How did you become interested in beauty?
I’ve always been interested in beauty. I was working in Government and Human Rights in DC and I would go to Blue Mercury and Sephora and buy tons of products and just play around. My skin started getting hyper-sensitive and I went to a dermatologist and figured out I was allergic to a lot of synthetic ingredients. I realized I didn’t know what I was putting on my face. I was always one of those people who used a bunch of different products and was constantly changing what I used...love samples! I started researching about natural products, bought a bunch of books, started educating myself and made my own really simple natural skincare products and started making some for friends.
At the time I was going to law school to become a lawyer and started working at a sustainable fashion startup. I really liked the startup world and had this idea for a beauty company based on my own personal experience. I partnered with a friend who was an esthetician who helped consult on the formulas and we decided to launch this really simple, gentle, fragrance-free line that would be specifically for sensitive skin but great for all skin types. One of the other major challenges that we face is educating consumers on what’s in their skincare products, why they should care, and helping them understand that natural products can work just as well.
What are some steps you’ve taken with Peet to be sustainable?
Sustainability is super important to us. We use glass bottles made out of recycled glass, 100% post-consumer recycled paper for our packaging, shipping materials. All of our decisions are built around designing products to minimize waste. Our lab where we produce in California is wind-powered and just joined 1% for the planet- which gives to environmental non-profits.
What advice do you have for consumers who are seeking to shop natural beauty. How can they find brands like Peet?
I think it’s important to make an effort to read labels. Not to get too nitty-gritty but the FDA requires you to use label products in a certain way that doesn’t use the normal english words. They want you to use the scientific name so people don’t understand what it actually is. The FDA doesn’t require you to do anything except to label your products in a certain way- that’s it.
I think one of the best things consumers can do is to ask questions, do research, and pay attention to natural brands who are carried in some of these stores like Credo, Follain, or Cap beauty or looking to bloggers and influencers such as yourself.
Let’s talk about your formulas. What were/are some of your biggest challenges?
Our biggest challenge was creating formulas without using essential oils or synthetics. A lot of consumers don’t realize that the industry is actually a very minimally- regulated industry. There hasn’t been any legislation passed regulating the beauty industry since 1938. They have labeling guidelines but other than that a brand can kind of put forward any type of product as a beauty product. Even if you have a product that is causing harm to consumers the FDA doesn’t have the power to pull it from shelves.
Why do brands use synthetics?
There are chemicals that were created for different functions and are super super cheap and very effective at preventing bacteria and mold growth in a product. It’s basically a huge hassle to find alternatives that will work just as well at the same cost. Bigger beauty brands have their supply chains built out. It’s so expensive for them to deviate or reformulate. For us, we can create a great product without synthetics there so why go there.
What ingredients should we avoid?
Essential Oils are used as a preservative but can be irritating on the skin
Sulfates is the foaming stuff used in cleansers
Dimethicone is used to give moisturizers a nice slip and texture
Petroleum is used in lots of lip balms and moisturizers
Parabens is a cheap preservative system
Is it possible to not use any of these synthetics?
I think a great start is for consumers to understand that their products should really only be lasting 1 or 2 years. And you should buy products in small quantities. The industry right now is set up for extremely long shelf lives. We have a 2 year shelf life on our products, which is pretty standard for natural skincare. I think that’s another big education opportunity.
What's next for Peet Rivko?
We’re working on product development for additional product line expansion. We’re coming out with our first expansion in May, our body oil and then working on an exfoliant and some additional body care products. One of the goals I have for Peet is to build out a Wellness shop on our website. We want to carry products that we think help with a more holistic approach to skincare like supplements, teas, or aroma therapy. Things that are part of the experience of skincare and self care. We also want to do more education on your skin and wellness in general.