By Barbara Fallon
“For over 35 years, Royal Labs has provided custom formulation and contract manufacturing services for many of the world’s largest and most trusted brands – and it is with great pride that we bring our unmatched expertise, innovation, and reliability to the CBD market,” announced Dee Heffernan, VP Sales & Marketing, and daughter to Royal Labs founders Paul and Peggy Lieber.
It’s no surprise that in a market as nascent, promising, and unregulated as CBD, an abundance of smoke, mirrors and half-truths leave brand owners scratching their heads, wondering: is there anyone I can trust? With more than three and a half decades of formulary and manufacturing expertise in natural skin and body care, Royal Labs is filling the void and raising the standard – once again.
As the largest of its kind in the United States, Royal Labs Natural Cosmetics formulates products for more than 500 companies worldwide, most of which are name brands you know and use every day. If it’s a natural or organic product in your cosmetics case, Royal Labs probably made it on Johns Island, South Carolina.
Peggy Lieber grew up in a remote part of Ecuador where natural remedies were part of everyday wellness. “It’s easy for me to create from nature,” Peggy explains. “Growing up, I saw and experienced first-hand the healing power of plants, herbs, and flowers.” When Peggy was 13, her family moved to Connecticut. In their town, Paul’s family owned a health food store. One day, their hands brushed over two pounds of organic soybeans. As is only fitting for such instances, the two were soul mates.
This was the ‘70s, when aerosol hairspray was king and nothing about your mauve lipstick was natural. A purist at heart, Paul recognized that the personal care industry needed more products containing natural ingredients. “I would read the labels on the ‘natural’ skin care products in our health food store and find that the majority of their ingredients weren’t actually natural,” explains Paul. “Sure they contained some botanicals, but they were far from healthy.” As a health advocate and someone to whom his customers would look for recommendations, Paul was conflicted.
At the age of 21, and newly married, the couple began research and development for a natural cosmetics line. For their time, they might as well have announced an intention to stroll around the Sun. “Our parents thought we were crazy because we were doing something that nobody cared about at the time,” recalls Paul. But the couple was curious about the natural world around them: how some plants were able to stay green for so long; how different natural extracts interacted; and how Nature itself appeared to preserve youth.
Equipped with a dream to always work together, a gram scale, and a mixer donated by Peggy’s parents, Paul and Peggy founded Royal Labs Natural Cosmetics, and developed their first brand of skin care products: Aroma Bella. A skin aesthetician by trade, Peggy opened a skin care clinic and spa where she used Aroma Bella products during facial treatments, providing her with the opportunity to receive immediate feedback on the effects that her products had on various skin types. “We knew that getting direct feedback from people was the best way to see, over time, how skin can be improved with the use of natural ingredients,” recalls Peggy. “There were no case studies at the time. There were no standards. We were pioneers of completely uncharted territory, and so it became our mission to figure out how to bring natural into the mainstream.”
The spa was a success, and within a couple of years, Royal Labs had their first breakthrough: the successful formulation of a natural preservation system. With the ability to make entirely natural creations with stable shelf-lives, the Lieber’s opened a small manufacturing facility in Connecticut where they embarked on perfecting their art. “We knew that since our products were natural, we would have to work even harder to achieve the results of mass market luxury products,” explains Peggy. “Our products are competing with FD&C colors, Propylene Glycol, PEGS, Triethanolamine (TEA), and DEA, to name just of a few of the artificial ingredients that give conventional skin care products that ‘feel good’ factor.”
In mass-market lotions, for instance, silicones are widely used to give a silky feel to create the impression of supple, hydrated skin. “Our rules are simple: If the functional goal is to moisturize, then our aim is to reach that goal without compromising the integrity of ingredients, nor the experience of overall enjoyment,” she summarized.
By creating products that could appeal to mass-market expectations, the Liebers knew they were positioned to achieve a bigger picture goal: to build a legacy of natural living. “Synthetic and toxic ingredients in personal care products negatively impact not only our immune systems, but also our rivers and our oceans,” notes Peggy. “Not adding to this problem is a personal goal that I strive to achieve every time I put on my lab coat.”
By 2000, the green movement took off and so did Royal Labs. Awareness of the harmful impact of parabens, SLS, phthalates, and other chemicals used often in mainstream personal care products began rising to the surface. “We were right there waiting to catch the wave,” explains Peggy. “Not only that, but we were way ahead of other formulators who hadn’t yet discovered how to develop truly natural products. Our vision, and our commitment to that vision, positioned us to lead the way.”
Throughout the years, the Liebers created their own in-house brands, including their flagship, Deep Steep, a plant-based brand of high integrity bath and body care products. “Our brands are an expression of the level of quality we have been able to attain in our formulations,” says Peggy. “Worldwide, ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are the fastest growing segments of the industry – by far. People are looking for ways to take better care of themselves, and that’s very exciting for us.”
Over the course of 35 years, Royal Labs has built strategic partnerships with many of the best packaging and raw material/ingredient suppliers in the world, giving customers access to the best prices and the fastest turn-around times. With the advent of CBD, Royal Labs has taken steps to secure the same valuable relationships so that their final goods continue to be safe and effective for a customer-base that is looking to leverage this new ingredient for their health and wellness. As a result, Royal Labs has seen its private label business soar.
“Our founders have over 50 years of combined experience in personal care formulation and manufacturing, producing award winning products for many of the world’s leading companies. With clients ranging from small, independently owned companies to leading chain retailers and marketing groups, our breadth and capabilities are both versatile and deep. If you can think it, we can most likely make it,” Heffernan said.
Royal Labs operates from an FDA-Registered, USDA Certified, cGMP and Certified Cruelty-Free manufacturing facility on Johns Island, South Carolina.
For more info, visit royallabs.com or call 800-760-7779.