027: Pros & Cons of Fragrances and Plant Oils In Skin Care Products w/ Kristi Blustein

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Many natural skincare products claim to be preservative- and fragrance-free, but certain preservatives are sometimes put into products without the consumer knowing. 


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My guest, Kristi Blustein, is an Ayurvedic Specialist, an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner, an Aromatherapist, an Herbalist, a Pancha Karma Specialist, and Founder and Creator of KHUS+KHUS (modern herbal fusion). KHUS+KHUS is one of my absolute favorite skincare lines.

In this episode, we take a closer look at the potential pros and cons of having fragrance and adulterated plant oils in natural skincare products. 

Are you sensitive to fragrance in your skincare products? Tell us in the comments!


In this episode

  • Why removing gluten is important if you've got skin rash issues (HINT: it's not about whether you have a sensitivity to gluten or not)
  • Greenwashing in the skin care industry.
  • Concerns that essential oils are adulterated before being added to skin care products.
  • Can consumers tell whether their “natural, green” products have unnatural preservatives in them?
  • Why add CBD oil to skin care products



“Essential oils are known in the aromatherapy world to be adulterated. It's cheaper.” [3:00]

“CBD is an anti-inflammatory, a nervine sedative, a relaxant.” [9:30]

“We're still learning. But what I understand about the plant is that it fits into cellular activity like a puzzle piece.” [9:50]



Find KHUS+KHUS online here

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"CBD is an anti-inflammatory, a nervine sedative, a relaxant."

027: Pros & Cons of Fragrances and Plant Oils In Skin Care Products w/ Kristi Blustein FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer:              Hi everyone and welcome back. Today I have a very special guest joining me. Her name is Kristi Blustein and she is an ayurvedic specialist and ayurvedic health practitioner and aroma therapist and herbalist, a Panchakarma specialist and founder and creator of Khus Khus Modern Urban Fusion, which is by the way, one of my absolute favorite skincare lines. And I had this amazing conversation with Kristi a couple of months ago about skincare in general and some of the big issues that I had with it. And I asked her as I could you come on the podcast and talk about this because I think a lot of people don't understand that a lot of what's formulated out there, even the natural products can contain preservatives that can be quite irritating. So first of all, Kristi, thank you so much for joining us.

Kristi:                     Well thank you for having me. I really appreciate the invite as well. It's been wonderful meeting you and chatting with you about skin health and dietary health and all the things that go into skincare.

Jennifer:              Yeah. And so can you talk to us a little bit? I think this is a good question and a good place to start is that there are, so there's an explosion of these natural super healthy skincare brands that claim to not have any preservatives. But this is, we were talking about this, about how some of them, how these amazing odors and you smell so great. And you had said something to me specific about the preservatives that people kind of sneak into products that the consumer doesn't necessarily know about. So can you just talk a little bit about that?

Kristi:                     I think one of the things that gets placed into some natural products are what we call green washing. And the industry is where they portray to be green. And then when you really get into the ingredients, there's a myriad of isolated compounds that mimic a certain constituents and plants, right? So some of them come from plants and that's, that's fine as long as you have the whole plants and them to kind of balance out that effect. However, I think one of the things that get stuck in a lot of synthetic fragrances or fragrance oils, which aren't really taken from, it's like a synthetic form of lavender are something that mimic, it mimics the compounds of lavender to smell like lavender, but it isn't really lavender kind of thing. You know, when it distill a plant, we're, we're, we're obviously sourcing is huge when you get to essential oils and things like that.

Kristi:                     A lot of like, I think the last statistic on lavender was 80% of it has been adulterated and that can be in the manufacturing process before the consumer actually even touches it. Yeah. the essential oils are known, in the aroma therapy world and people that buy them and work with them as well known to be adulterated. It's cheaper to do that. I mean, if you're, you're talking about sourcing, like what we use as wild French lavender where it's cultivated and an ethical fashion sustainably harvested, and then it's steam distilled at the, at the facility and then, but you're paying a premium for these types of oils. You know, you're, you're going to, you know, but with products it works like this. It's the same as a chef for food. Uyour products can only be as good as your ingredients.

