Beauty: Nikisha Brunson

This article is part of our Create & Cultivate 100 List created in collaboration with Dove, you can view the full Beauty List Here

Fresh-faced, refreshingly honest, and free. 

For Nikisha Brunson — Austin-based blogger and owner of 100% natural skincare line Folie Apothecary — it was a bumpy road to becoming one of the realest health and wellness influencers in the game. But it’s one she wouldn’t trade in for anything. As co-founder of Urban Bush Babes and Pineapple Life, the definitive online destinations for natural hair, fashion, health, lifestyle, music, arts, and culture, Brunson inspires legions of women with daily beauty and wellness tips. While she’s undeniably, and enviably, stylish in that effortless sort of way that feels especially unfair, what really sets this lifestyle guru apart from the throngs of beauty bloggers is how boldly and transparently she’s shared her struggles with depression, abuse, ADHD, suicide attempts, and becoming a mom at the troubled age of 16.

Holding a BA in Psychology and an MA in Childhood Education — the blogger, mama, and skincare goddess has also taught public school in New York and Virginia — Brunson brings a refreshingly real and unaffected perspective to the notoriously curated blogosphere. “My teenage son has ADHD, and I was diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety disorder, and depression in my later years, which has inspired me to share my journey in hopes of helping others going through the same things,” says Brunson, who’s been blogging since 2011, but has recently shifted her focus to her health and wellness journey. She has also been vocal about her personal experience as a rape survivor — proving herself nothing short of a superhero, support system, and beacon of hope for the countless women battling, overcoming, and triumphing in similarly oppressive situations. “My depression and anxiety take every heartbreak and dagger I've felt and elevate it to the next level. I've attempted suicide in the past over heartbreak, over being a single teenage mom in college,” she bravely shares. It’s a rare transparency in a world more concerned with what type of foundation a woman is wearing.

"Life is too magical to put barriers on it."

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For Brunson, there have been scores of barriers to self-acceptance, but her true power is evidenced in the ability to transform these low-points into lessons. She describes the challenge and ultimate victory of letting go of toxic relationships to free up the energy for fulfilling her greater purpose. She also chronicles her ongoing struggle with ADHD and the daily effort to focus and juggle without succumbing to procrastination, burnout, and anxiety. For strength, she turns to her son, husband, and those who’ve previously warred with these demons. “There is nothing more inspiring than to have a person tell me that my vulnerability, transparency, or health information that I've shared has helped them change their life and has inspired them.” For this reason, she cites “anyone who is transparent or vulnerable” as her greatest mentor.

Brunson’s journey to self-care and wellness has undoubtedly been an emotional rollercoaster, which it’s why it’s only fitting that she name her new skincare line “Folie,” after the French word for “madness.” Personally, we wish it was considered far less crazy for a beauty influencer to be as unapologetic and honest as she is. “I'm transparent with my mental health issues and disorders. I teach various ways of staying healthy from the inside out such as exercise, smoothie recipes, and DIYs. I listen a lot and offer help to anyone who reaches out to me for it.” These are just a few of the ways she hopes to move feminism forward.

Currently, Brunson is focused on what’s directly in front of her. As far as five year goals, she says that “life is too magical to put barriers on it,” but that she isn’t afraid to reinvent herself and go wherever life leads. In the meantime, you can find her listening to music in the morning, making smoothies and ceramics, and dancing. “My only goal is to stay true to myself and never stop exploring.”