Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Double Interview with the Founders of 2 Green Beauty Companies: Clementine Fields & Us




Clementine Fields, the Canada-based and Canadian-owned online "natural beauty store" is one of the first retailers that we decided to work with since launching our line less than two years ago. Since then, they have been a valuable partner to us not just in terms of sales but also in spreading the knowledge on ingredient safety and introducing luxurious, effective and clean beauty products from indie brands like ours that are trying to positively change the way women select their daily beauty products. They recently did a double interview story featuring the founders of Hynt and Clementine Fields, Ingrid Doucet and we wanted to share their post with you as well.  We think there are quite a number of good honest nuggets in there for any entrepreneurially minded woman (and man!)  Here goes: 

Hynt's Meryl Marshall and Clementine Fields' Ingrid Doucet talk about their inspiration behind launching their green beauty companies, balancing work and life, and their favourite Hynt beauty tips in this double interview.


Meryl.

1. What is the one thing you love the most about yourself?

The one thing that I love about myself is my resilience. I have been through so many challenges in my life -- some things absolutely surreal. No matter what the situation, I know I can find a way to pick myself up, brush myself off and persevere.

2. What was your motivation behind launching your company?

After my cancer treatment in 2005, I started questioning the many things involved in my daily life like the products I used to clean my house, my food choices, my cosmetics, my health supplements, many things. I was appalled to find that there was no one watching my back, or anyone else’s. I had thought that if a product was on the market, there must be regulations in place that deemed the product safe but this was not the case.

I searched stores looking for safer products, in terms of ingredient formulations, and it was not easy to find cosmetics in this category that still had the velvety-smooth textures, well pigmented colours and luxurious packaging that were similar to my prior conventional favourites. I knew that with enough research, partnerships with great labs and designers that I can work with closely and trust, I could create safer beauty products that worked beautifully in terms of colour, texture and finished look, housed in pretty, contemporary packaging.

3. What is your most memorable beauty experience from your childhood?

My mom did not wear that much makeup but she seemed to keep the neighbourhood Avon lady in business! She also liked Max Factor pancake makeup as well as Aziza mascara. She kept the products in the medicine cabinet in the one tiny bathroom we had in our Brooklyn apartment. I remember that I would often lock myself in there “creating.”

4. Can you share your favourite tip for healthy eating on the go?

I eat quite a clean diet. I stick to organic veggies, fruits, nuts for protein with the occasional splurges. Recently, I lost 17 pounds on Weight Watchers. I am a big fan of this method of weight loss and maintenance. It is so easy to keep track of my points on their phone app and I look forward to the meetings. I have met the most amazing people and adore my meeting lecturer, Amy. It feels good to have a lean body weight again and I feel much healthier and more energetic now.

My tip for healthy eating-on-the-go is protein which provides a longer, more consistent supply of energy! There are so many tasty protein bars on the market to grab and go. Many times, I pack a small insulated bag with a 100 calorie Greek yogurt and some low sugar fruit. Another staple for my handbag is a snack sized zip bag with some nuts that I’d pre-measured for a serving.

5. What wellness activity do you practice to maintain work/life balance?

I do enjoy a gym workout. Many times, due to my heavy work schedule, my workout end up being very short but I feel that a 40-minute workout is better than none. When the weather is nice, I swap out the gym for a hike to enjoy nature and fresh air.

I also belong to a book club and it forces me to cram in some reading time which is quite relaxing. I do miss knitting and going to the theater with my friends. This year, I am aiming to carve out just a bit more ‘me’ time which I think will ultimately help with the way I approach my business as well.

6. What have you learned about beauty from engaging with your customers?

I have learned that not every product works for everyone. Sometimes I find it confusing how a product gets so many great reviews, enthusiasm and feedback and then you get a couple that bash the same product with such emotion and disappointment. This disparity, especially from comments that at times can feel like personal attacks, was very confusing to me at first but now, I’ve learned not to take it personally, approach it logically, and in many cases have found that what the customer was complaining about can be resolved with some application tips or was a result of individual preference and there’s not much you can do about that but to listen and provide exceptional customer service. We aim to make our customers happy with products that they feel can be trusted and loved across our entire collection, but I think exceptional customer service is an important part of building that trust, too.

7. What is your favourite Hynt product?

It is difficult to choose just one of my favourite Hynt products but on a typical day, I wear just the basics so for me, it’s my DUET Perfecting Concealer, FINALE Finishing Powder as my foundation + setting powder, and a touch of our ALTO Matte Nude Apricot blush, topped with our FORTE High Definition Eye Liner in Brown and of course, our NOCTURNE Mascara. It’s simple, quick, safe and lasts all day.

