A group of Nourish Organic's best selling products
Brand Reviews

Nourish Organics | Why This Company was Ahead of the Curve and Fave Products

Nourish Organic Table of Contents

Nourish Organic Quick Facts | The brand’s stance on ingredients, eco-friendliness and ethical commitments

Mom and Pop Start It Up | Nourish Organic’s humble beginnings

Rob Robilliard Steps In and Marsha Brady Gets Involved | A beauty veteran shakes things up

Formulation and Final Thoughts | Mainstay carrier oils, additives, and wrapping it up

Best of Nourish Organic | Products and Reviews

Nourish Organic Quick Facts

Ingredients | Gluten Free, Vegan, Certified Organic by the USDA, No parabens, No phthalates, No sulfates, petrochemicals, synthetic dyes or silicones, No propylene glycol, mineral oils, synthetic dyes, triclosan, EDTA or aluminum. No artificial fragrances or preservatives.

Eco-friendly | Recyclable and packaging is at least 25% post-consumer recycled

Ethical | Cruelty Free, Supports the Women’s Center, Association for the Blind, City Rescue Mission, Meals on Wheels, and others.

EWG | 1-4 on 14 products

The Good Guide | 5.5 on 40 products

Mom and Pop Start it Up

Nourish Organic is located in Beaver Falls, PA as the original owners wanted to be near family. A picture of Beaver Falls.
Nourish Organic is located in Beaver Falls, PA as the original owners wanted to be near family.

This is the story of a mom and pop business that was way ahead of its time, a marketing exec who saw potential and a Brady’s Bunch’s Marsha Marsha Marsha.

Founders Lynn and Tom Betz founded Nourish Organics as Sensibility Soaps in 1996.

Originally the company manufactured products for others in a small facility that they expanded with a $175,000 from the Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development.

“It was [a] nontraditional loan for us, but it worked out. The Betzes were organic before organic was cool. They were well ahead of the curve.”
Bob Rice, vice president of the Beaver County Agency

Red Barn on a field, symbolizing Nourish Organic's commitment to USDA certified organic standards.
Nourish Organics was the first beauty company to receive USDA Certified status and complies to strict organic standards.

They lived in the facility while they ran they business, and oversaw all aspects of its production. They were already including organic ingredients when ever they could, and in 2003, they made the then unprecedented step of certifying the production processes with the USDA.

The USDA requires companies to comply with the below requirements before they are allowed to label their products organic.
100% Organic all ingredients are organic.

Organic means that 95% of ingredients must be organic.

Made with Organic ingredients means that 70% of ingredients must be organic.

They were the first beauty company to do so which paved the way for the launch of their own brand Nourish Organics in 2005.

By 2011, they had over 400 certified organic formulas. The business had grown and caught Rob Robilliard’s eye.

Rob Robilliard Steps In and Marsha Brady Gets Involved

Rob Robilliard is a beauty and consumer products veteran that describes himself as having "Beauty in his blood." A stint at L'Oreal is in his resume. Makeup brushes.
Rob Robilliard is a beauty and consumer products veteran that describes himself as having “Beauty in his blood.” A stint at L’Oreal is in his resume.

Rob Robilliard describes himself as having “beauty in his blood”.

His resume includes a long history of working with consumer brands. He was CEO of Living Proof for 4 years, and had stints at Ben and Jerry’s and L’Oreal.

In 2011, he and a group of investers became interested n Nourish Organics. He tried a few formulations and realized that this was the next thing he wanted to do.

Together with a group of investors, he bought the business and started a revamp.

Rob wanted products that looked professional and polished or, in his words, "Not crunchy." A picture of a cosmetics and fragrance counter.
Rob wanted products that looked professional and polished or, in his words, “Not crunchy.”

He instituted a brand redesign with pretty, brighter colors and a new logo and name. He wanted it to be more feminine because most natural products “don’t look pretty, they look crunchy.”

(Funny how most new brands call their precursors crunchy…it seems to be a common description of the older all-natural space. I first heard it from Naturopathica founder Barbara Close.)

Along with the new investors came celebrity couple Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor, better known as Marsha Brady.

The company hadn’t been looking for celebrity endorsers but an investor knew someone from the couple’s staff. She tried the samples and loved them and decided to become an investor alongside her husband.

Formulation and Final Thoughts

Nourish Organics uses a lot of very popular mainstay oils.

