A photo of Sophia Gushee and Bethany McDaniel with the title and other details of podcast episode 36

Clean Beauty with Bethany McDaniel, founder of Primally Pure

beauty podcast self-care May 25, 2021

 Podcast producer: Chris Robertson.


Note from Sophia:

I love each of my podcast conversations as I find each guest so interesting and I learn so much from them! From Bethany, it was not only a pleasure to learn more about Primally Pure and Bethany's entrepreneurial path as a mother of two young kids, but I enjoyed a special appreciation for how she balances her clean living values with the hectic demands of her life—business, family, and her well-being.

Since this conversation, I have incorporated the banana pancake recipe that she reminded me of, oil cleansing as part of my evening ritual, and reading fiction at bedtime.

I hope you find this conversation as helpful as I did. Please share your reactions and comments @ruanliving on Instagram or Facebook or email me at [email protected].



P.S. To see Bethany's family, farm, and business operations, scroll to the bottom of this post for a video.

Also, keep in mind that discount code RUANLIVING will provide you 10% off your entire first purchase with Primally Pure. Ruan Living also earns an affiliate fee so thank you in advance if you use our discount code!


Podcast Intro

Bethany McDaniel is a farmer’s wife, mother of two young kids, and founder of Primally Pure.

In this podcast, you’ll hear how small detox tweaks transformed Bethany’s life. For example, Bethany’s skin was first transformed from detoxing just her facial moisturizer, and then her diet. These experiences led Bethany, in 2015, to launch her gorgeous brand, Primally Pure, which is a line of natural skincare and personal care products that are made with clean, certified organic ingredients, and consciously sourced ingredients.

In our conversation, you will also hear about Bethany’s entrepreneurial path and how she balances work and healthy family living as well as her morning and evening selfcare routines, kitchen staples, the healthy recipes that her kids eat, her top 3 priorities for practical nontoxic living, and much more.

I really appreciated learning about Bethany’s early start as an entrepreneur, and how she applies her health-consciousness into practice because real life is hectic, messy, unpredictable, and nonlinear.

I’d love to learn if this podcast helped you with tips and Aha moments. If you’d like to share how you benefited from my conversation with Bethany, then please let me know on IG/FB @ruanliving or email [email protected]. And if this episode was helpful, then please rate and review it. That would help so much!

To learn more about Primally Pure, check the podcast show notes. 

Now, on with the show...

Podcast Show Notes

The transcript below has been slightly modified to improve the reader's experience.

Bethany McDaniel: [00:02:18] Are you New York? 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: I am, I'm in New York City. 

Bethany McDaniel: How do you like it there right now? 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [It feels hard, but we love this city. Are you familiar with New York City? 

Bethany McDaniel: I've never been. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: You haven't? When things are better, you need to come.

Bethany McDaniel: I know. Someday. 

Bethany McDaniel: And where are you now?

Bethany McDaniel: I am in Temecula, Southern California.

Sophia Ruan Gushée: Is that where your farm is?

Bethany McDaniel: Yes.

Sophia Ruan Gushée: So do you live on the farm?

Bethany McDaniel: I used to. We don't anymore. We live in town now. I started out making products in our farm kitchen and everything. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:02:53] I'd love to hear more about your background and what happened that compelled you to start Primally Pure. 

Bethany McDaniel: I think a lot of things played into it. I mean, when I was a young girl, like 10 years old, I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. And I actually posted these... I called them kid shops... and they were little sales that I would have, just crafts that I would make. And I actually made lip balm at the time, of ingredients that I would not put in our products now. I actually made them out of Cresco and food dye and put them in little Easter eggs and sold them to all my neighbors. So I always loved the idea of making something and putting it out there into the world. That was always just a fun idea to me. 

[00:03:40] And then I went to college, studied communications and creative writing, and thought I would do something in that field. But I'd always had these skin struggles that started in junior high and then in high school and into college. 

[00:03:53] Also, I dealt with acne and I went the conventional route, went to a dermatologist and just kind of used everything that the dermatologist told me to do and was just often left feeling really frustrated because I felt like maybe one thing would work for a little bit, but then I would have some sort of a side effect. And I just felt like there had to be more to the story.

[00:04:17] But it wasn't until college, actually. I worked at Trader Joe's and a coworker of mine recommended jojoba oil as a moisturizer and I started using that. And I was blown away by how well it worked and how it didn't actually make my skin more oily. I felt like I was finally nourishing my skin and balancing it out for the first time in my entire life. 

