Get Virtual Skincare Support for Issues Related to Transitioning

Gender nonconforming cosmetics expert Joseph Harwood offers virtual skincare consultations in alignment with his mission toward a DEI-driven beauty industry

Photo: @josephharwood

Joseph Harwood is a British, gender nonconforming beauty expert and artist. Now supporting Coralai’s mission with their talents as a skincare professional, clients have the ability to book virtual consultations that provide a safe, secure and private space to discuss skin, body and wellness issues.  

After reaching out to Joe for an interview, we wanted to not only highlight his experience as a social media pioneer — the first transgender person to brand and monetize beauty content in the UK, reaching over 100m views across LGBT+ content and beauty tutorials — but also their academic and industry credentials. Though while on the influencer topic, they’re a recent winner of the digital version of America’s Got Talent, Simon Cowell’s the You Generation Competition, going on to be featured in the YouTube Year in Review and the Google HomePage. Read below for a thought-provoking Q&A with Joe. Did we mention they hold a Masters of Science in Cosmetic Science Formulation from The London College of Fashion? Their focus today combines product design in the beauty industry with inclusivity, creating DEI guidelines within corporate structures and insight into digital media.

Coralai Wellness: How did you get your start in the industry?

Joseph Harwood: Interesting backstory as I was scouted by an editor from Dazed and Confused Magazine (who found me via MySpace) when I was 14 years old. It wasn’t long afterward, I started booking editorial brand work as a model in London and overseas. 

During a shoot in Tokyo, I was inspired by a conversation with the team to move into makeup artistry. I came back to England, and when I tried to get a retail makeup job, I found it to be an impossible task. Why? I looked so ambiguous in my gender identity, and at that time, I was really conspicuous.

CW: How did your career take shape in terms of beauty brands/retailers?

JH: After receiving this same type of pushback and getting visibly upset at a MAC Cosmetics store, the brand asked me to assist a Terry Barber masterclass. This began my pursuit of professional makeup education from the top level. 

Continuing to carve my niche in the beauty space, I began to focus energy into my personal branding on social media while reaching out to brands about digital collaborations. This was an entirely new concept that most had never considered, particularly with a collaborator from within the LGBT+ community.

During my time in the United States, and still in uncharted waters, I opted to go back to school to become a cosmetic scientist with a reference from internationally sold perfumer Roja Dove. I then received an integrated Masters of Science in Cosmetic Science Formulation from the London College of Fashion in 2013. 

The next step was to build my portfolio of designs for various beauty brands. This advanced level of education bolstered my ability to steadily tackle the lack of inclusion and diversity support within corporate beauty, which was (and still is) challenging but exciting. 

CW: What other roles or events have helped to get you where you are today?

JH: I had my first product in stores across the UK by the time I was 23, and I began to work directly with L’Oreal Innovations Brand in 2017. That opportunity opened me up to more visibility, and since then, I’ve worked with every major corporate beauty brand in the Western World. I now consult on DEI standards in marketing, support systems and infrastructure.

Photo: @josephharwood

I think my path has been a natural progression as I always strive to learn new facets of the industry to the best of my ability. A lifelong learner, once I master one skill, I move on to another. For example, attending business courses as an essential component of learning to operate my own companies successfully. 

Another career catalyst for me was working as an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, a UK charity founded in 1976 by Charles, Prince of Wales, supporting 11 to 30-year-olds who are unemployed and those struggling at school and at risk of exclusion.

CW: What is your skincare & wellness philosophy?

JH: Your skin is a porous, sensory, everchanging organ that offers a true insight into your mental and physical health, and can be hyper unpredictable. I have the philosophy that you need to build a toolkit of skincare that assists you in any circumstance; and once you have that toolkit, it’s about searching for improvements or better options in the specific categories with proven efficacy.

Photo: @josephharwood

Wellness goes hand in hand with skin, and I ultimately advise people to look at their lifestyle and see where they can increase their H2O, improve sleep patterns and think about how health, habit and hygiene play into your skincare routine.

CW: How do you approach home care practices (between treatments) with your clients?

JH: I carefully explain what things do so people know that with practical repetition, you see results. I also clarify there are external factors and unexpected life changes that play into things. But giving people a clear understanding of the timeline is the essential step to changing someone’s skin care habits. I suggest for my clients to set reminders to frequently drink extra water and schedule regular facials. It’s fun for them to share these tips with others.

CW: How do you envision the Coralai platform supporting you to better serve your clients?

JH: I would love to connect with people and have a 1:1 conversation about their hopes and, maybe, their misperceptions. The platform will support my passion, provide a safe and secure space to talk openly and help me to stay connected when helping people with their skincare journey.

Photo: @josephharwood

CW: What is a skincare / beauty / wellness trend you are seeing?

I get to go to a lot of award shows for beauty and cosmetics, and I recently attended the CEW awards. There were many new trending ingredients, from B vitamins to Collagen, to hyaluronic acids, to a Korean planned step to skincare, to so many new things. It’s always been interesting to see national trends reaching a global audience through social media. 

But the one thing I really love is that now plastics are being analyzed and better options are being created, from oxygen-proof packaging that allows you to avoid preservatives to glass packaging for cosmetics. 

CW: What do you feel is missing from the skincare conversation in terms of reaching those who identify as men or beauty shoppers experiencing rapid hormonal changes associated with transitioning, pregnancy, menopause, oncology care, thyroid disease?

JH: From my experience, there’s a lack of people who go through these scenarios in leadership roles. If someone doesn’t have that experience, they’re talking about things as a secondary opinion. So seeing someone who is a skilled, educated expert — who’s also dealt with facial hair and makeup, hormonal dissonance, and the horrors that come with it — is the main step.

CW: What communities / organizations do you support who are helping to add to the conversation?

JH: I work with so many different organizations, from @itgetsbetter, @mermaidsgender, @princestrust to @veganary. I truly believe there is a massive connection with young people, a healthier planet and lifestyle, and acceptance of people’s individuality. That’s my philosophy of a great world.

Photo: @josephharwood

CW: What’s your mantra?

JH: My mum used to say to me when I was younger, “if you are going to stand out, make it look expensive.” By that, she meant that you have to work hard at everything in life. I hold this to be true, and work super hard. I think it’s important to do that.

CW: What does the future hold for you?

JH: My journey has led me to so many wonderful opportunities. I’m humbled to say I’ve been featured on Forbes, Vogue, and Elle UK, created several campaigns for the UN on ocean plastics as a result of the beauty industry, worked with environmental charities and created features for the World Food Program. In addition to my partnership with Coralai, I am a member of the British Beauty Council and an advisory board member with AI company Reveive. 

With an eye toward future innovation and new projects, I have an upcoming makeup collaboration coming out, which is a dream come true. Also, a brilliant, new masterclass with international digital learning platform Domestika and will soon be launching my own product line! So many things to come, and all updates can be found @josephharwood and also

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