C2 California Clean founders, Dr. Clarissa Shetler and Dr. Christine Falsetti are two scientists with a desire to create a skincare product line that was truly safe.
The two, who are based in Northern California, sat with SWAAY to discuss their journey to the beauty industry and joint desire to launch products that were free from known carcinogens and were sustainably derived. According to the founders, ingredients like PEG, dioxins and EDTA, which are commonly included in many products can affect a person's hormones, metabolism, endocrine system, and may even lead to cancer.“When we started looking we started to realize that all of the products have a bunch of junk in it; they had these [outdated] formulations," says Shetler, a licensed pharmacist. “No one's really taken the time to go through and really evaluate the effectiveness on our bodies and how it affects them. We wanted something you could feel good about putting on and not worry about the toxic or carcinogenic effects."
C2 California Clean, which has been awarded EWG certification (a nonprofit dedicated to protecting human health and the environment), utilizes only clean ingredients like apple and citrus stem cells, for anti-aging properties. The line, which is priced between $39 for a hydrating primer and $97 for the brand's hero Apple Stem Cell Rejuvenation serum, is comprised only of ingredients that have been each evaluated scientifically as well as with various wellness experts to ensure there are no negative effects on the body.“Both of us wanted to do something with our chemistry and biochemistry backgrounds but we didn't have the high tech, so we ended up more in Silicon Valley," says Falsetti, who is former NASA scientist. “One of the biggest problems is when [beauty companies] combine ingredients, even good ingredients, they don't even think about the complex and how it will react."
After Falsetti's son Ben passed away from cancer at 7 years old, she became even more passionate about creating a product line that wouldn't affect human health adversely.
The two met with laboratories both in Italy and the US before launching its first four products, a skincare primer, the apple stem cell primer, a replenishing oil, and a moisturizer. Each includes ingredients like fruit stem cells and squalane oil from olives.
“One of the things we talked about was that plants were probably the most resilient living things on the planet because they're stationary," says Shetler. “They withstand wind, sun, ran, sleet, and they have a much more complex defense system than humans because we're mobile. So we started extracting ingredients form the plants using those complex compounds into the line."
Both Shelter and Falsetti plan to continue using scientific research and education to drive consumer choice and civic action. They plan to launch additional products in 2017 that are anti-pollution, and support a clean lifestyle.
What separates your brand from other brands in today's crowded market?
There are oodles of products in the skincare world and we have learned that many women get overwhelmed by all the choices. C2 is a brand that wants to simplify your life by giving you a skincare regimen that is easy-to-follow and offers you the best ingredients to feed your skin. We wanted a line that was safe to use on the whole family.
There were three main ideas that we thought of when we started to create C2:
1) Clean: a product line that wouldn't compromise your health.
2) Effective: a skincare system that actually works and shows results.
3) Simple: a regimen with simple steps.
What are some of the hidden dangers in skincare brands today?
Many of the culprits of skin care today are the Ingredients (active and inactive). All products must list their ingredients and they are long and complicated words -- no one really understands them. Many of those ingredients have long term effects on our body and system. Here are some ingredients to look for on the back of the bottles.
1. Benzoyl Peroxide: This ingredient is common in many acne products. However, Benzoyl Peroxide has been linked with causing DNA damage in cells and a possible tumor promoter. Alternative: Use tea tree oil for acne.
2. Fragrances: Many of the fragrances in personal care products are hormone disrupters which can increase the risk of cancers and also cause reproductive problems (such as early puberty). Alternative: Use products that scent with natural oils.
3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)/Sodium Laureth: SLS is used in soaps and foaming cleansers. Studies have show that SLS can cause skin damage, eye damage and liver toxicity. Alternative: Use non-sudsing liquid soaps.
4. Synthetic Sunscreens (Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Benzophenone, Ethoxycinnamate, PABA): Synthetic sunscreens may cause damage to DNA in cells and lead to endocrine disruption or even cancer. Alternative: Use Zinc Oxide Sunscreen
Please speak a little about the genesis of your brand.
We both have personal stories that helped drive our passion to find a good skincare solution. Christine's son was sadly touched by cancer and passed away at an early age. Clarissa has a childhood skin condition called ichthyosis (fish scale skin) in which dermatologists only had a recommendation of Crisco lard. One day during a hike, we started talking about our skincare choices and what was out there. Due to our own personal experiences, we had already peeked inside other brands and saw the dark side of the ingredients in many products. On that hiking day, we decided that we could do something better -- something clean.
What are some of the challenges of launching a "clean" line?
Testing and evaluation. We want to find healthy and effective ingredients that help address real issues.
What are your primary marketing activities? How do you find and attract new consumers?
Right now, we are trying to develop brand trust in the marketplace. We are working with influencers, bloggers and other wellness brands who share our vision to help spread the word. We are also verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which endorses and shows the safety profile of our products. In 2017, we plan to launch an ambassador program.
Can you speak about how technology can help skincare brands be safer for consumers?
