We are delighted to bring you a feature interview with our founder, Meryl Marshall. It’s been a long time coming, we know!
A former gemologist, Meryl appreciated the magical power that an exquisite, high quality diamond or gem held to make a woman feel special and beautiful. So it is no surprise that she also loved the world of makeup, skincare and fragrances that retain that similar allure. Yet, it was only after being diagnosed with breast cancer that she began to realize the world of cosmetics was too often tainted with possibly toxic and irritable ingredients underneath its beautiful veil.
Always a fighter and survivor of life events that would make your jaws drop in awe at her positivity today, Meryl decided that she would survive this disease and furthermore, turn it into motivational fuel to develop a line for other women like herself that adore luxurious color makeup with beautiful smart packaging but without all the bad stuff that her doctors recommended to avoid.
In between her hectic work and personal schedule, Meryl shares with us her journey to a healthier, safer and more reassuring beauty routine and life and what keeps her inspired and happy. Including thoughts on what’s coming up for Hynt Beauty!
What lessons and aspects of the jewelry industry have you brought into Hynt Beauty?
I retired from the wholesale jewelry business almost 20 years ago because I wanted to spend more time raising my son but I had loved every minute of it!
The lessons that I learned during my years in the jewelry business have been invaluable to me especially as an entrepreneur and business founder. Skills such as negotiation, team building, problem-solution oriented thinking, sales strategy development and inventory management are critical in any business. I also deeply enjoyed working with high-quality goods and the jewelry designer’s incredible level of attention to detail. I was trained at the Gemological Institute of America to assess the aesthetic and quality of each stone. This tutelage was tremendously helpful as I dove into the beauty business.
My combined experience with the designers and my business mentors showed me how I could be artistically passionate while being a shrewd businesswoman. This is important in the beauty world where visual ideals are in a perpetual struggle against inventory numbers, sales projections and budgets.
As you educated yourself on the ingredient labels in your makeup bag, what ingredients and news surprised you most?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. After my surgeries and treatment, I began the journey of researching the safety status of the food I ate, the cleaning products I used each day, and the skincare products I applied on my face and body.
I did extensive research, asking many questions, and the answers I found were extremely worrying. I used to think that if a product was on the market, it had to abide by some pre-existing strict safety regulation. Instead, I was shocked to learn that the ingredient regulations were incredibly lax, marketing copy often hid the truth on questionable ingredient usage and many of the products that I was using were potentially harming my self and my family.
In developing Hynt Beauty, the first thing I created was a blacklist of ingredients that I would not want in my line. I do stay on top of ingredient news and research so the list is updated as necessary as new information about the safety, or lack thereof, of an ingredient is made known. A few examples from my “no-no” list include phenoxethanol, phthlates, propylene glycol, petroleum by-products such as mineral oil, nano-particles, artificial preservatives and ALL ingredients that come from vendors who are not animal cruelty-free.
When I work with my cosmetic chemist to develop products, I take an active role in researching the ingredients, where they were sourced, and the companies that they come from. Another shocking fact that I learned is that companies are not required, so therefore often do not disclose the use of “no-no” preservatives and stabilizers in the original raw ingredients when they are less than one percent of the whole formula! I always take the extra step to find and work with honest, transparent vendors who are willing to disclose those hidden ingredients with us. If they do not pass our strict guidelines, I simply continue my sometimes frustrating, global search for a purer and safer alternative.
How is Hynt Beauty shaking up the cosmetic industry?
I think the cosmetics industry, alongside food and household products, is going through a big change at this time as consumers are finally becoming more aware and better educated on the potential harm posed by widely used toxic chemicals. We still have a long way to go before those ingredients leave the shelves all together but the momentum is accelerating.
