Collier and Lee Counties Edition

The Toxic Side of Beauty

Local experts offer alternatives

Natural products display at Organic Skincare & Bodyworx, in Naples

Natural products display at Organic Skincare & Bodyworx, in Naples

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Dirty Dozen report on the 12 worst hormone-altering chemicals lurking in food, water, plastic containers, fire retardants, pesticides, water-resistant coatings on clothing, furniture and carpet, old lead paint and non-stick cookware, as well as cleaning products, personal care products and cosmetics, our body is subject to the endless tricks that they play.

Some examples of these pranks range from increasing the production of certain hormones and decreasing the production of others, imitating hormones or turning one hormone into another and interfering with hormone signaling, and telling cells to die prematurely to competing with essential nutrients, binding to essential hormones and accumulating in organs that produce hormones.

An EWG survey and product study of teenagers that use more personal care products daily than an average adult woman revealed adolescent girls across the U.S. are contaminated with chemicals commonly used those same cosmetics and body care products. EWG detected 16 chemicals from four chemical families in blood and urine samples from 20 teen girls 14 through19 years old—phthalates, controversial chemicals often used to make fragrances last longer; triclosans, antibacterial agents used in soaps, deodorants and mouthwash; parabens, cosmetic preservatives; and musks, synthetic compounds used as fixatives in perfumes. Studies link these chemicals to potential health effects that include cancer and hormone disruption.

EWG proposes that teens may be particularly sensitive to trace-level exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals, given the cascade of closely interrelated hormonal signals orchestrating the transformation from childhood to adulthood.

While mainstream media has only recently alerted the general public to the problem, beauty and spa experts in Southwest Florida have been offering organic and far less toxic alternatives for nearly a decade.

Organic Skincare & Bodyworx, Naples

Jayne Koedding, owner of Organic Skincare & Bodyworx, a certified organic spa, advises, “Organic skincare products produce definitive results without chemicals. We carry six lines of organic skincare products. All are chemical-free and organic, as are our essences, toners, mineral sunscreen, body lotions, bug spray, deodorant, toothpaste and mouthwash. There are no artificial fragrances in any of our organic products. Every scent comes from essential oils made from flowers, herbs or fruits.”

Although every customer that enters isn’t intent only on finding clean makeup or lead-free lipstick, Koedding notes that after learning that skin absorbs 60 to 70 percent of whatever is put on it, they make a purchase and return for a replacement. “Customers often dispose of their old makeup and decide to go totally organic,” she says.

Assuage Spa Luxury, Fort Myers and Naples

Tehjan Prendiville, co-owner of Assuage Spa Luxury, a medical day spa, notes that only natural plant-based products, made from plants, fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants are used in treatments. “We use medical-grade cosmeceutical products that contain higher amounts of active ingredients than those produced for over-the-counter sales,” explains Prendiville.  

Assuage’s latest offerings include facials and massages using evidence-based CBD oil that is backed by scientific research. Cannabinoids reduces inflammation, which decreases skin redness. New clients enjoy extra time with staff members that provide education on products used in treatments. The spa also offers periodic lunch and learn sessions at no charge

TAE Healthy Aging Center, Naples

With the advantage of Internet research, consumers are more educated than ever before. “Beware. All internet information is not accurate,” says Terri Evans, owner of TAE Health Aging Center.

Evans, a licensed acupuncturist and aesthetician, advises of a new trend—skincare apothecaries—which are popular with professionals and consumers. “Developing an intimate understanding of ingredients is a win-win, which allows consumers to determine and address their unique individuality and affords skincare professionals the opportunity to use their knowledge to create customized treatments for clients,” remarks Evans.  

Apothecary skincare workshops offered by Evans are a fun and informative way to see, feel, touch, smell and experience individual ingredients. Participants develop a deeper understanding of herbs, essential oils and the best carrier oils, which Evans believes leads to a more confidant consumer that has a true understanding of ingredient knowledge.

Essential oils have become a popular and healthier substitute for commercial skincare products. Added to carrier oils that have no aroma, they contribute a fragrance particularly pleasing to the wearer. A few commonly used essential oils for skincare are bergamot, which cleanses, uplifts and balances, and chamomile, which is soothing and good for all skin types.

I Love Oils, Fort Myers

Susie and Peter Bagwell, doTerra wellness advocates and founders of I Love Oils, use their training center off Alico Road to teach classes on how to use essential oils. Susie, a certified massage therapist, teaches the introduction to essential oils class, while Peter, a level one cross-fit trainer, focuses on oils and products that help the cardiovascular system and support an active lifestyle.  

“Because therapeutic-grade essential oils are pure and versatile, with no chemicals that disrupt the hormone system, they can be used in a number of ways to benefit dry, oily or irritated skin.There are essential oil do-it-yourself recipes that can help anyone soothe, moisturize or cleanse facial skin or other body areas,” says Susie.

Raw Hair Organics Salon

Melanie Nickels, Raw Hair Organics Salon owner, advises that her business is a sought out for its healthier options. “It’s rare that someone wanders in here. We get the well-educated consumer that is concerned about exposure to toxic ingredients such as sodium laurel sulfate. This cleansing and emulsifying foaming agent in many commercial shampoos, as well as toothpastes in addition to parabens, are still used because they are cost-effective for commercial manufacturers,” explains Nickels.

