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Duluth’s handmade Mix Cosmetiques takes DIY to a new level

The local beauty and cosmetics company has expanded into a new space in Woodland.

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Lanae Rhoads mixes up ingredients for a honey-based facial mask at her business Mix Cosmetiques, which recently opened in a new location. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)
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With shelves holding numerous colorful beauty products and the aroma of essential oils hanging in the air, Mix Cosmetiques ’ new space is a hub where beauty and calm meet.

The business moved from its downtown location to 2301 Woodland Ave. this fall and held its grand opening in early February. The small shop specializes in sustainable beauty products — not just making and selling them, but also teaching people how to create their own.

At the Woodland space, Lanae Rhoads wears many hats: salesperson, teacher, product creator and owner. She said there’s a demand for sustainably sourced cosmetics.

“People are realizing that there's very little regulation in the cosmetics industry. And so they're trying to self-regulate or make sure that they know their source, so then they can feel safer,” Rhoads said.

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Soaps for sale at Mix Cosmetiques. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

She sells face scrubs, shave soap, setting spray, colorful eye shadows, several soaps, lip glosses, concealers, primer, highlighter, lipsticks, mascara, foundation, eyebrow filler and more.

Rhoads creates all of Mix’s products in-house and can produce more than $1,000 worth daily. She started creating cosmetics in part because she wanted to know the origin of their ingredients. By using sustainable sources, she said her products are safer and more environmentally friendly than most.

She sources as much as she can locally, such as crystallized honey for the honey facial, oatmeal from a local farm and several plants from local forests. And she encourages people to bring back their glass cosmetics containers so she can reuse them after sanitizing.

She also aims to make her products multipurpose while ensuring they’re gentle on the skin, especially in a tough environment like Duluth.

“We have a harsh enough environment; we don't need to attack our skin any more than we do,” she said.

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Lanae Rhoads mixes up ingredients for a honey-based facial mask. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

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Hands-on workshops and classes give people the opportunity to see exactly what goes into their makeup, and some people use it as an activity for groups of friends or coworkers.

“They can use all of my ingredients and go through the process in a really low-key, fun environment,” she said.

The most popular classes are for soap, bath bombs and lip balm, out of the roughly 16-20 courses offered.

“It is life-giving, and it's just enjoyable to watch people make stuff,” she said.

She also offers workshops throughout the week where people can come in at any time and produce that week’s item.

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Facial moisturizer (left) and face wash for sale at Mix Cosmetiques. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

Rhoads doesn’t have a science background. She has learned by following recipes and making the products, which began when she couldn’t find the exact shade of eye shadow to match an outfit.

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“Then I was looking at the ingredients. I've been making soap for probably seven years by that time. And what they used for color is the same stuff I used to color my soap with, and I wondered if I could make this color,” she said.

She could make it, and the color matched, but the product wasn’t great. Rhoads kept making custom eye shadows and improving her skills.

Friends' suggestions influenced her to start selling cosmetics, and she then opened Mix Cosmetiques at its downtown spot, which also housed several other small businesses.

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Lanae Rhoads stands in front of shelves carrying her products while talking to a visitor at her business Mix Cosmetiques. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

The Woodland location has more usable space, and the kitchen layout has improved, she said. Mix is also attracting more customers now.

Rhoads isn't required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test her products, but she must follow a list of rules provided by the federal agency. Nevertheless, she does send her products to a lab to undergo challenge testing to ensure their safety.

Rhoads has plans to continue expanding, as she will soon take over another tenant’s space in Mix’s shared space.

“I've had people come in, and they'll buy one product and try it and then they come back and they just buy it all, and they’re a customer for life,” she said.

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A message to students on the wall in the section of Mix Cosmetiques where Lanae Rhoads teaches classes. (Steve Kuchera / skuchera@duluthnews.com)

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