[00:04:38] And then I met my now-husband. And around the time we got married, he and his brothers and dad had started a regenerative livestock farm here in Southern California. And that got me on this path of thinking more about what I was putting into my body. 

[00:04:55] And when I did a diet overhaul, that's when I really noticed a lot of positive change in my skin: My acne was clearing up. I felt like my skin had a nice glow to it that it never had before. And I was like, "Man, I missed the boat so much on the foods that I should have been eating my entire life, like, what else am I missing?"  

[00:05:17] And so I started looking at other products that I was using, like deodorant and other products that I was using on my face. And I was just really blown away by how harmful a lot of the ingredients are that were in those products and how simple the solutions really could be and how you can find really simple, effective solutions to most skincare problems from ingredients that most of us probably have in our pantries. And then I just went wild with it and started making products that. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:05:46] Were you in your 20s when you changed your diet and wanted to live deeper?

Bethany McDaniel: In my early twenties. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:05:53] So going back to when you started using jojoba oil, did you put that on your face or just your body? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:06:00] I put it on my face. So I was using, I think, like Clinique moisturizer at the time, and I stopped using that and just replaced it with jojoba oil. So that was the only swap I made. I just started using jojoba oil as a moisturizer. 

[00:06:16] I had always been afraid of oils because I thought they would make my skin more oily than it already was, but it didn't. It actually balanced out and nourished my skin for the first time to where it wasn't having to overproduce oil to compensate for using, like, more water-based moisturizer moisturizers that weren't nourishing my skin in the same way. 

[00:06:36] And then later, I switched to the oil cleansing method. I was always the girl using the harshest cleanser you could find that promised to get rid of acne and clear up pimples. And I didn't realize that I was actually stripping my skin of its natural moisture barrier and causing it to overproduce oil as a result and then perpetuate the acne and the pimples and all the things I didn't want

[00:07:01] So once I started oil cleansing. For anyone that's not familiar, it's just the practice of washing your skin with oil. And it's based on the scientific principle that like dissolves like. So in order to dissolve the dirt and grime and build up in your skin, you actually need a healthy beneficial carrier oil to really get in and dissolve all of that. So you moisturize, you kind of massage that oil into your skin and then take a damp or a wet, warm washcloth and just gently wipe away all the oil and you get this really deep, amazing clean that doesn't compromise your skin's moisture barrier. So that was also a huge, huge... that made a huge difference. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: Did you start the oil cleansing in your twenties also?

Bethany McDaniel: Yeah, I did.

Sophia Ruan Gushée: Over the weekend, I found a book in our home that I had bought a long time ago, about essential oils and different ways to use them. I cracked open the book and read something about oil cleansing... There had been some evenings where I didn't feel like washing my face and I would just use coconut oil to clean my face, but not knowing if that was a good idea. I just kind of craved it. And so, it is so interesting to read about some essential oils that can help with oil cleansing.

Then this morning, I was on the Primally Pure blog and I saw an article on oil cleansing. I skimmed it thinking, "I need to come back to this."

So that's funny that you bring up oil cleansing. It's been coming up in my life the past few days. 

Would you talk more about—depending on your skin type (whether it's dry, combination, or oily but)—different oils you might want to use? Do you use essential oils?

Bethany McDaniel: [00:08:53] Yeah. And that's so cool, by the way, that you intuitively knew that your skin craved and needed that oil every once in a while as a way of cleansing.

We do have different oil cleansers based on skin type or skin state, as we like to call it, because our skin is always changing and evolving. We don't have one skin type that we're stuck with our entire lives. So when I started oil cleansing, I was using our cleansing oil formulated for oily skin. And my skin has balanced out a lot since then.

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Now, in the summertime, I use the cleansing oil for normal skin.

In the wintertime, when the air is a bit more dry, I use the cleansing oil for dry skin.

I think it's really important to constantly reassess our skin needs based on our age and our cycle, things like that, and also our environment and where we live and what the temperature, what the climate is like in the area that we live in.

So in our cleansing oil formulated for oily skin, we have a higher percentage of castor oil, which is an astringent oil. And it just works really, really well to get in there and dissolve those grimy oils that are actually causing problems in our skin.

Our dry skin cleansing oil has a lot lower percentage of castor and it also has oils like rosehip seed oil, which are really good for diminishing fine lines, and a few other oils that are just really great for more dry, mature skin types. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:10:23] And how should someone use these oils? Because it's probably a different protocol than washing with the traditional cleanser. I read that you have to massage the oil for one to three minutes and then put a warm towel on. Right? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:10:38] So oil cleansing is an amazing addition to your nightly skincare routine. That's when we encourage people to do it, to really rinse away the build-up and grime that accumulates throughout the day.

