How to build the world you want to live in.
As of today, I am fortunate to spend the majority of my time as the CEO and founder of a privately-held beauty company, Plantioxidants. My day-to-day activities focus on executing the strategy I put together, which is a direct extension of what I believe the world should look like as articulated in the mission of the company:
At Plantioxidants, every single action ties back to this mission. Whenever there is a big hurdle for me or others working at the company, it is the mission statement that reminds us how to refocus. It took 2 weeks to finalize the mission statement, and the goal is for it to last at least 50 years and outlive me, which seems easily worth the investment given it is a 1,250x return on time. Using that same multiple - assuming the 12 seconds it took you to read it before and the additional 12 seconds it will take you to re-read it now….
… and giving yourself another half of a minute to think it through now or at some point in the future - the hope is that it could add nearly 32 hours to your life, and that is if you never think about it again and act on it once for 30 seconds. In short, Plantioxidants wants to give you more of everyone’s most valuable resource: time. While this is just a hypothetical math exercise*, it is a powerful one. It illustrates that Plantioxidants is not just about creating amazing products, but truly aimed at helping you and everyone else live longer to do bigger and better things. Each time you use a Plantioxidants product, take the seconds you deserve to appreciate that you are helping yourself, others, and the planet.
In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to showcase the brilliance behind the brand through topics like:
For now, I want to give a little more context around what Plantioxidants is based on and what the future we are building will look like. Plantioxidants accomplishes its mission through the products in three ways.
Setting Product, Company, and Industry Standards
1. Formula Standards and Healthy Beauty
The most basic, yet most significant pillar for consumers already using beauty products is their efficacy. We hope to make far reaching impacts beyond just the company, but if the products do not work, it does not matter what we hope to do. At Plantioxidants, we are well equipped to handle this as Susie Wang (co-founder & brilliant formulator) and I have meticulously created the best formulas possible. Susie brings over 15 years of formulation wisdom, expertise, and creativity, with over 10 years of experience working on truly natural formulations. I couldn't be happier to have her on the team. It took over a year, but we were able to accomplish our goal in terms of the formulas: each ingredient in every single formula has a purpose. Even our preservative helps with inflammation and detoxifying your skin.
We went even further than just the basic ingredients by adding an additional complex comprised of ingredients with the highest measures of antioxidants. I will review antioxidants in more detail in a later blog post, but here is an illustration to help you understand the relevance of antioxidants by showing how they relate to something you are more familiar with: sunscreen.
On the left is an explanation of how sunscreen protects you against UVA and UVB rays. We measure the effectiveness and strength of sunscreen with SPF (sun protection factor). Similarly, antioxidants can be measured with ORAC units. Antioxidants help you in your fight against free radicals from pollution, smoking, car exhaust, alcohol, etc. We will explore free radicals in more detail later, but what is important to know now is that antioxidants help your skin recover and repair everyday damage done to your body.
Our products clearly take their inspiration from antioxidants, but we wanted show how antioxidant-rich they are and not just say it. So we went even further by actually measuring the amount in each bottle. Like how your sunscreen bottle shows how high the SPF is, Plantioxidants products will tell you the minimum amount of ORAC units of antioxidants in each bottle. I say minimum because it only measures the units from the Plantioxidants Complex . The entire bottle will have between 10-50 times more. Currently, the best way we have to measure antioxidants is through ORAC units. While it is clearly evident that antioxidants are beneficial to us, measuring them has proven difficult. We rely on the ORAC unit for the time being. The reason being we stand by transparency and education, and want you to know exactly how nourishing our products are. We will explore the measurement in more detail in a future blog post, but until then, know we remain strong advocates of advancing continued research and education involving antioxidants. Antioxidants are more than just the name of a company; they also illustrate the strength of our products.
2. Organic Ingredient Standards and Clean Beauty
The first hurdle was to create potent, effective formulas that address each skin type and concern while delivering ample nutrition. The next difficult step was setting a standard for the ingredients and formulas. For me it was surprising and unfortunate that we had to set a standard, but there is good reason why. The best way to explain this is through the timeline it took for the hazard of smoking cigarettes to become common knowledge.
Up until the 1940s, tobacco and smoking were still heavily supported and promoted within pop culture in the USA. It was not until the mid 1960s that the US Surgeon General openly linked smoking to lung cancer, after thousands of scientific articles had already been published indicating the connection. By the late 1980s, the Surgeon General had issued 20 reports indicating the harmfulness of smoking tobacco. In the early 2000s, the general public finally found out that the large tobacco companies had not only covered up the risks of tobacco and made it seem attractive, but they also specifically targeted certain groups of customers to entice them into buying their products. The government finally took action to set standards. Since then, tobacco companies have continued to see higher taxes, price increases, and less distribution (for example, CVS stopped selling cigarettes in more than 7,000 stores in 2014).
In all, it has taken over 50 years for the de facto statement of “cigarettes are bad” to shift from verified scientific proof to common knowledge that impacts what you personally buy. The unfortunate truth is that the beauty industry in 2017 is similar to the tobacco industry in the 1940s, when many companies and popular brands sold products with ingredients that are known to cause harm to their customers. While beauty companies list ingredients on the back of the boxes for skincare and foundation bottles, eye shadow palettes, lipsticks, bronzers, mascaras, etc., they fail to admit to customers that some of their ingredients are harmful and toxic. Instead, like the large tobacco companies, they cover up the toxic truth with attractive packaging and by weaving beautiful ads filled with celebrity endorsements into everyday pop culture.
