Andrea Galdámez was only seven years old when she began her lifelong commitment to skincare. Yet, it wasn’t a swift transition to cleanser and moisturizer. It was “painful,” she says.
Galdámez, who goes by Ámez now, was playing in her backyard in California, when she fell on a rose bush. The thorns immediately stuck to her face. Ouch! “I remember we spent like two hours getting all the little thought,” says Ámez. “After that day, my mom was like, ‘Okay, we have to make sure because they left scars’.” Back then, her mom used a mix of Cetaphil, which had just been launched, calendula, and teas to help the scars heal. It worked.
Since then, Ámez started her relationship with skincare, one that became her career. She is an esthetician, specialized in melanin-rich skin and clean beauty, and has just launched Ámez Marketplace, a digital hub for “esthetician-vetted and melanin-approved” products. Her focus on melanin-rich skin is not a coincidence, but rather a product of her lifelong struggle to find products and professionals that work with skin that isn’t fair.
Ámez grew up in Los Angeles, California and was raised by Guatemalan parents. She spoke Spanish at home and in school and visited Guatemala during the summers. While both her parents worked night shifts, Ámez was partially raised by her grandparents, a typical story for many children of immigrants. “My parents did a really great job of raising me,” she says. “I always felt really connected to my roots.”
As a college student, Ámez chose to major in art history. But that changed quickly after a visit to France. There, she learned about French pharmacies, where products were affordable and contained less damaging chemicals than those in the United States. “I remember thinking, in the United States, if you wanted to get clean products, you would have to spend a lot more money,” she says. Ámez also researched the policies that allows France to regulate skincare products, unlike the United States.
Once she returned to her home country, she enrolled at the Aveda Academy in Los Angeles, after working at Aesop as regional manager. She was not prepared for how hard it would be. “By the time I graduated, I had given more than 120 facials,” Ámez says.
Today, Ámez’s practice focuses on melanated skin, a sector of the beauty market that has grown dramatically in the last few years, filling a void for people of color. Ámez explains that melanin-rich skin has specific concerns that are often overlooked by estheticians and beauty companies, including hyperpigmentation, scarring, eczema, and excess oil production. While in chemistry melanin is just a molecule, in the real world, its richness can become a life or death factor.
For melanin-rich people, skincare and makeup can be a burden. This is why Ámez hopes her new marketplace becomes a safe space to discover and celebrate brands that cater to these communities.
“During these last five years since I’ve actively been doing facials, it’s been really amazing to see a lot of these companies really voice space for people like us,” she says.
It’s been more than 20 years since Ámez first started using skincare after that unfortunate rose bush accident, but she says she’s never missed her daily ritual of cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. But she’s not a minimalist when it comes to products. In her California home, Ámez houses two skincare closets and a medicine cabinet, where she houses favorites from Aesop, Noto, Saie, Skin by Jem, Youth to the People, among others. She also keeps the sample bottle of her mask, an anti-pollutant formula that she worked on with Alliangé.
“I’m just so proud of it,” she says.