I love to oil cleanse at night. You just drop a little dollop into the palm of your hand, maybe a dime or quarter-sized amount, and just gently massage it into your skin. And this is the really fun part. It's a spa-like experience. It's so relaxing. So you can do that for one minute to two minutes, three minutes, four minutes. You can do it as long as you want. It's not going to hurt you to do it longer, but just allowing your skin that time to let the oils absorb and work their magic.

It's also great for all the nerve endings in your face and activating those. The massage can be really beneficial.

So you massage the oil into your skin and then you take a washcloth, run it under warm water. You don't want to get too hot to where you're going to be burning your skin, but run under warm water and then put it up to your face. You can let it steam up a little bit on your--not on your skin, but--in front of your skin.

Then gently wipe away any excess oil with the washcloth. Then your skin feels so good and so clean afterward.

From there you can use a toner, and then a moisturizer or the double cleansing method can also be really effective.

So the double cleansing method is after oil cleansing, follow that up with a more traditional soap-based cleanser. And then from there, you would do the toning in the moisturizing.

Double cleansing isn't for everyone. If you have a more dry, mature skin type, you won't need to double cleanse.

But if you do have more oily acne-prone skin, double cleansing can be really beneficial to just cover all your bases and get a really deep clean. So I double cleanse a few times a week, but not every night.

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:12:39] Is a toner important to make sure you've effectively cleansed your skin? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:12:48] Yeah, it's really helpful for balancing the pH of the skin and getting that last bit of dirt or residue off. I like to use our Everything spray, and I blot it onto an organic cotton round pad. Then I wipe my skin with it. You get a good, clean feeling with that. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:13:05] Is it a good idea to also use either guasha or the jade roller while you're massaging the oil into your skin? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:13:14] You could ... I like to do that during the moisturizer step. So if I'm applying a serum, that's when I like to do it.

After toning, I'll just apply a few drops of one of our serums to my hand and then massage that in. And then I will do that or a cream. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:13:34] When do you use the guasha versus the jade roller? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:13:40] I'm like a little out of the habit of the jade roller right now, but it's amazing. I kind of go in waves of more guasha, or more dry brushing, or more jade rolling, or just whatever I feel like doing at the time.

Most of the time, I like doing the jade roller in the morning. I keep them in the fridge— actually the freezer—so they get really cold and in the morning. It just feels so nice, such a great way to wake up the skin, especially around the area, so have that cool temperature just feels so good. So that's how I like to use it. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:14:15] I'm sure you have morning and evening routines...  I'd love to hear what they are, and do you get lazy about it and take shortcuts? What's the bare minimum you do? ... Since you're so immersed in beauty products, I thought it would be really interesting if you could share because I know you're also a mom. Do you have two kids? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:14:39] I have two little girls.

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:14:41] And how old are they? They're pretty young, right?

Bethany McDaniel: [00:14:43] Yeah. Rosie is two and June will be five and like a week and a half. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:14:48] OK, so such a precious time. But probably it can be challenging sometimes to take care of yourself the way you would like to. How does that work in practice for you? There's like the wish list and then there's reality. 

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Bethany McDaniel: [00:15:04] Yeah, I love morning and evening routines, but, like you said, sometimes they do get thrown off course, especially with kids.

We just came back from a trip to Hawaii. So normally I am an early riser: early to bed, early to rise. Now I am having the hardest time getting off of Hawaii time.

 I've been going to bed at like 11:00 PM, waking up at seven a.m., which is so not typical for me. So the morning routine has definitely suffered a little bit because I haven't been getting up as early. 

Normally, I like to go to bed early. That's when I really focus on my skincare routine: at night. I think I pretty much described most of it a little while ago. But it's:

  • oil cleansing, sometimes double cleansing
  • toning
  • moisturizing
  • and Gua sha

Then I usually drift off to sleep with a fiction book. I love reading fiction at night because it forces me to kind of get out of my head and not think too critically. It's a good transition into sleeping for me.

I also wear amber-tinted glasses at night to block out the blue light. That has been really critical for me. And just winding down from the day and preparing my body and my hormones for sleep.

So that's what I do at night. Nothing too fancy. Sometimes I'll sip on tea and then in the morning, this is when I really get most of my time in for the day. 

[00:16:25] Typically I'll wake up around 5:00 and I have an infrared sauna at home. It's my favorite thing ever that I've splurged on lately. So I'll wake up and turn that on.

