Cleaner. Stronger. Fresher. These are some of the first words you will find when you visit the Healthy Skin for a Happy Life website and they are words that form the basis of the brand's mission. Having already gained the attention of publications such as the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Edible Allegheny, and Whirl Magazine, I was humbled when Kate, the company's Media and Client Services Manager, wanted to speak to me about this growing local company and the innovative bath and beauty products that they offer. I will be the first to admit that I have been confused by products that claim to be "all-natural" and environmentally responsible. However, when I sat down with Kate and Aaron, the company's founder, I realized that there is a lot more to "all-natural" than removing sulfates or parabens from the products that we use. When I heard them talk about using apple cider vinegar, squeezing fresh lemons by hand, and using locally sourced coffee beans (from my favorite coffee place)....I finally got it -this is what all-natural really means.
You can't help but love the back-story of HSHL. Aaron, an Allegheny College graduate, actually received his degree in Physics. Realizing that he and his roommates were not getting the results they wanted from their store-bought shampoos, Aaron used his background to begin experimenting with natural ingredients and monitored the results. In 2013, the at-home experiments turned into a business, and the team hasn't looked back since. Based in Wexford, HSHL now offers a variety of products including shampoo, conditioner, body cleanser, moisturizers, body scrubs, and eye serum. (Whirl Magazine actually named HSHL's Renovo 24 Coffee Based Anti-Aging Eye Serum as one of their fundamentals for staying fit and fabulous!).
Besides everything being hand-made and all-natural, there were a few things that I took away from my meeting with Kate and Aaron. For one, they are totally committed to their clients. You can see it on their faces when they talk about their customers - this is the reason they go to work everyday and strive to make better, cleaner products. They even include a hand-written note in every order and follow-up with clients to make sure the product is fulfilling it's promises. Secondly, their commitment to environmental responsibility doesn't end with the products themselves. Everything they do is a conscious effort to produce products in a sustainable and responsible manner. From the packaging to the shipping materials - everything is meant to be biodegradable or recyclable. I don't think you can find many companies that can say the same. And finally, I immediately saw that HSHL is a real labor of love. This team does absolutely every part of the process - from new product idea generation, to testing products, to packaging (and yes - creating the packaging), to photography and promotion. There really isn't one step of the process that isn't handled by this team. Their goal is to be totally transparent and to work with customers to find and develop products that will work the best for their customer's specific needs.
I am so grateful that I was able to meet Kate and Aaron and learn about this amazing company. These are my kind of people - they saw a need and they created a solution - and they did it with their customers, innovation, and the environment as top priorities. The team is currently amping up to release a new shampoo and I can't wait to see what they have come up with! Read on to learn more about the HSHL story and I encourage you to visit their website to learn more!
I chose to dream; I dreamed of a long lost business ideal that treats clients first and profits second. I searched to find an open-minded company with long-term interests, environmental concerns, and the ability to cope with new technology and the growing socially responsible generation. ~ Aaron, Founder & President
1. Tell us a little bit about the history of HSHL – how did the company get started?
It all started with Aaron Conner. His roommates at Allegheny College sparked his interest in natural hair care. He had a pretty diverse group of friends and roommates, all of whom had their own natural, simple and effective hair care and skin care techniques. When Aaron realized how toxic (and ineffective) the things in his shower were, he decided to try some of his roommates’ natural hair care techniques, like using apple cider vinegar and coconut oil instead of shampoo and conditioner. Then he started combining their secrets to create his own recipes. With his degree in physics, Aaron was already well-versed with lab protocol, chemistry and scientific research. So after researching and testing different natural ingredients, he formulated a shampoo that was all-benefits with no downsides!
2. What products do you currently offer?
Our hair care system is where it all started. The All-Natural Basil Honey Lemongrass Shampoo is our top seller. It cleans hair without stripping and is pH balanced for hair health. It pairs well with the All-Natural Emerald Garden Essence Leave-in Conditioner, which is super moisturizing and heat-protecting.
Our skin care system is really diverse. We offer a full body cleanser, the All-Natural Floral Fusion Body Wash/Skin Cleanser. We recently added two scented moisturizers; Oleic Oil for dry skin and Linoleic Oil for sensitive, acne-prone and oily skin. Both come in four different scents, so you can customize the moisturizer to exactly what you want! We also offer a Sugar Scrub and a Dead Sea Salt Scrub, which are great exfoliating treats for the skin. And finally, All-Natural Renovo 24 Coffee Based Anti-Aging Eye Serum is our luxury product. The all-day release of caffeine from hand-ground Nicaraguan organic coffee keeps dark circles and puffiness at bay. Anti-aging silk protein and moisturizing rosehip oil help prevent wrinkles and keep eyes looking youthful. Plus it smells like Starbucks - what's not to love?
3. What differentiates HSHL from other products claiming to be “all-natural?”
There are three different ways that companies use the word “natural.” The first is: “we have one or two plant-based ingredients, but the rest are synthetic chemicals.” This is where you get a lot of green-washing. Companies like Neutrogena and St. Ives know that people are looking for natural ingredients, so they market their products as containing natural ingredients.The second is: we’ve taken out all of the harsh, carcinogenic and toxic chemicals, but haven’t really replaced them with anything better. Just because something isn’t bad for you doesn’t mean it’s good for you - or at least, not as good as it could be! Removing sulfates and parabens is a step in the right direction, but it’s not good enough for us! The third is where we come in: we’ve removed all of the toxic ingredients AND instead we’re using natural, food-grade ingredients that your skin and hair crave! You won’t find honey, apple cider vinegar or essential oils in other products. That’s because we go the extra mile to use the highest quality, most nutrient rich ingredients to provide your skin and hair with a well-rounded supply of vitamins, minerals and proteins.
4. What has been the biggest triumph over the past year?
Our client list! We absolutely love the clients we’ve gathered over the past year. We have clients from all over the world who have tried our products and keep coming back for more. They have been so supportive and encouraging.
5. What are the goals for HSHL over the next year?
We have so many things in the works! By the end of the year, we plan to have a new website, new full-size sticker labels for our products, and a new Shampoo. We’re very excited about the shampoo, which our current clients are testing and giving us feedback on as we speak.
6. What are the common misconceptions out there regarding “all-natural” products?
One misconception is that every “natural” product is created equal. You have to look carefully at the ingredient list to make sure ALL of the ingredients are all-natural, not just a few. There’s also a misconception that all-natural products aren’t as effective as traditional. Simply not true! The plant-based cleansers we use deliver clean skin and hair without stripping, damaging or dulling hair. People think truly natural products (without all the lather boosters and foaming agents) don’t clean because there’s no bubbles - again, that’s simply not true! Everyone likes to see bubbles, but that’s all it is - a visual element. Our products are incredibly low lather/no lather but people think they have to use more or it won’t work because it’s not visibly doing anything. It’s what 100 years of using chemically dosed commercial cleansers does to the average consumer’s expectation.
7. Where can customers find and buy your products?
All of our products are available online at www.healthyskinhappylife.com
Meet The Team!
Kate - Media and Client Services / Aaron - Founder and President / Zack - Photographer / Jevon - Promotions Manager