REX Awards 2020: Natural products


Boiron USA
Boiron offers more than 200 SKUs in a number of different segments, including cough-cold, external analgesics and children’s medicines. However, the company is best known for its Arnicare line of pain relievers and Oscillococcinum flu medicine. 

“Retailers have recognized the opportunity to incrementally increase sales by offering the crossover natural channel shopper the convenience of one-stop shopping, while in a drug store outlet,” said MaryEllen Tefft, vice president of sales for food, drug and mass at the Newtown Square, Pa.-based company. “As the U.S. shopper shifted toward a healthier lifestyle, there was a need for products, such as Boiron’s, that contained better for you active ingredients.”

Based on the success of its ColdCalm product, Boiron launched ThroatCalm. Offered in an easily portable tablet form, ThroatCalm relieves minor sore throats associated with colds and hoarseness from overused vocal cords. 

Boiron currently is launching SinusCalm, building on its current success and adding to its -Calm franchise. SinusCalm is specifically designed to relieve nasal congestion, sinus pain and pressure, and headache due to the common cold or allergies, giving it year-round appeal to consumers. The nondrowsy and phenylephrine-free tablets dissolve quickly under the tongue without drinking water, chewing or swallowing pills.


The Honey Pot
Since 2014, The Honey Pot has been offering plant-based feminine care products. The Atlanta-based company is best known for its all-natural feminine washes, wipes, clean cotton tampons, herb-infused menstrual pads and liners, as well as natural feminine sprays.

To Beatrice Dixon, CEO and founder, innovation means creatively approaching a problem and crafting a solution that is both efficient and healthy. Her goal in launching these products was to address, rather than cover up, the underlying reasons women experience issues with feminine care products.

The company also is bringing the latest superfoods and antioxidants into its formulas, including full-spectrum CBD and colloidal silver. “We are innovating by bringing feminine care and plant-based wellness together in a substantial way,” Dixon said. “One thing that really makes us stand apart from our competition is that our products are natural, but also effective.” 

The Honey Pot will be launching a line of menstrual cups, organic tampons with a bioplastic applicator, and two herb-based treatment products in the coming months. Dixon said she expects these new items to appeal to consumers seeking a healthy way to manage their feminine issues without exposing themselves to potentially toxic chemicals and ingredients.


Nordic Naturals
Nordic Naturals began with a simple goal: to give people the nutrients they need to live a healthy life. Since 1995, the Watsonville, Calif.- based company has led the omega-3 fish oil industry by innovating its manufacturing methods to produce fresh, pure and great tasting omega-3 oils. Its safe and effective products are designed for the whole family, and its award-winning formulas deliver a customized approach to optimal health, executives said.

In addition to omega-3s, the company makes probiotics, gummies and essential vitamins and minerals.

“At Nordic Naturals, we are proud to make some of the freshest fish oil on the planet,” said Brian Terry, national sales manager of food, drug, mass and specialty. “Quality control begins at sea with careful selection of sustainable fish species that are naturally low in toxins and high in healthy omega-3 fats.” The company utilizes an oxygen-free, nitrogen-rich processing environment to ensure all omega-3 formulas remain fresh, and uses a molecular distillation process to remove heavy metals and other contaminants often found in fish.  

“Our obsession with optimal health means we do whatever it takes to produce quality supplements, always innovating to drive our progress and growth,” Terry said. “To us, innovation means using the latest science and research to inspire both the forms and formulas of our newest products.” 


OKAY Pure Naturals
The OKAY brand comprises a wide variety of natural hair care, skin care and beauty care products, ranging from shampoo, conditioners and facial treatments to body lotions, bath bombs and foot scrubs. Its products, enriched with vitamins and made with natural oils, fruits, vegetables and herbs, are free of parabens, sulfates and silicone. 

The company’s OKAY Baby line features an all-natural shampoo formulated with natural papaya extract, aloe, grapefruit extract, chamomile and jojoba. Likewise, its baby diaper rash cream is formulated with neem oil, lavender oil and aloe vera, which help protect sensitive skin from irritation. 

The company has chosen to produce its products domestically, something Osman Mithavayani, vice president and co-founder of OKAY, said gives it an advantage against its competitors.

The brand recently expanded its men’s care to include an all-
natural face and body wash; all-natural face, hand and body lotion; all-natural hair and beard shampoo; all-natural hair and beard conditioner; all-natural hair oil, hair and beard pomade; and hair and beard gel made with natural ingredients. 

Being a privately owned business enables the company to develop and release products entirely based on customer demand. “To stand out from the crowd, we have just concentrated on being us as a brand and as a culture. Our company works to a different beat than others, which allows us to be uniquely branded and developed in this saturated marketplace,” said Juan Morillo, brand ambassador and product specialist at OKAY.


