On July 12th, exactly one day before my co-worker's wife had her mastectomy, a box arrived on my doorstep from Acure Organics, a newly launched organic skin and body care company with a mission. Founder + CEO, Kristy Guerra started the company as a way to honor her grandmother who battled breast cancer for a decade. Her cause resonates with me since my grandmother also lost her life to cancer. For every product they sell, one dollar is donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and unlike many pinkwashing companies out there, they definitely don't use any suspected carcinogens. All the products contain a minimum of 70% organic ingredients and several are USDA Certified Organic, others are Fair Trade Certified and some are both.
They nailed it on the branding and packaging. Simple, modern design, on lightweight #1 PET plastic bottles (1 oz bottles soon to be swapped out for glass - sweet!), FSC-certified boxes made from 80% recycled material. The labels are waterproof so they aren't going to disintegrate in the shower, which is quite nice. They're not messing around - they've visually set themselves up for primetime in the aesthetic department. But since looks aren't everything I'm sure you'd like to know what's inside, just as I did...
It's a given by now that I wouldn't review a line if I didn't like what I saw on the ingredient decks, but to give you an idea of what they don't use - all the products are sans parabens, phenoxyethanol, sulfates, synthetic fragrances or synthetic colors or any other ingredients we avoid . All the products are either Fair Trade Certified , USDA Certified Organic or both, and the entire line is Cruelty-Free (Leaping Bunny stamp is on all products).
I'm really digging this line! In fact, several of the products fall into my "favorites" category including the body lotions, both facial cleansers, the Resurfacing Facial Lotion and Age Reversal Cream. I've been using the products below exclusively for over five weeks now and the results are in...
Facial Cleansing Gel - Superfruit + Chlorella Growth Factor $14.99 : My new favorite foaming gel cleanser! If I had a nickel for each time someone asked me to recommend a gel type foaming cleanser that worked and that wasn't packed full of junk, well I'd have a whole lot more nickels. Produces very nice foam with very little product, totally cleans while not stripping skin and I would guess this size would last me 4-5 months so it's a tremendous bargain. I use this at night to wash makeup off. This is great for normal to oily skin types. Certified Fair Trade.
Facial Cleansing Creme - Olive + Mint $14.99 : It was definitelyan unexpected surprise to find out this is both a cream and a foaming cleanser all in one. The minty aroma is refreshing and the cream quotient is just what my skin needs in the morning and sometimes at night. I actually love this just as much as I love the Cleansing Gel - it just depends on your skin type. Certified Fair Trade.
Facial Toner - Rose + Red Tea $15.99 : I like that this comes in a spray bottle so I don't have to use cotton balls or my fingers. A good way to prep skin after cleansing and before moisturizer. I've also been keeping this on my desk and spritzing my face in the afternoon when I need a refreshing pick-me-up. For normal to oily skin. Certified Fair Trade and USDA Certified Organic.
Radical Resurfacing Facial Lotion $19.99 : Designed to treat hyperpigmentation and blotchiness. I've had a little patch of redness on my upper left cheek for at least a few months and I couldn't figure out why or how to get rid of it, but to my pleasant surprise after using this product it totally disappeared!! Fair Trade Certified.
Radical Age Reversal Cream $29.99 : I've definitely noticed fine lines diminished after using this for six weeks now. Seems to plump up the crevices of my wrinkles, especially noticed around my eye area. Fair Trade Certified.
Line Eraser $19.99 : While I can't attest to its magic on wrinkles just yet, I can tell you that this helped cure a wound on my leg in record time as well as soothed bug bites and a raw heel (from new shoes). A great multi-purpose balm! USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified.
Seriously Firming Facial Serum $22.99 : A great product, especially for dry skin. I've been mixing a small amount of this with the facial lotion at night and wake up to happy, hydrated skin in the morning. USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified.
Body Lotion $9.99 : I'm crazy about all four of these lotions, the consistency is perfect and what you're accustomed to with a conventional, store bought brand. My absolutely favorite is theMandarin Orange + Mango Lotion. It smells SO good! Fair Trade Certified.
