True Botanicals and The Truth Behind Aging (GIVEAWAY!)

Our insecurities have fueled a multibillion-dollar business. At this point, aging with grace may be just as much about knowledge as it is about using serums.

[Editor’s Note: We originally published this Q&A last Monday, August 8th, but because it was so well-received, we’re republishing it with a giveaway! Enter your details at the end of this post for a chance to win a True Botanicals face oil!]


In an effort to better understand aging, general preventative and curative measures, as well as the products we use to alleviate our many ailments, I turned to Hillary Peterson, Founder of True Botanicals, to help me dispel some beauty industry myths.

A melanoma and thyroid cancer survivor, Hillary created True Botanicals to fill a safety measure often ignored by the beauty industry. Her products—natural, effective, and environmentally friendly—are challenging the toxin-filled equivalents of many leading brands.

If it takes 26 seconds for your bloodstream to absorb 60% of what you put on your skin, aren’t you wondering what you’re really slathering onto it?

If so, keep reading for my Q&A!

Why are the telltale signs of aging marked by wrinkles and fine lines? What does this have to do with the life cycle of our cells?

The loss of both function and structural stability in our skin is unavoidable as age. The epidermis, or the outer most layer of our skin, thins, and our cell turnover rates slow dramatically. Together, they contribute to wrinkle formation and sagging. Understanding the causes of this process and addressing them at the source, however, can make a big difference.

If budget is a consideration, my philosophy is always to buy fewer, great products.

Less is more and quality is everything.

I am not a big fan of the 10-step method because I personally prefer an effective and luxurious routine that is also relatively simple. True Botanicals’ philosophy is to deliver high-impact ingredients straight into your skin so they, in turn, can address the source of your aging cells. Through our research, we have found that you simply don’t need 10 steps to do that.

I’ve always been curious about these next two question: Is there a right age to “start” taking care of the skin? Does it become a losing game when people don’t take preventative measures?

The right age to start taking care of your skin is from birth! The key, through your early years at least, is to protect your skin from excessive sun exposure. For most people, their first wrinkles start appearing in their twenties. They then start a comprehensive skin routine as a result. When they do, we recommend a minimal routine of three simple steps:

  1. CLEANSE with a gentle cleanser that removes the daily accumulation of dirt and grime without stripping the skin of its natural oils.
  2. MOISTURIZE with an antioxidant-rich, nutritive face oil.
  3. PROTECT your face every day, rain or shine, with a non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen.

Oh, and just a little bit more about face oils: As it turns out, that the skin care ingredient we’ve all feared most, is incredibly good for our skin. Oils, also known as lipids or essential fatty acids, occur naturally in our skin. In fact, they’re responsible for giving our skin that “healthy glow.”

Lipids create a protective barrier that holds moisture in while keeping elements like the sun and wind out. When we age, our bodies produce fewer lipids, dehydrate the skin, and make us more prone to wrinkles. When oils are applied directly to the skin, without the interference of waxes found in lotions and creams, they are immediately absorbed into the top layers of the epidermis where they work to improve barrier function.

By replenishing the oils you’ve lost through the natural aging process, you enable your skin to do what it does naturally–retain moisture and repel assaults from sun and wind.

While it may seem counter intuitive to apply oil to even blemish-prone skin, it turns out that oils are far more effective than scrubs, harsh soaps, and other treatments in strengthening your skin’s barrier function, eliminating infections, calming irritations, and reducing inflammations. Because lipids dissolve lipids, the topical application of a carefully curated mix of oils can actually break up your skin congestion at its source.

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Why is it important to care about natural products when there are easy and cheaper alternatives?

Ahhhh!  There are so many issues with easy, cheaper alternatives that is hard to decide where to begin. First, unfortunately, cheaper ingredients tend to be the ones that are most toxic. Second, while we do use some high-quality, safe synthetics that are actually quite expensive, the best ingredients still come from nature.

There is a perception that ingredients created in a lab are more potent than carefully researched and curated ingredients from nature but that is not true. When we think of our bodies and what we eat, it is clear that whole ingredients from nature are the most nourishing. The same is true for our skin and the products we apply to it.

Oh no! What then, would you say, are some chemical ingredients to steer very clear from?

The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics Red List highlights chemicals that we should all look to eliminate from our personal care routines. It is a lot of work for to learn what to avoid and to check labels but it is well worth it.

We, at True Botanicals, recently took an important step to seek MADE SAFE™ certifications for all of our products. This decision reinforces our overall mission to deliver results without toxins and to push the beauty industry to do the same. Amidst a sea of misinformation, MADE SAFE is offering the most comprehensive product safety evaluation available today. We are proud to be making products that meet or exceed these rigorous standards.

How, then, would you define beauty?

Beauty comes from many sources, both from outside and from deep within. Beauty is authenticity and presence. It is the ability to see, connect, recognize, and appreciate all that is around us.

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Last one. Why the campaign for safe cosmetics and why True Botanicals?