While it's warming up, I'll journal and plan out my day. I'll do a devotion. I'll sometimes read a little bit, usually something related to health or personal growth.

When the sauna is ready, I'll hop in there for about a half an hour and get nice and sweaty and then I'll hop into the shower. I like to follow it up with a cold shower.

If I'm able to get all that in, I feel amazing going into the day. The sauna, followed by the cold shower just feels so good and totally wakes me up.

If I have time to, I'll do Wim Hoff breathing. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: What is that?

Bethany McDaniel: [00:17:18] Have you heard of Wim Hoff?  I'll send need some stuff.

He's a really interesting guy. He's known as The Iceman and he holds all these world records for different feats that he's accomplished in the cold. He ran a marathon on the Arctic Circle or something. He does all these crazy things, but he has an app and it's based on breathing and cold therapy. He has guided breathing exercises and cold shower challenges and things like that. He's a really interesting, interesting guy. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:17:47] Was he on the Goop Netflix series? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:17:54] Yeah, I'm so inspired by him. 

See Wim Hoff Breathing Method in the video below.


Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:17:57] When you're in the infrared sauna, do you read or meditate?

Bethany McDaniel: [00:18:01] I will usually read until I get too sweaty and the sweat is dropping on the pages. So yeah, I usually read. Sometimes I'll do a little bit of meditation, but I'll try to read for as long as I can. Do you have a sauna?

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:18:17] Yes, I have the Sunlighten sauna. Oh cool. Do you have that or a different brand? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:18:23] It's Heavenly heat. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:18:25] OK, I was just wondering what setting... If you had Sunlighten, it has different programs, like detoxification or anti-aging and others. I know it's such a luxury when I have time to sit in it ... I don't understand why I don't have more time to do it. Do you do it every morning? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:18:43] No, I don't do it every morning. I probably do it 3-4 times a week. Do you read and you in the sauna or what do you do? 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:18:51] I know that, ideally, you should not do anything in the sauna except, like maybe meditate, to help the parasympathetic nervous kick in more. So I'm working towards that. But sometimes, you know, we struggle so much as working moms and entrepreneurs that I would be more stressed, not just jotting down...like sometimes I'll journal in the sauna, which includes my to-do list for the day or the week, though it's not ideal, but I aim to do nothing but meditate in the sauna. But if I have to, I'll take care of other things. 

Bethany McDaniel: That's great. I know it's tough to be still for that long, for sure. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: Yeah. Do you meditate? 

Bethany McDaniel: I do. On and off. I wish I did it more regularly. It's a goal of mine. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:19:40] So when did you start Primally Pure?

Bethany McDaniel: I started Primally Pure in 2015. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:19:47] What surprised you since starting it--about either starting a company or about the clean beauty market demand, like how consumers have reacted?

Bethany McDaniel: Yeah. Oh my goodness. So many things...

I can start with just running a company. I think one of the things that was a big help to me and also a hindrance in some ways was not ever planning to have a successful company.

I was fueled so much by passion that I was OK with doing this, like hustling, doing it out of my kitchen and my house forever. I didn't really take a moment to sit back and think like, OK, how can I work smarter and not harder right now?

And I feel like I was kind of in that mode for the first several years. I've just kind of been pushing through. I was hustling like crazy in the beginning and I didn't take a step back to learn more about how to be a good boss and how to run a business. I was just kind of going full speed ahead, doing it however I knew how to do it in that moment.

After a few years, I realized, OK, I need some help. I can't get through this just purely on hard work. I need some like mentorship and knowledge and all of that.

So at that point, I started reaching out to people, reading business books, listening to podcasts, things like that... and developing some of those skills that I didn't naturally have in terms of just being a business owner. So that was a really interesting time of learning, like, OK, hard work has gotten me this far, but now I need to step up in other ways. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:21:24] Did you have a plan?

Bethany McDaniel: No, not at all. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:21:27] And then at some point you realized, I should have a plan and manage my energy and time? How many years until you realized you should have more of a plan? 

Bethany McDaniel:: About two or three years. And then at that point I did some things... I joined a mastermind. Like I said, I started reading books and listening to podcasts on business and just growing in that way. So that was one big lesson that I learned.

But I also I'm grateful for that time in the beginning because I didn't start with any funding, any outside funding, or anything like that. So I think I needed to do that, to really get things up and going. And I was so passionate that I was happy and excited to work that hard. But it wasn't sustainable forever. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:22:10] If you could go back and give advice to your younger self when you were starting out, do you have any advice, or do you feel like it all was as it should?

