meet autumn mergel
She's an oncology trained Advanced Esthetician who specializes in clean and sustainable self-care. Autumn is a huge inspiration to Lady Suite on many levels. She’s funny, witty, and wise and we’re so grateful she was open enough to share her story of transitioning from male to female with us. On top of it all, she’s also an amazing writer so stay tuned to read her articles on the Lady Lowdown blog. Get to know lady boss Autumn with us!
Let’s start with a Lady Brag! Tell us 3 things you love to brag about the most!
- 1. Skin care science knowledge
- 2. My sense of humor
- 3. Sustainability
2. tell us what sparked your passion for skin!
Originally I was a makeup artist and was frustrated with my makeup looks being affected by the quality of skin of myself and my clients. I started investing more into my skincare prep within my kit. Eventually, I realized I had more interest and excitement helping skin than applying makeup. Over the past few years and after joining Credo Beauty for a bit I became even more interested in sustainable and clean skincare with a holistic approach combining modern science.
3. speaking of skin, how comfortable are you in yours?
Growing up I was constantly bullied to the point of wanting to die. I grew a thick skin and had to learn to be comfortable with myself in order to survive especially during my transition. I still have my lil minor insecurities however I feel more confident and happier than I have ever been and I credit a lot of that to the chosen family I surrounded myself with. Family meaning those who i chose to call family even if they aren't blood-related.
4. you’re the first transgender woman to call us out on viable solutions for the neo-vulva. can you talk about the neo-vulva? Is it really that different? educate us since there isn’t much education out there (hopefully, this will change with voices like yours)
The neo-vulva/vagina is still widely a mystery even to me! I struggle with an increased risk of UTI's with my urethra being much more exposed and bigger than it was naturally. Scarring has faded and is very minimal (shoutout to my amazing surgeon (Dr. Gary Alter) Unfortunately, I have almost zero natural lubrication or moisture as the skin used to create my neo-vulva and vagina was not originally intended for that purpose. I really can struggle with sexual activity disrupting the balance of my vagina and frequent cleaning internally and externally is always a must as I don't feel I am self-cleaning in any way. In fact, often cheap toilet paper always seems to migrate from my vulva into my vagina if I'm not careful.
5. what was it like adjusting post-surgery?
It was about a full year of recovery, at some points I couldn't even sit in chairs I could only lay down. I relied a lot on diapers to catch bleeding and other body fluids. My least favorite part was dilation. Much like a new piercing my vagina wanted to close itself shut like a wound healing so in order to keep it open and functioning i had to dilate with essentially a medical dildo to keep the hole open which meant sticking said tool into my vagina for 20minutes at one point up to 3 times a day. Luckily now I just need it once a week if I'm not sexually active.
6. what do you want to say / any words of wisdom or comfort to other people transitioning?
Being LGBT often means losing friends and family. Some of you might not have any family left but the good news is we can choose our family and they don't have to be a mom or a dad they can be a close friend, a mentor, whoever you need, and whoever supports you will become your family and together or alone you will get through this some days you will think you can't go on but eventually you will reach the end of your transition and get the happy beautiful life you have always dreamed of. Just don't forget to live your life in the meantime and prepare for what happens after you are done transitioning.
7. what is your daily skin and wellness routine - leave nothing out!
I have a pretty extensive skincare and wellness routine compared to most however for me it's quite simple. In the morning I use a tonic to "cleanse" (I don't believe in a true cleanse in the AM) followed by a vitamin c and hydrating serum, moisturizer, and SPF. Nighttime I oil cleanse only for about 2 full minutes to remove all of my SPF and makeup if I have any on. Tone to prepare my skin for serums such as retinol, a moisture serum and on some nights THE BEST anti-acne treatment by my favorite skincare brand Marie Veronique its called Treatment serum, and yes you need it. Honestly, almost all of my skincare if from that brand it's worked well to help me gain control over adult acne. I always take a pre+probiotic for a healthy gut. Healthy gut = healthy skin, think eating right, and drinking lots of water while cutting back on dairy and white sugar. At night is also when I take care of my vulva and vagina by cleaning the inside and out and applying an oil to the area to soften the skin and hair (I'm a shaver) it's really important for my skin's natural moisture as well.
8. we also think you’re one of the most beautiful (inside and out) AND one of the funniest women we’ve met. what makes you laugh these days?
Embarrassingly my own sense of humor, memes, and my boyfriend keeps me giggling as I spend most of my time inside! I've spent the last year or so of my life learning to let things roll off me and not get me down when I can't control a situation. I use humor to cope and I've had a TON of humor to use lately!
9. what do you envision as far as change in the beauty industry?
I would like to see the beauty industry become more transparent and less focused on profit over people and the planet. I'm tired of virgin plastics, hidden fragrances, unstable sourcing, and exploitation of people be that farmers, consumers, or employees.
10. what’s next for your career and how do we book appointments with you (post-pandemic?)
I just moved to Portland Oregon right before the pandemic and I am currently finishing up a special license requirement for the state before I can get working with lasers and with doctors. Until then I am currently laying low working on formulating my own skincare line to fulfill holes and disappointments I see in the industry. However, I can't wait to get back to being an esthetician in a few months I’ll keep you updated on where I end up!
11. what brands do you love and want to shout out?
I highly recommend Marie Veronique and Josh Rosebrook
More on Autumn’s Transition: Autumn is no longer posting to her YouTube channel but you can watch her transition HERE. We hope it uplifts and inspires.