The green beauty movement has gained significant traction in recent years, as consumers become increasingly aware of the impact of their purchasing decisions on the planet and its resources. As a result, many companies are now offering green beauty options, catering to the growing demand for sustainable and responsible products. In this episode of ASCP Esty Talk, Maggie and Ella are joined by Julie Longyear, herbal chemist, and founder of Blissoma Botanical Beauty, to discuss how estheticians can position their esthetics business to be on the growth side of this trend.
ASCP Esty Talk with Maggie Staszcuk and Ella Cressman
Produced by Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) for licensed estheticians, ASCP Esty Talk is a weekly podcast hosted by Maggie Staszcuk and Ella Cressman. We see your passion, innovation, and hard work and are here to support you by providing a platform for networking, advocacy, camaraderie, and education. We aim to inspire you to ask the right questions, find your motivation, and give you the courage to have the professional skin care career you desire.
About Julie Longyear
Julie Longyear is an herbal chemist and the founder and owner of Blissoma Botanical Beauty. In 2001 Longyear began making and selling aromatherapy products, and after years of careful formulating work she launched Blissoma's skincare line in 2009. Blissoma's mission remains to help as many people as possible with solving their skin problems using natural, sustainable, healthy products.
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About Ella Cressman:
Ella Cressman is a licensed esthetician, certified organic formulator, business owner, and absolute ingredient junkie! As an educator, she enjoys empowering other estheticians and industry professionals to understand skin care from an ingredient standpoint rather than a product-specific view.
She has spent many hours researching ingredients, understanding how and where they are sourced, as well as phytochemistry, histological access, and complementary compounds for intentional skin benefits. In addition to running a skin care practice, Cressman founded a comprehensive consulting group, the HHP Collective, and has consulted for several skin care lines, including several successful CBD brands.
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About Maggie Staszcuk:
Maggie has been a licensed esthetician since 2006 and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stephens College. She has worked in the spa and med-spa industry and served as an esthetics instructor and a director of education for one of the largest schools in Colorado before coming to ASCP as the Advanced Modality Specialist.
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0:02:03.8 Maggie Staszcuk: Hello and welcome to ASCP Esty Talk. I'm your co-host, Maggie Staszcuk and ASCP's education program manager.
0:02:09.2 Ella Cressman: And I'm Ella Cressman licensed Aesthetician, certified organic skincare formulator, international educator and content contributor for Associated Skincare Professionals.
0:02:18.9 MS: We are very excited to be joined by Julie Longyear, herbal chemist and founder of Blissoma-Botanical Beauty. We've talked a lot on the show about going green clean or all natural, and it really seems to be a driving trend these days.
0:02:35.1 Julie Longyear: It's a trend for sure, and we can see, I mean we've talked about it before, how we've kind of followed sometimes food trends and we saw the rumblings happening with that, but it's just such a really cool time for scientific advancements in those categories, wouldn't you say?
0:02:51.6 EC: Oh yeah, definitely. It's a great time to be a green skincare formulator. Certainly much easier than when I started 15 years ago. There's lots more ingredients available to work with that meet those criteria, and it's just great to see the ingredient side moving towards it as well as customers being more aware of what they're buying and how it impacts things 'cause otherwise the cosmetic industry is a potentially large source of waste. And we wanna keep an eyeball on that and make the best impact that we can. It should be healing for everyone is my personal opinion.
0:03:24.2 MS: Yeah and we're saying trend, but I think this is really a niche. It's here to stay and a lot of Aestheticians are choosing this as their philosophy for practicing aesthetics.
0:03:37.7 JL: I had actually a client come in this week and it was funny because we were, I don't remember what we're talking about something, and she has a son who's 13, so that's a pretty formative age, and she was talking about the body wash that he gets and she avoid these things and this client in particular wouldn't fit that standard perception of someone 15 years ago, to your point, Julie, that would look for those things. I hate the word holistic because of the way it's been inferred to mean hippies. And I say that [laughter] not having been a homestead kid, but holistic really means the whole thing right? So typically before it was the hippies that were interested in holistic or the natural people or whatever, but this person definitely doesn't fit that perception and she's coming in and she's talking about, oh, I don't like these ingredients and she listed some and I also look out for that. And she even pointed out laminin. She was, "It has laminin". That's bad right? And I had to point out like it's not always bad looking at where it's at in the list, but just that she was aware of those words is definitely an indication of where the clients are though. I think there's a lot of information and then misinformation too.