While research on chemical and synthetic ingredients (like parabens, phthalates, BPA, and other toxins) continue to surface and slowly solidify what is unacceptable in the beauty industry, I am a firm believer that we do not need to wait 50 years for the de facto statement of “most beauty is bad” to be established. Nor do we need to wait for the intermediary step of figuring out which (unregulated) “natural” brands are acceptable. The reality is, what you put on our skin can be absorbed into our body and bloodstream, so we wanted Plantioxidants to reflect what we want to eat – a clean, natural, and plant-based diet. However, "natural" as a label was another unfortunate reality to face because some brands clearly exploit the term and use it the same way tobacco companies used attractive packaging.
Plantioxidants is not hiding behind the facade of “natural,” nor dancing around the idea of being "natural." Having a standard ensures that what is in our products is closely governed and not only great for you, but also not filled with random ingredients and chemicals that hide under the guise of being "natural." For that reason, the true gold standard for healthy, clean everyday skincare is USDA certified organic. We hope for this to be the standard across the whole beauty industry, and not the exception. We know that the bulk of the healthy food in a grocery store are the fresh fruits and vegetables. We know that what we put on our skin can be absorbed into our bodies and bloodstream. So, it makes sense that beauty retailers and brands should reflect that fresh produce as well.
In fact, I argue that beauty products need even more transparent standards because of how less tangible individual ingredients are in beauty products compared to fresh food. When you are at a grocery store, it is easy to tell if a pack of raspberries are really fresh raspberries, or if they are processed and packaged as something else (like candy, jelly, etc.). But can you hold a skincare formula in your hand - smell it, feel it - and tell what exactly the "natural" vs. unnatural ingredients are like you can with a fresh raspberry? Since everything in the beauty industry is processed and packaged in some form, it is even more significant and important that beauty meets the standard and uses the label of USDA organic. USDA organic is the safest and easiest way to really gauge how healthy and "natural" the packaged beauty product you are holding actually is.
The truth is, brands are allowed to use their packaging to advertise themselves as “natural,” when in reality, the formulas and ingredients that comprise their products are anything but that. If you are looking for healthy, look for USDA organic. All Plantioxidants products are USDA organic, and we will not stop until it is the norm for "natural" in beauty. Since no one defined “natural,” Plantioxidants did.
However, we won't stop at defeating those hiding under the guise of "natural." I won't stop until every customer has access to healthy products. Rather than wait 50 years like other industries, we acted today and created Plantioxidants.
3. Environmental Standards and Defining Green Beauty and Guilt Free Beauty
Creating effective, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich formulas that meet the rigorous federal standard of USDA organic was a big feat for us. However, I truly believe that the most important part of any product is the entire product, so I could not stop with amazing formulas. For that reason, the last way I wanted to connect the products to the mission is through the packaging. When you buy a product, you are buying it in its entirety: the formula, the bottle, the box. You are also buying the materials that made each of those components. You are buying how it gets to you and what happens to it when you are done. I call this whole cycle the Lifecycle of Beauty. At Plantioxidants, we value it as our core.
Even more alarming than big tobacco and the guise of "good for you" used by many in the beauty industry is climate change. The reality that companies do not openly tell you is that your choices as an everyday consumer play a colossal role in exacerbating climate change. Experts fear that we have hit a point of no return, but the reality is that few of us demand real changes from companies that could help mitigate climate change. This doesn't exclude us as consumers, but it does mean companies should also be accountable. That is why Plantioxidants aims to minimize its carbon footprint, and thus reduce greenhouse gas effects and ease the negative effects of climate change. The best compromise between providing products to consumers and being responsible to the planet is by thinking about the environmental impact we make each step of the way. That is why I am constantly pushing Plantioxidants towards a closed loop product lifecycle where all of our packing materials come from 100% recycled materials (left image above) and are 100% recyclable (right image above), allowing the same packaging for one product can be re-purposed for another. Remember: you are not only buying our formula inside, but the packaging too.
I personally have struggled buying certain things in the past because I know some purchases can result in immediate waste that cannot be re-purposed. Therefore, I made it a goal to create products that are not only free of artificial aromas and colors, parabens, phthalates, parabens, BPA, GMOs, and animal cruelty, but also free of the guilt caused by buying something to only quickly consume it and then throw the packaging away. There is less guilt knowing where a package came from and what will happen to it afterwards. We are proud to be the first guilt free beauty company.
As a founder and CEO, I promise I am dedicated to providing effective products that perform better than other products on the market, are more beneficial to your health in the long term, and are less harmful to the planet and others. We have pioneered not only what the standards for beauty should be, but also for consumer packaged goods in general.
Acting on the Mission
Now that you know more of why Plantioxidants was created, why I took certain steps, and what we are trying to achieve, here is how we are making it happen by 2022.
With all of that said, I invite everyone to learn more about the company and, more importantly, our products on our website. We are always happy to share this more publicly and meet those who want to be part of our mission, so please feel free to reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Josh Wadinski, Founder and CEO