The Dark Side Of The Clean Skin Care Industry w/ Rachel Pachivas

The skincare industry is a complicated one. Very often, even when you are buying products that say they're for sensitive skin or dry skin or eczema, etc., the products you use are not actually serving you.

In fact, they could actually be worsening your skin conditions. Especially if the company is “greenwashing” their branding and message to make it look more natural than it really is!


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Today I'll be talking to Rachel Pachivas, COO of Annmarie Skincare. She keeps the company growing with grace. Since 2012, she has expanded the business while keeping the culture aligned with their values. Her main roles are behind the scenes operations—product research and development, branding and style, budgeting, and HR—all while leading and growing the team, and working to increase education on organics, chemicals, and the skin care industry.

Annmarie Skin Care provides organic and wild-crafted skincare to people around the world, with the goal to move harmful chemicals off of the shelves and out of the industry. 

In this episode, we discuss why your skin products could be causing more triggers, inflammation, and flares. 

Do you use natural skincare as part of your protocol? Let us know in the comments!


In this episode

  • Why mainstream skin products aren't necessarily safe for your skin
  • Why water is the main ingredient in many mainstream skincare products
  • Some harmful chemicals to look out for on skincare product ingredient lists
  • How Annmarie Skincare products differ from mainstream big brands
  • Oils that are good for the skin
  • What is greenwashing?



“I think there is a lot of greenwashing going on and there is a lot of terminology that we think is going to be safe and is going to allow us to use certain products that we see in the drugstore, but no, they're not. The majority of products that we see in drugstores are conventionally made and mass-produced.” [3:32]

“Fragrance has phthalates in them, and phthalates are hormone disruptors. Phthalates also cause a whole variety of issues, like diabetes and weight gain and obesity and endocrine disruption.” [7:33]

“In our products, you definitely will see aloes, oils (carrier oils and seed oils and herb-infused oils) as the bulk of the formula. So you're getting a bottle full of nature, and herbs, and extracts, and things that are constantly nourishing your skin.” [10:09]



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“I think there is a lot of greenwashing going on and there is a lot of terminology that we think is going to be safe and is going to allow us to use certain products that we see in the drugstore, but no, they're not. The majority of products that we see in drugstores are conventionally made and mass-produced.”

017: The Dark Side Of The Clean Skin Care Industry w/ Rachel Pachivas FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer:              Hi everyone and welcome back to The Healthy Skin Show . Today we're going to talk about some really important details about why what you put on your skin might actually be causing more triggers and more inflammation and more flares because of what's in them, despite how they're packaged or described by the company. And so I know a lot of you guys are going to the drug store or the pharmacy or you're just grabbing something at your local grocery store and you're looking for sensitive skin products or things that are specific to say like super dry skin or eczema, you know, for eczema, whatever. Not realizing that there are things in these products that don't actually serve you and you really should know about them as you're moving on this journey and cleaning out your body care products and understanding how those can actually have a negative impact on the microbiome of the skin, the inflammatory levels in the skin that make it continually itchy or flared.

Jennifer:              So I just want to help you understand that this skincare industry is complicated and I've brought for you today a wonderful guest. I invited her on the show and I'm so glad to have her with me. Her name is Rachel. Oh wait, tell me your, how do you say your last name?

Rachel:                 Pachivas.

Jennifer:              Rachel Pachivas and she is Annmarie Skin Care's COO. She keeps the behind the scenes of the company growing with grace. I love that growing with grace and aside from her many behind the scenes roles in the areas of product research and development, branding and styling, budgeting, HR, etc. She, she's doing a lot of heavy lifting guys. She also works to increase education on organics, chemicals and the skincare industry. So that's what's really important to us today is that she understands what's going in these products and what we need to be aware of.

Jennifer:              And for those of you who don't know, you're not familiar. Annmarie Skincare is one of my favorite skincare companies. I have used their products for almost a year now religiously. It's changed my skin for the better and I love them. So I'm happy to share them with you and thank goodness Rachel's here. But if you're not familiar with them, Annmarie skincare, crafts, organic and wild crafted skincare for people around the world. Yes, you can order them the products, no matter where you live with the goal to move chemicals off the shelf and out of the industry. Rachel, thanks so much for joining us.

Rachel:                 Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Jennifer:              So you kinda heard my little, my little spiel there about all these products on the shelf and you know it's funny, I get questions from readers and listeners as well as clients saying like, hey, have you tried this skin cream? Or this, I bought this at the pharmacy or I saw this on a Facebook group, but it's something that they bought at the drug store that's made by essentially a pharmaceutical industry or a pharmaceutical company. And there's a lot of stuff in those lotions and I know we need to moisturize our skin and we put all these other products on our skin, but are they, even if it's a sensitive, is it really, is it really, really safe for your skin?