If I had to choose one product, it would have to be our SUN PREP Broad Spectrum SPF 30 that I wear every day. I am a huge advocate of protecting our skin even if we are indoors all day and this one also acts as my AM skin serum and makeup primer, too. It’s super light and naturally smells elegant with all the organic botanical extracts and oils that are in the formula. My esthetician, Lillian is always harping her clients on this important step. She always says, “skin cancer is not pretty.” And, we all know what she means!

8. a) What makes your Hynt FORTE eye liner unique and special?

Hynt Beauty’s FORTE eye liner pencil is uniquely special for several reasons. For one, the ingredients are not only safe but free of ingredients that are known to be irritable on sensitive skin -- and I just love the smudger tip that’s in the cap. Not just because it’s handy but it works perfectly with this pencil to soften, blend and smudge, as much as you want to create your look. For longer wear time, I smudge a dark eyeshadow and the pencil line together.

b) Can you tell us about creating it?

There are very few cosmetic wooden pencil manufacturers, even less that do it well. Most consumers don’t know this but you can’t just build your own formula, it just doesn’t work that way. So the manufacturers have a ‘library’ of formulas to choose from and believe me, the more natural the formulations, the slimmer the options. I tried almost as many variations as was available and settled on ours.

The manufacturer gives you a ‘one sheet’ on the formulation that includes an ingredient deck, levels of stiffness, creaminess, wearing time and blend-ability. A conventional pencil with synthetic stabilizers and fixatives to increase the wear time can offer up to 12, even 14 hours. However, clean formulations can’t include them. I tried many, many other “green” pencils on counter, too, and in my opinion, ours is superior.

You can also pick from so many variations of each shade. For example, there are so many shades of black to choose from! A strong black can look fine at night but can be too harsh in daylight so, I opted for a ‘wearable’ black shade. I like makeup to look natural and not too mask-like.



Ingrid.

1. What is the one thing you love the most about yourself? 

Oh my.. that's hard! I think I have a big heart but I'm also strong when I need to be. There are a lot of things to stand up for in the world right now. I have a daughter and I want her to grow up feeling strong and secure. We all have opposite attributes, and balance is good!

2. What was your motivation behind launching your company?
 
I had health issues and adopted a baby. My head was spinning with how to stay healthy and keep my family healthy. I am also very concerned about the environment and what is happening in ou r oceans, the air and wildlife. I love makeup and skincare, it all just kind of made sense. I had been an actress for years and I was becoming increasingly tired of waiting for the 'call'. I wanted to create more stability and security in my life, at the same time establishing a company that was good for the earth and people's health.

3. What is your most memorable beauty experience from your childhood? 


My mother was (and still is!) very glamourous so I remember seeing lots of gorgeous colours on her face. My father is in the beauty industry and I was surrounded by images of hair and makeup. There was a lot of conventions and hair shows. It was part of my upbringing.

4. Can you share your favourite tip for healthy eating on the go?
 
I have a lot of stainless steel to go containers and organic cotton snack bags. I usually keep a few filled with food in my purse as my daughter is a serial snacker. For her I have organic fruit and veggies, gluten free crackers and seaweed, while I enjoy smoothies or tea in a JOCO mug, brazil nuts or rice cakes with almond butter, banana and cacao nibs.

5. What wellness activity do you practice to maintain work/life balance?

I am a bit obsessed with self care right now. I know it's hard and time-consuming but it's so important. Exercise is essential, I either do bootcamp in the park, yoga, elliptical or Zumba. I try to have a massage once a month, get to Body Blitz every few months and do whatever I can to relax and practice mindfulness. I think technology is amazing but a slippery slope. I'm very concerned with its effect on our and our children's sense of empathy, wonderment and personal connection. Because of that I try to create technology free times, especially when I am with my family or in nature. If we need to take pictures for social media, we make times to do that so it's not always about spending time taking the 'perfect' picture.

6. What have you learned about beauty from engaging with your customers?

That people are generally good and lovely and desiring of beauty in their life, and I don't just mean skincare. That's why we try to make our packages special, personal and packed with care. Beauty is way more about how something makes you feel than look. If a product feels beautiful going on your skin I think it subsequently make you look beautiful.

7. What is your favourite Hynt product?

I love (and use!) the Nocturne Mascara, Forte Eyeliner and the Perfetto Pressed Eye Shadows, specifically Sunlit Dune, it brightens the eyes and is a great base for a smoky eye.

