Jena Covello, founder of Agent Nateur chats about sustainable sourcing, Europe’s organic certifications, and using pearl powder in her celebrity-loved skincare set.
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Change your mindset. Change your life. It might be a popular mantra floating around the social media sphere. But, for Jena Covello, changing her life meant going from being diagnosed with stage four endometriosis to taking a holistic approach to her health. When she was unable to find an aluminum-free deodorant from a luxury brand, she launched her own. Since that first product launch, her brand, Agent Nateur, has blossomed into other products for a clean beauty and self-care regimen featuring nature’s most powerful adaptogens and antioxidants fused with science’s latest innovations.
Jena’s thoughtfully-crafted brand sources many ingredients from Europe and are Ecocert-approved. Take for instance the Holi(locks) serum. The pre-poo treatment doesn’t just make your hair smell like an island dream. Its array of organic seeds and herbs nourish the scalp and hair shaft to reduce split ends and moisturize. It also features Follicusan™, a milk-based bioactive clinically proven to reduce hair loss.
This combination of nature and nature-inspired ingredients is a pillar in another one of my favorite products from the brand- The Holi(lift) Firming Serum. The cloud-like formula floats onto the skin like a dream. Yet, even when worn under layers of moisturizer and sunblock, it doesn’t make the skin too shiny- which can be worrying during summer months. It imparts a slight glow and has a tightening effect that garnered me a compliment from a physician at a med spa after using it for a week. It should also be noted that a little goes a long way.
Jena took a minute to share more about Agent Nateur’s ingredients and sourcing and how she changed her life to also positively change the lives of others through the power of clean skincare.
What is one of the biggest eye-opening facts that you’ve learned during your health recovery journey?
A few things. In 2017 I learned that tap water in California has a higher lead content than in Flint, Michigan. Tap water in America is also testing positive for amphetamines. I realized that working on and stabilizing your emotions and nervous system is just as important as the food, company, and news you consume. I also learned that weight training and resistance cure a lot of aches and pains as we age. I also learned healthcare is not a one size fits all approach, and that each of us is chemically different and responds differently to treatment which is why I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all for pharmaceutical drugs.
You turned a health scare into a business that makes a positive impact. What mindset or advice helped you to feel empowered to create your business?
I was in a lot of pain and created the products for myself. I love them and use them, and knew if I loved these products, that I could authentically share them with the world because they are formulated with my heart.
The brand has changed a lot since it launched its first product (the holi stick). What are some of your favorite products that you’ve created?
I truly am so proud of everything we have created. I adore Holi (water), our high-molecular-weight, pearl and rose hyaluronic essence. It is such a light but deeply hydrating essence, and applying it is a lovely daily ritual; it smells incredible. Mixed with holi (c), our dry vitamin C and calcium powder, it instantly brightens your complexion while working hard on long-term discoloration, texture, and firmness. Lately, I am especially obsessed with our newest serum, holi (lift). It has a high concentration of lactic acid, which brightens and exfoliates in a gentle but transformative way.
Holi (mane) is also our best-seller, and I take it every day without fail. I mix it into my signature matcha latte with maple syrup, Ceylon cinnamon, a pinch of Himalayan sea salt, and almond milk. The proof is in the testimonials I receive every day on Instagram – the results are incredible when you commit to daily use. It makes your hair, nails, and skin radiant. I also love our Holi (wash) ageless resurfacing body cleanser and body (balm). Nothing exists like the scent of our holi (wash) and our body’s (balm) consistency.
How do you sustainably source your ingredients?
Our actives are nearly all Ecocert-approved to ensure an environmentally friendly cosmetic product. The Ecocert standard lays down that the ingredients are derived from renewable resources and manufactured by using environmentally friendly processes. The common denominator for every product is a relentless commitment to quality and efficacy in our sourcing. I formulate in the south of France and Los Angeles, focusing on ingredients that are efficacious, healing, and nourishing, as well as free from GMOs, soy, parabens, sulfates, aluminum, and petroleum. Our products do not disturb hormones and are safe when pregnant and breastfeeding. This standard is what our customers deeply trust.
I honestly spare no expense when it comes to sourcing. For example, our marine collagen is sourced from Nova Scotia, and because of increased demand, high-quality marine collagen has gotten much more expensive. Many sellers are resorting to sourcing from lower-quality collagen or binding the particles with peptides, gums, or starches, which increases the particle size, so it appears that you are buying more collagen. This could mean that the collagen is less bioavailable, meaning the nutrients are less easily absorbed and utilized by your body.
I found nearly all of my suppliers in the EU, but I’m incredibly proud that it is America that leads the way for green beauty. We are the pioneers and the world is following our lead which is so exciting. When I first began purchasing raws from Europe I noticed that European brands weren’t taking advantage of the incredible ingredients that they create and that most American brands were the buyers of these incredible actives.
You use a blend of synthetics and natural ingredients. Can you give an example of a synthetic that is safe and effective?
Our ingredients are all Ecocert-approved to stay inside the green beauty category. I am not opposed to synthetics, and I don’t believe all are bad. For example, parabens that have been around for 30-plus years are getting a bad reputation, even though they don’t cause any harm. It’s the newer parabens with a longer molecular structure that are banned in the EU and still available in the USA which are the problem. We use Geogard 221 to preserve our products which are also natural and Ecocert-approved, but strong enough to stabilize a product.
What challenges do you face meeting strict European Standards standards for ingredients in your brand?
The current administration just passed similar cosmetic laws to the EU this year. It is a double-edged sword. On the positive side, California just banned 24 cosmetic ingredients by 2025. But my fear in regards to strict regulations is that a small natural brand won’t be able to start their company because it will be incredibly expensive to pass all of the tests that are being implemented. If safety was truly the issue in the EU or America, the final product would be tested. Instead, each ingredient and supplier is ripped apart, and a small supplier who grows their own beautiful rose oil, or makes their own herbal extracts doesn’t have the money to provide many of the needless documents and tests that are requested. Yet the huge corporations all pass with flying colors. Again, if it was truly about safety they could just rest the ingredient or finished formulation. I’ve realized it’s just about money.
What are your favorite active ingredients to protect your skin during the summer?
Cucumber water is one favorite. It is bursting with flavonoids and antioxidants that promote youthful-looking skin and is shown to alleviate swelling and soothe redness. It also smells so incredible. Another favorite in many Agent products is sodium ascorbyl phosphate. It is the best derivative of vitamin C for cosmetics due to its natural SPF of 8, its stability, and its bioavailability. It protects against environmental stressors that lead to fine lines and wrinkles. We are also launching our first SPF soon, made with non-nano zinc. I have been working on this formula for over 6 years, it is a dream product!