Bethany McDaniel: That's tough, that's a good question, because I feel like it in some ways it needed to happen that way and it was only me. So if I wasn't working 16 hours around the clock and staying up late and getting up early, like if I wasn't doing that, Primally Pure may not be what it is today.

But I probably would have advised myself to protect my sleep a bit more. That's the one thing that you can never get back: those nights of not sleeping. It's not good for you. So I probably would have just protected my sleep more, especially after having a kid and then having to deal with the sleep thing, with having a baby, and then also a business. That was a tough time. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:22:59] What time do you try to go to sleep now?

Bethany McDaniel:: Usually between nine and 10. What about you? 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:23:05] Sleep is my greatest weakness and I've been asking these questions because I can relate to being so passionate that I'd rather work than sleep even through pregnancies and nursing. Now, my number one goal is to protect my sleep quality. But it's hard. 

Bethany McDaniel:: [00:23:24] That's hard. That's what I used to do. When my kids go to sleep, I open my computer and get a little bit more work in and I can't even do that. It's too stimulating. I have to do activities that wind me down. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:23:36] When did you recognize that the light from the digital screens disrupted your sleep? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:23:42] I've known that for a long time. I guess probably since I started the company. I've always been big on the light piece. But one thing that I didn't realize until more recently is it's not only the light from your devices, it's the impact from the devices that can disrupt sleep. Like I used to think I was good if I open my computer and put my blue blockers on to do some work. Then, the more I did that, I started realizing, like, this still doesn't feel right. I think it was because of the e-mails before bedtime. What do you think about that? 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:24:14] Oh, definitely. I did a whole workbook on it to share what I wish I knew sooner, tips that don't cost anything. The tips are mainly behavioral changes... because it took too long for me to realize that even if I turn WiFi off of the computer, there might be Bluetooth on to try and connect with wireless keyboards and mouses and these other little things that we don't yet fully understand because technology is so new and it's always being upgraded.

And it also took me a long time to realize, even with all the wireless emissions turned off, if the laptop is plugged into an outlet while I'm touching it, that really wreaks havoc on my sleep. 

Amazon affiliate link.

Bethany McDaniel: [00:24:58] Wow. There's still always so much more to learn. And the minute I feel like I have things sorted out, I learn one more thing that I could be doing differently. So it's such a journey.

That's why with skincare, or with anything, I always like to encourage people that anything you do, any positive change you make, or any product swap you make is a step in the right direction. You don't have to do everything at once.

But if you're on this path and want to learn and grow, the more you learn, the more you'll want to change, then the easier and more natural it'll become. It's so unfortunate when people put so much pressure on themselves and just think like, Oh, there's just there are so many things. It's just too much. And it's like, well, You don't have to do everything at once. You can take baby steps. You'll be better off for it. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:25:46] I agree. I actually encourage people to detox their lives as an elimination diet because when you eliminate one thing at a time, you can then notice the effect it has on your body.

It sounds like you went through that very naturally from, first what you put on your face, and then your diet, to then cleaning up other products and what you put in your body. As you detoxed what you buy, own, and do, did you become more sensitive or more in tuned to your body's reactions to things? Have you become more attentive to your body's symptoms? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:26:26] Yeah, absolutely. I like calling it attentive versus sensitive because I'm probably in a better place now to handle some of those toxins, but because I feel like I am closer to my natural state of being, I notice those things more. So, yeah, for sure. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:26:48] So then it becomes really organic to lead a cleaner life. Would you tell us more about the ingredients in Primally Pure? They're such beautiful products. I love the smells. I'm now using the essential oil and the Room Spray. My kids and I love them. Whenever my kids come into my office, they're looking for the Room Spray, then spritzing the room. The dry shampoo is fantastic. And the lip balm. Being Asian, I don't need the deodorant, but my husband and my teenager have been using the deodorant and love them. 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:27:29] Oh, thank you so much. That's awesome to hear.

There are so many clean brands now, so many more than when I started out. And clean beauty has become such a trend that companies are really capitalizing on that, and in their marketing, they're marketing products as clean. But they may not necessarily be clean.

Clean beauty has become such a trend. A lot of companies will say, 'All natural' or 'Made with coconut oil,' or whatever. 

A lot of consumers don't realize that a lot of those terms don't mean anything at all. Anyone can say that their products are all-natural. It doesn't mean it's actually natural. No one's checking for that.

And if they advertise an ingredient--like coconut oil or shea butter--and then you look at the back and it's like the last ingredient under 20 different chemicals, that may not be a product that is good for you.

