I recently had a gab sesh (a.k.a an interview) with Stacey Davis, the owner of good-for-you beauty brand LoveFresh. Overlooking her backyard while we talked, it was easy to chill out and get honest with this entrepreneur who didn’t start her company until her 40s (see, it’s never too late to kick-start the dream). Even though my past life as a beauty editor brought me all over the world to meet the biggest and brightest in the industry, I was just as thrilled to meet the owner of this forward-thinking brand in the comfort of her home. With no massive PR or marketing team in the wings, we had a chance to get real about the current state of natural beauty.
I’m a big fan of brands like The Honest Company and Beautycounter who are making headlines in the burgeoning biz of safe personal care. And we should be equally giddy over LoveFresh too. Stacey has been hard at work on her brand since 2007. She got inspired to try something new after her work as a stay-at-home mom started to wind down. “As the kids got older, I had more time to myself so for fun I took a course with my sister to learn about essential oils,” she says.
Her pastime soon evolved into making handmade soaps that she sold from a stand at St. Lawrence Market. “At the time, it was really only the green companies that used essential oils and I found it was all too granola and uninteresting. The labels were very homemade with trees and flowers on them. There was nothing someone could display in a beautiful bathroom and enjoy,” says Stacey. “That’s when I got the idea for LoveFresh.”
Now available at over 100 retailers across Canada and the U.S., Stacey sources all her ingredients in Canada (save for shea butter which is only available from Africa) and her manufacturers are a short commute from her home. Essentially, LoveFresh reads like a Tinder profile for a very dateable green goddess: Natural, organic, ethical, local, doesn’t test on animals, made in Canada and smells oh-so-very-good.
During our visit we gleaned a lot about Stacey, her company and what you should expect from natural beauty brands.
Stacy is a WAHM and she built a second kitchen where she dreams up new formulas. “I’m always dabbling in something. Right now we’re on the cusp of delivering a baby line. We’re figuring out the blend and what extra little things we’re going to add to it.”
Her children inspired her business. “My love of natural ingredients grew from having kids and as a mother, I was concerned about what I fed them. Then I realized what you put on their skin or wash their hair with is also internal and absorbed into the body. After learning about the therapeutic benefits of essential oils, I realized that everything I put on our bodies has a recourse.”
She uses kimchee instead of harsh chemicals as a preservative. “It’s a Korean fermented cabbage that’s not a very common ingredient at all. It sets us apart and people really just love it. Since it’s good enough to eat, it’s good enough to put on our bodies.”
She says Europe does the best job of regulating nasty ingredients. “Canadians have to be more concerned with catching up to Europe. Their restricted list is large and progressive. I was just talking to a company in Germany and they were concerned with Vitamin A, so I’m not using it anymore. We are always evolving and when we know better, then we can do better. Europe is on their game. Canada is doing it’s best but I think we can still do better.” FYI: Here’s the dish on Vitamin A, also known as retinol, according to ewg.org.
She thinks a product that says paraben- and sulfate-free isn’t good enough. “We’ve never used either. We’ve also never used petroleum-based products. So a brand says paraben- and sulfate-free…we have to get beyond that. What else are they putting in there? Are they using phthalate-free fragrances or leaving out palm oil? It’s time we all made good, healthy products.” More nasties on her no-go list are coal tar dyes and BHA and BHT preservatives.
Her best shopping tip is read the label. “When the ingredient listing is enormous it makes me question what’s in there. Aside from adding some botanicals like chamomile or aloe vera leaf juice, there shouldn’t be more than 8 ingredients. Also, look up the INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) name that’s usually listed in brackets so you know it’s a natural ingredient that’s not harmful.” We found this useful guide of natural ingredients and their INCI names and we googled avocado oil (just cos) and it’s INCI name is persea gratissima oil.