8. What is your favourite eyeliner tip? 
I love that the Forte Eyeliner has a little brush on it to help you smudge it. I like lining my upper and lower lashes for a subtle smoky effect. It's sexy and easy to do.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Get a Glimpse of Hynt Beauty's Black List


  Photo by ChutterSnap on Unsplash

We are constantly being told to be more conscious of the products we are using on our face and body, but how can we be careful if we don’t even know what to watch out for? There are a slew of ingredients, both natural and synthetic, that we should be aware of when buying every day personal care products. Many of these are questioned to have long term effects on the body and the environment, especially with daily use for a long time frame. 

As you may know, Meryl our Founder decided to create Hynt Beauty when she was battling breast cancer and she learned that almost all of her cosmetics products had potentially carcinogenic ingredients. However, it did take a lot of meticulous research, note taking and comparisons between the studies and claims made by various authoritative and other well intentioned organizations, until she felt she was confident enough to identify which products were "safe" to use vs. questionable. 

So, when it came to developing safe and healthy formulations for her own line of cosmetics, she decided the brand must do all the work for the customers so that women can rest assured that what they are wearing on their face each day is healthy, irritant-free and also gentle on the environment. 

And in keeping, we have a pretty intense Black List of "no no" ingredients, some of which, will leave you dumbfounded that they are still formulated into creams and lotions that we slather all over our body and face. Coal Tar? Formaldehyde? Check, check -- but under names that don't sound so repulsive. 

We could only select a few to highlight in this post but we'll follow up with more.  But, if you are interested in looking up other ingredients in the meantime, check out Skin Deep's product database for an ingredient hazard rating. They have over 64,000+ products rated on their site. We hope that this will at least pique your interest in better addressing those ingredient labels and help you make safer choices at the store! 

IMPORTANT NOTE for all our readers but especially those who are passionate about the ingredient toxicity debate; please note that the ingredients discussed below were questionable enough to us that we have chosen to not include them in our formulations. However, none of these have been sufficiently proven to directly cause the effects mentioned below when used in the quantities that are currently acceptable in beauty and personal care products. If they were, the FDA would have had to ban them already. Interesting to note however, some are restricted for use in cosmetics in other countries such as the EU nations and Japan. 


FORMALDEHYDE 


Isn't that what specimens are preserved in!?  Yes, it is and it is also a potential cancer causing carcinogen that are found in many nail polishes, hair straightening treatments, body washes and other hair products. Formaldehyde has also been linked to reproductive issues, leukemia and asthma1. Scary!

But wait, don't go looking for just Formaldehyde on the ingredient label list. In many cases, it is disguised behind different names like: diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1, imidazolidinyl urea, hydantoin.  

A good take away from Formaldehyde is that Natural and Organic does NOT mean it is safe! 

The scary thing is, Formaldehyde can be called natural and it can even be called organic because the chemical is a naturally occurring organic compound. Even dangerous chemicals like Arsenic, which we all know is dangerous, is a "natural" ingredient so don't be fooled by those "natural" and "organic" marketing copy. Be sure to look on the ingredient list to make sure all your natural ingredients are indeed gentle and safe. 


MERCURY


The fact that an ingredient like Mercury can be formulated into any personal care or beauty product is shocking but it's actually hidden in mascaras, anti-aging products and other creams and lotion type products under the disguised name of mercurous chloride, calomel, mercuric and mercurio.

Mercury is known to cause brain damage, hallucinations, muscular spasms and can contaminate breast milk in pregnant women. Random tidbit: In India & China, Mercury was used as an aphrodisiac in 500BC and Chinese women have been reported to consume Mercury as birth control 4,000 years ago2.

COAL TAR


Shown, 3-Aminophenol, an organic compound with formula C6H4(NH2)(OH).

Hard to believe yet again but coal tar is quite often formulated into various hair products, colorants and shampoos. It's mainly used as a dermatological treatment. And since "Coal Tar" doesn't look so great on the ingredient label, these clever scientific names are used instead: aminophenol, phenylenediamine and diaminobenzene.

Coal tar, like Formaldehyde is a cancer causing carcinogen. People who have psoriasis sometimes use coal tar remedies for treatment but are warned by doctors that they run the risk of cancer in return3

So why would we willingly risk our health and beauty when we have no upside at all!? 


PARABENS


This is the one that you probably hear about and know about most; it's practically become the poster child for bad ingredients! That's because parabens are widely used as an effective, cheaper preservative option across the board in beauty, health and personal care products. Parabens often appear as Butylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben or Isobutylparaben on the ingredient lists. 