0:04:53.1 MS: Oh yeah. I mean it's just hard to know who to trust, which I think is really important for there to be good, solid, trustworthy sources of information. I'm sure you guys are doing your part here. I tried to do my part to share research and fact-based information 'cause there is a lot of... Like people can take one bit of information and then extrapolate things from that, that aren't necessarily true and not everybody's a chemist. And so it's important for them to have people like yourself, Ella, to come to and ask those questions because everybody's busy and there's a lot to take on in life, and this is a really complex thing for people to make smart decisions for themselves and if they want to, those resources need to be available. So it's really good that you're helping people.
0:05:39.3 JL: That's our job as Aestheticians, I think is to weed through that to explain the ingredient back to people. To show them what to look for. And also at the same time, sometimes we're still learning.
0:05:49.3 EC: Oh yeah.
0:05:49.8 JL: You see there's new words that come out. And I think a lot of, as far as these natural ingredients, these clean and green, we're looking at green, which we know are marketing terms, but if we look at the word green and plant based and having a plant being born of plants, I guess, there's some things that are good and there's still some things that are bad. The example of laminin for example that one, I know overseas particularly is garnering a lot of attention because people are aware that there is a potential or you probably work with a lot of essential oils and stuff too, but there's concentration levels to consider, not just putting it directly on your skin could result in irritation, but at the right concentration just a little bit can really open the door for other ingredients to work.
0:06:36.3 EC: Yeah, definitely. There's a lot that people can encounter through their own bodies teaching them about what they may react to. And I think that there's a lot of intuitive knowledge that people can bring to it, but then having an expert to guide you is super important. So I think all of the Aestheticians that I work with all do an excellent job of helping demystify things for people and making it accessible and simple for them to make healthier decisions. And I will personally caught to being one of the "hippies" I am now a professional hippie. I do this full time, but I also agree with you, it's incredibly important that it has made inroads into population groups that didn't normally think of themselves as like environmentalists or natural crunchy people or...
0:07:29.3 JL: Oh, crunchy people.
0:07:32.3 EC: Yeah like...
0:07:32.9 MS: What's the technical term?
0:07:33.0 JL: I think that's the updated term. Crunchy.
0:07:35.9 EC: Yeah like you know, they're not the granola Birkenstock wearing people that I might be, but they also are now taking this seriously. And I think it was in kind of ways a problem for it to be considered just a hippie thing. In the past because like sure, you can make good progress with people that identify that way, but the people outside of it are gonna think, oh, that's not for me. And really from a planetary perspective and a climate perspective, we all need to be considering our choices and how they add up because we are facing unprecedented climate change crisis and need to do things about it as quickly as possible, and we all want to feel and look our best. And also in terms of greenness, the other important thing to consider is that like once you do step into using more natural ingredients, yes, that you have the immediate benefit that it is probably biodegradable. It's not going to persist in the environment, so that's wonderful. It also can have benefits for the body in terms of lack of toxicity for most healthy ingredients that we use in skincare.
0:08:35.3 EC: Of course there are things that you shouldn't use or things that can be problematic in certain quantities, but the idea is we're choosing things that are healthy to use, but then beyond that, we have the issue of that, like plants we can over harvest. And so there are steps in terms of being conscious of impact that when you move into the natural sphere, we have to be careful that we aren't overtaking from nature 'cause like the first step is to celebrate it and embrace it. And then the next step is to be like, oh, I need to be thoughtful about how many of these botanicals, should I have countertop full of 30 products or should I have maybe 10 that work really well? And for me personally, that's why I love making really effective products so that people don't necessarily need a bajillion of them to get the job done. But over-harvesting and ethical harvesting are part of the discussion that for me, I'm like, that's the next frontier.
