Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ava Anderson Non Toxic: Fixing What's Broken.

There is no denying that we live in somewhat scary times. It seems like every minute there is some report about the harmful chemicals in our food, air, and personal care products. But, I have to ask: Do you know what's in your beauty products? Do you feel safe with your face lotion because it’s natural and organic and has been advocated by editors and beauty professionals everywhere? Well, unless you are using oats and water to wash your face, then you are consuming some very toxic ingredients through the things that are supposed to make us beautiful. It's easy for me to want to swear off everything and live off the land, but I also don't want to spend the rest of my life living in a bubble and fearing exposure to everything.

I won't name the brand I use, but it is backed by dermatologists, so naturally, I thought it was safe. Last week I was challenged by Ava Anderson of Ava Anderson Non Toxic skin care to look up my products and review what the ingredients are. Ava sent me a link which explains in layman's terms, what each ingredient means and what it can do to a human being. The website is Cosmetic Database and the link is here. Take a minute or two and look up your brand of products. What I found was alarming, and I assume you will feel the same way.

For Ava, a sophomore in high school, these facts were just too much to handle, and she decided to do something about this. That something launched this January, and its called Ava Anderson Non Toxic; a skin care line where every ingredient in every product scores ZERO on the Cosmetics Database toxicity scale. First. Ever. In the world. I cant help but wonder, with so many "responsible" adults running the beauty business world, why a sixteen year old is the first one to successfully fix what's broken in the personal care industry?

I contacted Ava and her mother Kim, who works with Ava on the day to day business aspects of the company. I have learned so much from Ava and Kim, more than I wish I ever knew. But, being educated and aware is the first step to fixing whats wrong. I wanted to pick Ava's brain, so I did, and here is the result:

KickinKate: First off, you are my new hero. Seriously. I am truly impressed! You are sixteen years old and recently launched the world's first non toxic skin care line. When I was sixteen, I wasn't doing that, not even close. What got you started on this path?

Ava Anderson: Thank you. I saw a report with my mom on the news about the Teen Study performed by the Environmental Working Group. They tested the blood and urine of twenty teenagers across the country looking for known carcinogens, neurotoxic ingredients, hormone-disruptors etc and every single teenager tested positive for every ingredient. This really shocked me especially because I was fourteen and they were focusing mainly on teens.

KK: Wow! That is shocking and scary.

KK: There are so many reasons why I am thrilled about you and your brand. Recently I watched a documentary called America The Beautiful, which touches on a few topics, one of them being all of the harmful ingredients that large corporations put in everyday skincare and makeup. It's scary to think that we are at risk from the products we wear every day, to make ourselves look and feel beautiful. Why do you think companies use these ingredients, when you have shown us we can be offered a line that is 100% free of toxic chemicals?

AA: Because they always have, and no one is telling them that they cannot. We are poisoned for profit. I think a great quote on the topic is from Edward Kennedy in 1997, "The cosmetics industry has borrowed a page from the playbook of the tobacco industry by putting profits ahead of public health."

"We are poisoned for profit." ~ Ava Anderson

KK: It looks like you have got a pretty good team working on the brand, which is smart. Can you tell me how the team came about? They all seem to have specific roles that are imperative for the business to grow.

AA: My mom is President and my dad is VP. They both have a lot of experience in business and because I only recently turned sixteen, there are a lot of business things I cannot do, i.e. sign a check. We hired three fantastic people that were former employees of Princess House – our COO, IT Director, and Consultant Services Manager. They all understand the direct sales industry and have been so important to the success of our business. We have also brought on board a National Training Director, to help all of our consultants be successful. We have close to 500 consultants around the country in over 35 states since our launch a few months ago in December.

KK: How do you juggle running a business, being a full time student, and a teenager?

AA: School is my priority. I meet with mom after homework and studying. I call her at lunch and in the car ride home for updates and information. We try to make interviews on days off, and in the evening. Most of the initial product development happened over the summer. Next summer will be the same. I am also going to have a small foundation that will give “seed grants” to other teenagers with great ideas who wish to start a business.

KK: Can you take me through an average day?

AA: School, homework, check in with mom. Work on a new product, check formulations, research on toxic issue. Possibly an interview, or approval of bags, boxes, brushes, samples. Lots of time on the computer and always time for my friends. On Wednesday evenings we have a National Conference call with our Director of Training, that I participate in. I love hearing the enthusiasm from the consultants all over the country.