The internet is the avenue of information. Technological advances are helping consumers make “on demand" decisions in the market place. We are from Silicon Valley and are watching how devices are giving consumers the power and knowledge to make more informed purchases. For example, EWG's SkinDeep app allows the consumer to check out products while they are shopping at the store.
Can you describe your target customer?
Our target market is women and men, 18 to 80. However, our products are safe from babies to grandmas.
Tell us something that would surprise us about skincare.
Many skincare and personal care formulations haven't changed since the 1950s.
What is your favorite product in the line and why?
Clarissa's fav: Ageless Squalane + Vit E oil - I need the intense moisture and hydration due to severe dry skin.
Christine's fav: Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Primer. I like the primer because it feels fresh and clean -- it has a nourishing quality.
What is your expansion plan? What can we next expect from you?
We have a unique roadmap of products, philanthropic involvement, thought leadership & education, ambassador program and cool promotions with other wellness brands.
Starting with a little background, I am an anti-bullying advocate and have recently graduated from The Parent Leadership Training Institute, where as part of our studies we were asked to come up with a community project close to our hearts and put it into action. My cause was bullying, and I began a blog and Facebook page to address issues pertaining to all forms of bullying. Implementing this project was followed by a thre- minute speech to my peers, and, after all this, here is what I have learned about bullying.
Bullying makes people feel bad about themselves, leading to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and even physical symptoms. The repercussions of bullying can cause people to miss school or work as well as countless other negative side effects.
I have been bullied both at school and at work, and I know of others who have suffered the same plight. It is not fun!
My first bullying experience was in seventh grade as a young teen. There was a group of three "mean girls" who harassed me and, I later found out, several of my friends; they thought it was funny to pick on others about their clothes, their looks or whatever else they could come up with (who knows). It felt awful at the time. Supposedly, I was chosen to get picked on because they claimed I bought my clothes at the Goodwill. That wasn't true, but really who cares? Why they were picking on me was never really the point. Luckily, after a while, the meanies went on to the next victim(s) like a never-ending cycle. I tend to think once a bully, always a bully, which goes to show how good a lifestyle that is, because those "mean girls" never amounted to much. In hindsight, I feel sorry for them. Watch the movie The Gift if you're really curious about what happens to bullies when they grow up.
And bullying was not just an issue when I was a teen, since then nothing much has changed. My own nephew was bullied in eighth grade, and he recently talked to me in depth about of how the bullying took a toll on him. Especially because I had the same experience, I could relate to him in ways that some others couldn't. Like reliving my own memories, I was incredibly broken up to hear how it made him feel.
Even worse than that, bullying does not end in the school yard. Employees are being bullied on the job at an alarming rate. When you are bullied on the job as an adult, it taken an even bigger toll. Further it doesn't just go away like those middle school "mean girls." Unless you can quit your job, you might just be stuck. There are all kinds of physical symptoms, stomach pains, migraines and even panic attacks. Beyond the physical, people's mental and emotional state is extremely sensitive to bullying, and as a result work performance might suffer. Furthermore, it might feel like there is no recourse, no one to believe you. You can hope that the HR Department is willing to listen and do something about it, but the whole process can be so disheartening. And in the hierarchical corporate environment, sometimes the bully seems to get ahead and you are left lagging behind in a subservient position. This is what happened to me as a victim of workplace bullying. It started with me being told by a co-worker that my boss was following me to the bathroom, staring down the hall whenever I left my desk to make sure I came right back to my seat. Then it was standing over me as I typed, ordering me to get in a car with them, not allowing me to sit somewhere if it wasn't within their sight. The list of offenses could go on endlessly. There were times I felt like I couldn't breathe. And then, the bully torturing me got a promotion. Like the character of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, the classic bully is revered by her peers, despite the fact that all of her employees are terrified of her. Yet, she is in a role of high stature and praised as a bully. We live in a culture that is not only complacent in the existence of bullies, but one that actively allows them to thrive.
It makes you realize how unfair life can be. Of course, no one said that life would be fair; maybe you just assumed that bad people would not get ahead. But, they do. Even now, I cannot help but to shake my head in disbelief. I often wonder what makes a person feel the need to laud their power over another. Are they insecure? Were they bullied themselves? They must feel bad about themselves in some way? Do they feel the need to do this to make themselves look good? Whatever the reason, it certainly isn't nice at all. I have found myself at different times in my life standing up for people who have been bullied around me. And I certainly do not allow anyone to treat me in any way that I find disrespectful. I truly believe in karma, and I tell myself that at some point in time, the bullies will get it back in some way. I have seen it happen, and in the meantime, I just say to myself "What goes around, comes around."
Bullying shows no sign of slowing down, and in this day and age, it's even worse than I have experienced in the past. Cyber bulling, rumors, fist fights, knifes, guns and other forms of both mental and physical cruelty, it truly sickens me. I know that I cannot save everyone, but I try to be an advocate as much as possible and encourage others to do so as well. NO ONE SHOULD BULLIED! It is disgraceful to say the least. You should always practice grace as much as you can. With every person who chooses to do so, the world gets a little bit better. I will be writing more on this topic on a regular basis; I feel it helps to talk about this subject aloud and spread the word. and, if nothing else, be kind.