What led you to start the "all natural beauty" website and forum?
There were many reasons to build this web site. First of all, I wanted to visit a site like this myself, but it didn't exist! I could only assume that I was not the only one that had a desire to find products that were truly natural, that were made by nice people with good intentions. When I started looking around on the Internet for "natural" products, I found a bunch of phony claims and in-your-face advertising. I got really turned off.
Working with lovely, sweet women over the years as an aesthetician really gave me insight into how we as women think (people, I should say). We don't want to be sold to, and we especially don't want to be lied to. I have a passion for all things natural, and I have a passion for beauty products and treatments. When I put that all together, with the fact that I have a love for people and an ability to see through nonsense, I realized that I was the one that had to create the "all natural beauty" web site. I haven't looked back since. It's like the top of my head opened up and I was set on a divine path that I am following daily.
I know that if I stay the course, great things will happen for those associated with the site. There are really positive vibes attached because of the integrity that the site was created with. Good people are attracted to good things, and that's exactly what has happened. For the first few months of the site, I knew that the vendors on the site were the cream of the crop. But I had no idea who was out there visiting. Once we opened up the forum, I was able to see who the visitors actually were... more wonderful people! Finally, after buying some good software that tells how many visitors we're getting, I realize that we are impacting over 500 people's lives every day. I find that to be thrilling!
How has your knowledge of natural products changed and/or grown in your years as an aesthetician?
It's funny, and sad at the same time, that I didn't put 2 + 2 together for so long about the importance of using all-natural beauty products. I bought my first book about herbs when I was 18. I was mesmerized by the properties of herbs, but I looked at the whole subject as more of a health, rather than a beauty issue. Eating natural foods, and using natural forms of healing were always like second nature to me. But for many years I used what I now consider poisons on myself as well as my clients. Now I love to see that light go on for people when they realize the potential harm that they needlessly expose themselves to daily.
I remember that I actually gave a couple of classes to some of my clients after reading Jeanne Rose's book "Kitchen Cosmetics". I had them all over to my house, where we all enjoyed the shade of the patio. Everyone happily smeared banana and avocado on their faces, while learning about herbal properties and the idea that beauty treatments could be fashioned out of natural ingredients. It was just fun being together having a good time. But for some reason, the whole idea of using only all-natural products really didn't occur to me until much later. I knew that the natural substances were good, I just didn't take into consideration that the un-natural chemicals were so bad. After studying more about the effects of the chemicals that are routinely included in beauty products, I now realize... they're really bad!
It's fun, and quite inexpensive to use ingredients found in your kitchen and at your local health food store. But I know that for me (and many others) it's not always practical to whip up fresh products on a daily basis. That's why we are so lucky that we live in this period of time when there are companies like the ones found on the anb site. I haven't tried every product yet of course. But I've been fortunate to try many of them. And I can say without hesitation that they are far superior to any products that I've used professionally in the 23 years that I've been giving facial treatments.
As a business owner yourself, do you have any advice for women wishing to open their own natural skincare salon or studio?
Yes, be bold and go all-natural! If I had the time, believe me, I would do it myself. There are two reasons to have a 100% natural salon or spa. The first reason is that it is safer for everyone that steps through your door. Morally, you will know that you are doing the right thing and will be able to sleep better at night. Your employees will be healthier and happier, as well as your clients.
The second reason is that there are so few of them out there. You will be supplying a niche market. Which will help you to have a financially successful operation. Uniqueness usually pays off, but in this case it's something that is not done just for the sake of being unique. Your spa will not just claim to be healthy, it really will be. That's unique in itself!
Don't just throw the word natural around. If you are trying to appear natural for the sake of getting clients in the door, it may initially get clients through your door. But eventually, with sites like ours out there, your clients will be asking you the tough questions. Will you be able to explain why your shampoo has methyl paraben it? Will you be able to tell them if your hydrosols are organic? Will you be able to assure them that the scents that they are smelling are all essential oils or actual herbs and flowers? If you cannot honestly explain these things, you will be found out eventually. Your potential clients are becoming well informed about what constitutes a truly natural product, and so should you. Study all that you can about what natural is before you claim to have a "natural" spa. Otherwise you will not be unique at all. You'll just be like all the rest.
When it comes to a natural facial care line, what do you consider to be some primary ingredients that should be included in a formula (without giving away any precious secrets of course!)?