Kristi:                     Right? and so in terms of natural products, you'll see certain things that are really low on the environmental working group is toxicity. Maybe they're at like a five, you know, or maybe they're at a two, you know, but there's still compounds that can be contained in certain products that can cause liver toxicity and issues of that nature.

Jennifer:              So is there a way, if somebody is looking at some of these, I'm putting it in air quotes for those that are listening just to the audio, but these like “green natural products”, is there a way, is there any way for the consumer to know if they're putting a lot of like unnatural preservatives and things in it that might, I mean a lot of times people list some ingredients. They don't list all the, I dunno, I just find it, it's sort of like The Wild West a little bit.

Kristi:                     It is a little bit of an unregulated area. However they're supposed to, you're supposed to put a denote whether or not it's organic. You're supposed to have the Latin name of the plant and then the name of the plant next to it. I mean, there's no getting around reading the labels. I mean that this is just something that if you, you want to take control of your health that you have to take the time to do. I, you know, and if, if an ingredient is so many compounds and names of chemicals out there, and I don't want to say that all chemicals are bad for you because that's not exactly the case. You know, you have like citric acid is not bad if it's in a formula, things like that. But what I'm saying is that you can, you need to kind of look and search and there are, there is certain websites that can help and assist people to find out.

Kristi:                     Like I mentioned the environmental working group, you can put in any ingredient into their website and find out whether or not what the toxicity level is on that. I choose not to use you know, our thing is about herbalism and getting herbs into people's bodies. So I choose not to use, I choose to use as less preservatives as possible. We use antioxidant protection, we use, well essential oils and carrier oils alike, have natural antioxidant properties in them. So you're able to stabilize the product that way. So you don't necessarily need all of these preservatives unless you're mixing oil and water together because of the mold issue. But if your products are not doing that then you don't really have to be too concerned with it. Obviously you want them stored properly, you want to take care of them and natural products are they're not as convenient as what we've been, you know, using. But they're better for you, you know, in that respect.

Jennifer:              Yeah. And so one of the things that drew me, actually this was the thing, this is how I found you. I was doing some reading on, I dunno, it was just doing some reading on like CBD in skincare products. And I found some article and I saw your products in there and I was like, cause you have CBD oil in one of your serums, the sen serum I believe it is correct.

Kristi:                     And we have one in our Copious Body Serum and then we have a hand nail and foot treatment.

Jennifer:              Cool. So you've got these, these items. And I was like, I need to try this. And so from my, I mean I have had a lot of experience with CBD, with clients who have skin issues, but this was the first time that I had really seen it in something that you could apply topically that was appeared to be a really nourishing formula. And so I got some, some of the products from you and I fell in love like head over heels. So can you just talk a little bit about why did you choose to add CBD oil to products in the first place?

Kristi:                     Well, okay, so I've been an advocate for the normalization for marijuana in general for years. I have, my husband has worked in the industry for many, many years. We live in Colorado, he lives in mountain side. So I'm not, I don't have a lot of taboo around the topic. I'm very, I've been in Colorado for eight years. I'm pretty, we're pretty enlightened when it comes to the use of cannabis sativa. I'm an herbalist, I'm interested in all plants. I mean, this species of marijuana, cannabis sativa is a very prolific species on like one of the most on the planet. I mean, in terms of just, Oh God, the everything. I mean, if you think about what people have been willing to do for this, for this plant, however I wanted to formulate it similar to the way I would formulate it with any other plant and stop kind of demonizing this, this beautiful plant [inaudible].

Kristi:                     I mean, we, we were up to over a thousand constituents. We were not even, we haven't even studied it enough to figure out what really is going on with this plant. I'm, a friend of mine contacted me, she on the spot, she said, Hey, can you make me a serum? And I said, sure I can. And I, she's like, have you heard of this? I looked it up. I was like, Oh, I can, I could do this. You know, I didn't want to say that. I said I could do it better, but that's actually what happened. And I know it's true and I said, cause they're not formulated correctly. And when I say correctly is only when you study herbalism, you use a method called herbal compounding and it's where do you look for like actions and you build on those actions.

