Why I founded Return to Eden Cosmetics
I was so tired of dealing with acne in my late 20s (even after completing a course of Accutane) that I decided to start making my own skincare products.
Okay, it's not QUITE that simple. At the time, I also had a moderate household income and refused to use most of the skincare products on store shelves due to their ingredients lists. I simply could not afford the skincare products with good or great ingredients lists.
As a chemical engineer with enough knowledge of organic chemistry to be dangerous and a passion for formulation development, I figured I could make better products at a better price point than those on the market.
A decade later, my skin consistently looks better than it has since before puberty hit, and I walk around make-up free on a daily basis (unfiltered, non-photoshopped pic above included)... without feeling naked or ashamed of my skin.
And, breakouts? Well, they're pretty much non-existent, and when I do have a pimple, it's usually because I've started testing out a new formulation I've got in development sometime over the past 2 weeks (my skin hates change).
I started Return to Eden Cosmetics in 2008, but that doesn't mean the formulations have remained static.
In 2015, I reformulated the entire line with more intense focus on sustainable ingredients.
I've got more big changes in store for this little business. Offering phenomenal products (great for your skin, low impact to the environment) just isn't enough. I also want to offer phenomenal packaging (which is why you'll see a transition towards more sustainable packaging in the near future) and an incredible customer experience.
I want to establish relationships with my customers, which is one reason why I include a handwritten note with every order. Some of my customers have become product testers for new product launches, yes, that's the kind of relationship I'm interested in. After all, it's because of you that Return to Eden Cosmetics is here.
What sets Return to Eden Cosmetics products apart?
I dreamed up this idea over 11 years ago while battling with acne and a small budget. I was SO tired of my choices in skincare products… either prices so expensive I couldn’t afford the product or an ingredients list so terrible I didn’t want to use the product on my face. I started making my own products at home and folks who tried them were so enamored I decided to start selling them.
How did you learn to make skincare products?
I am a chemical engineer (Georgia Tech, represent!) who’s worked in the field of formulation development since 2007. Granted, making lotions and creams for the skin is different than making herbicides or pharmaceuticals, but the basic principles still apply (an emulsion is an emulsion regardless of the industry). I’ve been making my own skincare products for the past 11 years, and I LOVE playing around with new emulsifiers that don’t follow the traditional HLB system. In fact, most of the products Return to Eden Cosmetics offers are made with liquid crystal emulsifiers, which have been shown in some studies to enhance permeability of active ingredients and also have EXCELLENT skin feel.
How do you go from kitchen to market?
Luckily, I have nearly a decade of experience in pharmaceutical formulation development, so I’ve been immersed in the FDA regulatory landscape for a while. Why is this important? Well, some of the same regulations that apply to pharmaceuticals also apply to skincare products, and knowing where to look for these regulations and guidelines is half the battle. The other half of course is ensuring compliance with these federal laws which provide guidelines for all aspects of the manufacturing process from record keeping to manufacturing space cleanliness to product storage and product testing.
Why the name Return to Eden Cosmetics?
Well, a more fitting name would have no doubt been Return to Eden Skincare, but the acronym RTEC just looks cooler than RTES 😊. But, here’s my perspective – Eve was the most beautiful woman to ever walk the planet, and she didn’t wear makeup. It’s a tragedy that women today believe their naked skin is ugly and needs to be covered up. I truly believe three things with regards to skincare:
- The mentality that make-up is necessary for women is fundamentally flawed.
- We (women, men, people) do NOT need to spend a ton of money to have healthy skin.
- Using skincare products that contain ABSOLUTELY NO photosensitizing ingredients, NO free radical promoting ingredients, and NO SILICONE WILL over time result in healthier skin that also LOOKS healthy.
Do you practice what you believe?
In short, YES. Here’s my morning and night time routine:
- Tone with cucumber hydrosol, rose hydrosol, or chamomile hydrosol. I basically use this in place of a morning face rinse, so I use a lot (3 cotton pads worth). Ingredients for each of these? Steam distilled cucumber water, rose water, or chamomile water, respectively.
- Apply Shade in a Bottle Day & Night Lotion during the day.
- Wash with high quality bar soap (read, handmade, superfatted, cold processed soap usually from small artisans).
- Tone with cucumber hydrosol, rose hydrosol, or chamomile hydrosol. 1 or 2 cotton pads worth, sometimes followed with a spritz directly on my face.
- Apply REM Time Night Cream for Acne Prone/Oily Skin (on weekends and vacations, I ONLY use Shade in a Bottle Day & Night Lotion for both my morning and night time lotion/cream application).
Notice no mention of make-up!