Here at Beautycounter, we feel as though one of our primary
responsibilities is to protect our consumers. As you know, we do this every day by creating high-performing
products utilizing industry-leading safety standards, while advocating for
enhanced legislation to protect all consumers,
not just Beautycounter’s. And we protect through education, sharing
information so that others can make the most informed choices for themselves. There are also moments when we protect by not sharing information, as in the case
of your personal information. It is our
duty to safeguard your information and prevent its unwanted use or access. We do this by engaging in continuous efforts
to enhance data security practices.
With those commitments in mind, we wanted to update you on a specific incident that was recently brought to our attention. Recently, an anonymous individual contacted our company claiming to have stolen personal information from our online environment. The individual demanded money to ensure that the stolen data was deleted.
Beautycounter immediately began a cyberforensic investigation of the individual’s claims and determined the extent of the unauthorized intrusion so it could be immediately contained and addressed. Beautycounter also began to work with law enforcement to investigate the anonymous individual and prevent further criminal activity.
Our investigation continues, in close coordination with law enforcement, but we do have some information to share from the investigation to-date: current findings indicate that the incident does not involve information sufficient to commit a fraudulent transaction or otherwise wrongfully access online accounts. When Beautycounter became aware of the potential issue, we immediately acted to follow up on the claims and initiate containment protocols. We found no indication that anything was exposed regarding our Consultants, Clients, and Associates other than certain names, email addresses, the last four digits of credit card numbers, and/or card expiration date information (this partial information does not permit an individual to access or use the corresponding account).
It is important to note
that Beautycounter does not store full credit card numbers on its systems. Like many other companies
conducting ecommerce business, we receive reports of potentially fraudulent
charges at various times, often which occur using information that does not
originate from Beautycounter. However,
based on information from our investigation to date, there is no indication
that any instances of fraudulent charges or activity could be related to this
The safety of Beautycounter’s community is of the utmost importance to us, in all aspects of our business. We foster trust through transparency, and reinforce our commitment to providing you with information, while protecting yours. If you become aware of any indication that your account or identity may have been compromised, please let us know immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, we also encourage our community members to engage in good general digital “hygiene” as well, including regularly updating passwords, voiding using the same password for all of your accounts, etc. Thank you for all that you do to support the safety of our community.
Beautycounter’s commitment to safety is widely-known, from our approach to our ingredients and product formulations to our revolutionary work around consumer safety regulation. As we have always said, safety is only as good as the transparency accompanying it, and it is this unwavering combination that made us the industry leader we are today. We lead by example, and will continue to by transparently communicating our successes and challenges to help educate others trying to be better. So, true to character, we want to notify you about an issue with one shade of our brow gel.
We are voluntarily issuing a recall of one shade (Soft
Black) of our Brilliant Brow Gel, after being notified of an isolated issue
with that shade. While this issue does
not affect any other Beautycounter products, or other shades of the brow gel,
we take every potential situation seriously, no matter how small or isolated.
Our Periodic Monitoring Program (the Beautycounter testing
program designed to monitor the quality of products in the market on an
on-going basis) alerted us to a potential issue, and we immediately stopped
selling the Soft Black shade.
Simultaneously, we initiated confirmatory testing protocols to
understand if the issue was real (vs. a testing error or anomaly), and our
manufacturing partner also launched an internal investigation at their
All investigations concluded, and we have confirmed the
presence of a common mold, Penicillium spp., in the Soft Black shade of the
brow gel. Results of our manufacturing
partner’s investigation also identified the cause of the incident: an isolated,
storage condition at their facility.
When our partner identified the cause, they immediately addressed the issue
to prevent this situation going forward.
Penicillium is a group (Genus) of molds commonly found in the
environment and can be introduced into a manufacturing facility from various
sources, such as raw materials, water, and equipment. It is
considered to be an opportunistic pathogen. This means that
individuals with weakened immune systems, those who suffer from a pre-existing
health condition, or who belong to another particularly-sensitive group may be
at risk of allergic reactions and related symptoms. If it is
introduced into the eye, eye infections may occur.
You can determine if you have an affected product by looking
at the lot number (lots: #999224670
and #999210861) inked on the side of the brow gel. If you have a product with these two lot
numbers, please discontinue use and throw them away immediately. If you gave or sold this product to anyone,
please tell them about the recall and that they should also discard the
We are of course disappointed any time that our high standards are not met, but we recognize that this challenge also presents us with an opportunity to reinforce our commitment to transparency and progress. Whether through educational, recap discussions with our manufacturing partner, discussions with the FDA, this blog post, or testifying before Congress, it is our responsibility to lead by example and show the industry how to be better. We invite you to visit our Health & Safety page if you would like to know more about how we are leading by example.