So what I have tried to really focus on at Primally Pure is just using ingredients that you can recognize and ingredients that you know what they are just by reading the label and not things that you have to look up on the Environmental Working Group or Think Dirty or whatever, which are great apps. And I use them myself for certain things.

But for skincare products, specifically, there are so many raw, amazing, beautiful ingredients that are found in nature that really provide incredible results. So that's what we focus on, just really pure natural ingredients that make a big difference in the impact in the health of your skin without impacting you negatively in terms of your toxic odor or anything like that. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:29:10] With personal care products, including beauty products, do all the ingredients have to be disclosed on the product label?

Bethany McDaniel: [00:29:18] Most do, but there's a caveat with the term fragrances I'm sure you know about. And it's a blanket term for, I mean, I think there's... I want to say... tens of thousands, maybe even more different ingredients that are allowed to fall under that term of fragrance.

So if a product lists fragrance as an ingredient, it's not just one ingredient. It's most likely thousands of ingredients that make up that one word on the back of the ingredient package.

And that is a protected term. It's protected as a trade secret for companies so companies can really get away with putting a lot of junk in their products that the consumer wouldn't be aware of if they are using fragrance. So that would be a huge one. If anyone is just wanting to take one step to clean up their products, just avoiding products with fragrance is a big deal.

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:30:10] Does everything else need to be disclosed? Because I know with cleaning products, very little is required to be disclosed. 

Bethany McDaniel: Interesting. OK, as far as I know, everything else needs to be disclosed. But I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if there were more loopholes out there. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:30:29] Is it also true that the ingredients are listed according to the greatest concentration to the least? Because if someone is looking at product labels and they see the only recognizable ingredient is, let's say, it's organic coconut oil, but it's the last thing, then it's like a small portion of the formula, right? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:30:55] Yeah, that should be a red flag.

Something we always try to communicate is if you're going to check any of the ingredients, look at the first five and that'll tell you what the bulk of the product is made of. And if any one of those first five ingredients is a toxic ingredient, probably a good idea to to not buy that product.

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:31:14] Is Primally Pure going through the process of being verified by the Environmental Working Group. Or is that cost-prohibitive? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:31:23] We haven't gone through any certification processes yet. We haven't felt super inclined to do it just because we have relationships with a lot of the farms and vendors we work with. And we really like telling their stories and kind of focusing on how intentional we are about sourcing. So just from a bandwidth perspective, that's been more of our focus. But I definitely see us in the future doing the certified organic, the made safer probably ones that we would look at first to. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:31:54] Then why don't you tell us more about the ingredients and where they come from? Are they from farms in the United States? It sounds like you know them well. 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:32:05] Yeah, some of them, I mean, a lot of them are from the US.

With essential oils, it's more difficult to source everything in the US. We also like to use a lot of wildcrafted oils that are grown in their natural environment, which isn't in the US for a lot of those oils that we have on our list. Our aromatherapist on staff, she does a great job of vetting different farms that we use for our essential oils and sourcing them from the environment that they grow naturally in. So that's a big focus of hers.

For our tallow, we do use beef tallow in our products, we source from a number of small and regenerative livestock farms in the US. For that, we source honey locally at a farm about five minutes from us.

We love sourcing locally whenever it's possible. But for certain ingredients, it's not. And then we just like to know their stats and reports on the purity of the oil. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:33:03] And what are the benefits of beef tallow? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:33:06] So beef tallow is obviously an animal-based ingredient, which I know may sound a little weird to some people. My background in regenerative livestock, my family's background is in that, so we are of the belief that if you're going to use animal products, or if you're going to consume animal products in any way, it's important to use the whole animal as our ancestors did. 

[00:33:29] Beef tallow, an ingredient that our ancestors used in skincare for a number of years, as is emu oil, it's the fat of the animal which is rendered down.

I used to actually render it myself from our cows that we would process on the farm. It's a really simple process of melting down the oil. Then you filter it out and separate the really pure oils from everything else.

Then that solidifies and it forms beef tallow. It's really high in vitamins A, G, E, and K.

These are ingredients that are fat-soluble, that aren't found anywhere near the same concentrations in plant-based ingredients, so they just give the skin a really unique set of nutrients and nutrients that the skin really needs. So we're big advocates for using ingredients like beef tallow and emu oil, as well as plant-based ingredients because each of them are so unique and each of them are really beneficial for the skin. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:34:30] Are you vegetarian? 

Bethany McDaniel: No, I'm not. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: Have you tried to be? 

