It’s fair to say I’ve taken the long route to becoming a skincare business owner—because unlike most, I am a formulator and a manufacturer, not just a CEO. Thanks to two decades of experience, I know every ingredient and potentially hidden ingredient a vendor might be trying to slide by me.
I started my company out of a deep personal need to solve my own skin problems and health issues that had kept me sick, weak and covered in what looked a little like leprosy (seriously) for most of my childhood. Being bullied added another layer of hurt to how I already felt about my body, making me want to bury myself as far under my clothes as possible.
My primary motivator in starting my skincare company was to share the products I’d developed with others and help them find long-term freedom from skin issues of all kinds—to “Look Great and Feel Amazing,” you might say! So when I checked out Look Good, Feel Better, which purports to dole out compassion and support to cancer survivors—an issue close to my heart—I saw immediately that this site was entirely about the American Cancer Society and the Personal Care Products Council pushing sponsored products on a vulnerable population.
Look Good, Feel Better is a program with more than 14,000 volunteers that offers workshops for people diagnosed with cancer and a website filled with beauty tips. Their mission statement says, “improving the self-esteem and quality of life of people undergoing treatment for cancer.” However, the free make-up kits they offer to survivors include parabens, formaldehyde releasers and Teflon, just to name a few ingredients that have been linked to cancer! These additives also irritate skin that’s already incredibly sensitive from treatment, placing people in jeopardy for an ongoing skin crisis.
Twenty years ago, I started formulating my products in my own kitchen and investigating the skincare and cosmetic industry. I was truly shocked at how despicable its practices are, so I made it my mission to share the “ugly truths” I had uncovered. Along the way, I found the group Breast Cancer Action—still a small grassroots organization not talked about on E! or in Vogue, etc. Why? Money, of course!
BCAction is so unique in their campaigns, like Think Before You Pink®, which exposes all the devious ways that big corporations are making money from breast cancer. Where would these companies be without their “pinkwashed” products, of which they might give 1% of profits to a real charity? All that pink is about making money from our empathy, not about actually curing breast cancer. It upsets me greatly, because I give 100% of proceeds for a whole month each year to BCAction, and I’m proud to do it. Their advocacy makes such a difference in people’s lives. For example, in 2008 they got Yoplait to stop using rGBH treated dairy in their yogurt.
Even with so many organizations doing their own campaigns, we are no closer to a cure than ever. How can that be? Because we are not paying enough attention to toxic chemicals in our environment than increase our risk of cancer, including the toxins we absorb through our skin. For companies to keep using toxins and synthetics we know cause systemic imbalances and disease—it should be criminal!
I’ve personally received hundreds of letters of thanks from cancer survivors and those in treatment who say mainstream products seriously irritate their skin, which is already so sensitive from drugs and treatment. The Look Good, Feel Better program could truly help people if they used organic and natural products, and they are surely aware of the research on toxic skincare additives—but their first priority is clearly their corporate sponsors and not what’s truly best for women in treatment for breast cancer.
What if companies became committed to providing REAL natural products in formulas that actually work and cause no side effects? The science is there. The problem, as usual, is the cost. Companies could still make a profit, just not as massive a profit.
What if every CEO, like me, refused to allow a single synthetic, nanoparticle, GMO or other questionable ingredient in their products? What if they instead made education and health empowerment their priority instead of slapping a pink ribbon on the problem? Perhaps that, in itself, would lower breast cancer rates in future generations.
Then they’d actually be helping people “Look Good and Feel F*ing Fantastic,” and it would be amazing!