Last week was the transition from daylight savings time to standard time in most US zipcodes. The Cher memes abounded on social media Saturday night .

Turning back time is a big deal with anyone over 30. Supplements. Organic foods. Skincare. Whatever you can put into your body or on your body….. People are looking for something that will work.

North American consumers pay out more than $79 billion annually, and the estimated growth rate on spending is 8.4%. The major players include Avon, Beiersdorf, Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble, and L’Oreal. [source: Mordor Intelligence] With so much of the market dominated by five players, there’s still a lot of room for disrupters, especially as more consumers read labels and more studies emerge on links between cancer and immune disorders, and what goes into and onto our bodies 

Time featured a story on five common ingredients that researchers have claimed to be toxic: 

  • Parabens
  • Aluminum
  • Triclosan
  • Phthalates
  • Fragrance

Additionally, you might not find these ingredients listed on the label because trade law enables manufacturers to conceal some of the chemicals that could contribute to health challenges these consumers experience. 

Parabens are found in 75 to 90% of cosmetics. Usually used as a preservative, parabens easily penetrate the skin and the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption lists parabens as a category 1 substance because they interfere with hormone function. Parabens have been detected in breast cancer tumors suggesting a link between parabens. When you read a product label, you might see methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, polyparaben or isobutylparaben. [Source: David Suzuki Foundation]

While parabens occur at low levels in certain foods like barley, strawberries, vanilla, and onions, it’s a synthesized paraben derived from petrochemicals that are used in personal care products like cosmetics. Parabens can also be in fragrances without having to be listed due to trade laws. 

A friend who is not even 35 yet, who went through breast cancer surgery this last week after 5 months of chemo and radiation, makes awareness of what I rub or spray onto my skin deeply personal. 

The David Suzuki research also points out BHA and BHT which are considered synthetic antioxidants, as highly suspect in compromising health. They are used as preservatives in lip, skin and hair care products, sunscreen, deodorants, fragrance, and creams, and in many food products such as cereals, snack foods, processed meats, and canned foods. That’s why you’re starting to see canned goods labeled “BHA Free” or “BHT Free”. They’re talking to an educated marketplace. 

Marketing to an Educated Consumer

Warren Buffett says to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful. Fear is an investment opportunity signal – not that you should jump right in but to sift and sort. Savvy consumers only need one influencer friend like mine, with cancer, who suddenly starts reading labels, removing all sources of sugar from their diet, and looking for organic, clean ingredients in everything to create a market opportunity.


Here are some startup companies that are selling to savvy consumers. 


Love Sun Body

Love Sun Body is in the sunscreen business that appeals not just to the health-conscious human─── but to the consumer who desires a healthier planet.  

Love Sun Body’s messaging points out three problems with most sunscreens:

  • Chemical filters that are hazardous to humans and the environment, including coral bleaching

  • Inadequate sunscreen protection

  • Hazardous inactive ingredients. 

In contrast, Love Sun Body promotes 100% natural origin mineral sunscreens, and claim they are the first and only sunscreens in the US that have been certified by Ecocert Cosmos Natural, meeting and exceeding the FDA requirements and the European Commission’s recommendation on UVA protection and Health Canada Natural Health Products Regulations. Products are biodegradable, with recyclable packaging.  [Source: Love Sun Body]



Prose is a customized hair care company that began in France in 2017, now operating out of Brooklyn, NY, on a mission to create sustainable materials and carbon-neutral operations. The companies looked for ingredients, sourced from local partners with a track record for fair payment and labor practices, as well as ensuring the crops are responsibly replenished or rotated to preserve soil integrity and richness while processing ingredients into the highest grade product with the least waste. 

CEO, Arnaud Plas was featured in Forbes magazine last year (August 2020). The Forbes article said that Prose was on track to hit $50 million in revenue for 2020, more than triple 2019’s figure, even with a pandemic. The company’s most recent raise that took their total funding to $25 million, in part went to buy a big machine in hopes that it could move his company from a boutique hair care brand into a major player in the $850 million high-end hair care market. 

Plas is not a novice in this market. Previously, he was VP Digital and E-Commerce Strategy and head of L’Oreal USA Digital Basecamp, as well as skincare group manager, styling and men care group manager and Elseve brand manager. 


Pit Liquor

Pit Liquor by Distilled Bath and Body addresses a solution using whiskey and or vodka. Alcohol has been considered a way of washing wounds for millennia. However, when Erica Feucht discovered how effective hand sanitizer was at replacing her deodorant, the idea that the use of distilled spirits as a key deodorant ingredient was born. Bestsellers in the Pit Liquor lineup include Whiskey Vanilla, Whiskey Lavender, and Coconut Rum with Lime in spray and roll-on formulas. 

The journey from hand sanitizer to whiskey began with Erica Feucht expecting a baby and her husband, Jason, wanted her to avoid anything possibly carcinogenic that could also impact hormones, immunity, and health as she worked for a healthy, happy outcome. After an experiment with hand sanitizer had a positive outcome, Erica and Jason thought high proof, drinkable alcohol would be less toxic than anything made from inedible and unregulated. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, hundreds of media stories, the company has been growing 3x per year over year since 2017, with profit margins at 86%.  



Skylar countered the belief that it wasn’t possible to create hypoallergenic fragrances that smelled amazing. On a mission to apply the highest quality standards to create scents that are not just hypoallergenic, safe for sensitive skin, vegan and cruelty-free, in eco-friendly packaging. . CEO, Cat Chen is a first-generation American; her parents immigrated from Taiwan when she was 11, settling in the Los Angeles area. She founded Skylar in 2017 after her favorite fragrance caused her infant daughter to have an allergic reaction. There are 36 fragrance allergens plus a number of other problematic chemicals frequently found in fragrances, that they list on their website.  

Skylar markets direct to consumers through their website, but also sells on platforms such as Amazon. Honest Brand Reviews mentions that Skylar has a following of 80,000 on Instagram, plus frequent mentions in Byrdie, Forbes, and InStyle media outlets.


True Botanicals

True Botanicals began with founder Hillary Peterson’s diagnosis with thyroid cancer just after delivering twins. “It was then that I discovered an unexpected truth – my beauty products were full of toxins. I could not believe that there weren’t stricter regulations protecting our health.” She says her greatest reward now, after working with world-leading anti-aging scientists, green chemists, and pioneers in sustainability to develop True Botanicals products, is to hear from customers who have never felt better about their skin. [Source: True Botanicals]

True Botanicals has enlisted celebrities like Olivia Wilde and Laura Dern to promote the brand, and products are sold at select Nordstrom stores across the country. 


Bottom Line

While people spend hundreds (and more) every year trying to turn back time, staying healthy is a key part of that.  What we put on our bodies is as important as what we put in. Knocking off a Procter & Gamble or an Avon behemoth is a huge challenge, and requires a startup appeal to the people who read labels who are looking for transparency and clean sourcing.


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