstick in Wine O Clock with lash extensions, which I’ve  decided to try again so I don’t have to wear mascara anymore. I’m really simplifying my routine.”

BONUS! Her Bath Routine

Epsom + CBD Salts

Dr Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Soaking Solution in Soothe & Sleep, $4.87

Lord Jones High CBD Formula Bath Salts, $50

“Because I work with my hands a lot and am constantly on my feet, I love a good soak with Dr. Teal’s Soaking Solution mixed with a little bit of Lord Jones CBD Bath Salts.”

Lavender Essential Oil

Wyndmere Lavender Pure Essential Oil, $16.99

“And I always keep a bottle of Wyndmere Lavender Pure Essential Oil near me for a quick olfactory pick-me-up. My pets love the lavender scent, too, especially during our snuggle sessions! “

Check out Rhonda Davis and Ayira Beauty on TikTok at @ayira_beauty.

MENTAL NOTE: Oh hi there. Like we said above, “My Good Day Face” is a Mental series about the makeup and skin products people use to boost their moods. Yes, there are conflicting studies on whether makeup is good or bad psychologically, whether it can soothe or inflame anxiety and depression. If beauty causes you angst or feels like a form of pressure, step away! We love a beautiful bare face. But if applying moisturizer and lipstick helps your mental state by giving you a routine to follow, acting as meditation, inspiring creativity, or simply expressing your inner human, then: By. All. Means. 

All products featured on Mental have been selected independently and editorially. When you buy from our links, we may earn a commission.

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