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This Lupus Survivor's Skin Dramatically Improved After Making Her Own Beauty Products

Dana Jackson, Founder and CEO of Beneath Your Mask, started her natural skin and beauty line after a Lupus diagnosis.

This is Dana Jackson, Founder and CEO of the natural and organic beauty brand Beneath Your Mask. Dana is 37 years old and was diagnosed with the autoimmune diseases lupus and lupus nephritis, stages three and five, seven years ago.

Jackson told BuzzFeed's As/Is that she was living in Atlanta as an entertainment and celebrity business manager when she was first diagnosed. After a dermatologist prescribed her Bactrim, an antibiotic for her cystic acne flareups, she started experiencing other symptoms, like joint pain and swelling, that prompted her to get tested for lupus. A rheumatologist confirmed that the symptoms were a result of lupus, but Jackson, in denial and not ready yet to come to terms with the condition, had convinced herself and the doctor that it was drug-induced lupus. "The reason I wanted that diagnosis so badly is because they say drug-induced lupus can go away from six months to two years," she told As/Is. A couple of months later, however, she went to Houston for a second opinion. Doctors told her that the diagnosis was not drug-induced and that she would eventually need a kidney transplant.
Dana Jackson

Jackson told BuzzFeed's As/Is that she was living in Atlanta as an entertainment and celebrity business manager when she was first diagnosed. After a dermatologist prescribed her Bactrim, an antibiotic for her cystic acne flareups, she started experiencing other symptoms, like joint pain and swelling, that prompted her to get tested for lupus. A rheumatologist confirmed that the symptoms were a result of lupus, but Jackson, in denial and not ready yet to come to terms with the condition, had convinced herself and the doctor that it was drug-induced lupus. "The reason I wanted that diagnosis so badly is because they say drug-induced lupus can go away from six months to two years," she told As/Is. A couple of months later, however, she went to Houston for a second opinion. Doctors told her that the diagnosis was not drug-induced and that she would eventually need a kidney transplant.

On a really bad day when her symptoms were at their worst, the businesswoman told As/Is that she'd have debilitating migraines and wake up with her eyes swollen shut. Her skin would be covered, from head to toe, in itchy rashes. Jackson said, "I would have pain in parts of my body that was unexplainable."

She gained over 100 pounds in water weight, and there were days when she couldn't lift her arms and the bottom of her feet would hurt. With all the symptoms, however, she was still in denial and refused to be hospitalized. She admitted that she was severely depressed and would lock herself in her apartment and order food every day so she didn't have to be seen. "I was still refusing medication at this time, and refusing to talk to anyone, including family and friends. I was angry at the world."
Dana Jackson

She gained over 100 pounds in water weight, and there were days when she couldn't lift her arms and the bottom of her feet would hurt. With all the symptoms, however, she was still in denial and refused to be hospitalized. She admitted that she was severely depressed and would lock herself in her apartment and order food every day so she didn't have to be seen. "I was still refusing medication at this time, and refusing to talk to anyone, including family and friends. I was angry at the world."

The turning point was when a colleague connected her to a friend named Tracey, an ER doctor in Abu Dhabi who also practiced Eastern medicine. "Tracey and her husband Les...basically saved my life," Jackson said.

Tracey was the first person who helped her accept her condition. The doctor urged Jackson to go to LA, and she sent Les to meet her there. "My days in L.A. consisted of me waking up, drinking bitter Chinese herbs, going to chemo some days, eating vegan unprocessed food or juicing, drinking more bitter Chinese herbs, taking 40 to 50 supplements a day, working with Les on my mental and spiritual health, and drinking more bitter Chinese herbs before bed," she said. Jackson only spent a week in the hospital, even though doctors didn't expect her to live, and she hasn't been back since. And as of now, seven years later, she hasn't needed a kidney transplant!
Dana Jackson

Tracey was the first person who helped her accept her condition. The doctor urged Jackson to go to LA, and she sent Les to meet her there. "My days in L.A. consisted of me waking up, drinking bitter Chinese herbs, going to chemo some days, eating vegan unprocessed food or juicing, drinking more bitter Chinese herbs, taking 40 to 50 supplements a day, working with Les on my mental and spiritual health, and drinking more bitter Chinese herbs before bed," she said. Jackson only spent a week in the hospital, even though doctors didn't expect her to live, and she hasn't been back since. And as of now, seven years later, she hasn't needed a kidney transplant!

Coming to terms with her diagnosis and being more conscious about what she put into her body, Jackson said she started being more thoughtful about what she put onto her body, too. She started experimenting with DIY skin care products, and her first concoction was what is now Beneath Your Mask's hero product, Heal Whipped Skin Soufflé.

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After using the soufflé, Jackson noticed that the dark purple stretch marks that had developed from all the water weight were starting to lighten. "My skin was hydrated and stayed hydrated, and all the marks from the rashes faded," she said. After rave reviews from friends who'd she gift the product to, Jackson eventually turned her skin product into a business and expanded with other products, like the Nourish Skin & Hair Serum.

After continued use of the serum, Jackson noticed that her hair was also starting to grow back.
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After continued use of the serum, Jackson noticed that her hair was also starting to grow back.

Beneath Your Mask currently has five products with plans to expand. "A toner, microexfoliant, face cleanser and bath soak will be next from us," the founder assured us. So far, As/Is has tried the Polish Detoxifying Body Scrub, Nourish Skin & Hair Serum, and the Heal Whipped Skin Soufflé. We are, to put it simply, obsessed!

Dana Jackson

As for Jackson's health, she's doing well and trying to maintain a healthy balance. "I flared up recently for the first time in seven years. I got the butterfly rash and some joint pain," she told us. The full-time CEO says she's trying to manage stress, which triggers symptoms, and all that comes with running a business. "I’m getting back into yoga because that helps with my stress so much. Spirituality is also a big part of my health and wellness, in addition to my diet and lifestyle."

She still incorporates a lot of Eastern foods and practices into her wellness routine. She consumes mushrooms, like reishi, cordyceps, and ashwagandha, and a lot of ginger, turmeric, and burdock root. "I still shop at Asian markets regularly," Jackson said. "They have the best price on coconuts by the case, plus a lot of exotic fruits and veggies that you can’t find at most stores."
Dana Jackson

She still incorporates a lot of Eastern foods and practices into her wellness routine. She consumes mushrooms, like reishi, cordyceps, and ashwagandha, and a lot of ginger, turmeric, and burdock root. "I still shop at Asian markets regularly," Jackson said. "They have the best price on coconuts by the case, plus a lot of exotic fruits and veggies that you can’t find at most stores."

Love and light to Dana and all the girl bosses out here taking control of their health and careers!

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Check out Beneath Your Mask for products, and follow @beneathyourmask on Instagram.

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