You’ll often find coconut, jojoba, shea butter sunflower and sesame. The benefits of these oils to skin has mostly been backed up by science. [ 1 ]

Plant Oils Skin Barrier Repair Anti Bacterial Anti Inflammatory Antioxidant Wound Healing Skin Aging Skin Cancer
Sunflower Y ? Y ? Maybe ? Yes
Coconut Y Y Y Y Y Y ?
Safflower ? ? Y ? ? ? ?
Jojoba Y Maybe Y Y Y Y ?
Shea Maybe ? Y Y ? ? ?
Sesame Maybe ? Y Y ? Y Y

Of course, when you deal with natural oils variations occur as things as disparate as time of harvest and maturity will have an effect on the actual product. Even the mode of preparation – i.e. steam distilled vs cold pressed – has an effect.

Along with the oils are some things like guar gum, xantham gum, tocopherol, botanical extracts, and SD Alcohol 38B. There is also natural fragrance.

Here’s where label scrutiny only takes you so far.

There is a myriad of ways things can be processed. Extracts can be placed in any carrier with some preservatives. Natural fragrance should really be broken down into its myriad components.

The company has banned chemicals of concern and is USDA certified. Chemical in a bottle.
The company has banned chemicals of concern and is USDA certified.

Still, these are relatively minor complaints and the certified USDA seal provides some protection, despite not being perfect.

In addition, the company bans chemicals of concern such as parabens, sulfates, pthaltes and synthetic dyes and fragrances among others. This is borne out by the ingredient list for the products that I checked.

As I’ve gone through more and more brands, I see who is really doing what’s possible within the limitations imposed by natural ingredients.

This is not a bad brand at all.

Best of Nourish Organic | Products and Reviews

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Footnote:

[ 1 ] Tzu-Kai Lin, Zhong L. , Santiago J. 2017, ‘Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils’, International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Pubmed. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29280987 [Accessed on: Jan 16, 2018]

 

Andalou Naturals Product Group
Brand Reviews

Andalou Naturals’ Beauty Industry Veterans Build a Great Brand Once Again

Andalou Naturals Brand Review Quick Facts

Ingredients | Vegetarian; Sulphate Free; Organic; Natural Minimum of 70%; Gluten Free tested by Food Allergy Research and Resource Program (FARRP) on behalf of Celiac Sprue Association (CSA); Non-GMO as certified by the Non-GMO Project

Eco-Friendly| Recyclable without BPA

Ethical | Cruelty Free; 100% of the net profits from A Path of Light Hand Creams benefit women; Supports She-Can and Vital Voices Leadership, $783,000 total given

The Good Guide| Not Rated

EWG | 1-4

Andalou Naturals Brand Review Table of Contents

Smells like Entrepreneurial Spirit | A couple of veteran beauty entrepreneurs get back in the game

Natural Skincare is Actually Within Your Reach With Andalou | Democratic natural skincare

The Low Down on Plant stem cells | Plant stem cells are a new development in the beauty industry

My Take On Andalou Naturals | A generally good brand

Best of Andalou Naturals | Products and Reviews

Smells like Entrepreneurial Spirit

Packed Aisles in a Grocery
Packed Aisles in a Grocery but Nothing to Buy

The story of Andalou Naturals starts like this:

Stacey Egide goes to market.

Stacey Egide doesn’t find a single night cream she likes.

So, being Stacey Egide, she decides to make her own night cream.

Now, what separates this Stacey from the thousands of other people who create products is that this is Stacey Egide.

If you’re familiar with the beauty and personal care space, you’ll recognize this is the Stacey of the Stacey and Mark Egides, entrepreneurs who started Avalon Organics, the Sonoma Soap Company and the San Francisco Soap Company.

These are serial, successful entrepreneurs.

As anyone who has ever started a business before will know, the biggest obstacle is fear.

Rubber Duckie Taking a bubble bath.
Andalou’s veteran founders must find starting a new business as relaxing as taking a bubble bath at this point.

These guys have none. They’ve entered the beauty industry so many times that what is a cold shock of water to most people must be a comfortable, relaxing bubble bath with a squeezable rubber duckie to them.

This is a good thing, since when they set up Andalou Naturals in 2011 they had some really tight deadlines. They wanted to launch at Expo West, which was only months away. They also had a major presentation to Whole Foods.

So, they recruited their former Avalon Organics team members Nathalie Internicola for sales, and Alissa Berihu for product development. And they knew where to source and who to tap, which made the deadlines achievable even though they were tight.