0:09:35.2 MS: Wow, so what do you say to the Aesthetician or how would you advise the Aesthetician that is wanting to direct their business more towards clean beauty or get on the bandwagon with this trend?
0:09:50.1 EC: Yeah, so I do think it's a really smart decision from a business perspective. I mean, my business is in this field, I'm growing in this field, but I've seen the data for a long time now and there's a lot of consumer awareness that's growing. The projections are really good from a business revenue perspective. So this is something that is here to stay in terms of the consciousness. And I think that younger consumers especially are more environmentally aware than previous generations have been. And so as they mature and go through the cycle of getting older, and they're not just a bunch of teenagers that want to buy earth-friendly stuff, they're going to be 30-year-olds and 40-year-olds that want to buy earth. And I think that that's just going to continue as their options. Their lives are very impacted by things like wildfires and heat and drought and all that stuff that continues to hit flooding and hurricanes that are worse than before.
0:10:49.9 EC: So I think that they are more aware and they're gonna be buying products. We're still gonna wanna feel good and look good and be able to enjoy our bodies as we're here on this planet. So I think that it's a great business decision, but I would advise people to avoid getting into it from the perspective of it just being a trend in the sense that like you don't wanna get into it in a superficial way. It is a smart business decision, but it needs to be something where you really believe and take a personal interest in the material that you're sharing with people. I think it's really important for you to do good research. And then if you have a hybrid business say, and you're going to continue to do a more conventional style of aesthetics as well as incorporating holistics or green products, you need to be able to dialogue in both.
0:11:39.3 EC: Like it's kinda code switching between the two areas because there is different approaches, different language. 'Cause the customers in the green beauty area are just different than your typical person that doesn't have an awareness or that's not a driving factor for them to be making a purchase decision and/or engaging with something. There is a certain amount of literacy that you need to have or else it will sound a little hollow potentially. And people really wanna be able to trust. Trust is super, super, super important because greenwashing has now become an issue in terms of people wanna participate in the trend, and so they'll find some small quality and then kind of blow it up in their marketing and talk about it from a perspective of being this amazing thing when actually it's not making that much of an impact. And so people are really looking for substance.
0:12:33.0 EC: And to have that substance, you have to really invest, you have to really be aware. You have to really understand the issues that drive the products, the purchase decisions like the supply chain, everything associated with that. So I think you have to really take it seriously as you would take any other part of your business. 'Cause this is not just like, oh, it's a fun smell or it's a fun color or like a new texture of product or something like that. It's not a flash in the pan. It is something that people are really devoting their lives to. And for some people it's more crucial than others. Like for some people, if you have skin allergies or whatever to synthetics, you're gonna wanna know that the person that's treating you takes that really seriously and has really done the research on the product lines that they're using because there can be a lot of hidden ingredients in cosmetics and an ingredient list. Now, we're facing a time now with like MoCRA and new cosmetics legislation where for the first time there is going to be some oversight of cosmetics in the US, but historically there has not been. And so companies, you basically are reliant on them to just declare whatever is in the product, on the ingredients list. And there are definitely situations where people are not declaring things correctly or from a perspective of there can be hidden ingredients legally, there can be hidden ingredients.
0:13:48.9 JL: Like fragrance.
0:13:50.3 EC: Yeah. Well, and herb extracts are actually one of the most common ways that hidden ingredients find their way into products. Because lots of times, so it's legally permissible for companies to put an herb extract, say it's Yerba Mate extract, and they're going to put it in their product, that Yerba Mate extract if it's a liquid, most likely has some sort of preservative added to it to keep it fresh from the time that it's made to when it goes into the final product. And legally based on current FDA rules, you do not actually have to declare the preservative that's in that extract if it's not determined to be functionally contributing to the preservation of the final product. You don't have to put it on your ingredients label, so it could have something in there that you don't even know. And I will say there's a big gap too in the processing side of things, because a lot of brands don't make their own products, so they're relying on co-packers to select their ingredients, so they may not even know, and I'm now having interacted with that world more because we make most of our own stuff.