I wanted to take it a few steps further by creating a brand that encapsulates the message of ‘trust and love.’ A brand that will always offer the woman a luxurious experience through well designed packaging, refined textures and organics-based formulations all the while, providing her with the assurance that whatever she is putting on her skin is non-irritable and will not compromise her skin or her health for the sake of a longer shelf life or cheaper formulation. I also wanted the collection to be accessible so while we are not able to offer drugstore pricing due to the higher ingredient costs and packaging, we do our best to keep the pricing reasonable and offer the highest value ratio.
What are some things we can do in order to make better, healthier and safer beauty product choices starting today?
Education is key, which is why I think it is crucial to start reading books such as ‘Little Changes’ by Kristi Marsh, ‘No More Dirty Looks,' by Siobhan O’Connor, and ‘Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry’ by Stacy Malkin. They are intriguing reads and clearly outline the potential dangers posed by traditional cosmetics.
It may also be helpful to download the “Think Dirty” app and consult it before your purchase. Our products are not listed on there yet as there is an associated cost to be listed as a brand but we encourage our readers to submit your Hynt product for review as it is a free submission and listing for consumers!
I am also a big advocate of major influencers, makeup artists and influential healthy lifestyle experts such as Sophie Uliano, Paige Padgett, Kristen Arnett, Amanda from The Organic Bunny and Sarita Coren. There are several others that really stand out but these are my favorites. They are strong, knowledgeable, courageous and caring women whom I greatly respect. I highly encourage you to find them on the web. Watch and listen to them. They are inspiring, uplifting and charming.
Most importantly, don't be discouraged! The journey to become a more conscious and savvy consumer can be long but it is very satisfying and yields amazing rewards. Start slowly, read reviews of different products and enjoy the experimentation. There are so many excellent choices now in the green beauty category that you will never have to compromise on professional quality and performance with a little bit of sleuthing.
Tell us about a lifestyle change or habit that has most affected your everyday wellbeing?
I am a ‘giver’ by nature. Like most women, I have a tendency to put my needs last. First, I take care of my family, ensuring that every member has exactly what they need. Then I complete the most pressing items on my “to-do” lists which often includes a couple of hours per day to address questions from our customers and social media fans. Only then, can I finally enjoy some me-time to relax and recharge by having a massage, going to the gym, or doing something fun. I often try to break out of those habits but, as is the case for most women, this is a daily challenge.
I have also asked both my Oncologist and my Nutritional Coach who specializes in cancer what I could be doing to keep the cancer from returning. The answer was simply to avoid toxic chemicals in body care, cleaning products and the like, keep my weight down, eat organic foods whenever possible, limit red meat, and most importantly eat as little refined sugar as possible. I also enjoy going to the gym and working out. I dabble in yoga, fitness and Zumba classes but also love walking. My wonderful husband, Craig, recently gifted me a Fitbit and I find that it helps me stay on task and keep moving.
What do you admire most in a woman?
I admire a woman that exudes confidence, is always willing to participate and volunteer for good causes, and makes a home a safe and loving haven for her family. I am very supportive of strong women – women who work hard to overcome life’s struggles graciously. I also admire any woman who is well groomed, fit and takes care of her body well.
What is your motto?
Keep moving forward. I have had many difficult traumas in my life, but I believe in never giving up, no matter how difficult the obstacle in front of me. I allow myself a bit of time to grieve my losses, lick my wounds and swallow my pride, but after a short time, I pick myself up, brush myself off and continue living my life.
Can you give us a glimpse on what products and updates are in the pipeline?
On the product front, I am working on adding a few key products into the line — in particular a different type of foundation. I have been experimenting with other green beauty brands that offer foundations that come in different mediums such as serum, liquid, and a pan-style cream. The challenge so far has been to create a completely vegan foundation that provides excellent performance, a good color range and keeps skin balanced throughout the day.
I also want to improve some of our packaging as I believe we can do a better job in making it even more eco-friendly. For example, I would eventually like to incorporate a refill system in some of our products. I know another company that offers this feature, but their compacts are incredibly heavy. This simply wouldn't do for me. We are all busy and on the run these days, so it is incredibly important for packaging to be both pretty and practical!