By 2013, they were the first company awarded full non-GMO certification. They also made it through the door of Whole Foods and Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, which often takes years for less established brands.

They were so successful they were ranked the No 1 facial skin care brand in the natural channel (SPINS Oct 2016).

The Egides strike again.

Natural Skincare is Actually Within Your Reach With Andalou

Shea butter in its raw form in two jars.
Shea Butter is a nourishing skincare ingredient often included.

What I like about Andalou Naturals is how accessible they make organic skincare.

They’re an affordable, well-formulated line that is sold everywhere. They make trying out the organic lifestyle simple, not just for the woman who can afford hundreds of dollars for moisturizer.

Women want products that have quality, healthful, and nourishing ingredients that make their skin feel great, they want the company and the ingredients to be transparent and, ultimately, they want products that are affordable.

Stacey Kelly Egide, Andalou Naturals Founder and CEO

This is democratic – and still organic – skincare.

And it isn’t like they are skimping on ingredients either.

They pack in the antioxidants with their BioActive 8 Berry Complex composed of acai, aronia, bearberry, bilberry, black elderberry, goji berry, rosehips berry, and sea buckthorn berry. They are solid, non-fragrant choices for proven skin benefit.

Closeup of Goji Berries, which is an ingredient in Andalou Naturals Bioactive 8.
Andalou Naturals uses the antioxidant rich Bioactive 8 mix of berries in several products.

I also really like that they were the first companied certified by the Non-GMO project.

Certification is not easy, and Andalou states that it had to certify over 200 ingredients with manufacturers and suppliers to do it. It confirms that the manufacturing process and not just the ingredients were non-GMO. This is an important point to those concerned about the growing use of pesticides and rumored links to health.

It’s important to shine a light on natural and organic ingredients and label transparency for food and personal care safety.

Stacey Kelly Egide, Andalou Naturals Founder and CEO

Label transparency is nothing new to the Egides. They’d previously fought for organic standards by lobbying for new Californian legislation in 2003. This eventually resulted in the California Assembly Bill 2823 or The California Organic Products Act of 2003.

 

The Low Down on Plant Stem Cells

Close up of a Plant's Stem with Water on It
Andalou Naturals uses Plant Stem Cells for anti-aging even though the science may not yet support it.

If you’re familiar with the skin care space at all you’ll know that Andalou’s point of differentiation and innovation is the inclusion of plant stem cells.

Plant stem cells are supposed to revitalize skin and fight against anti-aging by visibly reducing fine lines and wrinkles. They provide hydration, improve elasticity and brighten the skin.

Another brand I looked at tended to overpromise (yes, all that and the moon too), but Andalou is suspiciously quiet on it.

All that is left on their website is a brief blurb about PhytoCellTec Fruit Stem Cells, stating that they provide energized anti-oxidant defense.

I heard about Andalou before and a lot of what was written about the brand was linked to their use of plant stem cell technology. An initial interview talked about how they were going to use plant stem cells as a point of differentiation and how they’d heard about the technology from its use by Michelle Obama.

Plant Cells under a Microscope
Plant Cells under a Microscope

And then I went to the science reviews, where people essentially said it was overblown hyperbole. The technology was too early to be useful and the one study on effects was flawed.

I think Andalou took it down.

For a brand that is generally transparent and uses pretty proven ingredients, it was really odd to suddenly find exaggerated claims about ingredients.

That’s not to say that Plant Stem Cells are crock. They are a promising new area that could have significant effects. It is also likely they have antioxidant benefits as they come from antioxidant rich sources.

So bottomline: not proven but they really can’t hurt.

My Take On Andalou Naturals

Cosmetics and Shampoo Aisle
Andalou Organics is widely available at accessible price points.

There are some things that are immediate hot buttons for me. Fragrances are a no-go, jar packaging can be problematic and I really want brands that are transparent.

So, the fragrances and the jar packaging that I often find in Andalou are things that I wish they would change. In addition, I think it should be clear that this is a line that has mostly all-natural non-GMO ingredients. This line doesn’t commit to all ingredients being natural.

Still, I think that there is a lot of good in this brand.

First, I like how accessible this brand is.

While I appreciate all brand stories and tend to fall in love with the brand I’m trying out at the moment (It’s a flaw; I’m working on it 😊), I’ve a special fondness for accessible brands.

