Unequal Exposures to Toxic Chemicals

Beautycounter’s mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone, which is why our advocacy work is so important. Beauty regulations must change in order for all people—regardless of where they shop or what brands they buy—to have access to safer personal-care products. This advocacy work is especially critical when it comes to protecting communities of color.

BIPOC face higher incidence of disease linked to chemical exposure

Research tells an upsetting story: Black, Indigenous,and People of Color (BIPOC) suffer from a higher incidence of chronic disease linked to toxic chemical exposure.[1] While various factors contribute to this statistic, personal-care products play a role and—importantly—create an opportunity for prevention.[2]

One reason for this higher risk is that the hair products, skin lighteners, and nail polishes marketed to this population contain ingredients that are known carcinogens and hormone disruptors.[3][4] A December 2019 study published in the International Journal of Cancer found that women who used hair dye or chemical straighteners were at higher risk of developing breast cancer.[5] This link was notably higher among Black women who regularly use products such as relaxers that contain formaldehyde, a preservative that is linked to certain cancers, and feminine hygiene products which often contain phthalates, a known hormone disruptor. [6]

Another study from UC Berkeley found that when Latinx teenagers switched to clean beauty products, the levels of parabens and phthalates in their bodies dropped significantly within three days.[7]

These findings show us two things: BIPOC have higher exposure to harmful chemicals in personal-care products, and switching to safer products can reduce one’s exposure within a short period of time.

We actively advocate to address racial disparities—and we won’t stop.

Our advocacy for safer products has resulted in tangible steps forward for consumers, especially communities of color. Our efforts so far have included the following:

●    Two laws we helped pass: the Cleaning Products Right to Know Act and the Safer Salon bill protect vulnerable populations like cleaners, hotel workers, and salon professionals by arming them with information to make safer choices. These professions are dominated by women (often women of color) who are exposed to dangerous chemicals for long periods of time in poorly ventilated areas.[8][9]

●   Partnerships with our friends at Black Women for Wellness, a LA-based, leading environmental justice organization, and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, which organizes and advocates for salon workers, a demographic that is composed of predominantly women—a majority of whom are foreign-born, of Vietnamese and Hmong heritage.[10]

●   Holding two high-profile Congressional briefings highlighting the disparate impacts of harmful ingredients for people of color for Members of Congress and their staff. The briefings were sponsored by leaders of the Congressional Hispanic and Black caucuses who recognize the importance of these issues to communities of color.

We believe that access to products without harmful ingredients is a human right. By passing legislation to move the whole market forward, many industry players will be forced to innovate and create safer products for women of color.

Meanwhile, at Beautycounter HQ…

In tandem with our federal reform efforts, we’ve been working hard to offer more clean beauty products for women of color, including 18 new foundation shades and more pigmented blushes, lipsticks, and eye shadows. According to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep database, fewer than 25 percent of products marketed to Black women score low in potentially hazardous ingredients. We want to change this and we are committed to creating more beauty options for women of color.

We will continue to place environmental justice at the forefront of our advocacy efforts, so Beautycounter can have a meaningful impact on eliminating the gap in racial health disparities. We know we must do more—and this is just the beginning.

[1] Maningding E, Dall’Era M, Trupin L, Murphy LB, Yazdany J. Racial/Ethnic Differences in Prevalence of and Time to Onset of SLE Manifestations: The California Lupus Surveillance Project (CLSP). Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/acr.23887

[2] Adamkiewicz G, Zota AR, Fabian MP, Chahine T, Julien R, Spengler JD, et al. Moving environmental justice indoors: understanding structural influences on residential exposure patterns in low-income communities. Am J Public Health 2011;101(suppl 1): S238–45 www.pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21836112/

[3] James-Todd, Tamara, African American and African-Caribbean women are more likely to use hair products that contain hormonally active chemicals (placenta, estrogen, endocrine disrupting chemicals), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21626298

