Juice Beauty Inc.: Good for Your Skin, and the Earth’s

Karen Behnke is the founding partner and owner of Juice Beauty Inc. (Juice Beauty), which represents the culmination of her 20-plus years in the health and wellness industry. A serial wellness entrepreneur, she built one of the first major corporate wellness companies in the country, which delivered worksite wellness programs for big businesses. “My team pioneered the corporate worksite wellness industry and we held health and fitness programs and events all over the western U.S. at the worksites of major corporations,” recalls Behnke. Behnke’s company organized medical fitness screenings, cooking classes, stress management classes and smoking cessation programs.

For 15 years Behnke enjoyed finding new ways to increase awareness about employees’ health, and then she went on to become a director for 24-Hour Fitness, one of the largest health club chains in North America. Her tenure at 24-Hour Fitness lasted for several years during a time that the fitness company grew from $30 million to over $1 billion in sales. The Wall Street Journal even wrote two stories about Behnke nursing her two babies through several 24-Hour Fitness board meetings.

Behnke had her first baby at 40 and her second at 42. Spurred on by her commitment to have the most healthy pregnancy, Behnke began reading all the ingredient labels of food and drink products, but what truly stopped in her tracks was when she read the ingredients of a beauty product.

“When I became pregnant and read my first beauty product label I was horrified,” remembers Behnke. “I thought, ‘Are you kidding me? Everything that’s banned from our food is in our beauty products?’” The effect these harmful chemicals would have on not only her skin, but also on her unborn child worried Behnke, so she performed some research. According to Behnke, approximately 64 percent of what is placed on the skin is absorbed into the body.

Fruits of the Company’s Labor

This realization led to Behnke’s purchasing a defunct business named “Juice Beauty,” from which she took the name and began building her own comprehensive organic beauty product company from the ground up. The name was purchased in July 2004, and initial products started hitting the shelves in spring 2005.

In many ways, Behnke was following the same path with Juice Beauty as she did when she set out to begin her first corporate wellness company. She kept to the same ideals and the same business plan. “All the businesses I’ve had and everything I’ve done has equally married cold, hard business goals with passion and vision,” declares Behnke.

Based out of Marin County in Northern California, Juice Beauty is a mission-driven company. Juice Beauty’s mission is to lead the industry in high efficacy and authentically organic beauty products, while inspiring the ultimate customer experience, and that spirit is embodied in every aspect of the business that the founder and employees perform. Each of the staff, made up of 45 experienced professionals and scientists, considers it a personal and professional objective to put the healthiest and highest advocacy products on the shelf and on people’s skin, supporting these eco-values by purchasing from USDA-certified organic farmers and manufacturing with California’s sun (solar power). All of Juice Beauty’s product line is composed of up to 98-percent organic materials, which is incredibly high considering the restrictions and regulations imposed upon organic businesses by the California Organic Products Act (COPA).

One of the stipulations of the COPA is that the product must be composed of genuine organic materials, which doesn’t include water from undisclosed sources. “COPA is one of the reasons you don’t see a lot of truly organic beauty product companies, because most of them have water as their first ingredient,” explains Behnke. Juice Beauty meets COPA’s seal of approval simply by living up to its name despite these strict guidelines.

Instead of using water or petroleum as a blending agent, Juice Beauty uses organic fruit juices, organic botanicals such as aloe and sheas, plus organic grapeseed oils. These ingredients – as well as powerful ingredients like fruit acids, salicylic acid from willow bark, fruit stem cells, plant oils, raw cane sugar and more – come from farms that specialize in sustainable and organic farming and add another benefit to Juice Beauty’s product line. “Some of our products actually meet the USDA Organic Food Standard, which is the product must have 95- to 98-percent organic content,” articulates Behnke. Juice Beauty continually searches the West Coast for the purest, most effective organic ingredients, and crafts amazing formulations without parabens, petroleum, propylene or butylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfates, pesticides, phthalates, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrances.

Organic and Clinically Validated

Maintaining these high standards of both practice and product proved difficult for Juice Beauty when it came to partnerships, especially in the early days. “When we started it was hard to get scientists to work with us, because they were still used to using water, glycols and petroleum,” remembers Behnke. Many other companies were squeaking by with the bare minimum of organic materials, and the lack of regulation by major retailers and distributors made it all the more difficult for Juice Beauty to gain a foothold.

Juice Beauty possesses a key advantage, however, which propelled it onto the shelves of major prestige retailers. The company had the foresight to send in its products to be tested for clinical validation. The age-defying and blemish-control products specifically passed the tests with flying colors. This clinically validated efficacy was a special achievement for the company, and a personal one for Behnke.

When Behnke started thinking about starting an organic beauty business during her pregnancy, she was experiencing hormonal acne and developing fine lines and she began hunting for a product to use that wouldn’t exacerbate the condition. She combined her findings with that of the company’s scientists, and the research that Juice Beauty poured into finding alternatives to the harsh chemical compounds and synthetics in its competitors’ formulas was extensive. In the end, however, it paid off.

Juice Beauty’s acne-reducing formula features no trace of the harmful chemicals components common in the industry. “Bezoyl peroxide, petroleum, artificial dyes and fragrances and other synthetics are very harsh on the skin,” observes Behnke. “Each one of those ingredients is in our competitors’ products.”

Instead, Juice Beauty products include powerful ingredients such as alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, DMAE, peptides, Vitamin C and essential fatty acids. This formula has shown an 85-percent reduction in free radical skin damage, which includes sunspots and wrinkles. Other products include a wide range of other healthy ingredients, including aloe vera, plant oils and raw cane sugar from farms that specialize in sustainable and organic farming.

Getting the products to be both effective and good for the environment keeps Juice Beauty in high demand and sought after by many famous retailers. Currently, Juice Beauty products are being distributed and sold in 250 Whole Foods Market IP, L.P. stores and 500 ULTA Beauty stores. The company also does business in Canada on The Shopping Channel and on the shelf at Murale stores. “Our primary region of sales is in North America, and our second is in major prestige department stores in Asia,” confirms Behnke. And Juice Beauty is focused on taking care of its distribution partners. “We have double-digit top-line growth and comp store sales growth; the sky is the limit,” projects Behnke.

Efforts that will help raise Juice Beauty’s profile within the market include collaborating with eco-celebrity Alicia Silverstone on a collection that was launched on Earth Day in April 2012. This assortment of organic solutions promotes the luscious, vegan, nourishing, antioxidant-packed and simply gorgeous product for which Juice Beauty has become renowned, and draws attention to the high percentage of recycled, earth-friendly materials in the packaging (which is 90-percent recycled and printed with soy ink).

Behnke and the company staff have been on a quest to change the beauty world since Juice Beauty’s inception, and the results are noticeable. “Think about organic food years ago. It was in its infancy, it had to prove itself,” opines Behnke. “Now organic food is everywhere. Organic beauty products will go through a similar cycle.”

Juice Beauty looks forward to increasing awareness of organic beauty products, and educating the consumer on said products benefits. As the company works to clear up the face of the cosmetic industry, Juice Beauty Inc. continues its mission of providing clinically validated organic solutions to health-conscious consumers.