People can sigh over the $350 serum and the $58 face masks, but they buy the ones that provide value.

With Andalou’s most expensive product at $40 and several in the $20 range, everyone benefits. It is suddenly possible to try out natural products to see if they work for you.

In addition, generally good ingredient choices and limited fragrances are huge pluses. These are ingredients that are low on irritation and have proven benefits, which I can totally get behind.

This is a pretty good brand. If they’d avoid jar packaging and take out some of the fragrances, that would really amp it up for me.

Best of Andalou Naturals | Products and Reviews

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A collage of Acure's products displayed at the local Wholefoods.
Brand Reviews

Acure wants to put Curoxidants, Plant Stem Cells and Chorella Growth Factor in Everything

Acure Table of Contents

Acure Brand Review Quick Facts | Company commitment to ingredients, the environment, ethics, and its EWG and Good Guide Standing

Let’s Begin with a Mystery | How the company started

Yes, You Can Afford Them | Amazingly affordable price points

Cornerstone Ingredients are Everywhere | Miracle ingredients Acure wants you to have

Curoxidant | Acure’s proprietary blend of 5 super antioxidant fighting ingredients

Plant Stem Cells | Why Acure believes that Plant Stem Cells can save your skin and the world

Chorella Growth Factor | Why Chorella Growth Factor is in so many of the company’s products

What’s my Verdict? | My personal take on Acure

Best of Acure | Products and Reviews

Acure Brand Review Quick Facts

Ingredients | Vegan, Sulfate Free, Paraben Free, Phthalate Free, Mineral Oil Free, DEA Free, Formaldehyde Free, Petrolatum Free, Paraffin Free

Eco-friendly | Carbon neutral through using renewable energy and planting 20,000 trees; Products are 100% biodegradable; cardboard cartons are Rainforest Alliance Certified; and bottles are recycled HDPE, PET or glass; 70% post-consumer recycled materials

Ethical | Cruelty Free, Profits from lip balm are donated to breast cancer research, Trees for the Future plants one tree for each body lotion sold, and Water.org receives 10 cents for every hair care sale.

Good Guide | 6.9 on 44 products

EWG | 1-3 rating

 

Let’s Begin with a Mystery

A nutcracker with several walnuts, symbolizing how difficult it is to information on how Acure started and its founders unless you dig really deep.
Acure’s a tough nut to crack

Let me be honest – Acure is a tough nut to crack.

It’s surprisingly difficult to find information on the beginnings of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida based company. In addition, there is very little information on the founders themselves.

What I have managed to find out is that Kristy and Jon Guerra are a husband and wife team who founded Acure together, after Kristy’s grandmother had a protracted 10-year bout with cancer.

It seems their backgrounds are perfect for it.

Jon has 17 years of experience in product development and in formulation. Kristy, on the other hand, has worked in digital marketing, graphic design and brand strategy for a leading marketing firm in New York.

These backgrounds made the transition from observer to participant possible. While watching her grandmother struggle, Kristy wondered why products couldn’t be formulated that were effective, safe and good for you and the planet.

She founded Acure shortly after.

They started with skin care and planned to launch a hair care line at the same time. However, hair care is a bit more difficult to formulate and it took them a year after their skin care line launch to finally feel comfortable enough to introduce hair care products to the market.

I’d have to say they succeeded – several of their hair care products are now their best-sellers.

Yes, You Can Afford Them

A group of Acure's products with their abstract geometric logo in different colors on the bottles.
A group of Acure’s products with their abstract geometric logo in different colors on the bottles.

Unlike a lot of natural cosmetics and toiletries products out there in the market, you can actually afford Acure.

Acure’s best-selling Ultra Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner set is $16.99. Their wildly popular Acure Day is $10.43 and Night Cream is $13.99.

I’m honestly mystified as to how they are able to do this, especially with their $9.99 Acure Argan oil. The company says that it is cold-pressed and the product is USDA certified. The only ingredient as Argan kernel oil so it is pure – and still, it is such as steal at $9.99. Apparently, this commitment to affordability is part of the company’s mission.

We are committed to the creation of formulas that are as healthy and natural as possible without sacrificing efficacy, but also staying affordable so that everyone can have access to healthy, effective personal care, not just someone who can afford an $80 moisturiser.

Amy Halman, President and Formulator

These are also chock full of antioxidant ingredients to help repair and protect skin. Additionally, many products are packaged in plastic tubes to reduce contamination and preserve potency.