Mener par l’exemple
L’engagement de Beautycounter envers
la sûreté est bien connu : de notre façon de sélectionner nos ingrédients
à la composition de nos formules, en passant par notre travail révolutionnaire
visant à faire évoluer la réglementation assurant la sécurité des consommateurs.
Comme nous l’avons toujours dit, la sûreté n’est véritable que si la
transparence qui l’accompagne l’est aussi, et c’est cette combinaison
inébranlable qui a fait de nous les chefs de file que nous sommes aujourd’hui.
Nous donnons l’exemple et continuerons de le faire en communiquant de manière
transparente nos succès et nos défis en vue d’inspirer les autres à faire mieux.
Ainsi, fidèles à notre nature, nous souhaitons vous informer d’un problème concernant
l’une des nuances de notre gel à sourcils.
Nous émettons volontairement un
rappel de la nuance Soft Black de
notre gel à sourcils Brilliant Brow, après avoir été informés d’un problème
isolé avec cette nuance. Bien que ce problème n’affecte aucun autre produit
Beautycounter, ni aucune autre teinte du gel à sourcils, nous prenons chaque risque
potentiel au sérieux, aussi petit ou isolé soit-il.
Notre programme de surveillance
périodique (le programme de vérifications de Beautycounter conçu pour
surveiller la qualité des produits sur le marché sur une base continue) nous a
alertés d’un problème potentiel, et nous avons immédiatement cessé de vendre la
nuance Soft Black. Simultanément,
nous avons lancé des protocoles de tests de confirmation pour comprendre si le
problème était réel (par rapport à une erreur de test ou à une anomalie), tandis
que notre partenaire de fabrication a également entrepris une enquête interne
dans son usine.
Toutes ces vérifications maintenant
terminées, nous pouvons confirmer la présence d’une moisissure courante, le pénicillium, dans la teinte Soft Black du gel à sourcils. Les
résultats de l’enquête de notre partenaire de fabrication ont également
identifié la cause de l’incident : une condition isolée dans leur usine.
Lorsque notre partenaire a identifié la cause, il a immédiatement résolu le
problème pour éviter que cette situation ne se reproduise.
Le pénicillium est un groupe
(genre) de moisissures que l’on retrouve couramment dans l’environnement et qui
peut être introduit dans une usine de fabrication à partir de diverses sources,
telles que les matières premières, l’eau et l’équipement. Il est considéré comme
un pathogène opportuniste. Cela signifie que les personnes dont le système
immunitaire est affaibli, qui souffrent d’un problème de santé préexistant ou
qui appartiennent à un autre groupe plus vulnérable peuvent être
particulièrement susceptibles de développer une réaction allergique ou d’autres
symptômes qui y sont associés. Si le pathogène est introduit dans l’œil, des
infections oculaires peuvent survenir.
Vous pouvez savoir si vous possédez
un produit concerné par le rappel en vérifiant le numéro de lot (lots no 999224670
et no 999210861) inscrit sur le côté du contenant du gel à
sourcils. Si vous possédez un produit avec l’un de ces deux numéros de lot,
veuillez en cesser l’utilisation et le jeter immédiatement. Si vous avez offert
ou vendu ce produit à quelqu’un, veuillez lui faire part du rappel afin que le
produit soit jeté également.
Nous sommes bien sûr déçus chaque fois que nos normes élevées ne sont pas respectées, mais nous reconnaissons que ce défi nous offre également la possibilité de renforcer notre engagement en matière de transparence et de progrès. Que ce soit au moyen de discussions instructives récapitulatives avec notre partenaire de fabrication, de discussions avec la FDA, de ce billet de blogue ou de témoignages devant le Congrès, il nous appartient de montrer l’exemple et de montrer à l’industrie comment faire mieux. Nous vous invitons à visiter https://www.beautycounter.com/fr-ca/health-and-safety si vous souhaitez en savoir plus sur la façon dont nous menons par l’exemple.
On December 4, Beautycounter made history when Founder and CEO Gregg Renfrew testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health. Speaking for millions of Americans, Gregg delivered a powerful message: the FDA must better protect consumers, and the time to act is now.
FDA Acknowledges Reform is Needed
Over more than three hours, two panels appeared
before Committee members. The first panel featured Dr. Susan Mayne of the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA), who presented testimony on current FDA enforcement
of personal care products manufactured both domestically and outside the U.S.
