Meet the founder, melissa rae mclaughlin

Melissa is passionate about inviting others to connect with their inner Self through beauty and pampering services. Although we are empowered when we look good, living a life that makes us feel good is everlasting. Throughout her early years, she felt her worth was attached to her outer beauty and things she 'did' and often struggled to develop and be seen for her own uniqueness and individuality, which she calls "inner beauty" (or simply 'being').  If Melissa can help her clients connect to their inner beauty as well as maintain their perfect "outer beauty" look, she believes she can awaken them to a new definition of and approach to beauty. In doing so, she hopes to have a positive influence on the beauty industry at large. She is waking up to a holistic approach to beauty and hopes to empower you to do the same! She is environmentally-conscious and is inspired by the idea of merging mindfulness into beauty services in a sustainable way.

In a nutshell, Melissa

  • is Santa Barbara-based.

  • uses natural, non-toxic, and eco-friendly products whenever possible.

  • provides on-site services in Ventura, Santa Barbara & San Luis Obispo counties

Sustainable beauty (n) – a beautiful feeling or look capable of being maintained without excessive time or money, exhausting natural resources or causing environmental damage.

more about the founder’s experience

Melissa is a licensed cosmetologist, nature lover, and aspiring philanthropist. She became certified as a Professional Makeup Artist for Film & TV in 2003. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management in 2007 and graduated from Cosmetology school in 2011. She has 9 years of corporate experience in both entertainment & beauty industries. Her specialty is natural beauty makeup and hair but also loves to step outside the box for more creative hair and makeup creations! Melissa hopes to expand one’s perspective of beauty through wellness, empowerment, and an awareness of the natural world.

Through beauty & pampering services, workshops, blogging and social media, Melissa's goal is to help those she touches thrive in their unique lives.

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The Background Story

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Get to Know Melissa

a Journey

Over time, you will get to know me through my blog entries and stories of this incredible journey I am on, but I’d like to start out by sharing with you what lead me to create Awakened Beauty.

the present

Today I’m a beauty industry professional, licensed cosmetologist, healthy living advocate, nature lover, dreamer, optimist, visionary, and aspiring philanthropist and environmentalist. I most recently discovered that I also identify as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). As an HSP, I have a great awareness of my surroundings, my safety, my rich, complex inner world of emotions, thoughts & feelings, and the interconnectedness of all things. That awareness often brings feelings of overwhelm, as I get overly stimulated by the sheer volume of environmental factors that I process and analyze on a regular basis. It is very hard to "turn it off" and I'm learning how to harness the power and fortune of being gifted with HSP genes to shine my unique light on the people I touch and the work I do. Having great aspirations AND overwhelming feelings of sensitivity brings many challenges and I invite you to check out my blog to connect with my journey and the chronicles of my many profound experiences. I'd love to hear about your experiences, too, and how my stories relate to yours. After all, we're all connected! ;)

Growing Up with beauty

I started doing my own hair and makeup as early as 4 years old. I genuinely LOVED IT.  I always spent extra time on my hair and makeup for school picture days, even in elementary school. I loved when my mom would ask me to pull her hair through the cap so she could do at-home highlights, then called "frosting". In 4th grade, I set up a makeshift "nail salon" at school for a few days during recess, until Mrs. Quigley banned my operation. You can't succeed without failing, right?! I usually wanted to be the only one who did my hair because I knew what I liked and [thought] I knew what looked good. I just knew I was meant to be a Cosmetologist! Some called me stubborn or feisty as a kid (which may have been a total facade to feel safe in a seemingly dangerous world), but nonetheless, I definitely began blazing my own path at an early age. That was years before I would establish a connection between outer "hair and makeup" beauty and inner "self worth and empowerment" beauty.

There was the joy of doing hair and makeup... and there was the perceptions of others. Throughout my childhood, I heard compliments relating to my physical appearance – “you’re beautiful,” “aren't you pretty,” “what a cutie,” “so sexy” – and such messages made me feel a need to maintain that role - I learned I was seen through my outer beauty. But despite such praise, accolades, and spirit boosters, I wasn’t always comfortable receiving those compliments – for reasons known and unknown. Turns out, I wanted to be understood, heard and seen for exactly who I was, on the inside. Can you relate? I wanted my sensitive ways to be acknowledged and to have a safe space to express my true, deep emotions and feelings. I wanted to cry in the arms of my mom and dad about the very things that I ultimately resented them for - not being there for me in the way I needed parenting. In an attempt to comfort myself and perhaps take away from my "outer beauty," I engaged in self sabotage behaviors, such as overeating, laziness, procrastination. I wasn't developing a sense of self worth and the truth is, I wasn’t very confident on the inside. To add fuel to the fire, being “pretty” wasn't making life any easier. Fortunately it didn't stop me from enjoying the craft of hair and makeup.