Bethany McDaniel: I did. I did in college for about a year. I didn't do it the right way. I didn't do it in a clean way. So it wasn't it didn't really work for me back then. And now with our farm, we get the cleanest meat available. So those make up a part of my diet for sure. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:34:53] I often hear people say that when they have tried being vegetarian, they often say, "I didn't do it right." I think it's great to highlight that there are health-conscious people who are not vegetarian, because I think a lot of people think they need to be vegetarian or vegan to be super clean. But it really depends on each person's unique biochemistry. And I think what stage in life they're at in pregnancy and nursing, having had children and aging, even like puberty, it all requires different nutrients and kinds of fats. So I just like to highlight that. 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:35:35] Yeah, I agree. I think that it's easy to get caught up and be super dogmatic about one type of diet being the answer. But I think people respond differently to different things. And I think as long as they're getting the toxins out of your diet is the most important thing and then kind of assessing from there, like just the different real foods and how they make you feel individually is important. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:35:58] Earlier, when you talked about changing your diet and noticing a huge improvement in how you felt, what were the changes? Was it more like the substance of what you eat change—going from less junk food to more Whole Foods, or were you also doing more organic? I'm sure it was a long journey. I'm really just trying to share with listeners how you cleaned up your diet and the benefits you noticed along the way. 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:36:26] Yeah, it was a lot of things and it's definitely progressed over the years. But in the beginning, I cut a lot of things out of my diet. So I cut out gluten, I cut out dairy and refined sugar. We're like the three big things that I removed. I was pretty much eating a Standard American Diet prior to this. So removing those three things and you can remove a lot of junk food when you cut out, especially like gluten and refined sugar. Most junk food has both of those ingredients. So by doing that, I also removed just by default a lot of the chemicals that are put in processed food these days. And then as the years went on, I also became a lot more diligent about buying organic produce. And I mean, I had already been eating organic meat from our farm, but I became like more a lot more strict about organic, like everything else. And then also including really nourishing foods like bone broth and healthy fats became a big staple for me and avoiding refined processed seed oils like canola and soy and safflower and things like that, which is something that's it's so hard, especially when you're eating out to avoid those things. But, yeah, that's kind of what my journey progressed into. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:37:48] Well, as we wrap up, I'm going to ask you some questions. I'd love your quick responses. What are your go-to meals for your children? Like go-to meals and snacks and what are some staples in your pantry? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:38:02] Yeah. Oh, man. So I and my kids have a tendency of just over-snacking. So one thing we're working on right now is cleaning up all the snacks in our cabinet and just focusing more on, like, whole meals. Because a month ago I would have said, like, oh, you'll find like bags of chips and crackers and these snacks that are like made of real food. But I just think it's so important to eat meals. And so that's what we're really focusing on right now.

[00:38:38] For breakfast, it varies a lot. But what we make often are these pancakes and they're made of it's just a banana and three eggs. And you blended up in like any type of blender. We use Magic Bullet, and then just cook them in coconut oil on a pan on the stove. So that's like a big go-to in our house. It's so easy. Just really three ingredients, banana eggs cooked in coconut oil. That's a big one that we do.

[00:39:06] My sister-in-law makes fermented coconut. So sometimes I'll just give that to my girls in a bowl with, like almond butter and maybe a little bit of honey drizzled on top.

[00:39:18] And then we from our farm have a lot of different types of tentatively raised like breakfast sausages. So we'll make those sometimes with like a smoothie. So breakfast totally varies for dinners.

We live in Temecula. He's one of five. All of his five siblings and his parents all live in town. So a lot of times we do big family meals, trading off at different houses, doing big family meals.

Often, whoever's hosting is doing the meat—like chicken or burgers or whatnot.

Then everyone else brings a side dish—like a salad or asparagus or broccoli or potatoes. Everyone contributes to the meal in some way.

So, in our pantry, you'll find we have a big deep freezer where keep all the meat. We have a lot of bone broth always. We have vegetables, fruit, nuts, nut butters, bananas (lots of bananas ), and lots of berries for my kids. And some packaged snack-type goods, but I'm  trying to limit those right now [00:40:41][83.7]

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:40:43] Sounds similar to my family. Do you filter your water? How do you feel about filters? 

Bethany McDaniel: Oh, my gosh. I have so much to learn in this area. There's a spring close to our house. We have a big tank and that gets filled up every couple of weeks in our garage and then that filters to our sink into our fridge. So that's what we're drinking. I'm in the market for a whole home filtration system for the shower and the bathtub and stuff. I have a feeling that you probably know, but I mean, I'd love that. [00:41:18][27.2]

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:41:19] So what are your three favorite Primally Pure products? 