[4] Zota, Ami, Women of color are disproportionately affected by environmental toxins such as beauty-product related environmental chemicals. This is independent of socioeconomic status, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28822238

[5] Eberle, Sandler, Taylor, White, Hair dye and chemical straightener use and breast cancer risk in a large US population of black and white women. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ijc.32738

[6] Zota, Ami, Vaginal douching increases exposure to certain phthalates and contributes to the racial disparities in phthalate exposure, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26174070

[7] Harley, Kim et al. Reducing Phthalate, Paraben, and Phenol Exposure From Personal Care Products in Adolescent Girls: Findings From the HERMOSA Intervention Study, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26947464/

[8] Economic Snapshot of the Salon and Spa Industry, Senate Finance Archive, https://www.finance.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Professional%20Beauty%20Association-%202014%20Economic%20Snapshot%20of%20the%20Salon%20Industry.pdf

[9] Nail Files: A Study of Nail Salon Workers and Industry in the United States, UCLA Labor Center, www.labor.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/NAILFILES_FINAL.pdf

[10] Ibid.


We want to thank the @pullupforchange campaign for calling on companies to share the number of Black full-time associates on their corporate team and in leadership roles. Accountability is key—and because we stand for transparency, we want to share our numbers, too.

Beautycounter has 235 full-time associates on our corporate team:

79% are women
21% are men
63% are White
30% are non-Black POC 
7% are Black

On our executive leadership team (made up of seven people):

6 women
1 man
58% are White
42% are non-Black POC
0% are Black 

On our leadership team (director level or above):

75% are White
12% are Asian
5% are Hispanic or Latinx
4% are Black
4% are two or more races

We recognize our shortcomings—we need stronger Black representation. Here’s how we’re taking action:

We will continue to ensure that we have a diverse slate of candidates for each open position, including leadership roles.

We will continue Unconscious Bias training for associates, a program that is part of our ongoing education series to raise awareness about the issue. To date, 100% of our associates have completed the training.

We are adding mandatory Diversity training for all associates.

We will have managers and above receive training on creating Psychological Safety with their teams and fellow associates.

We have created Associate Resource Groups to support and create action plans for our Black, Asian, Latinx, and LGBTQ communities.

We will continue to check in and have transparent conversations about anti-racism both at HQ and in our community (that includes anyone reading this).

We are donating funds to support anti-racist organizations. (More on that coming soon. We are identifying platforms that will get to the root of the issue, and we spent last week listening, as promised. We don’t take these decisions lightly and want to take our time to get it right.) We are also matching all HQ associate contributions to the organizations fighting racism of their choice for the month of June.

We are showing up for our Black Consultants and Clients and increasing representation throughout our social media, marketing efforts, and the products we sell—while re-examining our HQ corporate policies and diversity programs to ensure that they’re equitable and reflect our values.

We are listening to all of you. Understanding our own role in racism is uncomfortable—but necessary. Let us know how you think we could be doing a better job. We’re paying attention.

We are advocating for ongoing policy change and mobilizing our community to vote in November’s election. (As a non-partisan organization, we’ll never tell you who to vote for, but we believe voting is empowering. Register to vote if you haven’t here.)

We believe that if we stay committed to fighting racism within our organization and beyond, we will uphold our promise of creating a safer future for all.

We WILL do better.



We will do better.  Our country’s racial inequality has been made gravely clear. As a brand with a unique voice and an audience of millions, we’re utilizing our platform to take a stand. Black lives matter. We are committed to fighting for justice, and for speaking up for what we know is right.  

We’ve carefully compiled a list of resources to educate non-Black individuals, because knowledge is power and therefore crucial to effect meaningful change. This is an ever-evolving list, so be sure to check back for new ways to support anti-racism. What are we doing here at Beautycounter? That’s in here too.


We have compiled a list of resources. While we do not endorse the policy positions of these organizations, in the spirit of our pillar of education, we would like to provide you with a list to learn from and choose whose work resonates with you the most.

