True Original: Hillary Peterson

“Nourish your skin, and it will reward you,” says Hillary Peterson, founder of True Botanicals. It’s a philosophy born from not only tenacity and innovation but also fear and frustration. Diagnosed with thyroid cancer as a young mother, Hillary began to look closer at the products she used daily. Unwilling to settle for formulas containing ingredients known to threaten human and environmental health, she sought out a better way. Her goal was audacious: to prove that safe, natural beauty products could also be luxurious and effective. Here’s how she achieved it.

TB.
Why did you start True Botanicals?
HP.

After my cancer diagnosis, I learned that what goes on your skin goes into your body. And as I learned more about the toxins in all kinds of products, I came to feel that I wouldn’t want to put toxic ingredients on my body any more than I would want to eat them! I created True Botanicals to show women that they don’t need to risk unnecessary exposure to toxins in order to get results.

TB.
How do you define “toxin”?
HP.

We consider anything that could compromise the safety of people or the planet a toxin. This includes the usual suspects — such as carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and developmental toxicants — as well as any ingredient that bioaccumulates in people or the planet.

TB.
How do you go about finding ingredients and developing formulas?
HP.

We study the latest research on health and aging, and we work with top researchers at leading universities as well as other experts to identify new ingredients. For example, the head of food science at Cornell University helped us to identify the antioxidant power of apple peel, which we developed into Antioxidant Booster. And we worked with leading aromatherapist Kurt Schnaubelt to harness the calming and antibacterial powers of helichrysum, a flowering plant that’s grown on the island of Corsica. Ideal for soothing breakout-prone and ultrasensitive skin, it’s a key ingredient in Clear Pure Radiance Oil and Calm Pure Radiance Oil

TB.
In the course of researching and developing products, what has surprised you the most?
HP.

When it comes to the personal care industry in the United States, the bar for human and environmental safety is alarmingly low. In the U.S., only 11 chemicals are restricted from use in cosmetics. In the European Union, approximately 1,300 chemicals are banned. At True Botanicals, we abide by a MADE SAFE® certification that restricts more than 5,000 chemicals from use in our products — ensuring that each of our ingredients is safe for people and the planet.

TB.
And how does that approach—seeking a higher standard—apply to product results?
HP.

Safety alone is not enough. When we invest in products, we want them to work, so we put ours to the test with independent clinical trials. I encountered so many people who didn’t believe that a nontoxic product could outperform a more traditional commercial product, and it occurred to me that clinical trials would offer the ultimate proof of efficacy. This third-party testing has shown that our products outperform some of the most globally recognized products. No toxins required. 

This third-party testing has shown that our products outperform some of the most globally recognized products. No toxins required.

Hillary Peterson
TB.
Since starting True Botanicals, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the beauty world?
HP.

People used to tell me I was paranoid when I would talk about toxins in beauty products. They’d say I shouldn’t worry so much. Today it’s amazing to see people empowering themselves with information, looking closer at the efficacy and safety of ingredients, and demanding more transparency. It’s a wonderful time to be building a thoughtful brand, because every day we can see and feel the need for what we’re doing.

TB.
How does True Botanicals relate to the wider beauty industry?
HP.

Many people have suggested that I go to Washington and lobby for changes in how personal care products are regulated in the United States—a process that hasn’t changed for 80 years. I don’t think that Washington is the best place to seek solutions. My focus is on growing a company that’s carefully considering the well-being of people and the planet. We’ll change the industry this way instead—from within, and with our customers. Together we’re telling beauty companies that are using toxins that we don’t want to buy those products. They’re not nourishing us, they’re not good for us, and we don’t need them to get results.

TB.
And finally, what’s the most rewarding aspect of your job? What keeps you motivated?
HP.

I love being a part of a movement and a company that’s supporting people’s desires to be their best selves. One of my favorite things is hearing from members of our community, especially the very personal success stories. People send us pictures of their beautiful skin. It’s exciting to know that we’re doing something that not only supports people’s health but also is delivering the results that they’re looking for and helping them to feel their best. Every day I get to work with an incredible team to create a world that’s more true.