Founders Series– Patty Kerr and Rich Arnold of Nurture My Body
Patty, I read that you have a background as an esthetician and hairstylist and that you have a certificate in nutrition, body care and herbalism? How did you first make the transition to developing skincare products, and what led you in that direction?
I started in 1981 as a hair stylist and esthetician, and in 1991 or 1992 I became ill. It turned out that I had overexposure to chemicals in my industry and doctors basically said I had to stop what I was doing. I said no I’m not going to, so I decided to find my own options instead. I started my own salon carrying other products that I thought would be more safe, and in that process I discovered that there was a lot of greenwashing going on, so I had to then start to study my chemistry and I realized that products had like two herbal ingredients and the rest was all chemicals. In the salons they were carrying Aveda, and I knew they contained chemicals, but I was proud of that company because they started adding herbage to formulations and that was new.
So I ended up researching 500 companies and tore apart formulations. I carried in my salon what I thought were the safest but they didn’t perform like I was used to when I was using other high end hair and skin products. After a while I decided to create my own line and I started doing that in the end of the 90s. It took 6 years to create and my goal was to createthe safest products that also worked as well or like a high end skin care product. Basically, I was diagnosed with chemical sensitivities, once I stopped being around those, I’m fine.
What kinds of chemicals were harmful to you?
At that time they didn’t have a lot of research, but I’d say it was an accumulation of all of them – parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, aerosol sprays, chemicals in colors, so it was an accumulation of all of it. And really, it is 40 hours of being exposed to all of this in a salon.
Was there a particular reason for your interest in skincare as opposed to the oral supplement side of things as a nutrition expert and herbalist?
The funny thing was prior to switching over to natural skincare, I was already eating organic, going to acupuncturist, massage therapist, the natural doctors, I was already doing all of that. I knew that the skin is the largest organ in the body, because I was so educated in the realm of hair and skincare, I figured this was the best way to go about it. So I’m not introducing supplements or any of that into the line. It is skincare, hair care and body care.
Once you had the idea, how did you proceed from there? How did Nurture My Body come to be?
It was the research, it was discovering what was healthy, what was toxic as far as ingredients goes, finding out about whole world of herbalism, and determining the beneficial aspects of those. I looked at the different periodicals that were already available from people that were already reputable in the industry.
After that it was just a matter of finding what is most effective – there were a lot of companies that were very safe but then I didn’t see the same results as with high end products.
For example, with hair, with olive oil, it does leave a waxy residue, and some products use a vinegar or lemon rinse, but I didn’t want to go that route. With skincare, I didn’t like the way some ingredients didn’t penetrate into the skin. The next phase was combining together what will really work, so that the lotion works like a high-end lotion, shampoo cleans and conditions like a high-end one. And it took courage.
At that time there still wasn’t a lot of knowledge, the general public wasn’t open to it, there was a small group of people that really wanted it – it was a leap of faith at that time. Now, there’s a lot more out there in the news.
What is Nurture My Body’s philosophy for skincare?
For me, what it is, it is about being uncomplicated, simple is better. We don’t do a day and then night cream, I find that if you create something good, you can use it day and night, but keep it simple. With our skincare regime itself, we wanted to keep it uncomplicated. We wanted it to work across the board, so we kept the amount of products down to a minimum. I wanted it to be effective, a lot of industry – 90% of it is fillers, the 10% is active ingredients, those are what are beneficial. I wanted our products to be effective so we have 90% active ingredients.
I use the least amount of fillers – it is very highly concentrated so a little goes a long away. I first select certified organic – in terms of categories there is certified organic, then organic, then there is wild crafted – they are cultivated in wild. The percentage that is in our products is safe and they are not irritants. If you use essential oils, if you use too high of a concentration, that can be irritating, and we don’t do that.
Rich: Customers have noticed, when Patty refers to concentrated, a little goes a long way, don’t need a lot of eye cream, and that concentration makes it lasts longer.
How did Rich go from an interior designer to helping with the line? What exactly is his role and how did his previous experience help?
Rich: Taking the design, creative the website itself, putting that into website design, labels, dealing with customers, I’m pretty good at working with customers, and spoiling them. We like to spoil people.
Patty: Rich does the marketing and social media, too.