Upon questioning from the Chairwoman of the Committee, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo
(D-CA), Dr. Mayne admitted that the FDA cannot currently compel companies to register
their products, inspect facilities where cosmetics are manufactured, list all
ingredients on labels, or recall products that harm consumers. The FDA
acknowledged that its cosmetics program is small and welcomed collaboration
with Congress to expand its authority over the personal care industry—but noted
that it must be given enough resources to do so.
Industry and Consumer Advocates Weigh In
The second panel featured Gregg, as well as witnesses from consumer advocacy organizations (Scott Faber from EWG, Isabelle Chaudry from the National Women’s Health Network) and a trade association for small businesses (Leigh O’Donnell from the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild). All four witnesses agreed that FDA must have greater oversight of the rapidly growing beauty industry in terms of identifying and restricting ingredients of concern as well as the ability to recall products that cause injury.
Several of the issues that Beautycounter has
brought to the state level were discussed, including fragrance ingredient
disclosure and supply chain transparency, particularly for products imported
into the U.S.—the number of which has grown to more than two million lines annually.
A lighthearted moment in the hearing occurred on the subject of fragrances.
When Rep. Morgan Griffiths (R-VA) mused whether he should ask his wife to stop
using fragrances after several witnesses explained the health consequences of
fragrance ingredients, Gregg noted that phthalates, which bind scent to the
skin, can be one of the most harmful ingredients. Spray the fragrance on
clothing if she must, said Gregg, but avoid direct contact with the skin. Upon
questioning by Chairwoman Eshoo, Gregg also emphatically stated that
Beautycounter fully supports fragrance ingredient disclosure and already
discloses all fragrance ingredients—including the most commonly recognized fragrance
Currently, two pieces of legislation on
comprehensive cosmetic reform have been introduced in the House. H.R. 4296—The
Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act—was introduced by Rep. Jan
Schakowsky (D-IL) in September and is endorsed by Beautycounter. On the eve of
the cosmetics hearing, Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the Chairman of the
Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced the Cosmetic Safety Enhancement Act,
although key sections must still be developed.
While Beautycounter has asked Congress to act on
these two bills, we need your help. In her testimony, Gregg noted to the
Members that there are millions of committed advocates who stand ready to
support cosmetic reform.
Your calls, texts, and postcards matter more than ever, as this issue is primed for legislative action. Let’s get cosmetic reform across the finish line (or “across the home plate” as Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) noted) and take action today. Text BETTERBEAUTY to 52886 and tell your Representatives that 81 years is too long to wait for better beauty laws.
Interested in reading Gregg’s full opening statement? Read on-
S. Gregg Renfrew Founder and Chief Executive Officer Beautycounter
Before the Subcommittee on Health of the U.S. House Committee on Hearing and Commerce on “Building Consumer Confidence by Empowering the FDA to Improve Cosmetic Safety” December 4, 2019
Ranking Member Burgess, and Members of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee,
thank you for holding this important hearing and for inviting me to
My name is Gregg
Renfrew and I am the founder and CEO of Beautycounter, a company with a mission
to get safer products into the hands of everyone.
the result of a personal journey where I found the connection between our
environment, what we put in our bodies, and what we put on them. I’ve seen first-hand health
impacts on friends and family, and I was compelled to change the personal care
industry. In addressing the need for clean beauty laws, the business
opportunity also became apparent. The clean beauty industry continues its
impressive growth, on track to reach a value of nearly $22 billion by the year
But one company,
even with the combined efforts of others, cannot fix this problem alone. And so
in that spirit, today I will focus my testimony on what we believe is critical
to creating cosmetic safety laws that protect consumers, while simultaneously
advancing the beauty industry.
we need a health-protective safety standard.
absence of federal safety regulations in our industry forces businesses like Beautycounter
to make their own decisions about the safety of ingredients. A uniform safety
standard is paramount to gain consumer trust.