Campaign Zero Dedicated to ending policy violence by focusing on policy solutions. The organization’s work specifically urges policy makers to take deliberate action to limit police intervention, improve community interactions, and ensure accountability at every level of government.

NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund The United States’ first and largest grassroots-based civil rights organization is dedicated to creating change through legal action to ensure the health and well-being of all people.

ACLU This nonprofit, nonpartisan organization upholds the United States Constitution for all by fighting government abuse and defending individual freedoms. The ACLU’s vital work focuses on change through legal action.

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights The largest and most diverse civil and human rights coalition in the U.S., strives for change through policy.

Equal Justice Initiative Led by Bryan Stevenson, author of “Just Mercy,” this organization is committed to ending mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality in the U.S. with a focus on change through legal action.

National Movement for Black Lives Matter This coalition of groups across the United States represents the interests of Black communities, seeking to mobilize, organize, and strategize to protect Black lives. Founded on the idea that we can achieve more together, this movement is geared towards change through policy.

Black Lives Matter Founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murder, #BlackLivesMatter is a global organization focused on community building and ending white supremacy.

Visible Men Academy: Established as a tuition-free, public charter school, the Visible Men Academy is on a mission to provide an educational experience that meets the specific needs of at-risk elementary school boys through the collaborative efforts of teachers, parents and the broader community. The organization was founded by Neil Phillips who has previously appeared as a guest speaker at Beautycounter’s Leadership Summit. 

Black Women for Wellness: BWW is committed to the health and well-being of Black women and girls through health education, empowerment and advocacy. By advocating for legislation that reduces toxic chemical exposures and in particular, the harmful chemicals in hair care products marketed to BIPOC, BWW’s advocacy reaches beyond California to communities of color around the country.  

WE ACT for Environmental Justice: On a mission to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. They are a nationally recognized leader in environmental justice with a long history of working to address toxic chemicals in products.


Voting is essential to changing our country’s laws. Register here, and encourage everyone you know to do the same.


Here’s some recommend reading for non-Black individuals.


Vote with your dollars—this tool will help you discover Black-owned businesses in your area. In LA like us? The LA Times and TimeOut both offer extensive lists.


Here are a few we love.


Aba Love Apothecary

Anne’s Apothecary

Aqua Equity Water Co.

Black Girl Sunscreen




Brooklyn Blooms NYC


Dr Locs

Ellie Bianca





Hanahana Beauty

Herb’n Beauty

Hyper Skin

I+I Botanicals



Melanin Essentials



Minimo Skin Essentials

Mischo Beauty


NaturAll Club

Naturally London

Obia Naturals



Oui the People

People of Color

Shani Darden

Sienna Naturals


The Foundry

The Glowercy

The Honey Pot Co


Vegan Skin

Whit Hazen

For a more comprehensive round-up of Southern California local businesses, take a look at LA Magazine’s list.


We’re putting in the work. Here’s how:

  1. By donating funds to support anti-racist organizations. (More on that coming soon. We are identifying platforms that will get to the root of the issue.) We are also matching all HQ Associate contributions to the organizations of their choice for the month of June.
  2. By showing up for our Black Consultants and Clients and increasing representation throughout our social media, marketing efforts, and the products we sell—while re-examining our HQ corporate policies and diversity programs to ensure that they’re equitable and reflect our values.
  3. By listening to all of you. Understanding our own role in racism is uncomfortable—but necessary. Let us know how you think we could be doing a better job. We’re paying attention.
  4. By advocating for ongoing policy change and mobilizing our community to vote in November’s election. 
  5. By sharing these helpful resources. The evolving list, above, is designed to help inform and educate non-Black individuals, because we know that learning is an essential step towards meaningful change.  

Remember: keep checking back. We will continue to update this list. Because Black Lives Matter.

How Beautycounter Defines Vegan

For years, we’ve heard from Clients and Consultants that they are seeking products that are vegan. While Beautycounter is not a vegan brand, over the years, we’ve worked hard to increase our number of products containing non-animal-derived ingredients, by-products, and processing agents. Starting this month, we will have an even easier way for people to identify which products are vegan, as defined below, with the launch of the Beautycounter vegan badge.

