I’ll never be able to wrap my head around brands that donate to cancer foundations, yet use potentially toxic ingredients in their formulations.  It’s mind-boggling, especially when I do the research and discover that some of those ingredients are linked to cancer [see footnote]. Yet, that’s one reason why I value a company like Violets are Blue, founded by former Broadway actress Cynthia Besteman.

Compassionate mission

The line was born of the founder’s need for skincare that is natural and safe for the body and the environment, after her journey healing breast cancer. She used her knowledge and passion for naturally-derived ingredients to formulate a collection of products that is handcrafted in small batches.
As part of her mission to share consciously created skincare, Cynthia wanted to help bring support and comfort to other women dealing with a cancer diagnosis, thus the creation of the BeLoved line, a treatment-safe unscented skincare line approved by doctors at NYC’s Mount Sinai Dubin Breast CenterViolets Are Blue donates a BeLoved gift package to women at Mount Sinai on their first day of chemotherapy. Ten percent of the Signature Line sales also support this endeavor.

Global following

Violets Are Blue has gained a following across the globe including Pilates/yoga studios in NYC, a green beauty spa/boutique in Hong Kong, and key influencers such as Sophie Uliano, holistic nutritionist and green beauty advocate, who recently selected Violets Are Blue to be featured on the Hallmark Channel. Out of a huge selection of brands, the Body Scrub won “Best in Show” for best body exfoliator at last year’s Indie Beauty Expo.

Affordable luxury

The streamlined product range uses ultra nourishing, gentle ingredients like calendula and carrot seed oil, which are created for individuals with sensitive or maturing skin, to deliver peace and calming to the mind, body, skin, and spirit. What gives the products added appeal is that the entire range is packaged in elegant bottles that rival department store brands— yet is still totally affordable. The products range between $9 to $52, not including sets, and they are lasting me months of daily use.

I was fortunate to try the well-priced line. (The lavender laced face & body lotion, photographed below, has become a nightstand staple, and the gym bag ready roll-on deodorant works!) After being impressed with the products that I tried, I knew that I had to discover more about the lovely Cynthia Besteman, whom I’ve interacted with on Facebook, but have not yet had the pleasure of meeting in person. From our exchanges, she seems to be as genuinely caring in real life as she appears to be online, which only means that her products are infused with the same love and care—two essential components in a brand with a healing mission.

Here’s what she had to say to The Hub. (Products that I use and enjoy have asterisks next to them.)

Q
Do you have a favorite ritual using your products?
A
I think my favorite ritual is with my facial scrub ($36). I use it in the shower 2-3x’s a week and after a gentle scrub, I let the product sit for a bit on my face, letting the steam of the shower help the product work it’s magic. I LOVE the smell and it’s a little moment of zen I get to have a few times a week. I also love putting the foot salve ($15-$22) on before bed and wearing socks while I sleep. It’s a very calming thing to do and in the morning my feet feel fantastic!
Q
Can anyone use your products? Are they gentle enough for sensitive skin types?
A
I knew that if I created products that were used on skin that is going through the very harsh treatment of chemotherapy or radiation, that those products would work just as well on skin that hasn’t suffered through the effects of cancer treatment but may be sensitive, aging or tired (which is how my skin felt!).
I really focused on using oils that are not only rich, but also really soft and gentle on the skin. I love oils that easily absorb and don’t leave the skin feeling sticky or clogged.
Our essential oils are also chosen for sensitive/aging skin with most of our products containing essential lavender which is the best for sensitive skin, I have found. I love the combination of Evening Primrose and Rosehip oils and richer oils like avocado and castor oil for sensitive, compromised skin as well. Many of our products contain these.
Q
When formulating Violets Are Blue, what ingredients were absolute MUSTS that you knew you wanted included in them? Which products contain those ingredients?
A
Carrot Seed Oil is my all-time favorite oil. I love the smell, the lightness, the way it absorbs so quickly while also keeping the skin so incredibly soft. We have it in our Carrot Seed Serum* ($39), and I would bathe in that if I could! We also have it in our face cleanser, and I think that is the key as to why your skin feels so soft upon rinsing it off.