The beauty of all-natural products is that they are basically made from plants. And plants are loaded with nutrients, thus the term phyto-nutrients. Whereas synthetic variations are just that... nutritionless fakes. When a product that is loaded with phyto-nutrients meets a natural organism such as your body, it works in a magical way to heal, soothe, and help give the body the nutrients that it needs to help things function properly. Using all-natural ingredients is actually feeding your body, in a way besides eating food.
I love hydrosols (the water that comes after distilling plants). I can't believe that I lived without them for as long as I did! Their pH is perfect for our skin, so they can be used any time by themselves or when blended into products. The more intense, concentrated version of a hydrosol would be an essential oil, which contains no water at all, just pure plant source. Hundreds of years ago these would have been considered as precious as gold. They are now quite available, and at a fraction of what I believe the cost should be (even though many manufacturers will still opt for the less expensive synthetic versions). They are pure essence, and they even get better over time. How many synthetic perfumes can you say that about?
Conversely, what ingredients do you suggest that women avoid when purchasing natural skincare, and why?
I'll assume that you mean all-natural skincare, and not "natural", which is usually meaningless. The obvious ingredients to avoid are the ones that you are allergic to or have sensitivities to. Even though a product may be 100% natural, there may be ingredients within the product that may irritate your body. If you are allergic to almonds, you wouldn't want to use an almond meal scrub. If you are allergic to shellfish, you would not want to use a product that contains ingredients from the sea like Bladdewrack, Dulse or Irish Moss. Always do a patch test with any new product before applying a product on yourself liberally. Test a small amount in a sensitive area such as the underside of your lower arm. Give it enough time to see if there is any burning, swelling or reddening of the skin. If all goes well after 20-30 minutes, you should be all right. Some suggest a 24 hour time period.
I prefer products that feel good when I put them on. I believe that if I like the smell of a particular product or essential oil, my body probably craves it and it will work well for me. It generally works out that way. Moderation is the key though. Too much essential oil and I will get a headache. Too much oil in a product, and it will clog my pores or leave it greasy. Products that are too drying such as witch hazel or straight Castile Soap dry out my skin and cause other problems. I've learned by trial and error to just listen to my body. Natural body... natural products... it just plain makes sense.
When you look back upon your life, were there any people, or signs that seemed to lead you to the place that you are now professionally?
Absolutely! That is why I know for a fact that I am in the right place doing the exact right thing, at the perfect time. :)
I remember when I was straight out of high school and wondering what I would do with my future. I made the decision that my life was going to be like a road, and when given the choices as to which way to turn, I would choose the way that seemed natural for me. I believe that we are all given certain gifts or talents. Generally people tend to think of these as hobbies or passions. I believe that they are arrows for you, that show you which way to head in your life. I never did anything for what fortune or prestige it would give me. But I've always been very happy in my work, and l have lived what I consider to be a pretty luxurious life.
I also believe that I am led by God, and as long as I stay true to what I know is good and right, I am shown which way to go on my path. My background is varied because I've been given a lot of opportunities to find out what my strengths are. In school I majored in art. This enabled me to have formal training in such areas as design, photography, even anatomy. But when I decided to go into architecture of all things, I was unable to attend the college of my choice because the enrollment was full. So I decided to wait out the semester.
This led me to work part time in a very nice department store selling cosmetics! I enjoyed the beauty business so much that I got licensed as an aesthetician and started a whole new career giving facials, body treatments and doing make up. I really enjoyed having the connection with my clients. I found that I thoroughly enjoyed helping people reach a deep level of relaxation, which was an incredible form of healing work. Working in spas also introduced me to many innovative ways of healing, as well as some fabulous healers.
Doing makeovers brought me to television work, which inspired me to work as an actress in commercials for 10 years in Hollywood. I found that I was able to continue taking care of my clients, while going on auditions and doing several commercials over this time period. The entertainment industry not only helped me with my people skills, it allowed me to see the inner workings of the advertising industry, which was very insightful.
So you see, everything that I've ever done has gone into where I am today, the director and creator of the "all natural beauty" site, and now its sister site, the "all natural health" site. And I feel so incredibly blessed to be here. :)
And lastly, what advice can you give to women on how to preserve their God-given beauty, naturally?
My best advice is to be true to yourself. When you know yourself, and you're honest with yourself, beauty radiates through you in a way that no cosmetic or cosmetic surgery ever will. The only way to get to this place is to be kind to yourself and mostly, love yourself. I remember when I was in my twenties when someone told me to make friends with that person in the mirror. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. But when I was finally able to smile at that person, love her, and do good and kind things for her, I felt better and life seemed a lot happier. Happy people seem to glow with beauty. To me, that's real beauty!