Carol Alt

Photo: Brian Killian/Getty Images for Joanna Mastroianni

When we first covered model Carol Alt's debut into the skincare world, the 5' 10'' brunette beauty was ecstatic about bringing the concept of raw food to beauty products.

Raw Skin Essentials is now making its entrance at the Walgreens-owned Duane Reade drugstore chain -- where the line has branched out from its initial launch of four items to cover the full 20-product gamut of skin, body and anti-aging needs.

StyleList caught up with the svelte 49-year-old model-turned-entrepreneur at New York's 42nd Street and 8th Avenue Duane Reade, where Alt preached the virtues of raw food to shoppers.

Not only did Alt's face light up when asked about the benefits of raw skincare -- but we scored some yummy Xoçai Mega Squares of citrus-flavored raw chocolate the model pulled out from her purse while gabbing beauty.

StyleList: What inspired you to create this line?
Carol Alt: Total necessity. I couldn't find what I needed anywhere. I had major health issues going on years ago, and found that a raw food diet cleaned everything right up. I became a label sleuth, and discovered that my beauty products had all these nasty, bad ingredients in them.

So, I began making my own skin care in my kitchen. I would give it to girlfriends, and they started asking for more of it to give to other people. That's what inspired me to launch a line.

SL: You're a uterine and ovarian cancer survivor. Did that also cause you to change your diet and beauty routine?
CA: Yes. I didn't want to be cut, chemo'd or radiated on. I worked with Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez on changing my body with supplements and nutritional cleansing treatments. Dr. Gonzalez has written the forward to my "Eating in the Raw" book. You want to work with a doctor when making any kind of major dietary change.

I think a mostly raw diet has been crucial to my remaining healthy after cancer. And I eliminated all of those dangerous ingredients you see all the time in beauty products -- things like parabens and sulfates, that they find in cancer tumors. My line is entirely free of all those bad ingredients.

SL: Did you have to overcome any obstacles to create your skincare line?
CA: I was under a 10 year cosmetic contract when all of the raw food stuff happened, and when I published my first of two raw food books. I had six years left on the contract, and it was worth millions of dollars in my pocket -- but it just didn't feel morally correct to support something I didn't believe in. I had to let it go before I started my own line. We worked things out and ended it amicably.

SL: There's so much talk about natural products in skin care. How is your line different?
CA: Anytime a product says its natural or organic, make sure you look at the ingredient list because you can't just believe the front label. So many times, it'll say its a natural or organic product, and then the ingredient list feature tons of synthetic and dangerous ingredients!

All of my products are formulated under 115 degrees, so that the intregrity of rawness is preserved. My products are all completely natural and safe.

Raw Essentials by Carol Alt

Raw Essentials by Carol Alt. Courtesy Photo

SL: Some people think that natural products can't provide the same kind of anti-aging benefits as higher tech skincare can.
CA: Not true. Aging is an inflammatory disease just like cancer, which you can think of as potentially being able to cure. There are lots of natural anti-inflammatory ingredients you can use, that can be as potent as medicine.

For example, aloe can be very soothing -- but you have to use the right part of the plant to get the most benefit from it. Retin-A -- which is a super popular anti-aging product -- is derived from natural Vitamin A.

SL: So, it's just not enough to use a certain ingredient, you have to make sure it's formulated right?
CA: Yes. Just look at what they do with chocolate. Chocolate in its raw form is one of the healthiest foods on the planet, it's super high in antioxidant value and is naturally caffeine-free. But it gets mixed with all kinds of junk, and then turns into junk food candy bars that are awful for you. The same thing can happen with your skin care.

SL: For someone who is looking to make a raw food and skincare overhaul, what's your advice in addition to consulting with a holistic doctor first?
CA: I swear I'm not just trying to sell my book, but I wrote "Eating in the Raw" as a guide for beginners looking to get into this. I don't even make money on the book, but feel like it's my mission to educate other women on how to get healthier. Nothing beats feeling your best and being full of energy!