We are setting higher expectations for what you, as a customer, can expect from a product. We are teaching people to look beyond marketing hype and to focus, instead, on ingredient labels backed by solid clinical trials. After all, those tried-and-true products ultimately have the greatest impact on your skin.

It is so rewarding to hear positive feedback on our customers–many of whom say they’ve never used a product quite like ours that has made such a big impact on their skin. Our collection of super luxurious, super concentrated, bio-active formulations delivers unparalleled results without compromising health. By eliminating the costs of the traditional distribution model and selling direct to our customers, we are able to exceed the industry norms and put a far higher quantity of high quality ingredients into our products.


Do you have any beauty questions that need answering? Myths that require some investigating? Ask away in the comments below!


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How to Achieve the Perfect Fake Tan

Orange you glad we asked an expert?

My mother’s the Asian woman who carries a sizable umbrella, open and unapologetic, in the middle of the summer when it’s sunny, 92 degrees, and blistering hot out. Go ahead, chuckle. Laugh even. God knows that for 20 years, I did the same.

Of course, everything changed when I realized my ugly band of freckles, the same one that oh-so-prominently lines the bridge of my nose, is permanent. Whether it the mark of a defiantly stubborn daughter or the walking proof of ultraviolet light-exposed skin, I never quite appreciated outdoor tanning as much as I did in my teenage years.

Enter sunless tanning. My savoir! Asian I might be, but absolutely not a pale one at that!

For those of you scared equally senseless by the thought of unnecessary hyperpigmentation, I sought out the tanning industry’s leading expert for his exact how-tos on at-home tanning.

Keep reading and thank me later!

Hi, James! Can you tell the LoDown family a little bit more about yourself? I heard that you were drawn to self-tanning at a young age!

James Read 2016 Head Shot for web

I started using tanning wipes when I was 12 or 13 years old and loved the results.

I always burn in the sun but loved being tan so self-tanning was the best option.

I spent more than 15 years in the tanning industry building my name, creating both trends and seasonal tans.

Since starting my own brand, I’ve introduced products that combine skincare and tanning with a specific concentration on facial tanners.

I think we all know the dangers of actual tanning. Sun damage is no joke. Are the chemicals we’re applying to our skin via self-tanners that much better?

DHA only reacts to the top layer of your dead skin cells. The tan doesn’t actually penetrate your skin. That’s why it fades after six or seven days when you exfoliate away the dead skin cells.

My products incorporate skincare and tanning. Because DHA can sometimes be drying, my products simultaneously hydrate the skin.

[Editor’s Note: DHA or dihydroxyacetone is an active ingredient derived from sugar beets and sugar canes through the fermentation of glycerin. It’s a colorless chemical that interacts with the amino acids in our dead skin cells to make them turn brown in color.]

What are some general tips and tricks at-home tanners should know?

For the most natural bronzed look, you should:

  • Shave and exfoliate a day before applying your tan.
  • Moisturize all dry areas to prevent them from absorbing too much tan and drying patchy.
  • Always, always, always use a tanning mitt when applying your self-tan. This makes for an easier application process. It also prevents your hands from ending up a shade or two darker than the rest of your body!
  • On that note, remember to look out for the opposite problem. Wait for as long as you can, six to seven hours after applying your self-tan, before washing your hands. This way, you won’t end up with extra pale palms.
  • Remember to apply your self-tan in sweeping motions starting from the top of your body and ending with your hands and feet.
  • Apply talcum powder around your chest and armpit area to maintain your color if you exercise frequently or sweat easily. This will stop your tan from breaking down and streaking.

Say, for some reason, I mess up. We’re talking the fake-sick-and-hide kind of mess up. Do I really have to wait for my color to fade or can I do something to fix my problem?

The easiest way to fix a dark tan is to find yourself a steam room and sit in it for 20 minutes. This will help take your tan down a couple shades. Otherwise, you can rub Nivea wipes over your skin to reduce the color and blend out patchy areas.

Soaking a wash cloth in a mixture of lemon and lime juice, microwaving it for a minute or so until it’s warm, and rubbing it along your skin can also help break down the tan.

How about Oompa Loompas? How can some people end up with such orange tans?

They over-apply their self-tans!

The easiest way to avoid this is to apply your tan in layers. Once you’ve reached your desired color, stop! If you aren’t sure whether or not you need an extra layer, check by taking a selfie with the flash on.

Sometimes people can end up with unnatural colors if they forget to remove a pre-existing tan before applying a new one. It’s important to exfoliate at least once a week to remove both dead skin cells and old color. If that’s too much of a hassle, however, let current your tan fade evenly before re-applying a new one!

Why do self-tanners have a distinct smell? Is there a way to avoid it?

The smell you’re describing is simply your skin reacting to the tanner. You can minimize the smell by washing and moisturizing your body with fragrance free products.

My H20 Tan Mist, for example, has a 96% natural formulation. Its scent is rosy and refreshing!

It actually is! Can you tell me a little bit more about the magic behind your mist?

