From Mascara
to Medicine

The unlikely journey of a woman who went from makeup mogul, to mother on a mission, to masterminding a movement.

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Hi there. I’m Victoria Jackson

Entrepreneur, cosmetics pioneer, medical research catalyst, author and philanthropist. But above all, I’m a woman whose journey is proof that everything we experience, even in the mix of pain and debilitating fear, can be repurposed and harnessed to achieve our most impossible goals. 

“Victoria Jackson is one of my closest friends and one smart strong woman.”

- Ellen DeGeneres

“Victoria Jackson has been an endless source of inspiration to me. As a woman, mother, and close friend of the authors, I find this story deeply moving on so many levels.”

- Reese Witherspoon

“Victoria Jackson drew from the desperation to save her daughter from a life-threatening illness and used inspiration to create a revolutionary blueprint for curing rare and common diseases alike.”

- Tony Robbins

“Victoria Jackson has been funding and creating circles instead of hierarchies.”

- Gloria Steinem

“In her urgent drive to help her daughter, Victoria Jackson not only transformed the competitive world of biomedical research, but also created a new medical model for generations to come.”

- Ariana Huffington

My friend, Victoria Jackson, is remarkable – strong and smart, with a great sense of humor. She exemplifies the kind of person I spotlight:  Someone who moves humanity forward and sees things that are not there — and works to make their visions a reality. 

- Maria Shriver

Curious About My Story?

A Trip Down Memory Lane

part one:

Surviving Inauspicious Beginnings

Little in my upbringing made me a likely candidate for success. An anxious child with poor health, I was a premie, born 3 months early, weighing 3 pounds. 

Maybe I arrived early to get a head start on worrying. 

Surviving a Broken Home

When my mother remarried, my father gave me and my sister up for adoption. Our stepdad, an alcoholic, adopted us but the instability deepened with multiple moves and financial woes.

Surviving High School

With low self-esteem, by high school I didn’t feel safe in my educational setting or in general, and started cutting classes to work part-time jobs.

Surviving Sexual Assault

Coming home late one night, I had just gone to bed and awoke to feel the presence of a fugitive known as the Pillowcase Rapist, wanted in multiple murders and sexual assaults. During the rape and stabbing that followed, leaving me with acute claustrophobia and other panic disorders, a crack of light appeared to me in the darkness—telling me I was supposed to be here and that I was supposed to have a purpose. After that night, I never went back to my house again and missed my high school graduation.

part TWO:

Taking on the Status Quo

My mom always said no one was going to take care of me, so, “Go wash your face, put on your makeup and get out there.” The advice was gold.

1976

Winning a Scholarship to Beauty School

After winning a scholarship to beauty school, I excelled, soon building a thriving career as a makeup artist—before bootstrapping my own business “Victoria Jackson Cosmetics”, literally creating it in my garage.

1986

Creating the “No Makeup” Makeup Look

Victoria Jackson Cosmetics took off with the creation of “No makeup” makeup, which revolutionized the beauty industry which had been stuck in overly made-up looks. My goal was to bring out the inherent beauty in every woman. I saw myself as a goodwill ambassador for women, using the mantra, “When you look better, you feel better and when you feel better you can change the world.”

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1986

Becoming a Mother

I married Joe, the late father of my beloved first son, Evan, who first gave me the gift of motherhood.  

1988

Teaching Makeup at UCLA

My message was—if I could overcome the odds, so could anyone. I began teaching makeup at UCLA, going on to become a university extension instructor for 10 years. 

1989

Creating my Bestselling Survival Kit

After winning a scholarship to beauty school, I excelled, soon building a thriving career as a makeup artist—before bootstrapping my own business “Victoria Jackson Cosmetics”, literally creating it in my garage.

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1989

Setting Records and Breaking Glass Ceilings at QVC

A business turning point came in 1989 when I convinced an infomercial company that I could become the first cosmetic line ever to be sold on television. In the first week I sold a million dollars of cosmetics. 13 infomercials followed, along with a 10-year run on QVC, over 600 products I personally developed, generating a billion dollars in sales.

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1991

Bringing Self-Worth and Resilience to Those Who Most Need It

One of the most meaningful dimensions of my life has been helping those most in need.  Specifically, through volunteering and teaching I created programs using makeup to help bring light and hope to women in prison, the ill in hospitals and at-risk youth organizations. 

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1991

Starting a Family

In 1991, I married Bill Guthy, of the infomercial giant Guthy-Renker and we soon became parents to our extraordinary two kids, Ali and Jackson. By 2008, after years of hard work, our family really seemed to be living the charmed life.