0:14:54.4 EC: So we make all of our own stuff right now. So we do not deal with co-packers much, but as I've kind of started to dip a toe into that world to explore like if we ever needed to expand something, what are our possibilities? Finding out more about how they operate. There's a lot of opacity where they don't want to tell you where they're sourcing things in a lot of cases, unless you're working with a very transparent supplier, but they consider that part of their trade position where they then get to monopolize you as a client. If you don't know where the ingredients are coming from, you're reliant on them to do that. And some people are perfectly happy to just let somebody else do that for them, but that also means that they don't know what's in there that could be making into the final product. So these kinds of things...
0:15:45.1 MS: And this is all CGMP? Co-packing?
0:15:45.9 EC: Yeah.
0:15:46.6 JL: Wow.
0:15:47.4 EC: Yeah, so that's actually very normal. And they know, like the co-packers know that they don't have to declare all those preservatives on the, they're going to release you. Here's the ingredients list. Do you approve this? The client is gonna see the ingredients list and they're gonna go, that looks great, but it might be missing three or four things that if you're registering in Europe, all those things get uncovered. But if you're just doing business in the United States, it's wild west out here, I mean, we're in the west, [laughter] your office is in Colorado, so we are in the west.
0:16:17.3 MS: Yeah.
0:16:17.7 EC: But I mean, it is very much a, like you just have to trust. You have to find people that you trust to do business with.
0:16:26.1 MS: Hold that thought. We'll be right back.
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0:17:29.8 MS: Okay, here we go. Let's get back to the podcast. Alright I do wanna ask a question about clean and green, alright?
0:17:35.6 EC: Yeah.
0:17:36.3 MS: So this is a lifestyle implementation, should we call it more than a lifestyle shift, more than just a trend. And this is happening in, I mean, we talked about reactions and I'm very sensitive to selenium, so I can't do Brazil nuts, for example.
0:17:50.7 EC: Oh yeah.
0:17:52.9 MS: I'll get a pimple.
0:17:53.0 EC: Okay.
0:17:53.6 MS: So some of mine are internal, and I'll notice if I don't drink enough water, there's definitely, it's pretty obvious it shows up in my skin. But at home we're trying to do the same thing. We've got these green movement. I do bar shampoo and conditioner. My husband has been forbidden to do anything heavy scented. We're making those moves. With that, like we're doing our part, we're easing into it, we're starting to compost now we're at that spot, but we couldn't have done all of it at the same time. So if we take that and we translate it to professional Aestheticians, you mentioned that there should be a, this is what I take away. There should be a passion for it, and you should, get prepared and be able to target your conversation and your materials, and you have brands that you trust. That's what I take away from what you were talking about. But for some Aestheticians that maybe want to toe in or graduate into it, do you have any advice for them?
0:18:52.2 EC: That's an interesting question in terms of where to start, and I think that's often where people struggle when it comes to a change, like going green, it can feel overwhelming. So I mean, your choice of product line is probably a good place to start because you're gonna need product anyway. And then like dialoguing with different brands, you'll discover more. And I think that'll kind of lead you some new places probably as you ask them questions. 'Cause I think it's really important to ask a lot of questions. Like you can't just necessarily go off like everything, what's posted on the website. Like you kinda wanna figure out some things that you can ask about what are they doing?
0:19:29.8 EC: Or if they don't have it posted, then you need to enquire and that could lead you to new places. 'Cause there's other sustainability kind of initiatives. Like if you're looking to take your whole business more green, then you've got considerations. How much water are we using to wash towels and things like that. I'm not so much an expert in that sort of area, but like that is definitely one way to help convey to your clients that like you're really dedicated to that concept and you can be dedicated to doing business in a greener way, even if you don't wanna go all green and crunchy with your products too. So it doesn't have to be one or the other. It's fantastic when you can do both. But I would say like, the most important thing is for people to pick what's most approachable for them.
