These Two Scientists Are Exposing Hidden Dangers In Beauty Products

These Two Scientists Are Exposing

Hidden Dangers In Beauty Products

C2 California Clean founders, Dr. Clarissa Shetler and  Dr. Christine Falsetti are two scientists with a desire to create a skincare product line that was truly safe.

The two, who are based in Northern California, sat with SWAAY to discuss their journey to the beauty industry and joint desire to launch products that were free from known carcinogens and were sustainably derived. According to the founders, ingredients like PEG, dioxins and EDTA, which are commonly included in many products can affect a person’s hormones, metabolism, endocrine system, and may even lead to cancer.

“When we started looking we started to realize that all of the products have a bunch of junk in it; they had these [outdated] formulations,” says Shetler, a licensed pharmacist. “No one’s really taken the time to go through and really evaluate the effectiveness on our bodies and how it affects them. We wanted something you could feel good about putting on and not worry about the toxic or carcinogenic effects.”

C2 California Clean, which has been awarded  EWG certification (a nonprofit dedicated to protecting human health and the environment), utilizes only clean ingredients  like apple and citrus stem cells, for anti-aging properties. The line, which is priced between $39 for a hydrating primer and $97 for the brand’s hero Apple Stem Cell Rejuvenation serum, is comprised only of ingredients that have been each evaluated scientifically as well as with various wellness experts to ensure there are no negative effects on the body.

“Both of us wanted to do something with our chemistry and biochemistry backgrounds but we didn’t have the high tech, so we ended up more in Silicon Valley,” says Falsetti, who is former NASA scientist. “One of the biggest problems is when [beauty companies] combine ingredients, even good ingredients, they don’t even think about the complex and how it will react.”

After Falsetti’s son Ben passed away from cancer at 7 years old, she became even more passionate about creating a product line that wouldn’t affect human health adversely.

The two met with laboratories both in Italy and the US before launching its first four products, a skincare primer, the apple stem cell primer, a replenishing oil, and a moisturizer. Each includes ingredients like fruit stem cells and squalane oil from olives.

“One of the things we talked about was that plants were probably the most resilient living things on the planet because they’re stationary,” says Shetler. “They withstand wind, sun, ran, sleet, and they have a much more complex defense system than humans because we’re mobile. So we started extracting ingredients form the plants using those complex compounds into the line.”

Both Shelter and Falsetti plan to continue using scientific research and education to drive consumer choice and civic action. They plan to launch additional products in 2017 that are anti-pollution, and support a clean lifestyle.


What separates your brand from other brands in today’s crowded market?

There are oodles of products in the skincare world and we have learned that many women get overwhelmed by all the choices. C2 is a brand that wants to simplify your life by giving you a skincare regimen that is easy-to-follow and offers you the best ingredients to feed your skin. We wanted a line that was safe to use on the whole family.

There were three main ideas that we thought of when we started to create C2: 

1) Clean: a product line that wouldn’t compromise your health.

2) Effective: a skincare system that actually works and shows results.

3) Simple: a regimen with simple steps.


What are some of the hidden dangers in skincare brands today?

Many of the culprits of skin care today are the Ingredients (active and inactive). All products must list their ingredients and they are long and complicated words —  no one really understands them. Many of those ingredients have long term effects on our body and system.  Here are some ingredients to look for on the back of the bottles.

Ingredient examples:

1. Benzoyl Peroxide: This ingredient is common in many acne products. However, Benzoyl Peroxide has been linked with causing DNA damage in cells and a possible tumor promoter. Alternative: Use tea tree oil for acne.

2. Fragrances: Many of the fragrances in personal care products are hormone disrupters which can increase the risk of cancers and also cause reproductive problems (such as early puberty). Alternative: Use products that scent with natural oils.

3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)/Sodium Laureth: SLS is used in soaps and foaming cleansers. Studies have show that SLS can cause skin damage, eye damage and liver toxicity. Alternative: Use non-sudsing liquid soaps.

4. Synthetic Sunscreens (Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Benzophenone, Ethoxycinnamate, PABA): Synthetic sunscreens may cause damage to DNA in cells and lead to endocrine disruption or even cancer. Alternative: Use Zinc Oxide Sunscreen


Please speak a little about the genesis of your brand.