1993

Becoming an Author

My first book, Redefining Beauty—the premiere “How To” beauty book of the time launched the authorship path of my career and life journey. My second book, Make Up Your Life, was a deeper dive into the power of seeing yourself as beautiful.  It was the origin of a simple but profound philosophy—when you look better you feel better—and why caring about yourself matters. 

part Three:

Taking on the Status Quo, Again

This part of my life begins with the shocking news that 14-year old Ali had a rare, autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system that at that time was said to be fatal. Before that moment, Ali seemed perfectly healthy—an athlete, star student and leader—she was given only 4 years to live. Unacceptable. My purpose was now clear: curing Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO). 

Driven by instinct, desperation, and urgency, we went to work. Bill became the funder and I the finder of the world’s most brilliant medical minds who I would lead on this journey to solve the puzzle of NMO.

A Mother on a Mission

The first step on my mascara-to-medicine mission was to establishing the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation to fund life-saving research to better understand, treat, and cure NMO.  This would not be a wait and see effort. No. We needed to find answers at the speed of life, I had to teach myself the basics of molecular immunology. I had to be fluent enough to confer with scientists and clinicians at the great medical centers of the world—from Mayo Clinic to Harvard, Oxford, Stanford and UCLA to name a few.  There was no playbook to solve NMO, so my role was to lead a team to achieve quantum leaps in progress and at record speed.

Even so, NMO took a toll on Ali and me.  My fear of losing Ali in four years came with terrifying visions of her in a coffin, and years of sleepless nights. Driven by wanting to pack in every joy in life she would miss, I dedicated myself to give her the best experiences I could.  From the most beautiful prom dress to magical birthday parties and beyond.  Doing so would mean stepping out of my role as leader of one of the world’s largest cosmetic companies, into my new role as leader of a medical research foundation. 

From one kind of life-saving foundation to another.  And the balancing act through this transition was respecting Ali’s innocent request not to know details of her dire prognosis.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer”

- Albert Camus
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Momentum & Miracles

As in all aspects of her life, Ali would become a leader among patient advocates.  One day, she said “Mom, this is not just about you and me—this is bigger than us.” Helping put a face on NMO and inspiring the world in the process, she has defied every worst-case scenario we were given. 14 years later, Ali has graduated from law school doubling that with an MBA degree from one of the best universities, and passed the bar exam on her first try. Her fellow NMO patients are also defying the odds.

My years of PTSD had made me afraid to get on an airplane or put myself in front of audiences.  I had to confront my fears to do the work of our foundation. Shockingly, I did so. I stood before a packed conference room at our international Round Table on NMO.  

It was a new model for bringing everyone in the room—hundreds of researchers and clinicians from 32 countries, plus pharmaceutical execs and tech teams at Google.  All without a high school or college degree.

The universe had put me on the road to meet with specialists from the greatest scientific and medical centers in the world and not take no for an answer.  

As a mother, it was also important for me to remain dedicated to my other children and be sure they knew that. Whether cheering Evan on through his career pathways or helping manage our youngest son Jackson’s busy career as a singer/songwriter—joining him on his tour opening for One Direction—my children are my life.

Perseverance is where the gods dwell”

- Werner Herzog
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Masterminding a Movement

With a sense of urgency that only comes when lives are on the line, we built an international patient registry for NMO and enrolled more than 1,000 rare patients and others. We carefully collected medical data and blood samples to create the world’s largest biorepository for NMO—containing more than 100,000 samples and millions of data points.  We were using every innovation we could invent—from a traveling nurse who visited patients that could not travel, to a “blush for blood” program, giving makeup bags to volunteers—we began a revolution for good.  We incentivized collaboration over competition amongst medical institutions and pharmaceutical companies, creating a blueprint for others to follow.

While our funded research has driven over 7,000 groundbreaking scientific publications, it was also important to tell the story of NMO in a way that was relatable to those beyond science or medicine.  I conceived, developed, and produced numerous films to tell our story far and wide.  I was putting my success in marketing to use in solving a rare disease. 

This part of the mission also led me to write two new books—Saving Each Other and The Power of Rare: A Blueprint for a Medical Revolution—highly praised for life-saving awareness of rare diseases and autoimmune illnesses.

Working with the best & brightest scientists and clinicians, NIH leaders & FDA experts, we defied the rare odds and exceeded our goal of having a first-ever NMO therapeutic. After 100 years with no clinical trials and no approved therapy, in 2019-2020 three therapeutics received FDA approval to treat NMO.  In recognition of this astounding accomplishment—achieved in just one decade, the American Academy of Neurology proclaimed 2019-2020 “The Year of NMO.”   

