Mia Chae Reddy’s “Dehiya Beauty” is Clean, Green, and Inclusive
As a woman of color, Mia Chae Reddy, founder of Dehiya Beauty, knew from the start she wanted to create a brand that felt representative and inclusive. So, when it came to creating an organic, clean skin and beauty line, she told SVN that it was just as important for her to take a critical look at diversity as it was to “formulate high-performing, plant-based skin care.”
Her entire life has essentially led to this moment and this brand — once you get a clearer picture of Mia’s background, everything about Dehiya all starts to make perfect sense. With a love for beauty (and a professional background at Smashbox and Chanel) bolstered by her “professional training in race studies, women’s studies, and female representation in pop culture,” combined with her own personal experience with “brown girlhood,” Mia is perfectly poised to be an absolute leader within this space — a space she describes as, historically, “predominantly white, privileged, luxury green beauty space.”
Growing up as a black-and-Korean girl in the Midwest with white parents (something she tells SVN “has literally shaped my whole identity and life path”), Mia used her upbringing and coming of age experience to fuel her doctoral research at the University of Maryland-College Park. Her expertise? “The exploration of brown girlhood and womanhood, identity formation, sexuality, and finding the power and beauty in that identity.” In fact, her dissertation is called “Browngirl Narratives: Exploring Coming of Age in the Golden Era of Hip Hop (1986-1996)” — it looks at “the ways in which coming of age on the hip hop landscape during the 1980s and 1990s impacted the identity formation and cultural attitudes of brown and black women.”
“I want women of color to know green beauty and wellness is for them too.”
This research has profoundly fueled the genesis of Dehiya (which, by the way, is the name of an African warrior queen). Her desire to create something genuinely inclusive coincided with her desire to create luxurious, clean, and natural beauty products (also thanks in part to a decades-long love for beauty and skincare). “I was in the thick of my wellness journey,” she explained, “and I saw very few women in the wellness space who looked like me, and even fewer in the beauty segment.”
Not only did she feel completely isolated but neglected by the market. “I decided I needed to create a highly effective, high-performing plant-based skin care brand that was more than just conscious skin care, but a step towards inclusive beauty,” she said. “Enslaved Africans were dispersed throughout the world, and with them, and their knowledge of plants as medicine, and I really wanted to celebrate some of these ancient practices and include them in the narrative.”
So, she got to it, and it immediately felt natural. “Formulating feels intuitive to me,” she explained. “Like cooking... and I have a lot of experience in both beauty and retail.” And just like that, Dehiya started coming together.
As mentioned, she worked at huge beauty brands, and has been in the beauty industry since age 19. But travel gave her some of the best tools for the formulation of Dehiya. Mia’s travels — in part, thanks to her husband’s position as an officer in the navy — have taken her all over the world, which she used to her educational advantage (such a scholar). “We had the opportunity to move to Italy,” she said, “And while we were there, we traveled all over Europe and Northern Africa.” It was there she discovered ancient beauty rituals and folk remedies — from that vantage point, she realized that these customs were “intuitive and thoughtful versus trendy.”
“The folk remedies old-school skin care traditions are revered,” she said. “At the beach, I would see Croatian and Italian women slathering their skin with olive oil infused with carrots for sun protection. In Turkey, Morocco, Italy, Czech Republic, and Austria, the thermal spas and spa treatments are inexpensive and accessible to everyone. A day at the spa isn’t considered indulgent; it’s self-care at its best.” (Cue: us moving to Morocco)
While Mia was in Morocco, she met an herbalist that inspired the next chapter of her beauty education. “The herbalist taught me about the power of plants indigenous to Northern Africa and 1,200-year-old beauty rituals imbued with simplicity,” she shared. “This is where I nerd out and tell you how there is little credit given to enslaved African herbalists, healers, doulas, and witch doctors who shared their knowledge throughout the African Diaspora — so much of what we have incorporated in our beauty rituals originates on the continent of Africa.”
She returned to the US, feeling a sense of purpose. She knew she had to find a way to share these traditions and practices in a beautiful, meaningful way. Seeing herself as not only an entrepreneur but a true storyteller, she created Dehiya as a fusion of high-end, clean beauty products and the storytelling of ancient, cherished rituals.
Now working from Southern California, this “champion for dope girl magic,” has created an incredible line of beauty staples, including the hero product: BIRU BIRU balm, which incorporates CBD. Biru, which means blue in Indonesian, “was inspired by my desire to create a truly multifunctional beauty balm for both face and body,” says Mia.
Mia has been using CBD as part of her beauty and wellness routine for years. For her complexion, she found that CBD brightens dark spots and gives her an even glow. For her body and health, CBD has helped to manage pain brought on by nerve damage caused at birth (a condition called neonatal brachial plexus palsy — NBPP). “I wasn’t finding a multi-functional product I could use for both pain management and my face that really worked well for both, so I decided to create something that was not only highly-effective and multi-tasking, but also a beautiful sensorial experience.” Enter: BIRU BIRU Balm.
Used equally for youth boosting as well as sore muscles and joints, this lightweight and absorbent formula comprises 100 milligrams of full-spectrum CBD oil, 23 plant botanicals (think: frankincense, blue tansy, Moroccan rose and jasmine), and packs a serious wellness punch. Mia says its superpowers include stress-relief, anti-inflammation, and antioxidation.
“There are so many ways this balm is unique, but I think my research really makes it special,” she said. “When I was creating the balm, it was important to me to include my clients in the process — they even helped choose the name!” From there, Mia created focus groups that allowed women to target specific problems, ranging from menstrual cramps to acne, and then report back on progress after two weeks. “I was blown away by the ways BIRU was benefitting these women, including with vertigo, menstrual cramps, skin conditions, and sunburn.”
This, she would say, is her greatest triumph so far — the response from clients. “The collection of quotes, reviews, and testimonials from clients letting us know all the ways they love the Dehiya... I’ll never get tired of knowing my products are changing women’s skin in a positive way, their attitude towards natural skin care, and the way they see themselves as a result of using Dehiya.”
More CBD product is on the way; “Our CBD-infused lip + cheek pigment and luminizer pots infused with 50mg of full spectrum CBD will launch this July,” she shared (!!), and you’ll probably see it at an Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters near you. These little pots have “a sort of French, laissez-faire vibe,” she said. “I’m all about the ‘woke up like this,’ radiant glow that plump, hydrated skin gives off. These pots not only impart gorgeous color but are filled with skin-loving plant botanicals like cupuaçu butter and argan oil to heal and nourish.”
And while she’s exceptionally proud of her line (because it’s incredible, obviously), she still sees her skincare brand as an important platform for education around global beauty practices. “Honoring global beauty is a priority for us,” she says. “Our Instagram feed to our website copy to the partnerships we cultivate, we aim to celebrate beauty and wellness on a global level and the diversity within that.”
Written By: Dominique Michelle Astorino