Rachel:                 Yeah, I think there is, there is a lot of greenwashing going on and there is a lot of terminology that we think is going to be safe and that's going to allow us to use certain products that we see in the drug store. But now they're not. And the majority of products that we see in drug stores are conventionally made. They're mass produced. They're, they're made to, you know, help a bottom line and to create profit. And a lot of these products are less expensive. Sometimes they are expensive, but you flip the ingredients and you see water is the primary ingredient. You know, regarding sensitive skin, a lot of people or a lot of companies that are formulating for sensitive skin or they say it is a, that means water that they just use water. That's a lot of the first ingredient. And then there's waxes and then there's things to preserve it. And then there might be glycerin and there might be some chemicals. But it's a lot of water based. Like I will hear from customers and they're used to using certain products and there are very simple products that don't have any nutrients.

Jennifer:              Well one of the interesting things that I've talked about on both my, and some of my articles I've talked about it in webinars and whatnot, is that water. So let's just take water alone. Water is pretty alkaline for what the skin should be around 4.5 to 5.0 is a pH. So right there you're putting something if the, if the main ingredient is something that is more alkaline than what your skin should actually be. I mean I know when I, my hands were completely destroyed from eczema, water burned so badly. It was hard to touch water. So you know, you can understand why that's actually kind of shocking that the number one ingredient that they're using is water. Something that can make it worse.

Rachel:                 It's interesting cause well, you know, we're looking on certain databases to see like what products might be categorized as safe and unsafe. And I won't list the database, but they're laying out certain numbers of product and then you look into the products and it's laid out as a, a low number because the majority of the product is water cause it's cheap. It's cheap to produce, but then the other ingredients in it are pretty toxic. You might get propylene parabens, you might get some sort of alcohol to preserve it, which is definitely, you know, not great for skin, especially if it's sensitive skin. You may get you know, sensitive, you won't see too much fragrance, but instead of essential oils, you'll typically see fragrance. There's a lot of ingredients in there that cover it up and make it something very simple.

Jennifer:              Is it wrong for me to think or have the attitude that I, I kinda, I know it's cheap. So there's that, but also that it dries your skin out again, so then you apply more. So it encourages use as opposed to actually nourishing the skin. Am I, am I right in that thought?

Rachel:                 Yeah. I mean, there's simple products and they are preserved with nasty ingredients. But over time, yeah, it's deteriorating your skin.

Jennifer:              Okay. So what are some chemicals or some names? And by the way, everybody who's listening, you know, not all chemical names mean that it's something bad. Acetic acid is vinegar. So it's not necessarily a bad thing, but there are legit chemicals in skin care products that shouldn't be there because they do get absorbed through the skin and they cannot also be hormone disruptors and other things. So Rachel, what would be some, some big red flags that people might read on a label that they should be like, oh, I should probably put this back?

Rachel:                 Yeah, I mean there's a lot. The, I think the most prominent one for me in the simplest one too that you can relate to because it's so rampant and everything is if you take your bottle and you flip it over, you might see fragrance. That's like a big red flag just because you can easily use essential oils and fragrance has phthalates in them and phthalates are hormone disruptors and phthalates also cause a whole variety of issues from diabetes and weight gain and obesity. And you know, endocrine disruption and there is a study they were finding a total of $47 billion in, I think it was in October, 2017 this study came out and I'm going to read it here and oh no, it was annual health costs of $340 billion dollars . And this was the anti diabetes study.

Jennifer:              Oh my gosh.

Rachel:                 Yeah. And they're saying our daily exposure to these hazardous, you know, toxic chemicals will cause endocrine disruption. They're in our detergents, they're in pesticides, they're in toys, they're in plastics and they're also in skincare.

Rachel:                 So it's pretty, pretty gnarly.

Jennifer:              My goodness. Well, so you guys actually go the distance and that's the one reason that like, I never had a skincare regimen before trying your lovely line. I literally would wash my face with water so that I literally was doing everything wrong. But what I noticed is that your, your product, when I flipped them over, I understood the ingredients. I knew. So why, if somebody, you know, you're encouraging people to flip over the bottles that they have. And for many of us, by the way, you have skincare issues or skin rash issues. Many of us have boxes of stuff we've tried that as burned or made things worse, but they're flipping over these ingredient labels. And we're saying look at those. What would be the difference then that they would see between something from a major company, like a major brand that sits in CVS or something compared to what you guys are doing, which is totally, which is totally different and awesome.