Success is one thing—but making it available is another.  Always improving education and accessibility, our award-winning NMO Resources APP has become home base for connecting patients, doctors, and caregivers to the latest NMO information, our library of videos, answers to FAQs, news of clinical trials, support groups and more.

part four:

Milestones & Challenges

We all face important challenges on a journey through life.  One experience that I share with others can be summed up in a simple but clear question.  When life serves us with challenges—even our worst nightmares—do we collapse in fear or do we rise and act ? My guiding philosophy is that with the power of love and intention anything is possible.

2014

Another Alarming Diagnosis

After six years hyper-focused on curing NMO, I was given my own alarming diagnosis of cancer. When my dearest friends and Ali gathered for a healing circle, my beautiful daughter reassured me, as I had always tried to do for her—that I would come through just fine—and she was right.

2017

The National Women's Hall of Fame

In 2017, I was honored when activist and feminist Gloria Steinem inducted me into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.

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2018

The Pontifical Key Advocacy Award

In 2018, at the Vatican, I was humbled and grateful to receive the Pontifical Key Advocacy Award from the Pontiff himself—Pope Francis—for my work to improve health for patients around the world.

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2019

Paying it Forward

In 2019, at Seneca Falls, I inducted Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor into the Hall.

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2020

Receiving FDA Approval

Achieving multiple FDA-approved therapies for NMO when there had been none was a feat most thought would not be possible.  Even so, it is one step on our mission to cures.  With effective treatments in place, we have set out on an even bolder mission to retrain the immune system to stop NMO once and for all.  Our work to cure NMO and related autoimmune diseases goes on and continues to make incredible strides that are saving and improving lives.  

2021

Launching Kind Science

In 2021, surprise—from Mascara, Medicine and back to Moisturizer. My drive continues to be entrepreneurial and take as many others as possible along with me, including my recent launch of Kind Science, a skincare line founded with Ellen DeGeneres.

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"Whatever once defined the charmed life for me, I know now what it truly means—being able to heal, help, and empower one another."

If there is one lesson I would share from my journey thus far, it is this:  that everything we learn—even amid the mix of pain and fear and uncertainty—can be harnessed and repurposed to achieve what may seem to be impossible.  

And through this transformation of fate we can find meaning and purpose in life.

Saving Each Other

A Mother-Daughter
Love Story

With raw emotion, humor, warmth, and refreshing candor, this is the extraordinary journey of a mother and daughter who demonstrate how the power of love can transcend our greatest fears, while at the same time battling to find a cure for the incurable.

The Power of Rare

a blueprint for a
medical revolution

In this book, Victoria shares how her foundation harnessed the power of rare to speed discoveries that help patients. Through her business savvy, wit, and heart, she offers real-world advice and inspiration for others to tap into “rare” to empower their own breakthroughs. 

Worrier to Warrior

How to persevere
against all odds

Worry weighs more when you carry it alone. Victoria’s fifth book is all about empowerment and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds. Victoria talks about how it’s possible to separate yourself from the panic and live your best life.

Victoria Jackson chats with Meghan Markle on the Archetypes Podcast

Victoria recently sat down with the amazing Meghan Markle on her groundbreaking podcast, Archetypes. Victoria spoke about everything from ambition and entrepreneurship to courage and resilience. She shared stories from her childhood trauma to her infomercial days and her “Mascara to Medicine” journey. 

COMING SOON
Mascara to Medicine: The Documentary

Watch Victoria unlikely and inspiring story unfold through intimate interviews and exclusive throwback footage in this upcoming documentary. Teaser by Lysa Heslov.

Victoria Jackson on the Work In Progress Podcast with Sophia Bush

Victoria joins Sophia to open up about her childhood and how her survival mode gave her the tools to succeed, what inspired her to attend beauty school and launch her makeup empire, how her daughter’s rare autoimmune disease diagnosis prompted her to switch gears and work to find a cure, and much more.

Victoria Jackson chats with Maria Shriver on Facebook Live

Maria Shriver sat down live with Victoria Jackson, author of The Power of Rare, to discuss a mother’s journey navigating the medical field to find a cure for her daughter’s disease.

Wayne Goss commenting on Victoria Jackson's "No Makeup" Makeup Look

Acclaimed makeup artist and YouTube sensation, Wayne Goss, comments on Victoria Jackson 1980’s “No Makeup” makeup look and shares just how much of a pioneer and how far ahead of her time Victoria was.

Guthy Jackson
Foundation

Bringing Together the Best Minds in Medicine to Find Life-Saving Cures

Kind Science with
Ellen DeGeneres

Age-Positive Skincare

Victoria Jackson
Cosmetics

The Original “No Makeup” Makeup

Get In Touch

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The "Quotes" I Live By

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