We both have personal stories that helped drive our passion to find a good skincare solution. Christine’s son was sadly touched by cancer and passed away at an early age. Clarissa has a childhood skin condition called ichthyosis (fish scale skin) in which dermatologists only had a recommendation of Crisco lard. One day during a hike, we started talking about our skincare choices and what was out there. Due to our own personal experiences, we had already peeked inside other brands and saw the dark side of the ingredients in many products. On that hiking day, we decided that we could do something better — something clean.


What are some of the challenges of launching a “clean” line?

Testing and evaluation. We want to find healthy and effective ingredients that help address real issues.


What are your primary marketing activities? How do you find and attract new consumers?

Right now, we are trying to develop brand trust in the marketplace. We are working with influencers, bloggers and other wellness brands who share our vision to help spread the word. We are also verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which endorses and shows the safety profile of our products. In 2017, we plan to launch an ambassador program.


Can you speak about how technology can help skincare brands be safer for consumers?

The internet is the avenue of information. Technological advances are helping consumers make “on demand” decisions in the market place. We are from Silicon Valley and are watching how devices are giving consumers the power and knowledge to make more informed purchases. For example, EWG’s SkinDeep app allows the consumer to check out products while they are shopping at the store.


Can you describe your target customer?

Our target market is women and men, 18 to 80. However, our products are safe from babies to grandmas.


Tell us something that would surprise us about skincare.

Many skincare and personal care formulations haven’t changed since the 1950s.


What is your favorite product in the line and why?

Clarissa’s fav: Ageless Squalane + Vit E oil – I need the intense moisture and hydration due to severe dry skin.

Christine’s fav: Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Primer. I like the primer because it feels fresh and clean — it has a nourishing quality.


What is your expansion plan? What can we next expect from you?

We have a unique roadmap of products, philanthropic involvement, thought leadership & education, ambassador program and cool promotions with other wellness brands.

The Quick 10

1. What app do you most use?

(Christine) Number 1 is Text Messaging – it is a fast, easy and fun way to stay in touch with everyone and Number 2 is IMDB– It is the best source for movie, tv and celebrity info.  I often check it when we are watching a show to confirm who an actor is or to find out who someone is and why they are familiar.

2. Briefly describe your morning routine. 

(Clarissa) Wake up early: 5am. Check email. Gym (cycle fusion, pilates, core strength, body pump). Shower. Pamper my skin. Head into the world.

3. Name a business mogul you admire.

(Clarissa) Charles F. Feeney. An entrepreneur, husband and father — who truly has a giving heart. He worked hard his whole life and then in his golden years he gives away the last billions of his fortune to charity. He is considered the James Bond of philanthropy.

4. What product do you wish you had invented?

(CF) Kleenex. I remember thinking that when my son, Ben, died we should invest in Kleenex stock.  We had Kleenex everywhere and went through a box a day at least.

5. What is your spirit animal?

(CS) Horse. It’s also my Chinese zodiac sign. I have always felt that horses represented energy, strength and elegance. They have a drive for freedom and an underlying wildness, yet they are sensitive to others while remaining calm and steadfast to their own path. Strong motivation and inner drive carries them throughout life.

6. What is your life motto?

(Christine) Live. Love. Learn. Laugh. – Embrace life passionately and openly.  Always be learning.  Choose forgiveness and treasure every smile.

7. Name your favorite work day snack.

(Clarissa) Anything crunchy. Nuts are probably my fave — and you are what you eat. 

8. Every entrepreneur must be what to be successful?

(Christine) “Courageous and resilient.”

9. What’s the most inspiring place you’ve traveled to?

(Clarissa) Everywhere. I can’t pick just one because everywhere I have traveled to has opened my eyes to new things. I am inspired by planet Earth.

10. Desert Island. Three things, go.

(Christine) One thing is all I need: “The Tardis”. Ok, as a #sciencechick, this is definitely the answer:  A Time Machine that is bigger on the inside than outside and even has its own indoor swimming pool – perfect!  With the Tardis I could visit my friends and family wherever and whenever I want plus get whatever I need.

Belisa Silva

Belisa is an editor with more than 10 years of experience. Prior to SWAAY, she worked as freelance writer, covering lifestyle, fashion and beauty industries. Belisa was a Market Editor at Women's Wear Daily for five years, where she interviewed rockstar business women like Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Lopez and Iman. Belisa also contributes to Cosmetic Executive Women, where she highlights female executives making an impact in the beauty industry.

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