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Mom develops line of organic, gluten-free cosmetics, skin care products

Stephanie Ferguson, a Raleigh mom, developed her own line of organic, gluten-free cosmetics after her family was diagnosed with various allergies.

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Stephanie Ferguson grew up eating breads and pastries, all popular for her family of French descent. She's spent her career as a make-up artist, applying name brand cosmetics, lotions and other skin care items, which often use wheat and other grains as fillers, with no problem.

But about eight years ago, when she was pregnant with her first child, Ferguson and her doctors noticed that her sugar level was spiking and she was putting on weight much faster than she should, considering her healthy diet and lifestyle. It turns out Ferguson, now a mother of two, had developed allergies to wheat and dairy.

Her older son would have the same allergies. Her husband also has food sensitivities. And it all became even more serious when her younger son was born two years later. Not only does he have allergies to wheat and dairy, but he also is allergic to corn, legumes, chicken and peanuts.

Even things like lotions and soaps would turn his skin raw and red. And Ferguson, who lives in Raleigh, worried about transferring those grain-based fillers in the cosmetics she used to him when he'd touch her lip gloss-covered lips as she sang to him, for instance.

"I had to be careful about my nail polish," she said. "I had to be careful about my lip balm, my lipstick."

A couple of years ago, she started making her own lotions and soaps. Pretty soon, friends with allergies or who were sensitive to certain ingredients were asking her for help, too. A year ago, Ferguson decided to launch her own skin care and cosmetics line that's safe enough for all people, regardless of their allergies.

Saf organics offers a growing line of makeup and skin care products that are made with ingredients that are organic, gluten free and vegan. She has lotions, facial serums, blushes, skin masks, anti-aging serums and more. There are products for babies and men as well. The line was nominated for a Martha Stewart American Made award this year.

Ferguson said she'd found some products on the market that she liked. As she became aware of her own allergies, she changed out her professional make-up kit to include allergen-free products for her clients. But she had to pull from many different brands to find individual items she liked. And some brands that advertise as being green or all natural, she said, often still have fillers that could irritate people's skin or cause allergic reactions.

"I don't want to give a client 18 places to get their stuff," she said. Creating her own line of products seemed to make sense.

Ferguson has searched online for ideas and jokes that she has her own library with books on subjects such as herbalism. She is hard at work to expand her line of products to include nail polish; a beard and moustache wax (which is highly sought after); and a color stick for both your lips and cheeks.

She also can custom make products for people based on their own allergies and issues.

"All of our ingredients are posted," she said. "I don't hide anything."

Her products have been sold mostly online, but will soon be found at Nora and Nicky's, a downtown Raleigh boutique. She has big plans to continue to expand her products to include a full make-up line. And she's hoping for more stores to pick up her brand. She's already had some interest from two large grocery store chains.

She said it's clear that there's a need for products like hers.

"I'm giving people a choice. I'm giving people what they are looking for ..." she said. "It's interesting to see that there's a need for it. There's a market for it." 

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