So why are Parabens so bad?  It is known to mimic the estrogen hormone which can mess with your natural hormonal system, which is of special concern with young girls and pregnant women.  And, paraben is believed by many to put you at risk for breast cancer, DNA damage and skin irritation at the very least with repeated longterm use. So that's why Paraben gets the bad rap but unfortunately, most conventional brands, even those that appear to be natural, have not yet excluded it from their formulas. Try taking a look yourself.

TRICLOSAN



Triclosan is most commonly found in antimicrobial soaps, detergents, deodorants, shaving products, whitening toothpastes and makeup, too, as an anti-microbial to kill bacteria, fungus and deodorize. Listed as Triclosan, Triclocarban, Irgasan, Lexol-300, Ster-Zac, Cloxifenolum or Microban. Triclosan is already restricted in cosmetics in Canada and Japan and Triclocarban is a restricted ingredient in all the European Union nations.  Where is the USA?!

So why is this ingredient potentially so terrible? It is known to cause the weakening of the immune system, interferes with muscle function, can alter hormone regulation and the kicker…it's a pesticide so it's toxic for the environment5.


PHTHALATES

Shown, Diethylphthalate (DEP), a compound that is a suitable solvent for many organic molecules and is often used to bind cosmetics and fragrances.

Used in nail polishes, hair sprays, perfumes, aftershaves, and lotions and creams, Phthalates are commonly listed as dibutylphthalate (DBP), diethylphthalate (DEP), dimethylphthalate (DMP), and benzylbutyl phthalate (BzBP). DBP and DMP were more commonly used in nail polishes and hair styling products, respectively, but rarely make an appearance in cosmetics products. Only DEP is still widely used. 

Unfortunately, there's quite a loop hole when it comes to listing phthalates in the ingredient labels of cosmetics and personal care products because it can hide under the ingredient "Fragrance."  

Fragrance mixtures are considered proprietary blends that should not be copied by other companies. So, the regulations do not require the listing of individual fragrance ingredients. Phthalates often find themselves as a part of this blend but it can stay incognito behind the Fragrance mask. 

While the FDA states that the ingredient has not been sufficiently linked to any major health concerns in the quantities that are found in cosmetics and personal care products, studies have been published throughout the decades that suggest hormonal disruption, thyroid irregularities, and asthma and skin allergies in adults and children. Animal studies have also indicated that phthalates can trigger miscarriages and infertility in females7. While animals studies in themselves are horrible and animals are dosed in higher quantities than are formulated into human products, it doesn't seem right to slather these on our bodies, and our babies' bodies, either. 


  Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

A LITTLE DOSE OF SANITY

While we think it is important to at least equip ourselves with the knowledge of ingredient safety in order to be conscious consumers of products, many of these ingredients are so prevalent that it can be hard to weed them out completely overnight.  So, begin your "clean up" with the products that can make the most difference on an every day basis. For example, try replacing your daily face and body moisturizer, or anything daily that you use on a wider area of skin or even in your mouth (toothpaste), for a cleaner product with natural preservatives and natural fragrances.  It's ok to "splurge" once in a while on let's say, that liquid eyeliner or nail polish shade that you just can't replace with a naturals-based product. It's more important that you practice clean beauty on a daily, long term basis. 

Because the list is also constantly evolving, too, it's best not to overwhelm yourself. Get to know a few of the most common ingredients to start and add onto the list as you go. The aforementioned Skin Deep database is a great source, as well as plain old googling.  

More ingredients from our Ingredient Black List will be introduced in future blog posts so stay tuned and as "clean" as you can!  We're here to help if you have any questions. 

SOURCES

1. "Is cancer-causing formaldehyde in your cosmetics?" EWG. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017. http://www.ewg.org/research/exposing-cosmetics-cover/formaldehyde-releasers

2. Donnelly, Tim. "History's 10 worst forms of birth control." New York Post. N.p., 29 Apr. 2014. Web. 12 Jan. 2017. http://nypost.com/2014/04/29/historys-10-worst-forms-of-birth-control/ and Czaika, Ellen , and Bethanie Edwards. "History of Mercury Use in Products and Processes." Mercury Science and Policy at MIT. N.p., 15 Jan. 2013. Web. 12 Jan.2017. http://mercurypolicy.scripts.mit.edu/blog/?p=367

3."Final safety assessment of Coal Tar as used in cosmetics." International journal of toxicology.U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2008. Web. 12 Jan. 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18830861