We believe that how
Congress defines what is “safe” is one of the most important elements of
reform. By creating a strong safety standard in this bill, Congress has the
opportunity to protect the health of American families, while making sure that
our business community is keeping pace with international markets.
supports a safety standard where the FDA has the tools to adequately assess
both short and long-term impacts of ingredients. We believe
that “reasonable certainty of no harm” best reflects a public health approach
that consumers can trust.
we encourage timely ingredient review, based on the best available science.
support legislation that reviews as many ingredients as possible each year. The
sooner that safety determinations can be made on ingredients, the faster
manufacturers like ourselves can bring products to market. Additionally, we
encourage you to allow the FDA to review classes of ingredients, where
relevant, to conserve agency resources, while noting that determinations must be
made on individual chemicals.
on Beautycounter’s early days, we would have benefited from a federal program
that allowed us to either avoid, or use, ingredients based on a comprehensive
review of available scientific literature. I have no doubt that many other
companies feel the same way.
we support a user fee system that fully funds the FDA.
the CEO of a company that started with just a handful of employees, I
understand how the notion of fees can seem daunting. Through this experience we
have gained an appreciation for the need to make reasonable accommodations for
small to mid-sized businesses. That is why we support a sliding-scale user fee
program that takes into account large and
small businesses. As a company grows, we believe the responsibility should
federal law must account for existing state protections.
Given the lack of
federal laws on cosmetics and personal care products, many states were forced
to take action. Beautycounter supports a state preemption approach that
preserves existing state laws, while creating a strong federal program that
will negate the need for new laws to be passed.
we refer to the concept of “progress vs. perfection,” and I believe that the
sentiment also holds true for the legislative process. We are encouraged by the
key elements reflected in proposals before the committee, including: setting
mandatory Good Manufacturing Practices, granting the FDA the ability to recall
harmful products, increasing ingredient transparency, and requiring the
disclosure of fragrance allergens.
I believe that
this Committee can, and must, come together to pass bipartisan legislation, as
you have done many times before. But I am not asking you to do this important
work alone. I, on behalf of Beautycounter, our advocates, and our clean beauty
movement, commit to mobilizing our community of millions to support this
important public health issue.
closing today, I am asking you to act.
Act to protect
the mother trying to find safer products for herself and her family. Act to
empower companies large and small across America. Act to meet consumer demand
for greater transparency.
When you pass
legislation that will protect the health of American families, you are not only
responding to a growing, passionate, and bipartisan electorate eager for
reform, but you are protecting the health of American families, now and
Thank you for your time today and for your
leadership on this important issue.
Laurel Gallucci is a sweet-tooth connoisseur, mother of two, and co-founder of Sweet Laurel Bakery. She was inspired to start her own business after being diagnosed with a life-changing autoimmune disease six years ago. Fueled by her love for baking, she found delicious and innovative ways to accommodate her strict diet by tinkering with safer ingredients in her test kitchen, which would later turn into her now full-time business, Sweet Laurel Bakery.
In the spirit of safer ingredients that deliver, we partnered with Laurel to talk about beauty, business, balance, and best of all, the reason she created a very special cookie recipe—just for us.
Beautycounter: Where are you from? Laurel Gallucci: Santa Monica, CA
BC: What drew you to a healthier lifestyle? LG: I was raised in a very health-conscious home, and when I was diagnosed with my autoimmune disease, I was at first treated medically with lots of hormones. I got worse, and discovered healing through food via my functional medicine doctor. She told me if I wanted to get better, I needed to remove all grains, refined sugar, and dairy from my diet. I did that overnight, and Sweet Laurel began very shortly after that! I feel so good eating this way, I’ve maintained it for almost six years now. My autoimmune disease is in remission, and I’m healthy enough to have babies (a miracle for me!), work out, and enjoy life!
BC: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in parenting while opening up your own business? LG: Balancing motherhood and running a company has been very challenging for me, and I’ve learned there are days I need to be okay with everything not being completely perfect. I’ve set up boundaries for myself, in an attempt to not compromise what I love doing. I truly adore motherhood and my role at Sweet Laurel, so being intentional about the time I spend on both is important to me.
BC: How do you structure your day to get everything done, while balancing work and family? LG: In the morning, before leaving for work, I have quality time with my son. From the time I drop him off at preschool to when I pick him up, the emails, phone calls, and meetings are full throttle. I’m often back-to-back during this time, and I try to schedule my day that way. I find I get the most done. When I get home, we have family time and dinner, and then I plug back in when my son goes to sleep. This is all going to change very shortly when I give birth to my second child due in January, but this is my “normal” right now, and it’s working!
BC: Owning your own business can be challenging. What’s your favorite way to unwind? LG: A day at home with my husband and baby—and no plans!
BC: What are some things you’ve faced that you didn’t expect when opening your business? LG: The full-on, 24/7, relentless nature of it.
BC: What’s your favorite way to “self-care”? LG: Microcurrent facials and body work with my girl Valentina in Santa Monica!
