We love a strong female founder — especially one that highlights other powerful women. We chatted with True Botanicals founder, Hillary Peterson, about non-toxic beauty, her nighttime routine, and the launch of the #TRUTHREVEALED campaign, highlighting amazing women and their truths about everything from activism to self-care for mind, body, beauty, and spirit.
Hillary is wearing the Pima Long Cardigan
You were diagnosed with cancer as a young mother. How did your cancer diagnosis inspire you to start True Botanicals?
I began prioritizing my well-being in every way possible—practicing meditation, tweaking my diet, getting more exercise. And after learning about the number of toxins in the everyday products I was using on myself and my young family, I was motivated to find safe alternatives. The only problem was that I couldn’t find products that were all the things I truly wanted: nontoxic, high-performing, and luxurious. So, True Botanicals was born from the belief that you shouldn’t have to make trade-offs with your beauty routine—you can get results without compromising your health or the health of the planet, with products that you truly love using.
Was skincare always a passion of yours prior to starting True Botanicals?
Skincare was always a challenge for me. I had bumpy, blemish-prone skin from the time I was a teenager and I had been unable to work my way to clear skin. And I tried everything. So, ironically, the products made with toxins were not even working for me. Finding my way to pure, potent, natural products brought me clear skin for the first time in my adult life—which felt amazing in more ways than one.
How do you typically start your day? Do you have a morning ritual?
I very much enjoy a morning coffee on my porch. I’ll usually get out of bed, throw on my cozy Pima Long Cardigan, and make my way out there to just sit quietly and caffeinate—my days are so jam-packed, I really take advantage of these moments in my day whenever I can. Naturally, my morning routine is also very beauty-focused. I wash my face with just water and spritz on the Renew Nutrient Mist. Then, I apply our Clear Pure Radiance Oil while my skin is still damp to help it sink in, followed by a Suntegrity tinted SPF. Makeup-wise, I love Well People blush and mascara, RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, and Ilia Lip Conditioner in Arabian Nights for an unfussy yet put-together finish.
What is your favorite time of day?
Truly, any time of day that includes my whole family together. My kids are getting older and those times are rarer and more precious than ever. Other than that, my morning commute—which I realize is a surprising answer! I take a ferry into San Francisco every morning, many times when the sun is still trying to peek its head out of the fog, and I enjoy that quiet time so much. I’m contemplating what my day has in store, looking forward to being with my incredible team, and soaking up all the positive energy I can from being on the water. It nourishes me.
We all know sleep is important, but we rarely get enough of it. What does your relationship with sleep look like?
I have certainly gone through periods in my life when I wasn’t getting enough sleep—being a parent for sure has cost me a few hundred hours. Being a business leader sometimes means waking up in the middle of the night sorting through opportunities and solutions to challenges. But I make sleep a priority (after all, our company is devoted to supporting well-being). To that effect, I take a bath every night with magnesium-rich Dead Sea salts. Studies show a good bath can help you drift off more easily, and I’m here to tell you it’s absolutely true! And to really amp up the unwinding, I apply our Stress Relief aromatherapy blend beforehand—it’s packed with calming, whole essential oils like tarragon and frankincense and it smells literally dreamy.
What can you tell us about the healing powers of botanicals? We love a natural remedy.
How many hours do you have!? I could go on forever regarding the healing power of plants and I’m so grateful to work with some of the field’s leading experts. For example, we worked with Rui Hai Liu, Ph.D., head of food science at Cornell University, to formulate our Antioxidant Booster. It leverages the peel of nature’s longest-lasting fruit, apples, to revitalize our skin and help prevent future damage. I was talking with him recently about plant bioavailability and he recommended fresh or frozen wild blueberries or an apple (with skin!) if you are fighting a cold, rather than a vitamin C supplement. He has shown in studies that they have so much more to offer. For calming, I love to make a cup of fresh lemon verbena and mint tea.
What have you discovered in your research that is most alarming, and the most enlightening?
Most alarming: the information that sent me down this path to begin with. Health-compromising toxins are rampant in personal care products, and there’s virtually no oversight from the government. In the U.S., only 11 ingredients are actually banned from use. Europe does significantly better with a little over 1,300. We go quite a few steps further: in working with MADE SAFE, we prohibit over 5,000 chemicals.
Most enlightening: the third-party clinical trials that showed our products outperformed leading conventional brands, and proved that you don’t need toxins to get results. I knew this already by seeing my own skin transform, but seeing the data is what made me fully realize we could change an entire industry for the better.
True Botanicals recently launched the #TRUTHREVEALED campaign, a message that seems very personal to you and your story. What does the campaign mean to you?
I had always just assumed that the products I was using on my body were good for me—why would I assume otherwise? Once I started looking into them, though, I found that they could be compromising my newly restored health. This led to me finding what I believe to be my purpose, and ignited a change within me that has helped me be more honest, more authentic, and more transparent. Asking questions is important. Seeking truth is important. It’s a way for us to take care of ourselves and the world around us. My hope is that by revealing truths about the industry and who we are as women, we expand our community and create change on many levels.
What is your True Botanicals nighttime routine? Favorite product of the moment?
After my bath, I apply the Pure Radiance Body Oil all over. Then, for my face and chest, I apply Clear Pure Radiance Oil, plus the Renew Serum mixed with our Antioxidant Booster. With the weather changing, I’ll also do the Moisture Lock Overnight Mask on top—and this is probably my favorite product of the moment because it is so necessary right now! It’s made with plant-based hyaluronic acid and peptides among other actives, and third-party clinicals showed it dramatically increases skin hydration. You really wake up with the softest, smoothest skin of your life (and Allure thinks so too—they just gave it a Best of Beauty award).
What do you think is next in clean beauty?
I hope that what’s next is that safe products become a standard and not an exception. Green chemistry will go mainstream and get cleaner products in the hands of everyone. Third-party certifications will become the norm, ensuring total transparency. And the focus will be as much on what’s inside the bottle as what’s outside of it. We’re considering the entire lifecycle of a product—from farm to bottle to box and beyond—and how it impacts the health of people and the planet, and I think more and more companies will pay attention to this.