KK: My jaw is dropped, really. You are obviously so motivated and driven to turn this product into a great success. We need more people like you running the businesses of the world!

KK: I saw the press release on PR Newswire, how else are you spreading the word? I can just see a celebrity getting a hold of this and really loving it.

AA: The press has been really great so far. This is how many of our new consultants around the country are finding us. Most recently, we were featured in Vanity Fair Italy, Teen Vogue, and Glamour. Most of our local press came from one article by our local newspaper. The National Press is coming from our PR team in New York. They are really amazing. Last week on a day off from school, I went to New York to interview with Teen Vogue, Self, Fitness, and Natural Health magazine. There is a lot going on in this area. I get really excited every time a new article or post is published because I know people are getting this urgent health message that they probably would not have gotten had they not read the article.

KK: Congrats! Those one on one meetings with editors are so important and I am sure they are 100% behind the cause!

KK: As an alumni of Moses Brown, I often find myself tracing my small success now back to my time there. I have nothing but good things to say about the teaching staff there and the school life. Now that was over 10 years ago, but do you feel like MB has been a part of why you are able to do such a magnificent thing at such a young age?
AA: I love my school. It is a place that allows me, and my peers, to do anything and be our best self. We have a classmate who was in a film with Ben Affleck over the summer, due to release in the Spring. I also have two good friends who started a cupcake business and they give all proceeds to the hungry in America. We have big ideas. The school and Headmaster have been very supportive.

I want to thank Ava for her time. As you can see, she is a busy girl and Ava Anderson Non Toxic is growing fast! I told Ava to let me know if there was any information she wanted me to add. Ava wants to share with the public that currently, Europe bans 1,342 toxic ingredients, whereas the United States has only banned 9, and that manufacturers can legally hide 600 toxic chemicals in the word “fragrance” or “parfum” on your ingredient label…and they do! ( This chills me to the bone.) Johnson & Johnson and Walmart are currently being sued for using one of the 9 banned ingredients in their baby shampoo. This affects everyone. Remember, just because your high end lotion cost you half of your rent, doesn't mean its safe.

Also, Ava Anderson Non Toxic is coming out with cosmetics, a baby line, bath and body line, a men’s line, and more to replace all of the toxic products that touch us daily. You can find much more eye opening and helpful information on www.AvaAndersonNonToxic.com and on their Facebook and Twitter pages.


Heather said...

Wonderful review & interview! So glad you are helping to spread Ava's message! Thanks for sharing your own experience too! It is a scary world out there with all the exposure possibilities! You can also check out Ava's new lip collection, along with the skin care line, at this site as well:


Anonymous said...

The Ava Anderson company is lying to their customers.

Ava Anderson marketing claims that their products are nontoxic and "better" somehow because the ingredients are a "ZERO" in the Skin Deep database.

They are a "ZERO" in the Skin Deep database because of one single fact...most of the ingredients have not been evaluated yet.

"ZERO" does NOT mean non-toxic when the ingredient/product has not been EVALUATED yet! Some ingredients have a 100% data gap!

It's like going to college and being given an A+ for attendance alone and not taking a single test.

I know many of the ingredients in the Ava Anderson line and I GUARANTEE...when they are vetted they will no longer be a "ZERO". Most will fall between 1 and 3. So in my opinion, they are marketing their products under false pretenses.

jill said...

From what I can tell, these products were created solely for the purpose of giving health-conscious consumers an opportunity to enjoy superior products without risking our health doing so. It saddened and frustrated me with the entire cosmetic industry to learn last night that the primary preservative used in Ava's products is honeysuckle flower extract. Here is what research knows about this ingredient....

Honeysuckle Flower Extract, when used as a preservative as with these products, is a highly processed and highly concentrated paraben extraction. From a biological standpoint, they are virtually identical to the synthetic parabens we already know are harmful. As of this writing, there is no available evidence to indicate a naturally derived version of a paraben is any less toxic for the body than a synthetic version.

Once again, the lack of industry regulation has resulted in many of us getting very excited about the safety of a new product, only to find out an already established, harmful ingredient is simply being called by a new name.

For more information on this topic, search for Eliza Moriarty's article as published on the Organic Comsumers Association webpage.