Nickels initial offering of organic hair care was not fully accepted within the hair care industry. Peers referred to it as “fringe” and she was ostracized by people that didn’t believe organic would ever be the norm.

Nickels and her husband created a line of women’s and men’s hair care products, pet shampoo, conditioner and detangling spray, as well as special products for curly hair. Their new anti-aging skincare line is also organic.

Genesis Non-GMO Vitamins, Naples

Co-owner of Genesis Non-GMO Vitamins, Mariessa Smola, surmises that the majority of her customers come of their own volition or are referred by a health practitioner that suggested they shop for non-GMO supplements.

“Prior to opening, I conducted mountains of personal research to locate products without any GMO[genetically modified]-derived ingredients. For example, B-vitamins are mostly derived from corn or soy. If a non-GMO label lists soy as an ingredient, it’s necessary to know the source, because two of the three top crops grown in the U.S. are corn and soy. Initially, companies hung up on me because I asked too many questions,” says Smola.

Consumers can do research for Non-GMO Project Verified products at “Not all companies with non-GMO products can afford to pay $1,000 for each product bar code required to be verified NonGMO,” advises Smola.

Maria Pitonzo, Smola’s mother, whose salon is connected to Genesis, has been a hair stylist for 26 years. “Mom began using only organic products in 2008 after she was diagnosed with a fibroid tumor, which was linked to the hair care products she used in her salon. Now she uses only the cleanest products on her clients,” says Smola.

Natural Nail Care Clinic, Naples

The two reasons that women patronize Julie Campbell’s, Natural Nail Care Clinic are to fix nails that are in bad condition or have been damaged by artificial nails. “Women seek us out because our products are as natural as possible. There is no such thing as an organic nail product. That’s all marketing hype. There are gentler products with miniscule amounts or derivatives of formaldehyde, as well as botanicals and essential oils. Some manufacturers that are responding to public demand are using ingredients such calcium, a natural nail hardener, and keratin, the protein that real nails are made of,” advises Campbell.

Trim & Tone Med Spa, Naples

Medical-grade, paraben-free, anti-aging Skinceuticals are the only products that Shelle Misiorowski, owner of Trim & Tone Med Spa, uses for facials that she does with the patented technology of the HydraFacial. “It’s a medical-grade device that cleanses and peels, extracts and hydrates in addition to infusing. Many of the plastic surgeons in town use this granddaddy of all facial devices, which infuses boosters and skin brighteners into the skin, in addition to stimulating the growth of collagen. The effects keep working for two weeks. Everyone who has this customized facial buys the cosmeceutical facial products, which are high in antioxidants, and continues to use them,” says Misiorowski.  

Integrated Skincare, Fort Myers

“Women are definitely looking for more natural options,” says Doreen DeStefano, owner of Integrated Skincare and Root Causes Holistic Health and Medicine. “This is why platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has become so popular. It actually rejuvenates the skin from the inside-out. This process can take a few treatments to get optimal results, but the benefits are worth it,” explains DeStefano, a licensed medical esthetician and registered nurse trained in naturopathy.   

DeStefano explains that at Root Causes, she uses a process to make filler from a client’s own plasma, which can be placed anywhere, including mid-face. This can add volume, and when combined with a light peel, it is a very rejuvenating process. A less expensive alternative is the injection of vitamins, mineral and peptides that help restore a youthful look. Peptide injections can significantly reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and add a healthy glow to skin.  

“Lasers damage the live layer of the skin so that it no longer produces collagen or elastin in the lasered area.  The tightening effect of many lasers comes from actually coagulating collagen. It works, but only for the short term. Since the tissue is no longer metabolizing, in the long term, skin won't be as healthy,” says DeStefano.

Prevention is the Answer

It's better to maintain skin health by natural means. “Prevention is always best. Taking good care of your skin with high-quality topical products in teenage years is a first step. Never smoke. Stay hydrated and eat healthy fats, as well as lots of fruit and vegetables. Begin getting peptide injections and PRP early, before lines and creases begin to appear. No one ever regrets this advice,” enthuses DeStefano.

Local Resources

Assuage, 9407 Cypress Lake Dr., Ste. C, Fort Myers. 239-333-1450; 1201 Piper Blvd., Ste. 1, Naples. 239-333-1450.

Genesis Non-GMO Vitamins, 877 91st Ave. N., Ste. 4, Naples. For more information, call 239-596-9017 or visit

I Love Oils, Inc., 17030 Alico Commerce Ct., Ste. 303, Fort Myers,

Natural Nail Care Clinic, 12820 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 4, Naples, 239-254-8788.

Organic Skincare & Bodyworx, 13240 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 207, Naples. 239-514-4494.

Raw Hair Organics, 2940 Immokalee Rd., Ste. 4, Naples. 239-597-0939.

Integrative Skincare and Root Causes Holistic Health and Medicine, 12734 Kenwood Ln. Unit 84, Fort Myers. 239- 425-2900.

TAE Healthy Aging Center, 11983 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 100C, Naples. 239-430-6800.

Trim & Tone Spa, (Marquesa Plaza), 13020 Livingston Rd., Ste. 16, Naples. 239-596-5522.

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