I have three daughters, aged 9, 7, and 5. I remember when they were teeny weeny, still fascinated with dressing up as Snow White. Now, they’re in grade school. My oldest one rolls her eyes every time I try to give her a kiss goodbye. They’re growing up fast. They’re not little babies anymore. They’re big girls and getting bigger every day.
Two moms from New Hartford felt the same way about their own daughters, especially when it came to their skin care. For our babies, we make an effort to buy products that are all natural without harmful chemicals. Why stop just because the little piggies got a bit older?
According to an article dated September 24, 2008, the Environmental Working Group conducted studies that showed skin and cosmetic products contain hormone-laced chemicals. For young girls who experiment with products more than adults, these hormones end up in their bodies. More to the point, those hormones can contribute to diseases such as diabetes or even some cancers.
That’s why Kim Grustas and Grace Petrarca teamed up to found Good For You Girls, their skin care product line geared for the nine to fifteen year olds. Between the two of them, they have six daughters.
Petrarca is an Ayurvedic practitioner, which is a system of alternative medicine originated in India that emphasizes the balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Grustas was an advertising executive whose marketing lines focused on natural products. They met about 10 years ago at a local women’s club in their hometown of New Hartford. With their backgrounds, they felt they had a winning combination.
“We couldn’t find anything that was good enough for them,” said Grustas, of their own daughters. “Many of the products on the market are too drying or have anti-aging properties which are completely inappropriate for this age group.”
“Sixty percent of what goes on your skin goes into your bloodstream,” she said.
Grustas went on to say that, even in this age group, moms are still very involved in picking the products. And, a lot of girls will emulate what their mothers do. Some of her customers don’t even tell their daughters that the products are good for them to avoid the stigma of being too “healthy.”
The company has developed a good following. Emme, the plus-sized supermodel, buys the products for her nine-year-old daughter, Toby Aronson. “Emme’s a huge fan,” said Grustas. She said Toby likes the products because she’s not borrowing from her mom. Rather, her mom is borrowing from her. "Not only do I love [their] face cleanser, toner and moisturizer, but I have to keep it away from my Mom so she doesn't sneak it when I'm not looking!" Toby said to Grustas.
The idea for the natural skin care germinated in 2007, subsequently launching the product line in 2008. The economic downturn didn’t help much. But they’ve managed to grow despite the economy. “The retailers all gasp” at the product because there is nothing on the market for this demographic, she said. “But it was slow last year. Now we’re doing really well.”
In Connecticut, their products can be found in a number of salons and boutiques. They are also available at Whole Foods Markets in West Hartford and Glastonbury.
“We didn’t put soap in a bottle for kids,” she said. “That’s not what this is.” Instead, the products—a gel cleanser, a toner, and a moisturizer as well as a blemish wash for older girls—start with a base of purified water. All the other ingredients are natural extracts.
“It’s ok to be pretty,” said Grustas, “but let’s do it safely.”
Parabens and sulfates are the worst offenders, she said. They are known to cause a myriad health problems from simple allergic reactions to reproductive issues. Because parabens mimic the hormone estrogen, it has been linked to increasing a risk for breast cancer. And sulfates, often sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate, were originally used in industrial cleaning fluids. They are alkali-based products that create a concentrated foam when combined with a saline solution. It gives the illusion of gentle cleansing when in fact it is quite harmful to the body once absorbed. Used on young bodies just beginning to develop, that’s cause for alarm.
But parabens and sulfates are not the only ones on the market. According to an article dated August 28, 2009 on Treehugger.com, there are other villainous chemicals to be wary of. Many products use a crude oil base of petrolatum. Anyone not living under a rock can tell you an oil-based product is a whole lot less than natural. Even some baby washes contain quaternium-15. It is an allergen and can cause dermatitis on sensitive skin. The article outlines seven common chemicals to avoid including ingredients listed as “fragrance.”
Knowing what’s in your products is the first step to having healthy skin. “If you can’t pronounce it,” said Grustas, “you don’t want it.”
Images courtesy of Kim Grustas.