0:20:20.7 EC: So like say maybe your washing machine breaks and you need to buy a new one. Maybe that's the time to look into something of higher efficiency or that uses less water or think about an impact that you can make there. And then when you do that, then you communicate it to your clients on a postcard or flyer. And I think that that's sometimes one of the things that we forget to do too, is it's good to be doing all these things, but you also have to tell people that you're doing them. So it needs to be in your marketing materials and it needs to be like send an email out or tell people how you're incorporating your thoughtfulness about how you do business and what green impacts you're making. Try and measure it if you can. You know, like how many towels do you wash per year? These are sorts of things that like, maybe some people have not even thought of.
0:21:09.6 EC: And I'm just bringing that up as an example of a non skincare way to be greener. Maybe you can maximize your electricity usage, things like that. And that will help convince people that you also know what you're doing with your products. Because clearly it's not just like, oh, hey, I want to sell you something trendy and make money off of you. It's like if you're gonna have to buy a new washer anyway, you might as well buy one that's really, really well made and is gonna do a great job and that's in the long run, going to save you money. So I think that being green is kind of like the solar panels we put on our building, it was one of the smartest business decisions I've ever made from like a money saving perspective. There was a big upfront cost and it had to be built into the mortgage that we got for our building.
0:21:55.6 EC: But when I looked at the numbers, I was like, I can't believe more business owners aren't doing this. This is crazy how much money, hundreds of thousands of dollars it's gonna save my business that we have solar panels and it's also good for the environment. So I think that sometimes people get scared by the initial upfront cost, but being green is not just something you're gonna do for the next year. It's going to be something that you're doing for the next 10, 20, 30 years. Like it's really, it's a change of thought process about how we operate. And I think a lot of American business has tended to focus on short-term benefit, profit gains, things like that as being a measure of success. And personally, I look at a bigger picture, like where is this taking me in the long run? But then you better believe we are making sure to tell people how much power we're saving, like how many megawatts of electricity we might send out in a little annual email and be like, this is how much electricity we've made ourselves from a clean source versus having to use it off the grid.
0:22:55.9 MS: I think you're making some really interesting points because when we say going green, we aren't always thinking about all the things like saving water or solar panels or dah, dah, dah. We're thinking about it in terms of, well, we're Aestheticians and we're going to use or organic natural products.
0:23:17.0 JL: We do have like high waste opportunity though when you think about our disposables and stuff.
0:23:21.2 MS: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
0:23:21.8 JL: Yeah it's not easy going green. Is it? [laughter] You've got a lot to think about. Now I'm thinking about my electric bill.
0:23:30.1 EC: I think it will get easier over time and it will get easier as more people make that choice. Because really the thing that's been the hardest about it is that our systems as a society, were not built that way. And so when you're making a choice that goes outside the system, it's inherently going to feel really hard because you're out there on your own. Humans are collaborative creatures. We do best when we work together to do things. And so the fact that now more people are starting to think about it, now we're starting to build that collaborative energy that's going to help carry it forward and make it easier. And I think that in the longterm, a lot of the choices that we will be able to make will be inherently green because we will have moved so much more that way and it won't feel so hard.
0:24:13.0 EC: So it has been a little challenging for people that are kind of on the frontier or pushing it that way and who are making those decisions outside of supportive networks or who are doing so at the cost of their personal budget, where they're making a choice to spend more on something that's maybe more ecologically sound. But I think that overall as a culture, we can head that direction and that it will make it easier for all of us because things will just be built that way. Like it's kinda nuts to me that like we're even allowing new construction that isn't like super insulated and incorporating green power, but there are forces working against that. And I won't get into all of those because that would take a lot of conversation. That's a whole separate podcast. [laughter] But yeah, I mean, for sure you are not alone anymore and it can feel like it takes some initial energy, but once you do start thinking about it, just know there are lots more sources of information and support out there than there used to be. And the more of us do this, the easier it gets.
0:25:16.9 MS: That concludes our show for today and we thank you for listening. For more information on this episode or for ways to connect with the team at Blissoma-Botanical Beauty or to learn more about ASCP, check out the show notes.