A line borne out of adversity gives women a natural beauty alternative.
By Joanna Cosgrove
In 2005, 31 year-old Blaire Kessler was celebrating the birth of her daughter when she got the worst possible news: she had breast cancer. The treatments that saved her life scarred her body and left the condition of her skin and scalp in turmoil – not something a self admitted “girly girl” was accustomed to considering Ms. Kessler, a former NASCAR Miss Winston Cup, had proactively taken great care of her skin and hair from an early age. She came to believe that the creams she’d been slathering her skin with for years contained chemicals that could very well be toxic and certainly not something a cancer survivor wants to expose herself to. That’s when she decided to create her own product three-product line called Pristine Beauty, which were evaluated and deemed safe for public use by renowned anti-toxicity advocate, Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, founder of the Cancer Prevention Coalition.
Pristine Beauty's Take a Whiff deodorant.
“Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer I never cared what was in the numerous products I slathered all over my body,” she said. “After I began treatment and I was having such a horrible time with my skin and hair I was given products geared toward the cancer patient for recovery which was when I began to question ingredients.”
A friend gave Ms. Kessler products formulated to help ease her through the transition her skin and hair would go through during her treatments.
“I wanted to know what was in them that would miraculously give me my pretty hair and skin back. When I looked at the back of the bottle, I was actually amazed at the amount of ingredients I could not pronounce,” she said, and added that this was when she began researching toxic and carcinogenic ingredients. “Unfortunately, the products gifted to me had toxins in them. It is even more disappointing to know that these products are advertised to the cancer community as beneficial to their recovery.”
She contacted Dr. Epstein, author of numerous books on carcinogens in cosmetics, who sent her a list of ingredients he considered to be toxic and/or carcinogenic. Among them are 1,4 Dioxane, 1,2 Dioxane, Amorphous Silicates, Crystalline Silica, Dracorin CE
Imidazolindinyl, All Parabens, Ceteareth, Diethanolamine, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG “xynol”, Ceteareth, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Acrylamides, PAHs, Ethylene Dioxide, Formaldehyde, Nitrosamines, Mineral Oil and Phthalates (synthetic fragrance).
“I have learned a lot about this business in a short time, especially when you have a vested interest such as health and well-being,” Ms. Kessler commented. “It took me a very long time to find a manufacturer that I felt confident would produce effective personal care products in pristine conditions and with the utmost integrity.”
Though she declined to name the company that manufactures her Pristine Beauty products, Ms. Kessler said the company has been in the business for 27 years and only produces natural and organic products.
“I have learned from the president of the company and the lead chemist that if a product is housed correctly then it isn’t necessary to add toxic preservatives. For instance, if you want to house a lotion in a jar then that will need a preservative in order to keep bacteria at bay. However, if you house a lotion in a tube or a pump then the product stays pure especially when there are so many pure ingredients are naturally anti-bacterial. I am always surprised when I go shopping and see products that have unnecessary chemicals in them when they are housed correctly and do not need them.”
Creating Non-Toxic Products
After educating herself on the ingredients she didn’t want in her products, Ms. Kessler set out to find the ingredients she did want. She went to work, researching ancient Egyptian, Sanskrit Indian, African, Native American and Grecian remedies for regenerating the hair and skin.
“I compiled my notes and went to the natural food stores and bought oils, roots and powders and began creating,” she said.
No More Scary Hairy hair and scalp treatment.
She said prior to her life-changing diagnosis, starting her own cosmetics company—Pristine Beauty—was the furthest thing from her mind. Desperate to return her skin and hair to their pre-cancer states, she realized that surely she couldn’t be the only person in search of a 100 percent natural answer to hair and skin issues that arise from “medicinal treatments.”
“I knew I would not be able to produce products for huge amounts of people, nor did I want to. I wanted professional chemists to take my recipe and refine it, test it and produce a superior result which I have done,” she said. “It has taken a while but the products have been on the market since August.”
Pristine Beauty products include Brallywood Butta Skin Cream ($48), an underarm and décolleté massage butter that can also be used for self-check exams; No More Scary Hairy ($42), a gentle hair and scalp treatment; and Take A Whiff! deodorant ($20), a natural odor-fighter with organic sage. Ms. Kessler said she’s also keen on expanding the line. “We already have developed a shampoo and conditioner that works hand in hand with the No More Scary Hairy, an organic sunless tanner, sugar scrub and hot flash instant remedy in a fun retro roller ball,” she said.
The products are currently sold on Pristine Beauty’s website and in Luxe Apothecary in Raleigh, NC. And although the fledgling company has only been on the market for a few months, Ms. Kessler said she is currently in negotiations with Whole Foods and is in the early stages of a possible partnership with Beyond Words (a Simon & Schuster company) to distribute Pristine Beauty products all over the country. “Our goal is to have our products in places like Sephora and Barneys New York,” she commented.
She added that the company will also market t-shirts, totes and other memorabilia with the company’s signature Hollywood-themed logo because “many people, especially young people like me, don’t want to scream that they are recovering from something,” she said.
And speaking of recovery, Ms. Kessler was happy to report that she recently celebrated her fourth remission anniversary and is feeling great.
“I plan on doing everything I can to stick around being my daughter’s mommy and producing effective, natural personal care products with a touch of old Hollywood glamour!”