BC: What does your skin-care routine look like? LG: I have very dry skin (especially during pregnancy), so I tend to get rashes on my face easily. The Countertime Collection from Beautycounter has been a lifesaver at this time of my life!
BC: Why did you decide to switch to clean beauty products? LG: When I changed my diet, I also changed all my products, including beauty and cleaning products. I’m happy to say I have a non-toxic home!
BC: What’s something you’d say to someone wanting to open up their own business? LG: Maintain a clear yet flexible vision. Surround yourself with a good team, including a mentor whom you can check in with often.
BC: How are the beauty and food industries similar? How can they both do better? LG: There’s lots of synergy between Sweet Laurel and Beautycounter. That’s just one reason I love Beautycounter so much! We both believe in the integrity of the ingredients we put into our products and will not compromise. I also love that Beautycounter’s founder, Gregg Renfrew, advocates and lobbies on behalf of the clean beauty industry. I hope to one day do that for clean eating.
BC: What’s your favorite holiday tradition? LG: Besides the baking…now that I have a baby, I’ve gotten into wearing matching, festive jammies when we’re at home together!
BC: How did you dream up of “A #Betterbeauty Cookie”? LG: I used a few ingredients that Beautycounter uses in some of their products (coconut oil, orange peel, and cacao butter), and I turned them into a delicious recipe! I haven’t made an orange cookie dipped in chocolate before, and it sounded lovely!
A #BetterBeauty Cookie: Chocolate-Dipped Orange Cookies
2 zested oranges 1/4 cup orange juice 2 cups almond flour 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted) 1/4-1/3 cup maple sugar 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt 1/2 cup Sweet Laurel Vegan Chocolate Chips
1. In a bowl, combine the almond flour, maple sugar, orange zest, and pink salt. Mix well. Add the melted coconut oil and orange juice, and stir until a soft dough is formed. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out the dough, then place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Remove from refrigerator and take off the top sheet of parchment paper and place it on a baking sheet. Using a small cup, circle cookie cutter, or cookie cutter of choice, gently press into dough, and using a spatula, place the cutout dough on prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake for about 10 minutes, and while doing so, melt the chocolate. To melt the chocolate chips, place them in a small saucepan over VERY low heat. If your stove’s low heat setting is unpredictable, use the double boiler method instead. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring frequently. When melted, remove from stove and allow to cool.
5. Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool. When completely cool, dip cookies in melted chocolate and place on a piece of parchment paper to firm up. Enjoy!
(Storage instructions: store at room temperature in a sealed, airtight container for up to three days, or place in an airtight container and freeze until the day you’d like to serve.)
BC: What are your goals for 2020? LG: Grow Sweet Laurel as much as possible! We are expanding our wholesale, retail, and online footprint in 2020 and we’re very excited about that. I also want to enjoy my family as much as possible while doing so.
When it comes to decadent desserts, Laurel Gallucci has delicious, safer ingredients down to a T, and it shows in Sweet Laurel Bakery. What you put in (and on) your body matters, so we believe good-for-you ingredients are worth the effort.
For the past seven years, Beautycounter has led the fight for better beauty. And now, our collective work advocating for clean beauty is culminating in a hearing on cosmetic safety in the House—only the second in the past 40 years.
Titled “Building Consumer Confidence by
Empowering FDA to Improve Cosmetic Safety,” we’re excited and proud to have
Beautycounter Founder and CEO, Gregg Renfrew, testify as an expert witness
before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington, D.C. This
testimony means three things:
Congress recognizes that clean beauty is here to stay.
Our voices are being heard.
Business can be a force for positive change.
This is a huge moment for the clean beauty space, and we are honored to be a part of these powerful conversations. Tune in here to catch Gregg live on Wednesday, December 4 at 10am EST. For those who cannot watch the live broadcast, we’ve got you covered. Follow us over on Instagram @beautycounter, where we will be sharing a detailed, play-by-play recap in the coming days.
As we take part in this profound step towards
changing the industry, we want to urge you to use your voices to show your
support from your hometown. Send a powerful message to Congress that their
constituents are concerned about the lack of FDA oversight of the products they
use every day. Text BETTERBEAUTY to 52886 and tell your Representatives that 81
years is too long to wait for better beauty laws.