Integria Healthcare
For more than 40 years, Thursday Plantation has been known for the medicinal benefits of its Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Oil, Australia’s original tea tree oil. The company has funneled this expertise into producing an extensive range of therapeutic and personal care products that help solve skin and health concerns. Thursday Plantation is part of Integria Healthcare, a leading natural healthcare company based in Australia, with U.S. offices in Los Angeles.

“At Thursday Plantation, we strive to find the right insights to understand the changing habits, behavior and attitudes of our core target audience in order to develop products that offer a real benefit,” said Brad Nauert, head of North America retail.

Nauert said that Thursday Plantation was built on a foundation of science and has a long-standing history in clinical trials in the areas of herbal medicine and therapeutic oils.

In early 2020, Thursday Plantation will launch Tea Tree Manuka Honey Balm, an innovative balm with naturally sourced ingredients that soothe, cleanse and support the skin. “Our 100% pure Australian tea tree oil has been used by the indigenous people of Australia for its health benefits for thousands of years. Manuka honey, sourced in New Zealand, provides a moist, low pH environment to help keep the skin in good condition,” Nauert said. 


Lifelab Health
Three years ago, Coconut Creek, Fla.-based Lifelab Health launched Nusyllium, an organic, GMO-free psyllium fiber product. The company has continued to expand the line by introducing Nusyllium Ultra Sugar Free. It contains 7 g of fiber per dose, which the company said is twice the amount of fiber found in the leading nonorganic fiber brand.

Louis Machin, managing director, said innovation has and always will be the main priority at Lifelab Health. 

Recognizing the need for an organic, USDA-certified cough syrup and metered-dose pump spray, the company has introduced HoneyWorks. “Our HoneyWorks soothing throat sprays for kids and adults represent an incremental sales opportunity for retailers as these products are unique and portable,” Machin said.

Also new to market is NuRelief Gas Relief, the first liquid gas relief product for adults. According to Machin, NuRelief Gas Relief provides a benefit for colonoscopy prep patients, as well as people who undergo tube feeding. The company will roll out a chewable tablet flavored with natural fennel and made with organic aloe in 2020.


Raw Sugar Living
Raw Sugar Living co-founders Ronnie Shugar and Donda Mullis describe their company as a lifestyle beauty brand, which features gentle, wholesome products that are made with plant-derived ingredients and contain no sulfates, parabens, phthalates or gluten. Most importantly, the pair wanted their natural and healthy personal care products to be accessible and affordable.

“Our products are packed with fruit and vegetable nutrients and certified organic extracts,” Shugar said. “Our key differentiators are that we deliver premium, cost-effective natural products that appeal to a broad multigenerational audience and process our ingredients through ColdPress Technology.”

The company’s consciously crafted products preserve its belief that less is more, something that also is reflected in Raw Sugar Living’s product packaging. Using soft-touch bottles — which feature 25% post-recycled plastic — and iconic bamboo tops, the company’s packaging represents its commitment to create natural products, while also helping the environment. Additionally, for every product purchased, Raw Sugar Living donates a bar of soap to a family in need.  

The Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based company recently expanded into the men’s category, launching Raw Men. According to the co-founders, the Raw Men’s line ranges from hydrating body washes to invigorating bar soaps with nature-inspired scents. 

“When it comes to product innovation, we constantly look to identify white space,” Mullis said. 


The Relief Products
The Relief Products is known for its eye and ear care products, but what many do not know is that the company’s full line consists of more than 30 distinctive homeopathic products, including cough-cold, digestive health and pain management remedies. 

The Reno, Nev.-based company prides itself on soliciting customer needs and incorporating available technology and compassionate pricing to provide customers with innovative and effective products. 

Innovation for TRP means using consumer communications to drive unique offerings built on customer-friendly delivery systems. TRP fulfills this mission by creating products that help address common acute and chronic health conditions, many of which lack effective traditional medical treatments. “Our company’s product innovation emanates from our consumers,” said Susan Hanson, COO. “We communicate daily with our customers and bring this feedback into our development of new formulations.” 

The Relief Products recently introduced Nighttime/PM Ear Drops and Nighttime/PM Eye Ointment. The new lines offer 24/7 relief from common ailments, with discomfort that tends to worsen at night, including pink eye, blepharitis, earaches and tinnitus. The new PM products, which join TRP’s daytime formulas, provide an opportunity to support recuperative sleep and overnight healing. “Our complementary PM products have allowed us to expand the daytime/nighttime segment, which for a long time was being overlooked and applied mostly to cough and cold remedies,” Hanson said. 



