Today's Guest: Regan Nelson
Today, I interview Regan Nelson who had great confidence when it came to speaking up. Her brother and sister were heavily involved in politic. She excelled in speech classes and always found it easy to perform. The true missing piece, Regan says, was that she hadn’t found a specific cause or passion that she personally identified as a reason to speak her mind and boldly share her own thoughts.
Then she joined Beautycounter, a clean skincare line of products, and found that her heart was drawn to the concept of speaking up for change. She wanted to use her voice to benefit and improve the world.
She had always naturally shared her thoughts about health and wellness as part of her background in the industry. But working with Beautycounter opened up a whole new world of awareness around the toxins that are in everyday products and packaging and the detrimental impact they have on our health and our planet. This became her new mission.
Regan currently uses her voice within Beautycounter to redefine the standards of clean personal care and cosmetic products, focusing on increasing awareness and legislation around these new standards.
Regan Nelson is an entrepreneur, educator, and positive changemaker. She holds a BS and MS in exercise physiology and has 16+ years of experience working in innovation and consumer insights in the consumer goods industry, 6 years of which she spent at Nike.
Regan is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Portland where she served for two years on the Board of Directors as the Executive Vice President and Community Vice President, among other leadership positions.
Through her Podcast, This or Something Better, Regan shares stories of innovators and positive changemakers committed to making the world better. Regan’s own quest for “something better” comes through her work as a Senior Director with Beautycounter. Regan is a passionate health educator and advocate for more health-protective legislation over the personal care industry.
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Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode #42 Regan Nelson
“Healthy Confidence is More Than Just Skin Deep”
(00:03) Dr. Doreen Downing
I am Dr. Doreen Downing and I’m host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast series. I invite guests who have had somewhere in their life a struggle with speaking up or in some way they have held themselves back from being all they could be with their voice and their message and what they have to offer in this world. Today, I am interviewing Regan Nelson and I want to tell you a little bit about her. She’s an entrepreneur, educator, and positive change maker. Isn’t that a wonderful phrase, positive change maker? She holds a BS and an MS in exercise physiology in has 16 years of experience working in innovation and consumer insights in the consumer goods industry. She’s had six years of what she spent at Nike. Regan is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Portland, where she served for two years on the board of directors as the Executive Vice President and Community Vice President among other leadership positions. Guess what, she has her own podcast, and it’s called This or Something Better. That’s where Regan shares stories of innovators and positive change makers committed to making the world better. Wow, that sounds wonderful. We’re talking today about how the world can get better, too. So, Regan’s own quest for something better comes through her work as a Senior Director with Beautycounter. Regan is passionate about health education. She’s an advocate for more health protective legislation over the personal care industry. Oh, Regan, you’re very, very active and very committed, welcome to the show.
(02:29) Regan Nelson
Thank you. I’m honored to be here.
(02:31) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes. As I said, usually people who come on this show are struggling or have struggled in some ways with anxiety about speaking. In your story it sounds like it wasn’t so much a struggle about public speaking and feeling like you didn’t have a voice. So, tell us your interpretation of what not having a voice meant.
(02:57) Regan Nelson
Yes, that’s interesting. It’s funny by just saying that you reminded me that I was actually the district champion. I was given the option to either take the final for the class– the speech class, or go to districts and compete. So I went, and I won my category and then had to go on to the state competition. So, speaking has never been a real challenge for me. I have always been outgoing. I was a master seller of Girl Scout cookies; I was never afraid to make the ask. But I was never speaking out for something that I was passionate about. I have a sister who was involved in politics, father, who is most involved in politics. I’m the peacemaker of the family. So, I always like to make sure that everyone’s happy. I’m a bit of a mediator, if you will. I like to keep the peace. So, I really never felt that I had anything that I was truly passionate enough about to put my time and energy and my voice behind.
(04:16) Dr. Doreen Downing
That is such a great illustration of all the ways in which I’ve been interviewing people about finding their voice, because it sounds like well, in some ways, you had a voice, you won some contests and you stood in front of– it sounds like judges who evaluated your speeches and said, yay, you and you got awards, but that’s all part of school, isn’t it? Like showing up and being a good student? In a way, it’s almost like performance.
(04:53) Regan Nelson
Yes, very well, it was very much so that for me, it was sort of shaking the box a bit. Just doing the things, to do the things to get out of the final in the case of my speaking career, but it never had intention behind it. I wasn’t on the student body; my sister actually was. So, she was very involved in speaking out for things that in that case that students believed in. But I never found that platform to be for me until much, much later in life.
(05:29) Dr. Doreen Downing
It sounds like that really wasn’t something that was calling you to be a speaker or to represent something in this world.
(05:42) Regan Nelson
I never really had a calling. I think we talk a lot about servant leadership or being of service to your country or being of service to a community member and speaking out being involved in community initiatives. That was never me, I never had this kind of gumption to go out and change the world, if you will. I never felt motivated in that regard. I was maybe I think youth, not that all youth are selfish. But I was definitely focused on my studies and my career and achieving the goals that I set for myself. That was included getting my job at Nike and creating a professional career that was of substance. Then it wasn’t really until I left there and I partnered with Beautycounter, that I realized how important it is to use your voice for change and that small groups of people coming together to speak up about something they’re passionate about can really make a big impact.