Rachel:                 Sure.

Rachel:                 I mean you may see in CDS or in certain stores, and this is an interesting point because I want to say, you know, you'll see herbs in our products, but you may go to CVS and I think it's starting to trend right now where people are starting to talk about herbs and they're going to say made with camomile. And so there may be camomile in it, but you look at all the other ingredients and you look at where camomile falls on that list and they have to list in descending order based on the quantity levels in the formula.

Jennifer:              Okay.

Rachel:                 So you might see camomile all the way down to the bottom showing you that it's very minimum in that formula. Ubut that's all you see. And they do that to get you to think that it's a soothing camomile formula and that's greenwashing. Uand our products, you definitely will see Aloes or oils, carrier oils and seed oils, and then herb infused oils as the bulk of the formula. So you're getting just a bottle full of nature and herbs and extracts and things that are constantly nourishing your skin.

Jennifer:              And I love that because as I done a lot of research, cause I was, I, I didn't like come into this world and expert on the skin microbiome or anything. I've done tons of reading and I continue to do tons of reading. And for anybody who's not aware that your skin needs oil, it actually thrives off of lipids or fats. So putting things on your skin that don't have some sort of lipid basis, there's nothing for the microbiome on the skin to actually consume, to help it thrive. So it's important to have healthy oils. So what would be some healthy oils that you guys have found that seem to be really good for the skin?

Rachel:                 Yeah. so we use Jojoba oil, that's one of our popular oils. We also use sunflower oil, grape seed oil. Those are just basis for products. And we use those because they're larger carrier oils where we can take herbs. So all of our formulas are herb infused. So instead of just a grape seed oil or Jojoba or sunflower, we're steeping them in a large vat for up to about 30 days. So you're getting this really full concoction. And then from there we're adding in seed oils. So we might put goji berries, seed oil, we might put broccoli seed oil, chia seed oil passion, fruit seed oil, so, so many different fruits and vegetables, seed oils into the formula. And then also CO2 extracts. So, so it's definitely the whole combination. I think oils are incredible. You know, some of my favorite, I love seabuckthorn. I love marula. Jojoba is great, castor's great for spot treatment. Yeah, there's, there's a ton of oils that can be used.

Jennifer:              I want to go back kind of circle back here, you mentioned the term greenwashing, which before we even started talking I was like, I don't know what that is. What do you mean? And then we were, you were explaining to me and I realized that I had this experience this past summer I was at a hotel in San Diego and they had these really cool, funky natural looking skincare products and I was like, Oh, this is great. I've never like been to a hotel where I really could actually use what, you know, the little, the little sizes of the, the little travel size bottles that they give you. So I don't know why I flip it over and all of a sudden I'm presented with like all of these different chemicals and colors and fragrance and I'm like, wait, this, the front, though, , the way this does this looks, does not match the back. And so that is that, that's also, can you talk a little bit about this concept of greenwashing? Because I think like I got almost fooled by that. I would have used it had I not taken that extra second to look at the back. You know, that's a, that seems like a pretty big problem.

Rachel:                 Oh definitely. I was just at an event last weekend and I won't name the event but, but there were tons of brands there and it was a really cool event, a lot of cool products. And I would go up to these counters and I feel bad for the people that I talk to cause I don't mean to interrogate, but I want to challenge them and like ask them what they're using because I love, I love skincare. I don't love just our skin care. I love good skin care and I love good quality herbs. And I asked this woman, you know what gives it its slip? It's very silky and smooth. And she gave me the ingredient list and there's dimethicone, which is a petroleum based silicone. And I'm just like, well why do you use this if you're using so many herbs? And she's like, well what is it?

Rachel:                 And I started chatting with her about it and she's like my formulator just told me to use it. And this was like a CBD company, like they were legit, they had incredible ingredients. But then when you get towards the bottom, they just throw in some of the stuff to make it easier to produce. And I gave her my email, I was like, I'll give you some contacts for different manufacturers to use different ingredients so you can tell your formulator to start switching it out. But that's, you know, and she didn't even know that that was happening. But a lot of brands, like I mentioned with the camomile, they might have like their catchphrase, you know, made with soothing camomile. Or they might say, made with all natural ingredients or made with organic ingredients. Maybe you get like two or three products or two or three ingredients that are organic. But, but that's greenwashing. Yeah,

Jennifer:              Is there no like industry regulation ?