And I’m still getting over my sticker shock – in a good way.

Cornerstone Ingredients Are Everywhere

 

Cosmetic ingredients from plants such as Plant Stem Cells, Chorella and anti-oxidants with Curoxidant.
Acure prides itself on adding Plant Stem Cells, Chorella and anti-oxidants through their Curoxidant blend.

Do you know what plant stem cells are? Or the Chorella Growth Factor or Curoxidants?

I don’t either, but Acure quickly introduces you to them. I’ve got to admit – I think some of their bigger claims are marketing.

I know of a few good things that work.

Retinols are extremely effective anti-aging drugs that come with their own downsides. Niacinamide is a good option although slower in action. Additionally, there are many essential oils and herbs that are very potent. However, getting all these ingredients to the right level for actual skin benefit and understanding their interactions can be a little bit complicated.

While the company doesn’t add these ingredients, what they do use are ingredients that they claim are effective. Curoxidant, Plant Stem Cells and Chorella Growth Factor are all supposed to have wonder benefits for the skin.

The company seems to be on the right track in terms of what they add to products. Thousands of people talk about Acure as effective and I’ve tried some of their stuff – they didn’t cause me any problems at all.

Curoxidant

Baskets full of antioxidant Acai berries.
Baskets full of antioxidant Acai berries.

You don’t know what a curoxident is.

I didn’t either, but that’s because it’s a proprietary blend developed by Acure of 5 organic super fruits and herbs. There are some familiar and famous names here.

Acai, blackberry, Rosehips, Pomegranate and Rooibos are high in various vitamins and are really good anti-oxidants.

You know Acai for its traditional medicinal use and ability to fight infections but it’s also a great source of omega fatty acids. Blackberry and Rosehips are high in Vitamin C while Pomegranate and Rooibos have really good anti-inflammatory properties.

Acure’s added tons of anti-oxidants to their line and I love that. We all know their essential in fighting off those pesky free radicals, and I personally err on the more the better.

Plant Stem Cells

Close up of a Plant's Leaf
Plant Stem Cells are a cornerstone ingredient

As closely as I can figure it, Plant Stems cells seem to be similar to human stem cells as they contain all the possibilities of the plant.

Plant Stem Cells are “universal cells” that contain all of the beneficial markers that a specific plant carries. That basically means it is a single cell that contains the power of the whole body of the plant, not just the flower, the root, the leaf or the bulb, for 1000 times the potency of a common plant extract!

Amy Halman, President and Co-formulator

You’ll find that they put this everywhere, as they do with Chorella Growth Factor.

Chorella Growth Factor

A spoon full of Chlorella over a filled bowl.
A spoon full of Chlorella by Philipp Alexander August 29, 2015 CC BY2.0

Chorella Growth Factor (CGF) has made its way into a lot of products but I’ve never read up on it. It’s pretty interesting.

CGF halts elastin fibers from breakdown and protects collagen. Acure also reports that it encourages cellular growth and repair and has anti-aging benefits.

Co-founder Jon Guerra studied it in wound site healing in Amsterdam with several scientists. He came away so impressed that he started incorporating it into a lot of their lines.

You’ll find it in their CGF Oil Free Serum their Gotu Kola Stem Cell + 1% Chlorella Day Cream. You’ll also find it in their Brightening Facial Scrub Sea Kelp + Chlorella Growth Factor and a ton of other stuff in their line.

What’s my Verdict?

A girl thinking about what decision to make.
Whats my verdict on Acure products?

You’ve got to admit these prices are ridiculously good.

This is an affordable line that is really packs it in in terms of good anti-oxidant fighting additives. In addition, their packaging is stellar – it keeps their formulas at maximum potency and preserves against spoilage.

I would still like to see the scientific studies that prove the effectivity of the ingredients they have chosen. I am not familiar with them but iff they do half of what they are supposed to, that’s amazing.

Thousands of people love Acure. It’s affordable enough for most and its focus in the hot natural space ensures interest, if not commitment. Also, I’d have to say I do admire their mission statement:

ACURE is founded on sustainable principles and economical price points to steer people away from toxic chemicals, proving that you don’t have to sacrifice your health for beautiful skin and hair.

Amy Halman, President and Co-formulator.

So, I’m tentatively optimistic. I’ll keep buying their products and testing them. I’m honestly curious to see what else these guys come up with.

Best of Acure | Products and Reviews

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