First Experiences

Throughout her career, Elle Morris has helped build and revitalize ethnic beauty brands, including Pantene’s Relaxed and Natural and Fashion Fair lines. Here Morris, who was born Maria Elena de la Vera Cruz Morris and is of Cuban descent, shares an early experience with ethnic skin-specific products.

I remember seeing my first bottle of AMBI. It was sitting on my college roommate’s dresser. It seemed like a facial moisturizer—so I applied it liberally after washing my face while preparing for bed.

When my roommate, Alicia, walked in and saw what I was doing, she quickly intervened and explained the product was designed to lighten dark pigmentation. She then chuckled, because I was the palest person she knew, and she doubted the product would have any effect on my porcelain skin.

As I quickly washed the product off my face, I wondered why she would need a moisturizer that would lighten her skin. This started my long journey into understanding that women with a vast range of skin tones also have an expansive range of needs from their beauty products—there was no single type or solution. Each woman is as distinctly beautiful as her skin is distinctly different.