(06:56) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, you’re really speaking my language now. I think that’s what you just said, speaking up for change is what’s going to resonate with listeners today. So, what was the– if you can go back and sense of what the change process was for you. Like you’re a professional, you’re out in the world you’re working and, yeah, you’re really committed, you feel like somebody who shows up fully. But what was it that said, oh, let me stand up for change and be a voice?
(07:34) Regan Nelson
Well, I’ve always been a huge advocate for health. Obviously, with my background in exercise physiology, I’ve studied health and wellness for a very long time, it’s been a part of my personal life and professional life for 20, 25 years, almost that, and it was always something that really was a driver in personal decisions that I made. At the same time, I was always trying to impart my influence around– on those around me, my family, especially, they’re probably tired of hearing about how they should be eating and exercising many years later. But when I became more aware of this issue around our personal care products, and personal safety, and the ingredients that we can put in our personal care products, and how those impact our health, it really forced me to look at my life in a very different way. I had always exercised and eaten well, but to be quite honest, I was not paying attention to the plastic bags that I was using, and what might be in them and what snacks I’m putting into the plastic bags, or thinking about the lotion that I put on my body, and what the ingredients are and how those absorb into my skin and impact me. Honestly, I’m very fortunate and probably, I don’t want to say in the minority, but it’s definitely not the majority. There are a lot of women who struggled with infertility, my peers, family members, or have cancer, or some sort of autoimmune disease. I’m almost finding that that’s more of the majority than it is the minority these days. When I learned that these ingredients in our personal care products are playing a role in that. I felt this obligation to speak out. I love my family and friends and I want to protect them in every way, shape and form. My dad lost his parents at a very young age both to cancer before they were 60. He also lost his brother at 40 to cancer, and I don’t know if it was because I didn’t know them. There was this sort of a very large sense of family loss that I feel a greater sense of responsibility to protect my family. My parents might say it’s like worry, almost like did you make it safely. But I want to keep the people close to me healthy and happy and around me for as long as I can. When I learned that our personal care products could be impacting our health in a negative way, I just felt it was my job to sing it from the rooftops.
(10:27) Dr. Doreen Downing
I love it. I love hearing singing it from the rooftops. So, you’re talking about personal care products, lotions, lipsticks, mascaras.
(10:39) Regan Nelson
Yeah, skin care, all the things, anything we put onto our body as a physiologist, I will tell you your body is– your skin is your largest organ and anything that you put on it will absorb into it and into your bloodstream, just like anything you eat. Unfortunately, the personal care industry is vastly under regulated. So, to give you some perspective, the last time we passed a major piece of legislation over the industry, which is I think around $80 billion now was 1938, which is a very long time ago.
(11:14) Dr. Doreen Downing
(11:15) Regan Nelson
The laws that govern this billion-dollar industry, are about a page and a half long. It’s not because people don’t care or the FDA doesn’t want to keep Americans, in this case, healthy and safe. But there’s just not rules. So, right now you can put formaldehyde in baby lotion, and you can put things like oxybenzone, which is known to kill coral reefs in sunscreen, and you can put coal tar in mascara and parabens in pretty much everything. Many of those ingredients are known to have negative impacts on human health.
(12:02) Dr. Doreen Downing
Well, I get that from way back when you chose your career or chose your profession when you went to school, it was health. Wasn’t it something already that you didn’t know, was calling you to get closer and closer? I think there was a time my sense– and this is what I think all of us who are listening to you today need to at least have the willingness to look at what we are. If our skin is this big organ, and we’re feeding it, what are we feeding it, poisons?
(12:38) Regan Nelson
Yes, and it’s a journey for everyone, my journey was not a slow one it’s taking– I’ve been using Beautycounter products for over seven years, I’ve been working with the company for about three and a half. I’m constantly learning and growing. As I learn and grow, I feel again obligated to share this knowledge because it’s really not commonplace. Most Americans assume that if you go to the grocery store, or a drugstore that you can call some lotion off the shelf, and that it’s not going to be harmful to you. But unfortunately, that’s not the case. So, I take a lot of satisfaction and joy out of sharing this information so that again, the people around me can be healthier and safer. So that we can all have long, fulfilling lives in which to your podcast, we can all use our voice to speak out about the things that make us passionate. This just happens to be the thing I’m passionate about.
(13:45) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes. What I like about you using your voice is that the passion and the joy does come through as well as your commitment to protection. I heard that a lot. Are you the oldest sister?
(14:02) Regan Nelson
I actually have a twin sister.
(14:04) Dr. Doreen Downing
Oh, well, I’m an older sister. So, I was thinking and you know, my sister Ginny.