Growing up, I was a dancer (and a talented one if I do say so myself! It’s okay to be aware of your talents, I’ve learned).  I was often in the spotlight and there, I developed a new role – a pretty and talented girl. OH how the expectations and pressures I put on myself began to grow in order to maintain this role! After all, that IS how I felt understood, heard and seen in the majority of my childhood years. I feel as though I was shaped by my appearance, my talents, my productivity, and whether or not I was making my divorced parents proud. I didn’t know I had a “self” or could be my Self! I quickly got caught up in doing, as opposed to being, as most of us do.

In January 2013, I embarked on an unforgettable journey – THERAPY! Yes, I was speaking regularly to a psychologist about my “issues.” Along the way, I had a revelation that my inner beauty was and has always been more important than my outer beauty but that I was living my life based on my fear of and reaction to others perceptions of me and my looks. Crazy, right? I expected boys I had a crush on to like me for my looks and quickly felt rejected and confused if they didn't. I felt like I lost friends because they were jealous of me… so I consistently tried to please everyone and sometimes avoided looking prettier than anyone or to receive compliments in front of others who weren’t “as pretty.” (I use quotes because there were individuals who were by far prettier than me on the inside and one would argue, on the outside, too.) But thanks to therapy, I got my power back - I realized that I wanted to be true to my inner beauty and allow it to shine, whether that meant becoming more confident in my appearance and losing friends along the way or not.

Although my doing-ness in the world did prevail until the age of 30, having accomplished years of professional education and two corporate careers, I am proud to share that it wasn’t my physical appearance that got me to where I am today, nor did I use my looks to help me achieve my young life goals. I had to go within the core of my soul and discover what I wanted and needed to Live the Life I Love!


Discovering Beauty

I want to connect with people because my mind is interested in learning more about them, because my heart wants to love and empower them. I want people to see and get to know my inner being – my inner BEAUTY – without any worry on my part if they like me or not. All this takes vulnerability and I hope to inspire you to be vulnerable and play with vulnerability. I’m not talking about the kind of vulnerability that means putting yourself in a position to be taken advantage of (I’ve been there, done that, had my #MeToo experience and encourage you to avoid that at all costs). I’m talking about the vulnerability that allows you to take chances, to be in your truth, to express yourself from your soul – your true being, WITHOUT ANY attachment to the outcome or reaction of another. Vulnerability means being comfortable with your appearance, strengths, weaknesses, issues, questions, statements, and desires, and not hiding behind them.

Being beautiful does not mean you can easily find a significant other, be popular, and/or have a ton of friends who love and support you unconditionally. Being beautiful does not mean you have a good attitude and radiate beauty. I’ve dealt with intimidated men (& women) and jealousy, among other emotions, that have made life quite challenging for me. And I’ve seen females who are so attached to and insecure about their exterior beauty that they forget to see and share their inner beauty. One thing is true across cultures, if you're beautiful within, your light will shine so brightly that your looks won't even matter! YOU WILL BE SEEN, and people will want to be around you. So I try to respect myself enough to create space to honor the true essence of my being - through journaling (and blogging), meditation, exercise, reading, cooking, nature walks and so much more. I strongly believe that having a deeper respect for individuals and ourselves – beyond money, looks, and productivity – is truly beautiful and sustainable.

Helping you look & feel beautiful

Now, for most of us, when we look good, we feel good and I know how empowering that is! I know that being proud of your appearance can give you a boost of confidence and I am so excited to be able to offer my God-given talent of beauty & grooming services. I feel so grateful to offer those services both in salon and on demand, at the location - home, office, hotel - of your choice, in the privacy of your space where we can relax and connect about your outer & inner beauty. Would you agree that there’s so much more beauty to life than what we look like in the mirror or to others?  Join me in finding the real beauty in ALL OF THAT – whatever it may be! Talk about it amongst your peers - spread the truth, the love, and embrace the beauty that surrounds you - for the good of the planet.

I encourage you to find what is most beautiful to YOU on YOUR unique and special journey. And, of course, I’d be honored to offer a little help or inspiration. Thank you for visiting.


Peace, love, bubbles & hugs,

Melissa Rae


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Current and Previous Clients, Partners, Memberships, and more

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