Meet the Maker: An Interview with Elaine Kao of LilliPads
Name: Elaine Kao
Your Title: Owner & Founder
Brand Name: Lilli Pads
When did you start (year): 2017 Full Time
Former Life/Day Job: Banking & Investments
Personal Motto/Mantra: Do what you can today to make for a better tomorrow.
Why Going Organic Could Save Your Life!
Do you know what kinds of ingredients go into making your skin care products? It’s a question that has become increasingly more pervasive to us as consumers as the beauty and wellness industry continues to evolve.
We sat down with Elaine Kao, founder/owner of Lilli Pads to learn more about how her trauma led her to start her own company and just how organic sanitary products can save lives.
Read on to find out what makes this entrepreneur dedicated to creating a better tomorrow!
Can you tell us what products you’ve incorporated into your daily routine?
I am a fan of Pure & Simple products. Ever since I discovered their holistic approach to beauty and skin care, I was sold! I found that before P&S, I used to have extremely dry and flaky skin, but they have since corrected the imbalance when I started going to them for my skincare needs. My go-to products from them has to be the Collagen Elastin Plus and the Sensitive skin and Exfoliant Mask.
With my hair routine, ever since I discovered Carina Organics, I was hooked. The great thing about their shampoo is that virtually all of the ingredients found in their shampoo are things that you can pronounce. There has also been a noticeable difference in my hair: I used to have to wash my hair every day to avoid having oily hair, but after switching over, my hair has become thicker, healthier and less oily.
I’ve always been a fan of Pure+Simple facials, so I thought I would try some of their products. This serum is great – it is lightweight and has no noticeable scent = super important for me! However I am not sure if it is moisturizing enough for my skin. I use it at night, which feels great, but it doesn’t give me that “plump” moisturized look in the AM. Might be best to use this under a moisturizer.
Love how gentle this skin exfoliant is on my skin! I have dry and sensitive skin and ever since I started incorporating this exfoliant into my skincare routine, I have noticed a major difference! My skin went from dull and dry to glowing and smooth. Love this product!!
What are three adjectives you’d use to describe yourself…that also starts with the first letter of your name:
Empathetic: I’m a people’s person!
Experimental: Learn best by doing & open to new ideas/experiences.
Exponential: We are exposed to infinite potential and opportunities. Most of all, we are all capable.
Around four years ago, Elaine experienced an adverse skin reaction that would re-define her life. Surprisingly, this type of skin reaction is not what you would expect: it was in the reproductive area of her body. Elaine fell sick from using a sanitary pad which resulted in such acute pain that she could not walk and was left incapacitated in her hotel bed.
The health scare led Elaine to re-evaluate her personal hygiene and skin care products that she had used in the past, products that, up until that point, she took for granted. Upon doing more research, she realized the importance of knowing your products—what materials goes into them, how they are made, and where these raw materials are sourced from, all of which make a huge impact on the final product. Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and other health issues from using unsanitary sanitary products is exactly why organic pads and tampons can save your life!
After all, how the company is run, what its philosophy is and how it operates can often define how they view and ultimately treat you as a customer. Nowadays, it’s no longer a trend to be an informed and ethical consumer, it’s the norm.
How has your health incident revolutionized your life?
I have become much more aware of what we use in our everyday products and as a result, have become much more discerning in what I choose to apply to my body. It is hard to believe that something as mundane as a pad or a tampon can cause such a serious reaction, especially when you have been using these products for a majority of your life without any issue.
My experience was also the catalyst that led me to found my company, Lilli Pads, that specializes in providing organic period products to women all across North America. Our philosophy is simple and centres around clean hygiene; all of our products are made with certified organic cotton and have been tested to ensure that no dangerous substances or toxins are present when it comes to you managing your feminine hygiene routine.
What does the term “Going Organic” mean to you?
“Going Organic” can be subject to different interpretations. To put this into context, the organic health and wellness industry has experienced rapid growth over the last two decades. One major caveat is that most regulatory bodies have not been able to keep up with all the changes in the industry. Some companies may be marketed as “organic” using technicalities, while others may have products that are made with close to, if not 100%, organic ingredients.
It really boils down to what the company’s core philosophies are. Sometimes, that may not be so clear. The need for more clarity on what it means to be organic has led to why we need certification bodies like CertClean, which is a prime example of a certification body which effectively provides a uniform organic standard around beauty and personal care products.
Tell us about the importance of going organic when it comes to skincare.
As a society, we tend to focus a lot on eating organic foods, or driving fuel-efficient cars, but the conversation around skin care has been lagging: your skin is a semi-permeable layer barrier that acts as the first line of protection for your body although some foreign substances can get through your primary defense system quite easily. Some areas of your skin can be more effective in absorbing chemicals than if you were to ingest these substances. Your skin can therefore act as a route of exposure for toxic substances.
As seen by several reports and studies conducted by the NIH, many conventional products can contain ingredients such as sodium laureth sulphate, phthalates or parabens. Although these chemicals may be benign with infrequent exposure, these materials can disrupt your hormonal cycle, interfere with your immune system and may ultimately be carcinogenic if used long term.
For those of us who are trying to incorporate organic products as first-timers or novices, what advice would you give to us?
Start small and work your way up! It can be something as simple as just changing your toothpaste. The world of organic products may be intimidating at first, but I would say this: be patient and don’t go for a product just because it’s natural—go for it because it works for you. Sometimes you’ll be lucky on your first try and other times, not so much, but don’t give up! Many natural products can take some time before you start realizing their effects—many natural goods don’t rely on instantaneous results like many conventional products do to wow you.