(14:10) Regan Nelson
(14:13) Dr. Doreen Downing
A private fact here is I do use products of Beautycounter. I got introduced to Regan through my sister and we are really having a good time with the idea that what we’re putting on our skins nowadays is what you call clean and just say something about what clean means.
(14:33) Regan Nelson
It’s actually something that we’re working, Beautycounter as a company to define. Right now, there are very little– as I said very little standards within the beauty industry. So just because something’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe, lead is natural. We don’t want it in our color cosmetics. So, we’re working to define what that means clean, but for Beautycounter, clean means that our products are free of over 1800 ingredients that are commonly used in personal care products, and that are known to have either the chemicals of concern, which means that there’s not a lot of data to know how they impact human health, or they are known to be carcinogens, and neurotoxins, endocrine disruptors, hormone disruptors, and those sorts of things. So that’s what clean means to us. In the United States, we only restrict 30 ingredients from personal care products and the European Union, it’s about 1400. So, yeah, it’s a very big difference, Canada’s around 600. So, I think, for us clean is about what we’re not putting into the products, and then also a commitment to transparency in sharing exactly what it is, as opposed to hiding behind, like the fragrance. Fragrances, is one of those ingredients in industry, where you can put five things in your fragrance, or you could put 150, but they’re considered trade secrets. So that means that the company doesn’t have to share what those ingredients are. So clean has multi levels within Beautycounter. We’re a big corporation. So that also means that we have ethical supply chain practices. But when it comes down to it for me, I think for everyone, if you want to just look at the basis of clean, it’s just making sure that the ingredients in your products that you’re putting onto your largest organ are not going to have a potentially negative impact on your health.
(16:33) Dr. Doreen Downing
Great. I really wasn’t intending it to be a shout out for Beautycounter. I just wanted to have your story about how you found your voice. But it’s also really, really important now that you do have a voice and you have a platform with me here today to, like you say, stand on the roof and sing.
(16:54) Regan Nelson
Yeah, well, I mean, as you said, I have a joy and a passion for it. That desire to share really prompted my podcast as well, where I wanted to share stories of all sorts of people who are positive change makers and innovators doing things to make the world better. That’s been a really fun new experience for me as well.
(17:21) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes, if you think about the skin as a metaphor, we could look at the Earth has its own skin. So anyway, the whole universe has a skin and protecting it, protecting our environment and our bodies, I can say is like an environment. I like what you said about protecting, protecting ourselves, protecting our families and I see just the wider implications about protecting our world, our globe, our universe, our Earth.
(17:58) Regan Nelson
Yeah, I mean, thinking about how the decisions we make impact ourselves. I always tell my daughter, think about the decision you’re making, and what impact does it have on you, your family and your community. If for any of those things, you can say the impact is questionable, then it’s probably not a good idea.
(18:20) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes. I think that what you just said around that question about decisions, usually your voice is what makes that decision. If your voice has impact– look at where your voice is rippling out to and what the impact is. I’m learning a lot too just about voice and listening to you and then applying it to the wider realm of how we live our lives and what decisions we make and how we are all connected in a way, like the poisons I put on my body without knowing it, I’m sure have some impact on the people I hug.
(19:06) Regan Nelson
Well, the good news is that most of these things leave our systems within a relatively, short amount of time. So, I would like people to know that it’s not too late. Like I said, I began my journey seven years ago. That means for a very long time, I was using things that I didn’t know that could be impacting my health, but it’s about progress, not perfection. I think that’s really when it comes to speaking out too, don’t be afraid to use your voice. Don’t be afraid to make a change. It’s never too late.
(19:39) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yeah. Well, my journey started with you seven weeks ago. So, I’m on my way to a cleaner, living myself. So, what you just said I think is a fabulous last line, but I’d like to give you a little more opportunity to share whatever comes up for you to close our time today.
(19:59) Regan Nelson
Yeah, I think, the biggest thing that I would like to share with people is, don’t be afraid to take your passion, whatever that may be, and put it into action. So that could be– for me, it’s my Beautycounter business, it’s also through the podcast. What you will find when you practice being courageous in a way, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and, speaking up or acting up– I don’t want to say, acting out, that makes it sound negative. But you try the things, do the hard tasks whatever it might be, because the more you do them, the easier it gets. My confidence in speaking about these issues that I’m passionate about is far greater today than it was three and a half years ago. That’s not coincidence. It’s because I’ve practiced. So, I just encourage you to practice the hard things.
(21:06) Dr. Doreen Downing
Yes. Also, you must have been educating yourself too, because it’s a lot of information, even today that you gave us and there’s much, much more, I’m sure.
(21:18) Regan Nelson
Yes, for sure. The more you say it, the easier it becomes.
(21:22) Dr. Doreen Downing
What I like today in my last thought about being with you is your belief, I’m so touched by, and I think that’s what happens when people are in their fire and in their passion is that you radiate out to others, and you ignite us and inspire us, you teach us and we change because of voices like yours. Thank you, Regan.
(21:52) Regan Nelson
Oh, thank you. For me that’s what it’s all about. So, that’s music to my ears.
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Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.
Podcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: doreen7steps.com.