Dark Chocolate + Mint Lip Balm $3.99 : 100% of all proceeds from every tube of lip balm are donated to cancer research! Since I like my chocolate dark, this is perfect for me. I've been applying this at night before bed and my lips are moisturized by morning. Mmmmm. USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified.
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Interview with Acure Organics Founder, Kristy Guerra:
F+S: I notice all your products have the pink ribbon on them. What do you think about the Think Before You Pink campaign? www.thinkbeforeyoupink.org
KG: We believe in the message of the “Think Before You Pink” campaign. I agree that there are mixed messages being sent by a number of companies who sponsor breast cancer charities. A cosmetic company with parabens in their products who then talks about donating to breast cancer is indeed “pinkwashing”. I appreciate that Breast Cancer Action takes on these companies and points out the inconsistencies. However, we do not include any of these toxic ingredients such as parabens or phthalates. Above all we want to promote health as well as provide money to breast cancer awareness. Providing the donation for each bottle is about illustrating to the customer what an impact their choices in a store aisle can make. Most large companies that “pinkwash” are looking to buy goodwill to cover up the 99% of their business practices that are bad for the environment and have a negative impact on human health. Each decision we make has the health of our customers and the environment as our top considerations. We are a small company and donating $1 per bottle sold is a huge impact on our bottom line. For us it is about doing the right thing and allowing our customers to participate.
F+S: Can you provide me with more info about what makes up your emulsifying wax (I know this is just the INCI name for several other ingredients...what are the ingredients you use to make this since they vary depending on manufacturer?).
KG: Our vegetable emulsifying wax is a blend of cetyl alcohol (from coconut) and polysorbate. It is used in small amounts to prevent the product from separating. It is widely used in natural personal care and meets the Whole Foods Premium body care standard.
F+S: I notice many of your products contain "Chlorella Growth Factor". What is it and how can chlorella (which grows in water) be considered "organic" since it is not grown in soil?
KG: Chlorella is an algae and it is grown organically in stainless steel tanks. When harvested naturally there are issues of environmental exposure to runoff, etc. But ours is certified and comes from stainless steel tanks and grown in a controlled environment. CGF is extracted once the cell wall of Chlorella is cracked. Chlorella is one of the highest natural substances in RNA and DNA. It also effectively products skin from collagenase and elastinase--the enzymes that destroy collagen and elastin.
F+S: Do you have plans for your non-USDA Certified Organic products to be NSF ANSI 305 Certified?
KG: Yes, we are working towards having products that are NSF/ANSI 305 certified. We feel this standard is a move in the right direction towards a universal standard for organic body care.
F+S: What are your thoughts about Whole Foods Market requiring all personal care products labeled "organic" to be certified organic or they will be pulled from shelves by June 11, 2011? (I ask because I saw several Facebook comments about finding your products in Whole Foods).
KG: We are very happy with this new requirement and support Whole Foods’ effort to help regulate the industry. We will meet these requirements and are proud to be considered by Whole Foods for inclusion in their stores.
F+S: Do you make the products in-house or outsource production?
KG: We have an in-house lab to formulate our products. We currently have a manufacturer that we have partnered with, but are looking to bring production in-house.
F+S: Where are the products made?
F+S: For the "organic" ingredients listed on the label, are they certified organic and if so, who is the certifying agency?
KG: Ingredients listed as “organic” are indeed certified organic. Our certifier is QAI. We do buy ingredients that are certified by Oregon Tilth as well.
(Note: I asked for proof of their organic certs and Kristy sent me both the QAI certification for the products as well as one from Oregon Tilth for the lip balm.)
F+S: Will you be launching your products in stores, online or both? If so, do you already have retailers?
KG: We launched online July 1st at www.acureorganics.com and are hoping to be in retail stores by the end of the summer. We will be in select Whole Foods stores in the Pacific Northwest as well as PCC Natural Markets.