The James Read Gradual Tan H20 Tan Mist

My H20 Tan Mist is a 3-in-1 mist that combines skincare with cooling technology and a touch of self-tan. It’s created with 96% rose water, minerals and vitamins, and a small percentage of organic DHA which will give you that subtle bronzed glow.

The formula doesn’t highlight pigmentation or age spots and doesn’t transfer onto clothing so feel free to spritz generously over your face up to three times a day. Because the mist is so fine, you won’t ever make a mistake.

Speaking of mistakes, isn’t your Gradual Tan collection super beginner-friendly?

Yes! I designed the product to be fool proof and to suit all skin tones, not too dark and not too light. When you apply it, it isn’t too strong on the skin. If you make a mistake, it’s not highlighted as much.

Okay, last question! How do I go about self-tanning my face? There are all these YouTube tutorials on how to self-tan your body, but your face? Not so much.


  1. Rub an ice cube along your face to close your pores and prevent dark, uneven patches of color from forming before applying your self-tan.
  2. Dab coconut oil to your eyebrows to prevent self-tan buildup on your brow hairs.
  3. Apply the self-tan to your face with your hands! It’s best to use a gradual tanner so that you can feel its texture as you apply it onto your skin. Remember to wash your hands immediately after the application!
  4. Dab cotton balls with your self-tan and lightly pat them over your neck and jawline to blend your new face color in with the rest of your body.
  5. Rub a cotton bud dipped in toner along your hairline to complete the natural look.
  6. Use a hydrating face mask a few days after applying your self-tan to make it last longer.
  7. You can even use my Tantour Sculpting Duo to highlight your cheek bones and create that subtle contoured look.
  8. If you’re new to self-tanning, the H2O Tan Mist works just fine. Spray it a few times across your face and you’ll see results in about 3 to 4 hours!


Do you have any beauty questions that need answering? Myths that require some investigating? Ask away in the comments below!


Eat Your Way to Healthy Summer Skin

Five Foods That Fight Sun Damage

For a picker, I’ve always been incredibly blessed with forgiving skin. Regardless whether I poke, prod or pick at my pimples, I rarely often scar. Naturally, when the first batch of stress-induced cystic acne broke out across my face a little over a month ago, I attempted the impossible: relieving my clogged pores of what I believed to be dead skin cells.

Boy, oh boy, was I wrong to squeeze.

Not only did I cause the infection to spread, but I also failed miserably at removing the “heads” from my poor face. Cystic acne, as I soon learned, is an infection that lies much deeper under the skin. Unlike white head pimples or black head pimples, they manifest in the form of red, tender bumps. And, the cysts, full of pus, often never surface.

Scared half to death by my stern dermatologist and officially taking my first round of Roaccutane, I am now incredibly weary of everything that comes near my face—including my good for nothing itchy fingers. Sunscreen, another dislike of mine, thanks to its thick, oily formula, is currently a no-no that’s only used under extreme circumstances when I really can’t be my vampire-y self and avoid sunlight.

Thankfully, if you’re like me, suffering in a personal hell of abstinence from SPF because of sensitive skin, or if you really hate sunscreen in general, there’s another way to protect your skin from sun damage.

Keep reading for foods that antioxidize your skin!

Before I jump into why you should increase your tomato consumption, I think it’s necessary to first illustrate the dangers of excessive UV ray exposure. Too much sunlight, unfortunately, activates free radicals in our skin. The activation, in turn, accelerates the aging process of cells (hello, wrinkles!) by puncturing them and tearing them apart, and generates a wild chain reaction that makes us more susceptible to skin cancer. That said, when our skin “burns” our bodies are actually generating an immune response-inflammation to the free radicals.

Sun protection is best achieved when consuming an antioxidant-rich diet and when using a non-chemical protective sunscreen on a daily basis. This is simply because the amount of antioxidants in your blood decreases when your skin is exposed to sunlight.

Okay, now the tomatoes!

Tomatoes contain lycopene, or, an important antioxidant to have in your diet. The rule of thumb is, the redder the tomato, the more lycopene it contains. If you’re not too keen on eating tomatoes, try your hand at some watermelon!

Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene and storage proteins called sporamins that have unique antioxidant properties. Once digested, beta-carotenes turn into Vitamin A which ultimately helps with skin cell regeneration.

Crimini mushrooms, or the cute little things you find on kebabs, are packed with skin-protecting nutrients like selenium. In fact, crimini mushrooms have the highest selenium content in all the foods that we eat. This, of course, is important because our bodies use the vital mineral to create potent antioxidants that fight the free radicals that form in our skin during sunlight exposure. Best of all crimini mushrooms are packed with Vitamin B—the key to youthful-looking skin cells.

Fatty fish contain carotenoid antioxidants that help keep the skin radiant. Omega 3 essential fatty acids, like those found in salmon, also act as powerful and protective anti-inflammatories.

Like strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, green tea is an antioxidant food high in catechins. The deeper and richer the color of your tea, the higher its catechin content. So, steep those leaves and drink up!