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Just as beauty is more than skin deep, so become our beauty products.

That’s the message Cindy O’Brien wants women to understand as they choose their skincare.

O’Brien, a holistic aesthetician, has launched LIV + GRACE SKINCARE by Cindy O’Brien, a natural skincare line that she has carefully crafted to be nontoxic.

Within a minute of applying something topically, the body absorbs about 70 percent of those chemicals into your bloodstream, O’Brien explained.

Some of those chemicals are hormone disruptors, known carcinogens, DNA mutagens or have other ill-effects on our bodies, she said.

“We are all told that we should put all this stuff all over ourselves to be beautiful,” she said.

“I feel like my job is to educate women on what is healthy for them in regards to what they’re ingesting topically.”

She said her goal is not to spread fear, but to encourage people to look carefully at what they are using and try to swap out even one or two items for cleaner choices, she said.

There are only 11 personal care product ingredients banned in the United States, while there are 1,300 banned in the European Union.

With each of her products, O’Brien examines the sources of her ingredients “from farm to finish,” she said. Every step of how an ingredient is processed influences how clean and safe it is, and whether she will use it.

“I want transparency around my ingredients that I’m putting in my products, and that people can know they have been thoroughly researched,” she said.

It’s a long process that requires going back and forth with formulators and suppliers to make sure every ingredient meets her criteria. It can take as long as a year and a half to develop one item.

But the end result is safe, clean products that are highly effective, so customers don’t have to sacrifice when choosing natural skin care products, she said.

“I basically marry up rich botanicals and Mother Nature’s finest with clean science,” she said.

O’Brien started her career in healthcare, but then shifted into the beauty and fashion world as a makeup artist and stylist in Hollywood and San Francisco.

In her early 30s, she struggled to get pregnant, so she started paying closer attention to what she was eating and the products she was using, she said.

It was the beginning of an interest in living a holistic lifestyle that grew the more she learned. Ultimately, in her 30s, she had two girls, Olivia and Grace, who she would name her skincare business after. She moved to Napa 18 years ago, when the girls were younger.

In 2007, O’Brien went back to school to become a holistic aesthetician, specializing in health and wellness. She worked in various studios in Napa Valley over the next seven years.

A few years ago, she began traveling to her clients all over Napa Valley, offering facials, make up, and other skin treatments, while she worked on creating the products that would become her LIV + GRACE line.

As she developed them, O’Brien tested them on friends and clients. Many began asking about them after they saw a difference in their skin.

She launched the LIV + GRACE SKINCARE brand on a Valentine’s Day, which seemed like a fitting way to show her love for her daughters, for what she does and for her clients, she said.

O’Brien offers six products including an anti-inflammatory elixir, cleansers, a goat milk hydrator, overnight spot treatment and “super” seed oil. For now, she sells them on her website or to private clients.

She calls her super seed oil and her goat milk hydrator the “heroes” of her collection.

Her seed oil is made of 10 different seed oils, making it rich in nutrients and essential fatty acids, she said. Each oil has a different weight and absorbs differently. It can be used as a serum that hydrates, plumps and heals skin.

So far, O’Brien has gotten a positive response from her business, with return customers, people buying her products as gifts and buyers purchasing several items from her line at a time, she said. Her next goal is to get her products in high end spas and natural boutique skin care retailers in the Napa area and nationally.

Creating LIV + GRACE SKINCARE has been rewarding for O’Brien, whose career has been centered on empowering women and finding ways to uplift them, she said.

“I really love helping women to feel beautiful and healthy inside and out,” she said.

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