Exclusive Q&A With Holistic Beauty Maven Sheryl Lynn Gibbs

Sheryl Lynn Gibbs – Holistic Aesthetician and Cosmetologist, with over 25 years of experience and a unique background — has mastered various certifications in holistic beauty and wellness. With aromatherapy, nutrition, homeopathy, anti-aging, herbal medicine, Ayurveda and cosmetic chemistry, all under her belt — has the abundance of knowledge to develop the most luxurious non toxic, yet effective beauty products and specialty services. Sheryl is also an esteem member of the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists,  enabling her to stay up-to-date on the latest cosmetic trends, ingredients and beauty procedures. She still caters to an elite clientele –providing beauty procedures and custom blended treatments — and also formulating her brand, Sevani — and Holistic beauty workshops.

Sapphire: In wake of the natural {r}evolution, it can get a little confusing, and intimidating — to select a natural and organic product. How do we know what  %’s mean and how do we  ‘select’ a truly natural product?

Sheryl: Great question! Unfortunately the term “natural” is not regulated. It can be very deceiving as a product may contain as little as 1% of a natural ingredient, yet the average consumer would be unaware. This deceiving tactic is very common in the marketplace, however today’s well-informed consumers are becoming much more ingredient-savvy. Additionally, some of the most well-respected specialty retail chains are now imposing stricter standards for anything that carries a “natural” label.

Organic on the other hand, does require certification. Any product in the United States that is labelled as “100% organic”, “organic”, or “made with organic ingredients”, must be certified. Only 95% and higher % organic products are able to display the USDA organic seal on their labels. Not all useful ingredients are available certified organic, yet this does not always mean the ingredient was contaminated with a chemical. In some cases they are wild-crafted or grown at a small farm.

Avoiding controversial toxic ingredients is more important in my opinion then seeking an organic product.
A good rule of thumb to consider, if a product is labeled “natural” yet is priced in line with the least-expensive products on store shelves, chances are it is not truly natural. Read ingredients and become informed.

Sapphire: I was in search of a different and unique approach to my career, and going green has played an enormous roll! What was your calling — into the ‘green’ beauty industry?

Sheryl: As a child I suffered with extremely sensitive skin. I was highly allergic to nail polish, dyes and synthetic fragrances. My sensitivity prevented me from using beauty products like other teens, and it was quite frustrating. When my grandmother from Italy came to live with us and started an herb garden she would make tinctures and massage them on my skin and it made a considerable difference. This inspired me to work with natural remedies.
I studied cosmetology as a teenager and for over 25 years I have been customizing clients facial and scalp treatments with botanicals and anti-inflammatory ingredients to minimize negative effects for others. Nature has always had a special place in my heart having suffered from headaches, allergies and more. Immune disorders, allergies and sensitive skin conditions such as rosacea are in abundance today. There are over 80,000 chemicals on the market today but nearly 20% of them are kept secret according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Diseases of the skin and allergies are on the rise and have increased dramatically during the past few decades. Green beauty is the best solution!

Sapphire: Ingredients is an important aspect in my decision making, when purchasing products for me or my family! What are some key ingredients that we should be on the look-out for right now — when shopping around for ‘natural’ products?

Sheryl: The key is to avoid terms such as “natural” on labels alone and become more familiar with the highest quality natural ingredients.Knowing what to avoid may be easier then knowing what to look for. Highly controversial ingredients to consider avoiding include parabens, silicones, hydroquinone, DEA, TEA, Phthalates, SLS, mineral oil, propylene and butylene glycol to name just a few.

Sapphire: Can you please help everyone who’s reading this understand what are the benefits of living a green lifestyle!?!??

Sheryl: Knowing that you are contributing to a healthier planet and lifestyle is beneficial to all. It is never too late for change and living the green lifestyle shows that we are committed to the very planet that we should show gratitude for. Mother nature provided us with an abundance of beautiful land, food and water so it only makes sense to treat it with respect. Getting involved in community, helping others and contributing to green methods of manufacturing, minimizing waste, water and eliminating plastic are just a few ways anyone can easily contribute. It’s never too late to start and reap the rewards!

Sapphire: I’ve been asked this question — time, and time again! As an expert in holistic health, is it safe to assume that a  ‘natural’ product — doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safer?

Sheryl: Absolutely. A good example here would be that of Poison Ivy. While it may be natural it is certainly not our friend in most cases (homeopathy being the exception). Of course many known natural ingredients such as these are not in beauty products, because we know of their negative effects. We are all complex beings that have unique sensitivities or allergies. Allergic reactions are possible to even the most pure and natural ingredients. However, they are often less common. As with any ingredient, just because the first 50 people that use it may have no reaction cannot possibly guarantee that number 51 will not. As a result I work with anti-inflammatory ingredients that have a history of minimizing sensitivities. I always recommend that people slowly introduce new products and note any changes. Sometimes we misinterpret our skin acclimating to new products as an allergy when it is not.

Sapphire: There are so many companies — attempting to join the ‘green’ {r}evolution — and are changing their ingredients and packaging, accordingly. Do you think this will be a lasting trend?

Sheryl: Definitely. I find it very rewarding to be a part of this movement as I do believe it is here to stay. Many manufacturers will be implementing more green methods of manufacturing and ingredient sourcing. Unfortunately those “claiming to” will likely always exist but it my greatest hope that us moving in a positive direction inspire others.

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