We want to acknowledge that we couldn’t have done
this without tens of thousands of Beautycounter Consultants and Clients who
have helped us blaze this trail towards getting safer products into the hands
of everyone. Because—as we’ve said from the beginning—beauty should be good for
Step into a drugstore or department store today, and you’re greeted with aisle upon aisle of products. For the health-conscious consumer, the first step might be to look at the product label. Words like “natural,” “organic,” and “dermatologist approved,” along with various seals and certifications, abound as more and more companies are vying for a piece of the more than $60 billion domestic beauty market. But when it comes down to it, which products can you really trust when it comes to safety?
One certification stands above the rest: The Environmental Working Group (EWG). The EWG, one of the most respected voices in protecting consumer health, founded the EWG VERIFIED™ program* in 2015 to review products against the strictest safety standards. (Beautycounter is proud to be a founding member of the EWG VERIFIED ™ program.) So why is this particular mark of approval such an important tool for consumers?
First, the program drives companies to disclose ingredients like fragrance allergens that are rarely listed on product labels. It’s also the first third-party non-toxic certification for personal care products in the U.S. The EWG’s criteria for certification focuses on the safety of a product’s ingredients—for example, products must score “green” in EWG’s Skin Deep™ data base and cannot contain any ingredients with significant health, environmental, or contamination concerns. The program gets an additional credibility check because companies cannot influence the verification process. As one condition of participating, companies must agree that EWG has the right to perform random product verification to ensure that their products continue to meet the criteria for certification.
As a pioneering clean beauty brand, we take our commitment to ingredient transparency seriously. Certification is a rigorous process and in order to earn the EWG VERIFIED ™ stamp of approval for our products, we share every ingredient that goes into our formulations. Take our Countertime line: all six products are EWG VERIFIED ™ and our transparent approach extends to listing allergens that the EU requires—but the U.S. does not. Our hope is that by doing this, we set an example for other brands to similarly share these naturally occurring allergens, empowering consumers to choose safer, healthier products.
In the coming months, watch for more Beautycounter products to begin sporting the EWG VERIFIED ™ logo as we continue to submit products for verification. While some products (like acne treatment products and sunscreens) cannot go through the verification process because they are considered by the FDA to be an Over the Counter (OTC) drug and are therefore excluded from review, the majority of Beautycounter’s products will be EWG VERIFIED ™ by the end of 2020.
In the crowded personal care marketplace, a clean authority can be hard to find. Without a government-backed certification administered by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the EWG VERIFIED ™ logo is a trusted mark for consumers denoting rigorous, independent verification done by EWG’s team of scientists. By participating, Beautycounter aims to empower our #betterbeauty community with the information they need to vote with their dollars and transform the beauty industry so that one day, all beauty is clean beauty.
How do you define beauty? This is one of the questions we asked ourselves—and all of our models—in our fall campaign, Looking Good Is Only Half the Picture. We’ve always run counter to the traditional beauty industry, and by casting this campaign with an eye towards diversity, we strove to redefine outdated beauty definitions and standards. In hopes to shed more light on these issues, we sat down with French plus-size model and CEO of All Womxn Project, Clémentine Desseaux—one of the faces of our fall campaign. She opens up about body positivity, and how the beauty industry can do better.
Beautycounter: Where are you from? Clémentine Desseaux: I was born in Toulouse, in the South of France, where I spent all my summers growing up. I moved a bunch and spent my childhood in Alsace until college, then moved to the city of Lyon to study.
BC: How did you get into modeling? CD: I wasn’t camera shy. I first started in high school, as a hobby. I remember a small agency had just opened in Lyon and was offering to represent plus size; that was the very first in France, but after I signed with them at 17 years old, they closed down three months later, so nothing happened—but the rush of the possibility was inside of me. After that, I signed my first agency contract in Paris at 19 years old after sending some holiday pictures. My first jobs were for Kiabi and Gémo in France. I later signed with a German agent, then a UK agent, before I finally moved to Miami in 2011 to follow my dreams; and that’s when I started taking this a bit more seriously and signed with MUSE, my NYC agency in 2012!
BC: How did modeling fit into your upbringing? What was that experience like for you? CD: Modeling helped me through my self-love journey. At first, it showed me I, too, could be beautiful. Then, it empowered me in making a change in other women’s lives just by being me and being out there. It really gave me a voice and the independence I needed to be happy, and taught me how to be okay being alone—that was a hard one, but I am so glad I enjoy my alone time now.
BC: Can you describe the arc of your modeling career? CD: When I first started full-time about eight years ago, I was pretty green. It was before Instagram was a thing, before diversity was something fashion really cared or talked about. I used to be the cool, awkward freckled girl. I was edgy and considered a bit too “different” to book commercial jobs at first. That shows how fashion changes; trends and styles are always evolving and require the market to adapt. I feel like I naturally just grew into who I am today as a model. I am grateful to have a voice, thanks to the inner work I have done in addition to modeling. I couldn’t be a model without a voice—I’d be too frustrated!
