One of the forerunners of the natural skin care movement has been the impressively driven Ava Anderson. She began her company, Ava Anderson NonToxic, in late 2009 with a goal to create safe, non-toxic beauty products. Her line has now expanded into an impressive collection of skin care, home products, bug sprays, and sunscreens. Ava sat down with Examiner to talk about where she sees the natural beauty industry going, her favorite products, and to give advice to budding beauty entrepreneurs.
You've obviously been at the helm of Ava Anderson Non Toxic since the very beginning. What was the first product you created with the team?
We launched in December of 2009 with just 6 skincare products! We now have over 60, but on launch day our line consisted of the cleanser, toner, moisturizer, exfoliator, eye makeup remover pads and lip scrub. We worked on them all at once to be ready for the launch so I can't say one was the first, but I can tell you my favorite would be the toner. It is an under-appreciated step in the skincare regime, and actually the first step in the moisturizing process. We put ours in a spray bottle so with just 2 or 3 spritzes you have covered your face without all the waste of dumping it on a cotton pad, and if you apply the moisturizing next step when the skin is still a tad bit damp it goes on smoother, and easier and requires less product.
Since your launch in 2009 you've had a lot of press attention and are known as one of the forerunners in natural and non-toxic products. What do you feel a lot of people seem to misunderstand when it comes to natural products?
I think a lot of people misunderstand “natural” products because there is a lot of deception in the marketing and labeling of products. I think that many people want to purchase safer products for themselves and their families, but if a manufacturer isn't being truthful and calls their product natural/pure/safe/organic when it still contains harmful chemicals, it makes the buying process very difficult. Did you know that if you look on your ingredients label and see the ingredient "fragrance" or "parfum" manufacturers can actually hide hundreds of chemicals in there and not list them? Contaminants in the manufacturing process (many of which are carcinogenic) also don't have to be listed, so you won't know if your product has 1,4-Dioxane, methylene chloride, or formaldehyde.
One of these – methylene chloride - is actually one of the nine banned ingredients in this country (but it can still be found in most products because no one is testing)! I think sometimes consumers incorrectly believe that a truly safe line won't be as effective as conventional chemical based products. We know that isn't the case; most often, it couldn't be further from the truth. Because our products are formulated with organic botanical ingredients that are good for the body and skin, you would be amazed at their natural health and healing benefits. We have many customers who are thrilled with the improvement of their acne, eczema or psoriasis, even after buying expensive creams from their doctors. It makes sense, because they are reducing the impact of chemicals and replacing them with natural ones that have been known for generations to be good for the skin. Did you know that calendula was used on the battlefield to heal wounds and shea butter, which African women have been using for centuries, has a natural SPF of 6 as well as abundant benefits to the skin and hair?
What, in your opinion, are the most necessary products or rituals for glowing skin?
I think cleanser, toner and moisturizer should be daily staples for everyone, as well as exfoliating a few times a week to slough off dead skin. Be sure not to be tricked by products claiming to have safe ingredients - read your labels!
Make sure you avoid “fragrance” or “parfum” as I previously mentioned. The tricky thing is that even “fragrance-free” products may still have the ingredient “fragrance” used as a masking agent to cover the smell of chemicals. Also stay away from parabens, PEG's (because of the contaminants which won't be listed), triclosan (found in anti-bacterial products and registered with our government as a pesticide. Ick.), metals (aluminum, lead, etc. because they are bio-accumulative and store in your fat cells) and check out our Facebook page and website for more healthy tips.
What's next for your company?
We are growing so fast that the future is truly unpredictable, but we are dedicated to providing our customers with non-toxic alternatives to any product they would use on a daily basis. We have our work cut out for us. Even beyond personal care and home cleaning products, there are so many other categories of toxic products in the US that need to have safer non-toxic alternatives. The possibilities really are endless. We also are very excited about all the new consultants we are bringing into the business at a very rapid rate (close to 3k!) and would love to speak with anyone who is interested in earning an income doing really important work, as you can become your own boss for just $99. We know that when we have tens of thousands of Ava Consultants having Ava Parties and sharing this important message of toxic chemicals with families all across the country, we can help force a paradigm shift in how products are manufactured and produced. Educated consumers can truly force this change.
I have been to DC twice now at the request of the Breast Cancer Fund and the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics in support of the Safe Cosmetics Act and know that change on a grand scale that needs to take place may take a very long time. However, angry moms and dads demanding better for themselves and their families can! The problem is most people just are not aware that products on a shelf aren't tested for safety and often contain dozens of carcinogens, neurotoxins and hormone disruptors. It just isn't right and we need your help to work with us to create real change in this country.
Being such a young entrepreneur must inspire a lot of young women. Any advice you'd like to give those who are thinking of starting out on their own?
I always tell aspiring entrepreneurs that research is key! I studied this issue and learned about the industry for almost a full year before bringing it to my parents’ attention. Know about competition, market, patents and pricing. It will just be that much more impressive when you bring the idea to light and start to seek out help.
Also, nothing can replace hard work and passion. Good luck!
Check out Ava Andersons complete collection at Ava Anderson NonToxic