Since 2013, Rhinomed has been seeking to improve the way people breathe, sleep and maintain their health and wellness. The medical technology company is best known for Turbine, its sports breathing product, and Mute, designed to address snoring and improve sleep. 

According to Michael Johnson, CEO and managing director, of the New York-based company, its strategy is to ensure its products are widely distributed and to gain the endorsement of leading sleep clinicians, dental practitioners and ENTs who recognize the impact nasal obstruction issues have on their patients.

Most recently, Johnson and his team have been working on understanding the correlation between nasal congestion, sleep and aromatherapy. After extensive consumer research and consulting leading sleep dentists, sleep specialists and obtaining feedback from the U.S. Army, the company has introduced Pronto, an essential oil vapor delivery system.

“A bad night’s sleep can impact many aspects of your life— from heart health to cognition and your mental state,” Johnson said. “Rhinomed is committed to driving innovation and creating new, noninvasive solutions that improve the way people breathe, sleep, maintain their health and take medication.”


A maker of plant-powered personal care products, Portland, Ore.-based Schmidt’s is best known for its line of natural deodorants, which are produced without artificial fragrances or aluminum salts.

Ryu Yokoi, the CEO, said the company’s innovation starts with its consumers. When researching new products, Yokoi said the company looks at consumers’ needs to see how it can create products to enhance their self-care routines. For inspiration, Schmidt’s looks to nature for plant-derived ingredients that offer unique benefits.

For instance, Schmidt’s recently launched a line of deodorants featuring hemp seed oil, which is high in omegas and vitamins. The deodorants are available at major drug chains and mass retailers, as well as on

“As the natural deodorant category grows, we know that consumers are looking for benefits that go beyond scent, and that efficacy never goes out of style,” Yokoi said. “This new collection delivers on both fronts and features some beautiful scents, such as rose, sage and patchouli, all made with essential oils.”



UI Global Brands
UI Global Brands, based in Frisco, Texas, is best known for its Urban Hydration line of skin, hair and bath and body products. Psyche Terry, founder and CEO, along with her husband, started the company after being disillusioned with the quality of health and beauty products that were on the market.

Several years of research and development later, they created Urban Hydration, a beauty line that features such plant-based, natural ingredients as honey, coconut oil, castor oil, shea butter, glycerin and aloe. “We found we could eliminate silicone and sulfates and still create effective products with ingredients whose names I could pronounce,” Terry said. “The end result is a cleaner, healthier way to nourish and hydrate skin and hair.”

Terry never worried about her products being pigeonholed in natural stores. For her, it was about giving consumers a better choice and enlightening retailers about options that were both effective and natural. “We knew from the beginning, we were pushing against the grain, but once consumer demand for clean products caught up, things rapidly began to change,” Terry said.

Giving back is a key part of what makes the company stand apart. Hydration is not only part of the brand name, but it plays a key role in the company’s mission. In fact, two more water wells now exist in Kenya thanks to Terry’s company.

This January, the company will be launching an aloe-based skin care line. According to Terry, they focused on aloe for its proven versatility in terms of cleansing, toning and refreshing skin. 



Xlear began in 2000 with a xylitol-based nasal spray designed to address ear, nose and throat issues. Based on its success, the company then developed multiple delivery options for its xylitol saline solution and added a nasal rinse and a child-friendly nasal spray to its offerings. Since then, the company has extended the
line further with the addition of Xlear Max, with aloe and capsicum; Xlear Rescue, with herbs and essential oils; and Xlear 12 Hour Decongestant.

Realizing xylitol can be effective in other types of products, the American Fork, Utah-based company also developed a line of natural oral care products. Its Spry Dental Defense line includes mouthwash, toothpaste, gum and mints, all of which include xylitol. 

According to Nathan Jones, president and CEO, Xlear’s mission is simple: to provide cost-effective prevention opportunities that help people live healthy lives.


Influenced largely by the self-care movement, the appearance and composition of many of today’s health and beauty care products have experienced a shift. Much of the innovation being seen stems from consumers’ interest in having cleaner, simpler ingredient profiles and more functionality in the products they buy. 

Increasingly, consumers are drawn to health-and-wellness solutions that focus on both mind and body. At the same time, they want products that target and support specific needs and feature such purposeful ingredients as superfoods, aromatherapy oils, vitamins, amino acids and natural plant extracts. 

This has opened the door and created new opportunities for traditional and natural products companies that produce these types of products to be front and center on retailers’ shelves, as well as in consumers’ baskets.

Drug Store News’ annual Retail Excellence Awards is recognizing companies that have helped shape the natural category and led the way in product innovation and merchandising.