“I was using mainstream conventional beauty products my whole life. I didn’t even think twice about buying a cream or mascara. I just bought whatever was available,” said Kelly Winterhalter, founder of Ellovi Skin Care.
We have all been there many times before, walking the long aisles of our local drugstores, department stores, and beauty boutiques. We admire the new products made to rid our skin of wrinkles, age spots, sun damage, and blue light damage. We swatch dozens of eyeliners, mascaras, lipsticks, and blushes on our hands and wrists.
But did you ever pause and take a look at the ingredients list? Did you have an “aha” moment when you realized that the ingredients may not be so good to you, the environment, or animals?
Winterhalter sure did. After becoming a vegan and overall cleaning up her eating habits, she decided to take the same approach to her skincare. She found that the beauty industry was fairly toxic and had a lot of labeling loopholes, and she had to do something about it.
Creating the Ultimate Body Butter
Ellovi’s hero product, and number-one seller, is none other than the Original Butter. It is a multi-tasking body and face product made with only six ingredients that helps reduce sun spots, blotchiness, blemishes, and scars. It is also a personal lubricant, a makeup remover, and is [gentle enough] to use on babies and all types of sensitive skin. Winterhalter created this product first because she wanted to fill a void in the beauty industry.
“There was [no lotion] on the market that I felt worked really well and was pure and natural. I discovered a niche and it blew me away. Not only did I run into many lotions that didn’t work very well, but all were made with water as the first ingredient. The lotions also had lots of preservatives, synthetics, thickeners, and diluters. Most consumer brands don’t have your best interest in mind. They’re interested in your money and growing their company. Their number one consideration is not you.”
Walk down a beauty aisle, watch a few beauty commercials, or flip through a beauty magazine and you will see all of the brands promoting the same ideals and trendy ingredients. However, just because the shampoo bottle says “argan oil” on it, or a serum proudly displays the words “prickly pear oil” on the front, it is quite possible the brands are misleading their consumers, as these specialty ingredients are often at the bottom of the ingredients list—meaning, there’s a very low concentration in the formula.
“The one thing you really want to look for in skincare is for highly-concentrated ingredients. If you’re looking for a great product and the number one ingredient is water, you’re not getting any of the exotic ingredients [on the label] as it’s so diluted. The benefit of minimal skincare is that you’re getting more of the good ingredients. That‘s what we focus on.”
Synthetic Ingredients vs. Natural Ingredients
One of the biggest misconceptions is that natural beauty does not work because it does not have similar results to the brands found in your dermatologist's office or that of long-standing brands in department and drugstores. Well, that is true, but in a good way.
“We’ve advanced in science in such a way that [skincare products] can have incredible impacts on our skin. They can change the color of our skin and strip age spots, but there are also addictive side effects that are not fully understood. There are a lot of unknowns, skin conditions, and cancers, so it’s not clear what the products are doing on a deeper level. Clean ingredients work a lot differently than synthetic, man-made ingredients. These ancient, healing ingredients have been used and tested by humans for thousands of years. They are tried and true, unlike the synthetic ingredients invented 10 to 15 years ago.”
Like many other clean beauty brand founders, Winterhalter is hoping for more transparency in the beauty industry. “I would like to see full transparency about what it is that’s going on behind the products,” says Winterhalter. “I think the consumers deserve to understand the full picture of everything that they’re buying so it’s clear and they can make informed decisions of the ethics of the company, the impact of everything that they buy. If we could see the process behind what we see in a store and pharmacy, it’s made in ways that you wouldn’t want to support that. So many [products] are mass-manufactured and are exploiting the environment, animals, and labor.”
How Ellovi’s Transparency Attracted a Kind Audience
No doubt, Winterhalter’s love of natural products, ancient ingredients, and full transparency attracted her an audience with similar ideals. She describes her customers as “people who are interested in natural products, as well as supporting causes and brands that embody the values that they hold. This is someone who doesn't really show up at a supermarket and pick something off the shelf because it’s cheap. They do the research, care about the world, and want to impact it positively.”
Beyond a kind outlook, Ellovi customers also came through in a time of struggle this year. “We had USPS lose almost all of our packages, and nearly every customer for Black Friday was messaging us. It blew my mind how kind and understanding every single person was. I’m inspired and proud of the fact that we’ve built this community that’s making a positive impact on the world. We have some of the kindest customers I have ever met in my life. They have been so compassionate in every regard.”
A kind customer base is even more necessary when Ellovi is a small business as they do not have millions of dollars to employ a large staff, launch an advertising campaign, or open shops around the world. Ellovi is a small team and Kelly Winterhalter wears a lot of hats, even to this day.
“The world does not favor small businesses—the structure of taxes, competition, the [lack of] resources. We have to bootstrap everything. [I handle] design for the website, email marketing, even customer service. We can’t spend $10 million dollars on an advertising campaign to go up against these huge companies.”
Clean Beauty and Intentions
Regardless of the everyday entrepreneurial struggles, it’s apparent that Kelly Winterhalter, and her brand Ellovi, have become a success over the years because her original intent continues to shine through—the intent to provide clean, healthy products that are meant to nourish and heal, not solely to repair and refine this year’s decided problem areas.
"Clean beauty is a matter of your intention, the act of caring for your skin. The intention is not to reverse, not to manipulate, not to force something on your skin that’s going to transform into x, y, z results. [Your products] should flow with your life and bring things to your body that are in direct harmony with your life and skin.”