I also love Calendula, which is nature’s collagen. Our Calendula/Oatmeal soap ($9) is so nourishing, It’s the only bar soap I will use.

Thirdly, I love castor oil, which is in our lip balm ($12) and body lotion* ($39-$52). It is such a rich, deep penetrating oil, and I really feel that made the difference in both of those products.

Lastly, after researching all the essential oils, I felt lavender would be the best essential oil to represent the brand as a whole. We use it in almost every product, but such a light amount. Really just enough to cover the base oils and butters which can sometimes be a little earthy smelling. Studies show it is the most relaxing of all the oils and is anti inflammatory and great for all skin types.
Q
Tell me about your compassionate mission with Violets Are Blue. How many people have you helped through your products?
A
Well, the company was started after my own Breast Cancer diagnosis. It came as a complete shock as I have no family history, I don’t smoke, rarely drink, and I exercise and don’t eat meat. It showed me that it doesn’t matter what you put in your skin, if what you are putting on your skin is toxic.
I had the luxury of taking time off during my illness and I indulged in things like yoga, reiki, massage and completely changed our household—getting rid of plastics and toxic materials. Ultimately, I took a course in how to make my own skincare as I was horrified when I researched the ingredients of products I used. During this time, I met women in treatment who didn’t have this luxury or didn’t have the energy to stand in the drugstore and read labels. That is what made me decide to start making skincare for women in treatment. I also wanted to give back to the Dubin Center, which is where I was treated. It’s an amazing facility which incorporates alternative and preventative treatments for women and men fighting Breast Cancer.
Once I got my formulas down, I reached out to them, and it took about six months to get everything vetted once we got the green light. We then started to donate our BeLoved packages to women on their first day of chemotherapy.

 

What many people don’t realize is the first day of chemo can sometimes be scarier than the day of diagnosis.
There are so many unknown factors when getting chemo, and I wanted women to have something that was beautiful, calming, something not pink, and something that focused on being healthy as opposed to being sick. I get emails weekly from women saying how much they enjoy the products and how grateful they were to receive. them. To this point, in the two and a half years, we have probably given 300 packages to women at the center. My goal would be to also give packages to women who are getting radiation as well (working on a balm for the effects of radiation now) and of course, I would like to start donations at other hospitals all well. Right now, we use 10% of the purchase price of our Signature Line to support the donations, and as Violets Are Blue grows, then so will the donation program. It’s all very exciting!
Q
What are your goals going forward?
A
As I mentioned, I would love to see our donation program grow, with radiation packages to start, and I do hope I can start working with other hospitals as well in the near future. I would love to see Violets Are Blue products on shelves of stores that may not be known for Green Beauty, and I think we are getting there! Our Signature line just launched in Anthropologie online store, and our deodorant* ($16) will launch in stores this Spring. I would love to see more green products in “non” Green stores. I would also love to start wellness programs for women in treatment, where we can help them start down the Green path and introduce them to not only products, but reiki, yoga, meditation and lifestyle changes. That a big goal, but one I hope to accomplish in the next five years.
Q
What other eco beauty brands do you support and love? Do you find the industry to be competitive or supportive?
A
Many think beauty brands are all competitors, but in the green beauty community, it’s all about supporting and encouraging each other. I don’t see any “competitors” as competitors, but rather as inspiration and friends.

 

In the green beauty community, it’s all about supporting and encouraging each other. I don’t see any “competitors” as competitors, but rather as inspiration and friends
I love supporting brands in this community. I have been a huge fan of Red Flower* since I first discovered Green Beauty. I also love Hynt Beauty* and in particular their mascara*. (This was what took me ages to find!). Lastly, INUF Skincare out of Hong Kong is amazing! I use their jade roller with my serum, and it is fantastic. Every product I have tried of theirs I love, and they have really neat packaging.

You can find Violets Are Blue on the website and on Facebook|Twitter|Instagram|Pinterest and in select stores like Safe & Chic.

There is definitely more in store for Violets Are Blue! What are you excited to try from this beautiful line? Let us know in the comments.

 

*Full Disclosure

**Illness is complex and can not be directly linked to any one cause, nor is that suggested in this post. However, decreasing our toxic load through cleaner living can only benefit the health of the body, mind, and spirit.