4. "Exposure to Chemicals in Cosmetics." BreastCancer.org, N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017. http://www.breastcancer.org/risk/factors/cosmetics

5. "Triclosan: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics" Safecosmetics.org. http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/triclosan/ and "The Dirt on Antibacterial Soaps" by NRDC.org. https://www.nrdc.org/stories/dirt-antibacterial-soaps?gclid=Cj0KEQiA-_HDBRD2lomhoufc1JkBEiQA0TVMmt8bKhvxZjurPhyW9dCqzDkc0AAONbyPT7Q-50xLJqwaAgCy8P8HAQ

6. U.S. Food & Drug Administration on Phthalates Ingredient as used in Cosmetics Products and Ingredients. 
http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Ingredients/ucm128250.htm

7. Environmental Working Group, "Teen Girls' Body Burden of Hormone Altering Cosmetics Chemicals" and other articles / studies on site: http://www.ewg.org/research/teen-girls-body-burden-hormone-altering-cosmetics-chemicals/cosmetics-chemicals-concern



Monday, January 9, 2017

Inside the Mind of a Green Beauty Guru Kristen Arnett (Part 2)


We've rarely met someone who is more passionate about natural beauty than Kristen Arnett. Since going all "Green" with her beauty kit almost 10 years ago (when green beauty was not the luxurious, cool thing that it has become now), this makeup artist has continued to enthusiastically educate her celebrity and model clients, the various brands she consults on, as well as the millions of real women around the world on the dangers of traditional cosmetic ingredients and the benefits of going natural. Her website and initiative, Green Beauty Team, proposes all sorts of insightful beauty, eating and lifestyle advice including a video she did for us on how to cover up dark circles

In the first part of our interview, Kristen shared with us her incredible journey so far in the green beauty industry. In this second segment, she explains her criteria for selecting the best clean products currently available on the market, her beauty philosophy now, and what drove her to launch one of her biggest undertakings yet, the Green Beauty Team's Best of Beauty Awards and why it's unlike any other. 

1. What's your beauty philosophy? 

I believe in sustainable beauty, aligning how we look with who we are at that moment. The beauty industry has long preyed on women's insecurities and makes them feel like they're "less than" for not looking a certain way. I want to change the conversation and use makeup to help empower women, make them feel as beautiful as they are and spread a message of self-love and care. 

I've also discovered that being and feeling beautiful are integrally tied to wellness. If you aren't healthy, you will not look and feel well. It won't matter how much makeup you wear. 

That's why it's so incredibly important to use beauty products that use safe ingredients that are ethically sourced. For example, I used to think that all honey and beeswax harvesting wasn't a big deal: bees make honey and beeswax as a natural function. But there are big differences in how these substances are obtained and it should only be done in a way that harms neither the bees nor the environment. 



2. How do you choose your beauty products? 

Shopping for natural products can be tricky because these days, everyone claims to be natural! I always look at the ingredient list first to see what it contains but it's not always an easy call because there is still a lot of controversy even about the most commonly used ingredients. For example, as a makeup artist, I like dimethicone because it gives foundation a lovely texture that's very easy to work with. While it hasn't been proven to be dangerous for the skin, it isn't biodegradable. So, I know that a lot of my clients aren't comfortable with it. Sometimes, it's a personal call, too. 

I also keep up to date with the latest research because information about ingredients change all the time. Some ingredients that were considered harmless have later turned out to be toxic and vice versa. The thing that I love the most about Hynt is that Meryl, the Founder does the same and aren't afraid to reformulate their products when new information about an ingredient comes to light and they would communicate that back to their customers, too.


3. Can you tell us more about your awards? 

I created the Best Of Beauty Awards because women have asked me for years to create a list of my favorite natural beauty products. To be honest, this is something that I didn't want to do at first because there are so many wonderful beauty products out there and I haven't tried every single one because that's impossible! 

While I was going through the selection process, I felt it very difficult to do justice to all of the ones that deserved to be selected. 

I also didn't want this list to be just about me and the products that I like for my tastes and work. It had to include products that would work for everyone. For example, I had to leave out one of my favorite foundations because it was available in only three shades, not enough to cover an entire spectrum of skin tones. I also took into consideration the ethics of a company and, obviously, their ingredient lists – that was the first thing I looked at! That's why I ended up with 95 products in 4 different categories with 33 subcategories! 

The funny thing is, companies had no idea I was creating these awards. Of course, throughout the years, a lot of companies have sent me their products to try, which is why I was able to test so many, but they didn't know about this project. None of the products that made the list were sponsored. I simply think that they are the best you can currently find in the green beauty world.