Chatting with Hillary Peterson of True Botanicals
Motivated by her personal wellness journey and the desire for more pure, health-centric skincare options, Hillary Peterson decided to create transformative change with True Botanicals, a line of pure, anti-oxidant loaded, nutrition-rich skincare products. We recently visited Hillary in San Francisco to dive into her most essential particulars.
Melissa: You have a pretty incredible origin story born out of your own health and desire and necessity to “clean up” your beauty act. Was that something that you had in your sights before your diagnosis?
Hillary: One of my favorite quotes speaks to this idea that you have to be willing to let go of the life you planned in order to live the life that’s waiting for you. And this is so that experience. I would have never imagined that having thyroid cancer would have been a career shifter for me. I remember getting it and thinking it was the worst thing ever. I felt terrible for my kids that they saw their mother with this bandage on her neck. It was a really challenging time.
At the same time, it opened up my eyes and a whole new world around wellness. I had always been very interested in wellness. I grew up in Southern California. My parents were hippie health food people and were outdoorsy and athletic, but I had never really looked outside of that and what other aspects of my life could potentially be impacting wellness. But this was at a time when most people weren’t thinking about this either. For example, no one was thinking about the fact that there was Roundup all over my lawn and I rolled all over that lawn! Or that my mother wore perfume every day and I wore perfume and synthetic fragrances.
As I was looking at all this, I saw so many gaps in my industry and I just had a moment where I thought, if I’m not working on this, who’s working on it? It doesn’t seem like anybody’s working on it. So, coming from a family of entrepreneurs, I just decided okay, I think I’m gonna do this.
Melissa: What was the product you launched with?
Hillary: I started working with a woman who had a very fine tuned line and within that line, what I was most drawn to was the face oil, so when we launched this line, that was the first product we focused on—face oils for every skin type, knowing that it’s the best moisturizer you can use for your skin. Not everyone needs the same ingredients—some people have more blemish-prone skin and others have more irritated skin. This is where we started, and it’s the core thing I can’t live without.
Melissa:We live in California and your skin takes so much more of a beating here because of the sun and the elements, did you design True Botanicals with a California-first woman in mind?
Hillary: Definitely. What we do personally and professionally is informed by the lives we live. And given that I spend so much time outside and, in the ocean, and I have had sun damage, I was really thinking about what products—and specifically what ingredients— do support skin that’s taking a beating.
Melissa: What’s your ‘particular’ ingredient, the one that you’re most loyal to and/or excited about? Anything secretly in development that you can share?
Hillary: For me personally, the class of ingredients that anti-oxidants compose—for me these will always be at the core of really impactful beauty products because anti-oxidants help combat free radical damage that causes inflammation and aging. It’s a very specific change and coming to understand that as clearly as I’ve come to understand it, having products loaded with anti-oxidants is the number one goal for anybody. So, while I love new forms of anti-oxidants, and I love researching new ingredients, in the end, anti-oxidants are number one always. If my kids are out in the sun all day, I slather anti-oxidants all over them because it really makes a big difference. It’s the inflammation caused by excess sun exposure that ultimately ages the skin, so if you can break that chain, it has a big impact.
I’m also happy to share that we’re launching a CBD set of products for sleep. We’re all about how we can support wellness and obviously sleep is a huge part of what makes you look and feel beautiful. There will be a bath soak and body oil. We have super high-quality CBD and I feel these delivery methods are ideal. If I have that bath soak, I’m not up until the morning, which I love.
Melissa: Skincare and wellness are like the ultimate and most necessary accessory there is! I know you are a big believer in body care as well as oils in general, what makes oils so transformative?
Hillary: Imagining that all oils are the same would be like imagining that all salads are the same. There’s a big difference in the cellular nutrition that you’re getting. I feel that with our oil it’s about quality of ingredients, and the quantity of those ingredients.
If you look at, for instance, the ingredient listing for the clear oil, the number one ingredient is the grapeseed oil. There are very few products on the market with grapeseed oil because it’s expensive. So, I think it’s the quantity of seed oils and the quality of essential fatty acids that make a big difference. I don’t see many face oils on the market loaded with Omega 3 essential fatty acids. It’s for the same reason we should be eating salmon or plant-based essential oils. We have hemp oil, kiwi seed oil and chia seed oil in our products.
What’s interesting about these is that when you look at a baby and they’re glowing, their skin is loaded with them, but over time we lose 1-3% every year. Our body is depleted of those oils and can’t make Omega 3s, so loading them onto the skin makes a huge difference. It absorbs deeper into the skin than a lotion or cream and helps keep moisture in and pollutants out.
Melissa: I know you are a working mother and we all have established a certain kind of uniform to streamline our days, but, are there any accessories that you rely on to change up a look or mood?
Hillary: I’m more and more leaning toward the Barack Obama philosophy. He had just one suit he’d always wear. I love great shirts. I almost always wear jeans, but I switch up the shoes. I love these shoes—they’re Margot. They’re so comfortable. I won’t wear heels—I hate them. I love a great-fitting pair of jeans and a nice top. I have two new jeans from Citizens of Humanity, and I’m obsessed. They do a great job with the fit.
I also brought one of the things I can’t live without: my calm mist. I love this product so much. A lot of mists are made with a water base, but ours is made with a green tea base and a lot of other anti-oxidants. When we look at developing products, it’s kind of like trying to squeeze more leafy greens into a person’s diet. How can we squeeze more anti-oxidants into a product, whether it’s a shampoo, a conditioner, or a lotion?
Melissa: What are your particulars say for a meeting with investors vs. a typical day of product testing?
Hillary: For meetings, I have 3 great jackets from Anine Bing and I love putting those on with a pair of jeans and keeping it simple.
Melissa: Is there any particular accessory that you never take off?
Hillary: I would say this Tank watch and my engagement ring. I almost never take these off. Back to simplicity, I didn’t really want a wedding ring because I felt like it was a lot of things clinking together.
Melissa: So, you must travel a lot, how to you bring along all of your True Botanicals gear with you? What’s your dopp kit or travel bag look like?
Hillary: When on a plane, I’ve been using the calm mist and the moisture lock overnight mask because it helps to draw humidity to the skin and lock it in. I’m calling it my moisture lock “overflight mask.” When I land and rinse it off, my skin is plump. I really like it.
Melissa: Speaking of travel, any big summer vacations or sourcing trips coming up? Inquiring minds want to know!
Hillary: Yes! We’re renting a house on the Big Island. Our kids love it and they’re all bringing friends. We’ll do a lot of cooking together, hanging out on the beach, swimming…all the things we don’t have much time to do. I think it will be really fun. Also, one of our suppliers who provides the sandalwood for our mists is on the Big Island, so we’ll go check out the sandalwood farm and it will be amazing.