“I decided to marry Bob after he saved my life,” explains Wendy Steele, founder and CEO of Keys, an organic skin care line made entirely of natural ingredients. “There’s always a reason when you meet someone. The first words I said to him were ‘I think you’ll be good for my health.’ That was a defining moment in my life.”

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Two years after meeting her future husband, Steele discovered she had melanoma. Her husband Bob Root saw what looked like a bright red piece of hot wax on her ankle. After having visited the best dermatologist in San Diego, their residence at the time, and undergoing the necessary surgery and treatments, her skin conditions worsened. Steele started exhibiting signs of eczema and psoriasis on her hands and neck.
“My skin started to just react to things I never had reactions to,” explains Steele. “When I scratched my neck lightly it looked like I had been mauled by a lion. The doctors couldn’t address it.” After moving from the west coast to the east coast, she successfully removed the melanoma via surgery. Steele was prescribed various prescription steroid creams and various lotions that were not only outrageously expensive, but also littered with chemicals. She tried all different kinds of beauty products, but nothing was working. Her husband, a gourmet chef and engineer, started making up concoctions for her skin. The all-natural ingredients – many are found in food – caught on with their close friends who gave the soaps and creams to their friends. Gradually, word spread and Steele and Root’s friends suggested they try to move the soaps and creams to the public.
“It came from a place that really was putting something out there that was results-oriented,” said Steele. “The Island Rx soap was the very first soap that we productized along with another one called Windsurfer. I took it to my dermatologist because they wanted to know what I did to clear up my skin. I realized how much people did not know (about products on the market) until I was struck with these skin disorders.”
That’s when Keys was created in 2004. For two years Steele and her husband cultivated the brand and products which include sun block, lotion, healing spray, hair products, serums, cleansers, and other related skin products that are made of all-natural ingredients straight from the Earth. The Solar Rx sun block that has an SPF of 30+ for UVA, UVB, and UVC rays was ranked number one cosmetic sun block on the market in 2007 by Consumer Reports. The Environmental Working Group ranked Keys number one as the safest sun block on the market of about 900 brands.
“Efficacy, safety, and education is what Keys is all about,” explained Steele. “In our research we discovered that everyday products have all these crazy chemical ingredients in them. Not everyone has access to a lot of the information that most people either don’t know about or don’t talk about. We finally figured out after seven years of research was that my skin was reacting to the chemicals in the sun screen I was wearing everyday.”
Keys labels their products like food so that the consumer knows exactly what is in every product. Simplicity is the source of every product, explained Steele, as well as everyday protection. Keys’ shea butters are high in fatty acids from Ghana. All ingredients are hand-picked for their efficacy and some for their ancient healing properties like avocado oil.
“Our consumers know the proportion of every ingredient and why those ingredients are in it,” said Steele. “We talk about the actions and reasons why the product works the way it does. It was done based on just a simple science that really works – what we call a ‘green science.’ We use ingredients that come directly from nature and are naturally sustaining as well.”

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Community Responsibility:

Steele’s goal is to help as many people as possible with the information her company researches and collects. As a self-described advocate, Steele signed up to become an inner circle member of the Skin Cancer Foundation, agreeing to educate and raise awareness for cancer prevention, in particular melanoma. Keys also supports Judy’s Support for the Cause, the Environmental Working Group, and Pets for the Environment.org, organizations formed to protect people and animals from skin ailments and help those with skin problems to educate and take care of themselves naturally.“We contribute,” said Steele. “It’s who we are as a company. We contribute what we consider knowledge of what we’ve learned, what we know, and what we believe.”

Favorite Product:
(Note: I swear by this stuff for my sensitive skin) Keys Luminous Hydrating Moisturizer for both day and night. Includes anti-aging properties as well as a shimmering skin foundation and skin conditioning softener for faces, eyes, lips, and neck. To buy click here.

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According to Steele, there are twelve chemicals to stay away from that are most commonly found in personal care, pet care, and households products. They’re unregulated products that are not required to be listed on product labels. You may want to clip this and carry it with you in your wallet. I do!
– Sodium/Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
– Parabens
– Propylene Glycol
– Phthalates
– Petrolatum
– Cocamide DEA/Lauramide DEA
– Diazolidinyl Urea
– Butyl Acetate
– Butylated H ydroxytoluene
– Ethyl Acetate
– Toluene
– Triethanolamine

Photos thanks to Wendy Steele and Keys

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