Kristi:                     So basically I found out that CBD is an anti-inflammatory. I nervine sedative, a relaxant and all these things. And so I bolstered it with other nervine, sedative relaxants, analgesics, pain management, and created a formula that this is why all of our formulas are written by the way to take action on the nervous system. And I felt that, you know, given what it was used for and what we kind of know, we're still, we're still learning. We're still learning. Okay. But from what I understand about the plant is that it fits into the cellular activity, like a puzzle piece. So it creates metabolic function based on what's the, those cells I read, produced, but they're not active yet. It seems like kind of bonds that cell needs in order to create that particular action that the body mimics it and then that function is created in the body.

Kristi:                     So it helps stabilize the system. And in particularly, I liked it's anti inflammatory response in the body because I feel that that is where we're seeing a lot of dysregulation in the body. This is where we're manifesting. Skin issues our metabolic skin issues. So I thought it was great. We bolstered it with with wild French, lavender, frankincense and you know, and, and the rhododendron which takes action on the liver. So I always say clean liver, clean blood, clean skin kind of thing. So, you know, just all in all, it's just a very powerful, highly focus formula. So you're getting the benefit of not just the CVD, but you're also getting the benefit of the other plants that are in the product that are bolstering the cannabis sativa plant in the product.

Jennifer:              Just out of curiosity, you know, cause you have worked with clients, you know, my experience has been that a lot of times getting some the right type of oils can be incredibly key to nourishing the skin from the outside in cause right. We have to look at a two pronged approach of inside out and outside in when you've got a chronic skin problem. Have you found that these, even for people like say you don't have perfect skin, you've got some rashes, like real dry spots, problems. Have you found that these rashes, like for somebody who's listening to this, like would these be something to give a try as part of their regimen as opposed to going to like the stuff,

Jennifer:              The, the extreme dry skin repair at the, at CVS, you know, or they're just buying some formulated a chemical that they're slathering all over the place?

Kristi:                     Well, I would, if you are manifesting any type of metabolic skin condition you should detoxify everything. I mean it should start obviously with your skincare and, yeah, and of course, yes, I would recommend, but here's the thing that it can get concerns me sometimes is that, you know, using the natural products, but still, you know, you're still using you know synthetic commercial makeup, you know, so getting the chemicals into the bloodstream that way. And then so is it going to have the, the greatest effect? Probably not. I mean you know, will it have some effect? I think so. You know, it will. But it's going to take time when, by the time you've already manifested something through the skin, it's what we call overflow.

Kristi:                     It's overflowed from the dosha in ayurveda. So it's overflowed from its seat and it's become systemic. So by the time it manifests through the layers of the skin, you've already had this going on in your body for a long time. So you have to think of plants and oils as energy. And I know this is a little bit of an abstract esoteric,ukind of thing, but you got to work backwards from where you're at, right? So you have to take the time that it took to get you metabolically out of balance. You have to kind of work inwards this way. And so yeah, it, you know, I would say that it would take some time to kind of clean out the system and allow us cells to have that cellular communication that you need. But I think that over time you will see improvement as long as you continue to detoxify your environment.

Kristi:                     And that goes with, you know, for all synthetic, the synthetic candles and the Febreeze and the laundry detergent and the cleaning supplies and all of it has to kind of go, and I know it's hard for people. I think it's a huge transition. I went through it myself. It wasn't like I was, I was born, like I didn't, I wasn't born into a family that was like, you know, my parents still use chemicals. You know, even it, even though I talked to them about it and a million times, I mean, but you, it's a transition. But once you start to see the rewards of that transition, I don't think you'd go back to saying, hey, I want to put this on. And you start to really realize how bad these things are for people and for you. You know, over time.

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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