Rachel:                 No.

Jennifer:              No.

Rachel:                 You can't say it's 100% organic. You can't call your brand organic. So, you know, we can't say a Annmarie Skincare organics because we're not certified organic, but our products actually are more organic than a lot of things out there on the market because of our ingredients. But you know, there may be some brands, and this is going into a whole other conversation, but there may be some brands that are organic, but some of their ingredients aren't like the highest quality that you possibly could get. So yeah, it's a tricky, weird world in the world of legislation.

Jennifer:              And so how can somebody like myself or a listener, is there a way that we could vet products or get to understand more of these like really serious ingredients that we should avoid?

Rachel:                 Yeah, I mean, I would avoid anything that just isn't natural. I think it's, it's hard to take that step, but I mean, we spend so much time researching a pair of jeans that we're going to buy or a pair of shoes that we're going to buy, or maybe we'll research the vacation spot that we go to, but we spend hardly any time researching where our skincare comes from or where our food comes from. And I think if it's just taking those extra steps to really do the diligence and to look into the ingredients, maybe go on the website. If they don't list their ingredients in full, email them and say, hey, you don't have your ingredients listed. Can you send them to me and have them send them to you? And then you look at them and you see kind of which would, what ingredients they are and where they're coming from. And if you don't understand it, do more research on it. And hopefully you can find a brand that lists everything and stands behind what they're doing, where you feel comfortable supporting it and purchasing it.

Jennifer:              So one last point, I and I, I have no idea how you're going to take this, but that's okay. So when I, when I had my hands were all wrapped with eczema, like I went to the dermatologist, they were super inflamed, red, itchy, oozey. It was awful. It's all I can think about it. Your hands, you know the dermatologist tells me, okay, you're going to put this like steroid cream on and then I want you to cover it with Vaseline. See your face,

Rachel:                 Petroleum on your body.

Jennifer:              I know. And I've also heard that other people have been told to use Crisco and then wrap the area that's infected with saran wrap to hold it in.

Rachel:                 I can't even,

Jennifer:              And you guys, we're not, we're not even laughing cause it's not, it's really not funny. It's horrifying.

Rachel:                 It's, sad that dermatologists are saying that too. That's the sad part about it. It's so sad to think how far we've come nature and how far we've come from like ancient remedies and our soil and our earth. And it brings up a whole other, you know, conversation on our soil depletion and glyphosate and the chemicals sprayed all over our soil in this country and the world. But our doctors are now recommending these drugs because it benefits and it's a, it's a weird, vicious little circle and cycle.

Jennifer:              Yeah, it is. And people get stuck into it. And I think that's the one, this is the one, one of the main reasons that I started The Healthy Skin Show because I really want to empower people to make better choices no matter where they are in their journey. And that's why I was so glad that you were willing to sit down and have this conversation. So I know you guys are, we're like super giving when we went to you and said like, hey, can we do something special for our listeners. To what if, tell us a little bit about this gift you've got for everybody that's listening.

Rachel:                 So we're giving you 20% off on any of our full size products and it's a, there's a code for you to use. It's natural skin 20, 20, the numbers 20. And yeah, you can go on our shop page annmariegianni.com and check out all of our products. You can spend, you know, $40 you can spend $500 and you can get 20% off for any of the full size products.

Jennifer:              Awesome. And don't worry, for those of you who are not in front of your computer or you're driving or whatever, I'm going to put all the links in the show notes so you can just head over to this episode and I'll have everything for you guys there. Thank you Rachel so much for joining us. I really appreciate you sharing your wisdom in this area because it, it feels a little bit like the dark ages. Like it's a little murky and you guys are trying your best to like pull us through too to modern day.

Rachel:                 Yeah. And I want to say, and not to make it too long, but I, you know, for anybody who's listening, who, who's scared to like take that jump or doesn't know what to do or here's from their, from their mom or their best friend or their husband or whoever it is, that this is what you should be doing. I would just say, listen to your gut, like go inward and think about how you can shift what you're using. And I mean, maybe you're using incredible things, but I would say question what is given to you on the market? Because what is out there most likely is not very safe. And I would say kind of go back to roots of questioning what your, take it slow question, what you're being given, question the things that you're putting on your body and in your body. And really take those extra steps to get in touch with yourself and what's best for yourself.

Jennifer:              Hmm. Those are wise words. Thank you very much. All right, everybody. I hope you've enjoyed this episode and we'll see at the next one.

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.

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