If the doctor says so, it must be true... right? When it comes to advice from former physician and founder of Osmia Organics, Sarah Villafranco, we're definitely listening. Sarah has created one of our favorite new lines (available only in our DC store for now) and we've completely fallen for the beautiful scents and powerful ingredients in her products. Since she's a DC native herself, Sarah will be joining us this Thursday from 4-7pm at our Union Market shop to talk about her line and to share her advice on how to live a healthy and balanced life, free of sketchy ingredients. If you're still a clean beauty sceptic, check out our interview with her below for some health and beauty "real talk."
What inspired you to start Osmia Organics?
After having my second daughter and losing my mom to pancreatic cancer, I was in a bit of a swirl about where I wanted to steer the rest of my life. I had been practicing emergency medicine for about ten years, but I felt frustrated with the system, and wanted to inspire people to choose and cherish their health before it was too late. Around that time, I took a soap making class, and fell in love. Once I got the hang of creating artisanal, luxury soaps, I knew I had to do an entire line.
What makes Osmia different from other natural skincare brands?
Well, every product is formulated by a physician (that’s me!) and made by hand in our studio in the stunning mountains of Colorado. We are a passionate team, out to remind you to return to your senses and choose health and happiness daily, in addition to making your skin look and smell gorgeous. Osmia is focused on using the highest quality botanicals, and formulating with only necessary, effective ingredients. We are readily available via email for specific questions, and have a few niche areas of expertise when it comes to natural skin care solutions, such as acne, sensitive skin, and perioral dermatitis.
With your background in medicine, what do you see as some of the greatest risks that conventional products pose on our health and safety?
The ingredients that concern me most are hormone disruptors (like parabens and phthalates) and ethoxylated ingredients. The hormone disruptors, often used in preservatives and synthetic fragrances, can affect the natural hormone cycles of children, women, and men, and there is increasing concern regarding their estrogen-like effects. Ethoxylated ingredients include things that end in “eth”, as well as some common skincare ingredients like polysorbates and emulsifying wax. The process of ethoxylation releases a carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane, and creates other by-products that are very toxic to aquatic species. There’s a long list of other shady characters, but those two are ubiquitous and worrisome, especially as they are often used in products that cover a large surface area of the skin.
What advice can you give to people who are conflicted when their dermatologist recommends skincare products that aren’t considered safe by your standards?
I would encourage people to make sure they are supporting their skin from the inside (diet, exercise, stress management) to the outside (products) as naturally as they can, using the fewest toxins possible. That said, there are times when you need something conventional, and I try to tell people not to beat themselves up if petroleum jelly is the only thing that works to calm their angry eyelids for a few weeks. Conventional, western medicine isn’t inherently evil – it’s the reason we don’t have smallpox and polio wiping out huge numbers of people anymore! But, when we start prescribing medications INSTEAD of telling people they need to stop smoking and eating fast food, things start to get scary.
And now the fun stuff - what’s the best piece of beauty advice your mother ever gave you?
My mom held a warm washcloth to her face every morning and evening. It seems like such a plain ritual, and I think she did it because it felt so wonderful, but it’s a lovely way to slow down, breathe a little deeper, and open your pores before
Knowing what you know now, what piece of beauty or health advice will you pass on to your own daughters?
I will teach them the basics of healthy living, of course, which includes diet, fitness, laughing a lot, and using beautiful, natural products. More importantly, though, I will make sure they grow up knowing that it’s okay to spend a little of their own money and time to create small beauty rituals, like applying a mask or a luxury body oil, that make them feel nourished and vibrant.