Rich: My role is to connect, Patty is the genius behind the line, but she doesn’t like to be out there, I’m the face of the company, I connect with the people, let them reach us, so we aren’t some nebulous online conglomerate, and prove that we really are people that care about their health. And we have a darn good product that works.
You mention on your website that 47 of 51 of your products have a rating of O and 4 have a 1 on the Environmental Working Groups website. How do you formulate products that continue to be effective while being safe?
What’s so cool, our line hasn’t changed since EWG came on, what was nice that EWG was a scientific place, but we haven’t changed anything because of EWG, on one level we were ahead of our time. A lot of companies had to be reformulate, but we never did. That’s what the 7 year process creating this was about. I didn’t need them to tell me, I already had enough research. There are herablists, aromatherapists, I went to organizations, did my research and research and research. I knew to formulate, I knew from the authorities, effectiveness was working with the product, so I used it and tried it on our families and friends and I got feedback from that.
All our products are fragrance free – just does not have essential oils, there are too many sick people, where immune systems are compromised, and it is too much information per molecule, so we offer fragrance free for people in those situations. There are so many people that are so grateful because they can’t take that. They are really happy to find a safe product that doesn’t contain those ingredients. We also use essential oils in 2% or less.
I noticed that you have a lavender toner, one doctor at the University of Westminister says that lavender can kill skin cells at a concentration of .25%. Have you heard of this and if so, what keeps the ingredient in your products?
This is where there is so much misinformation. There are different genuses of lavender, some of them being safer than others, so it is about choosing the genus that is the safest, and our toners are made from hydrosol, that is – when somebody creates lavender essential oil, they put it in copper still and it is a steamed distill process. The oil rises to top, hydrosol, the watery substance, is strained off, it contains the nutrients of the lavender. So we use that hydrosol. In all the studies I’ve found, lavender hydrosol is safe. So you should remember to look at which lavender. Not all lavenders are alike and it also depends on what part of the lavender.
What is your favorite Nurture My Body product?
Patty: For me, I’m 49, I’m dealing with wanting to have preventative aging. I have dry skin, so I’d say the Vita C cream and reparative serum. In hair – the volumizing shampoo works best for me.
Rich: One day my eye started getting wrinkles, so that’s when the eye cream happened to be my absolute favorite. It’s a fantastic product. Also, I’ve tried so many shaving creams, the lathers, the gels, the foams and I have fallen in love with our shave cream. It’s a cream, as a guy, you don’t usually think of using a cream on your face, but it actually leaves my face soft. I really like a soft face, and so does Patty.
What is in your bathroom cabinet right now aside from Nurture My Body products?
Patty: I don’t create makeup, and toothpaste, suncare so I do have those products.
Rich: We go to EWG to see what safe, and go to Organic Divas, which is a website created by two sisters, and they only carry products that have 2 or less on EWG. So we use products that fit those criterion.
What do you foresee in the future as being the next breakthrough in cosmetics?
Well, I am involved in the campaign in safe cosmetics, we have to sign a contract of course, the first thing is that you pledge that you have only safe ingredients, which we already do. The next phase is the certification process of organic, and that’s like a double-edged sword. Reason being, organic certification was just for food products, now the skincare industry is getting involved in and there is a lot of controversy, our products are made with certified organic by state or governing body, but our products itself are not certified, that is our next step. The downside of that, dealing with smaller farms, costs for us to have all of our products certified, but hopefully that will be a step in the future.
Are there any new lines coming out in the near future at Nurture my Body?
We are adding some more hair care products, adding shampoos and conditioners for scalp issues like dandruff, possibly a lip balm, gels and hair creams for styling. And like I mentioned, we are trying to get that certification process going.
Any product in particular that you can't get enough of at this moment (aside from Nurture My Body products)?
Rich really likes Home Health deodorant and I like the Crystal one.
Now that you've been in the business for years, what ingredients raise red flags for you in cosmetics right away?
The parabens, the sodium lauryl sulfates, on our website we have a bulleted list of things we avoid, and that should be avoided in general. Pesticides – GMO’s – Genetically Modified Organisms, definitely stay away from that – anything that sounds like a chemical.
Knowledge is power, so much of the industry is hype, so I’m glad people are trying to determine what is not and what is good for you. So we’d like to pay kudos back to here.