BC: What led you to becoming a body positivity advocate? CD: My own struggles with body image as well as my calling to take care of people most likely created that need to become an advocate, as I struggled a lot growing up as a chubby freckled kid, and I hated my body and myself more often than not. I found some purpose in advocating and becoming an open, uncensored storyteller in order to help and empower others to hopefully save time and free themselves from society’s pressures to fit in.
BC: What kind of responses have you gotten from other models and girls whom you’ve reached via your advocacy? CD: I will always remember the day I decided to use my career to become an advocate. It was in 2011, I had just moved to Miami from Paris, and my first commercial aired on French TV. That day was filled with all kinds of messages from supporters and haters alike. I decided to focus on supporters and positive messages from women. I received touching messages from French girls telling me how much seeing someone that looked like me on their screen changed their whole outlook on themselves and how they see their bodies. I received tons of heartwarming, empowering messages and, that day, I understood the power of representation. Since that day, I have made it a point to make it a mission of mine to advocate for it.
BC: What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced being a female entrepreneur? CD: I think my greatest challenge is to deal with critics and expectations. As women, we are expected to be great at everything. I suffer from impostor syndrome and tend to feel overwhelmed by those feelings. This is part of the self-work I am doing for myself. My biggest fear is to be wasted potential—it’s not easy, but it’s a work in progress.
BC: What does being a body positivity advocate look like, day to day? CD: There are many ways of being one. For me, it starts with self. I am trying to work on my issues first so that I can help others. That means making myself a priority, listening to what I need and want, taking time off, cooking, working out, being in the sun…then it means giving back. Choosing to help and advance others daily by what you share, what you do, how you communicate. Being involved in my community, being part of events, panels, reforms that involve what I am working for…every day is different and takes different forms but most of all, it’s being raw, unfiltered, and true to who I am regardless of how flawed it can be.
BC: What other forms of activism are important to you? CD: Anything that makes sense to me, I support. That goes from environment to social justice and animal rights. Being an activist is being active, caring, and using our voice.
BC: What does clean beauty mean to you? CD: Clean beauty to me is a lifestyle. It means caring as much about what I put on my skin as what I eat. It means being conscious and very minimal in the way I use skin care and beauty products. I am simply a no-BS, clean beauty addict.
BC: What does joining the “clean revolution” mean to you? CD: I believe that clean beauty is closely related to self-love, and so I was so thrilled to work with a brand that truly cares on all levels. Using minimal, non-invasive beauty products to only highlight, not change, your features is key to me. It’s a beautiful way to learn to love your looks. Taking care of my face and body taught me how to actually love both better by bringing care and purpose to everything I apply on it.
BC: What ways of clean living do you pursue in your own life, day to day? CD: I am trying to be the best version of myself every day. Some days are more successful than others. I care about quality foods and products—growing up in France, that’s something that I was taught very early on. I grew up going to the market, choosing small local farm products, touching them, smelling them, bringing our own fabric bags (and reusing them). I am very respectful of everything I cook and eat. I also am very careful with what waste I generate and try to minimalize it, especially in a country that’s really pushing you to create more waste.
BC: What inspires you to continue being a voice for change? CD: I personally have evolved, so I understand the power of change. I am dedicated to keep working towards it and hope to inspire others along the way.
BC: How do you want to leave the planet for the next generation? CD: I’d love to leave a clean, conscious, and loving planet. That’s the biggest challenge of all.
BC: Why did you decide to start www.bonjourclem.com? CD: I was a model in NYC for six months when I started the blog. I was bored and needed more intellectual activity—something to open me up to the world around me. Modeling can be very lonely and self-centered, so I created my blog, Bonjour Clem.
BC: What makes you feel empowered? CD: I am empowered being able to empower other women. I am empowered seeing change, and I am empowered when I am able to create it.
Even in a newly awakened world, the expectations placed on women today, let alone female models, still require them to measure up to extreme standards that are often impossible—so how do female plus-size models stay empowered? According to Clémentine, the answer is self-love and advocating for positive change.
Feeling inspired? Learn more about what we’re advocating for here.
Did you know that by making small changes to your daily routine you can protect yourself from toxic chemicals that can have potentially harmful effects? Read on for a curated list of small ways to refresh your day-to-day habits to help you lead a safer (and more socially conscious) lifestyle.
