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A local skin-care company has ‘secret’ ingredient: olive oil

  • Jessica Dupuis makes products for her business, Olive Natural Beauty, in the office of her Northampton home.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jessica Dupuis makes products for her business, Olive Natural Beauty, in the office of her Northampton home.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jessica Dupuis uses ingredients like olive oil, cocoa butter, vanilla beans, lavender, oats, chamomile, beeswax and shea butter in her line of Olive Natural Beauty products.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jessica Dupuis uses ingredients like olive oil, cocoa butter, vanilla beans, lavender, oats, chamomile, beeswax and shea butter in her line of Olive Natural Beauty products.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jessica Dupuis uses ingredients like olive oil, cocoa butter, vanilla beans, lavender, oats, chamomile, beeswax and shea butter in her line of Olive Natural Beauty products.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jessica Dupuis uses ingredients like olive oil, cocoa butter, vanilla beans, lavender, oats, chamomile, beeswax and shea butter in her line of Olive Natural Beauty products.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jessica Dupuis makes products for her business, Olive Natural Beauty, in the office of her Northampton home.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jessica Dupuis makes products for her business, Olive Natural Beauty, in the office of her Northampton home.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jessica Dupuis makes products for her business, Olive Natural Beauty, in the office of her Northampton home.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jessica Dupuis makes products for her business, Olive Natural Beauty, in the office of her Northampton home.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jessica Dupuis' Olive Natural Beauty line includes several varieties of salves and lip balms.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Jessica Dupuis' Olive Natural Beauty line includes several varieties of salves and lip balms.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jessica Dupuis makes products for her business, Olive Natural Beauty, in the office of her Northampton home.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Jessica Dupuis uses ingredients like olive oil, cocoa butter, vanilla beans, lavender, oats, chamomile, beeswax and shea butter in her line of Olive Natural Beauty products.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Jessica Dupuis uses ingredients like olive oil, cocoa butter, vanilla beans, lavender, oats, chamomile, beeswax and shea butter in her line of Olive Natural Beauty products.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Jessica Dupuis makes products for her business, Olive Natural Beauty, in the office of her Northampton home.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Jessica Dupuis makes products for her business, Olive Natural Beauty, in the office of her Northampton home.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Jessica Dupuis' Olive Natural Beauty line includes several varieties of salves and lip balms.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

A native of Amherst, Dupuis, 24, founded Olive Natural Beauty in December 2009. Her product line includes all-natural and organic soaps, scrubs, soothers, body sprays and lip balms. The main component of her products is cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, an ingredient that she calls the “fountain of youth.”

“Extra-virgin olive oil is not only extremely moisturizing without leaving a thick, greasy or heavy feel, but it also contains polyphenols and antioxidants that give the skin a rejuvenating boost,” she said.

After earning a marketing degree from Emerson College in Boston, Dupuis worked as a manager at C.O. Bigelow Apothecary in that city.

She says she started Olive Natural Beauty to fill a need for affordable and natural skin care products.

“My skin is very sensitive and I kept finding that many skin-care products contained chemical ingredients that I didn’t want to put on my skin, and they came in at a very high price point,” she said.

After moving to Northampton, she turned her kitchen into what she calls “one big scientific beauty laboratory” and developed a wide-ranging product line. Olive Natural Beauty offerings include “Refreshing Rosemary” lip balm for $5, lemon and lavender bar soap for $10 and Goddess Glow body scrub in scents like sweet fennel and radiant rose for $25.

Dupuis said that along with quality and affordability, health and safety are high priorities for Olive Natural Beauty.

“A lot of times people think of their skin as a barrier or armor that protects them. In reality, it is one of the largest organs in the body and really acts more like a sponge,” she said.

Cosmetic labeling is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dupuis said. “There are a lot of beauty products on the market that contain chemicals that are simply labeled as ‘fragrance,’ ” she said. “These could be one or more of over 3,000 ingredients, some of which have been proven to be carcinogenic.”

Dupuis said that while other countries are moving toward tighter controls, that’s not happening in the United States.

“The E.U. has banned over 1,300 ingredients that were frequently used in cosmetics, while the U.S. has only banned under 15,” she said.

“One of my greatest concerns in today’s skin-care industry is the growing disconnect between the producer and consumer,” she continued. “Consumers have the right to know what ingredients are in their products.”

She said she uses ingredients that are certified as organic by such bodies as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, EarthKosher and the Oregon Tilth, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to biologically sound and socially equitable agriculture.

She also tries to get her ingredients from fair trade organizations like the African Fair Trade Council and Good Trade.

The business is a one-woman operation, with Dupuis handling not just product formulation but also packaging, marketing and distribution.

This month, she said, she single-handedly filled a 5,000-piece order for www.BeautyArmy.com.

She markets Olive Natural Beauty via her website, www.olivenaturalbeauty.com, and at other online retailers. Her products are also available at Joia Beauty and Ode, both in Northampton.

Despite calling the work “exhausting,” Dupuis said, it’s a fair trade-off for ensuring the integrity of her products. “Providing people with honest and safe skin care is as rewarding as it gets,” she said.

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