Bethany McDaniel: Number one, I'd have to say deodorant. I think it's such an important swap for people to make. And it was the first product I ever created. So it's just a really special one to me. It's our number one bestseller. I love our deodorant.

[00:41:37] Our cleansing oil is probably next. It's made a big difference in the health of my skin and we are just always hearing from customers about the difference it's made in their skin., that it's been a fun addition to their skincare routines and self-care routines in general. So love our cleansing oil. 

[00:41:59] The third always changes... I really like our Everything Spray, and that's what I use as a toner. But it's great for spraying onto your underarms or bikini line after shaving to prevent ingrown hairs. It's great to just spray on your underarms throughout the day to freshen up. It has so many uses. Our customers are always sharing different ways that they're using it with us. So that would probably be my number three right now. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:42:26] What's in it that gives it so many benefits?

Bethany McDaniel: [00:42:30] It has apple cider vinegar, it has witch hazel, it has lavender, essential oil, and tea tree essential oils. So really antibacterial and just really like fresh feeling.

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:42:44] My last question is, since the podcast is titled Practical Nontoxic Living, and you're a busy mom who's juggling a lot of things, and we can't live a perfect, clean, nontoxic lifestyle... What are your top three priorities for Practical Nontoxic Living?

Bethany McDaniel: [00:43:02] That's a great question. I would say food products and sleep.

[00:43:12] So food. Rather than following a certain diet to the letter, I think just removing the chemicals from your diet, removing the junk, is so important. Kind of the same thing with products. You can really simplify your products a lot and you don't even have to buy Primally Pure or any which brand. You can do so much with ingredients that you probably have in your pantry. 

[00:43:37] Like you mentioned, you cleansing your skin with coconut oil or just using coconut oil and baking soda by itself makes a great natural deodorant, mixing apple cider vinegar with water and using that as a toner. There's so much that people can do with ingredients that they have in their pantry if they aren't ready to fully commit and dive in and buy all the products. I think that we overcomplicate that a lot of times when really if you're just getting started, I always recommend just kind of looking at your kitchen and using those products first. 

[00:44:08] And then with sleep. Gosh, it's just it makes such a big difference in your health. It's so important. And I think there are little things that you can do there also that make a big difference, like whether you're wearing blue-blocking glasses or getting new light bulbs or, you know, just limiting or removing screens at night time. All of that will make a big difference. And then, you know, getting the temperature right in your room, removing light, creating really dark sleeping environment are also things that make a difference. Not eating too close to bedtime can also improve sleep quality a lot. So, so many little like little things you can tinker within each category. But as a large focus, like products, food, and sleep,

Sophia Ruan Gushée: [00:44:53] Do you think pantry or kitchen ingredients can work just as effectively on the skin as something you'd buy off-the-shelf? 

Bethany McDaniel: [00:45:02] I think more so. A lot of times, like I would much rather if I was stranded somewhere and didn't have any primally pure products, I wouldn't go to CVS and shop the skincare aisle. I would go to Trader Joe's or Whole Foods and buy olive oil and baking soda and apple cider vinegar and go that direction before I buy most of the products on skincare shelves these days. 

Sophia Ruan Gushée: I love that. Thank you so much.

Bethany McDaniel: Thank you, Sophia. 

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About Ruan Living

Ruan Living simplifies a nontoxic lifestyle through its Practical Nontoxic Living podcast, free detox workshops, online D-Tox Academy, and transformative 40-Day Home Detox. It aims to help you avoid toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from what you buy, own, and do— without compromising your joy and convenience. Ruan was founded by Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of the bestselling critically acclaimed book A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Toxic Exposures and several detox workbooks. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Business School, Sophia has served on the Brown University School of Public Health Advisory Council and Well+Good Council. A popular nontoxic living speaker, consultant, and teacher, Sophia lives in New York City with her husband and three daughters. Her passion for empowering others to enjoy nontoxic living began with the birth of her first daughter in 2007. Everything she creates is a love letter to her children and for the healthiest, brightest future possible. You can learn more here: Sophia’s Impact.


This article is for informational purposes only. This information is provided “as is” without warranty.

It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. We do not offer medical advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other opinion on your conditions or treatment options. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Ruan Living.

In no event will Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living be liable for any damages or loss of any kind resulting from the use of this website. Anyone relying upon or making use of the information on this website does so at his or her own risk.

Some of the services and products recommended on this website provide compensation to Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living. All recommendations are based foremost upon an honest belief that the product, service, or site will benefit our site visitors in some way.  

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