Typically, October is known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We at Beautycounter like to refer to it as ‘Prevention’ month, because we believe we can play an active role in our own health by making a few changes to our everyday routines.
Did you know that around 85% of breast cancers are not linked to family history? This means that there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to environmental factors linked to the disease. With this encouraging fact in mind, we’ve teamed up with an organization spreading the word about prevention: Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP).
Our Ingredient Selection Process is an intense, lengthy one—and we take the fourth step, Responsible Sourcing very seriously. When we set out to make safer, high-performing color cosmetics, we started down a complex journey of finding responsibly sourced mica and have been learning a lot along the way.
Why mica? Because in the beauty industry, it’s widely used as a base for powder formulations and creates that shimmery glow we all know and love (highlighters, eyeshadows, pressed powders—we’re looking at you). Simply put, if you want high-performing color cosmetics, you need mica. But the mica industry can come with some alarming, unethical practices, including forced labor as well as child labor. Obviously, we won’t stand for that, so we recently took a deeper dive into our supply chain to confirm we, together with our suppliers, are upholding the “responsible” part of our sourcing.
It Starts with the Source
Mica is a globally sourced material, but our strong preference is to source domestically and sustainably from our supplier in Hartwell, Georgia. We work closely with this sourcing partner to ensure that they’re using the leading practices for sustainable mining and processing. (We’ve literally gone into their mines to trace our mica through to the manufacturing stages—when it comes to responsible sourcing, we’re not messing around.) We’re proud to be leading the way.
Of course, all mica is not created equal, and in order to create certain effects with some of our color cosmetics, we have to reach beyond our mica partners in Georgia. When it comes to our global sources, we’re committed to transforming the way the mica industry works and supporting the many people who help bring our products to market. We can’t do this alone, so we sought out two partnerships as we dove even deeper into our mica supply chain.
A Partnership to Be Proud Of
If the name Kailash Satyarthi sounds familiar, it’s because he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. He also was featured in a Participant Media documentary called The Price of Free (watch this ASAP—it’s free on YouTube). Kailash is one of the most credible leaders working to eradicate child and forced labor through the creation of child-friendly villages. We’re proud to be designing a custom program with the KSCF, to support children in the Jharkhand region of India (a hotspot for international mica mining) while also working with the local community to better understand the mica industry’s opportunities for change.
As an international buyer, we believe it’s critical that we listen to the needs of the communities impacted. Too often, international companies implement solutions that aren’t what communities want or need. As we ramp up our work on the ground, we’re listening closely to make sure we are helping find the right solutions on the ground.
Using Technology to Increase Transparency
You’d think most suppliers know where their mica comes from—but this isn’t necessarily the case. So we’ve also partnered with Sourcemap, a technology platform founded at MIT that is helping us map our entire supply chain to give us fuller visibility as to where our mica is sourced—mine by mine, day by day. The level of transparency we’re seeking in this industry is unprecedented, and in a super-secretive industry, this information isn’t easy to come by. With the help of Sourcemap and participation from our suppliers, we hope to share a traceable mica supply chain with you in the future. Eventually, we’ll be able to tell you exactly where the mica in your favorite eye shadow comes from. Literally, straight from the source.
Striving for an A+ in Auditing
All of this work is supported by our third-party audits of each and every mica supplier we work with. We started with obtaining certificates from our mica suppliers, noting child labor wasn’t used—and this is actually where many companies start and stop. But understanding the issues in the industry, we wanted to learn more. After all, a certificate is only the first step inside the complicated story of where products come from.
In the past year, we have audited 100% of our suppliers via phone—and taken it a step further. We enlisted the help of a well-respected third-party auditing firm and personally hopped onto planes, trains, and ferries around the world in order to be the first beauty brand to have implemented our rigorous responsible sourcing standards for on-the-ground audits of our mica supply chain. By the end of 2020, we will have conducted third-party traceability audits of all of our mica mine locations—a radical step towards transparency in the beauty industry.
Creating a Toolkit for Change
As we learn more about responsible sourcing, we want to share our best practices with other leaders in the beauty industry. Early next year, we will launch our public toolkit for beauty companies (and beyond) seeking to validate their supply chains.
We look forward to sharing our progress with you as our journey evolves. It would have been easier to just get a certificate from suppliers and call it a day. But real change takes hard work, and we don’t take the easy route.
Thank you for continuing to support a beauty brand that is doing everything in our capacity to have a vetted, responsible mica supply chain. You make us want to do beauty, better.