A Beautycounter product is vegan if it does not contain, and is not processed with, animal- derived ingredients or by-products. You may ask, why aren’t all Beautycounter products vegan? Safety has always been our company’s North Star and, as the clean beauty leader, safety has always been our priority. Given how restrictive our Never List™ is, we sometimes need to choose animal-derived ingredients because they are the safer option to deliver the quality and performance we are looking for in a cosmetic or skin-care product.

Take our Peppermint and Calendula Lip Conditioners, for example. These products contain lanolin, a wax derived from sheep’s wool. Lanolin is boiled out of wool that has already been sheared and then filtered, causing no harm to the sheep during its production. Our safety team believes that lanolin is a safer ingredient than alternatives to achieve the hydration, texture, and feel of our Lip Conditioner, and we use high-quality lanolin from sheep in Australia and New Zealand.

Lastly, a little clarification: a product that is labeled “vegan” does not mean that it is “cruelty-free.” Good news: Beautycounter has never tested our products on animals, and last year, we became a part of the Leaping Bunny Program which certified our commitment.

To find Beautycounter products which have the vegan badge, please visit www.beautycounter.com/products/vegan to see the most up-to-date list of products with the vegan designation. Note that we cannot guarantee that our products are manufactured in a vegan facility, so we encourage those with allergies to animal-derived substances to consult a doctor prior to use.

Setting the Highest Bar in Clean Beauty

Our 23 Health and Environmental Endpoints

From moisturizers and serums to shampoos and conditioners, consumers have more clean beauty options than ever—and we love that fact. As a brand recognized for our leadership in this growing category, our in-house team of scientists works hard to stay up-to-date with the latest peer-reviewed scientific literature to ensure that our formulations are always 100% safe. 

One result of this research is our Never List™: an industry-leading list of over 1,800+ ingredients we never use in our product formulations. But what really makes us the leader in clean beauty is how we screen each and every ingredient in our formulas for 23 health and environmental endpoints. Examining these endpoints is part of our newly launched Blueprint for Clean, a roadmap that sets the highest bar for safety in the beauty industry. 

To examine the 23 health and safety endpoints, we rely on up to 17 unique databases, like the EU’s REACHProp 65, and EPA lists—data and research studies that have been peer-reviewed (the gold standard in the scientific research community). However, there are also lots of unstudied ingredients. We never assume that an ingredient is safe. Instead, for questionable ingredients we collaborate with leading academic institutions, like Tufts University, to close this data gap and publicly share our findings. 

Beautycounter invests in research and testing because we know that certain ingredients have proven potential dangers, like endocrine disruption, reproductive harm, or links to increased risks of cancer, as well as possible skin or eye irritation. We also devote a lot of time to researching the environmental impact of ingredients—like how ingredients in sunscreen worn at the beach could damage coral reefs, or how long an ingredient lasts in the soil before breaking down. 

The truth is that the beauty industry is largely unregulated, and companies often have to define what “clean” means for themselves. For us, clean beauty is about being transparent with our ingredient selection process, so customers can make an informed decision about what they put on their bodies every day. Because we believe beauty isn’t just about how you look, but how it makes you feel—from the inside out. 

Straight to the Source

Beautycounter is known for creating clean, effective products using the safest ingredients. But for us, “clean” is about more than what goes into a product. It’s about the entire process, from start to finish. That’s why we’ve worked hard to build a responsible sourcing program to address ingredients known to have environmental and human rights impacts. Here’s how we’re leveraging our purchasing power to help make people’s lives better. 


You know how certain cosmetic powders, like highlighter and eyeshadow, give that pretty, shimmery glow? You can thank mica for that—but sourcing this mineral has its issues. Our in-depth mica documentary exposed the unethical practices prevalent in the industry, and showed how Beautycounter is transforming our supply chain to uphold the “responsible” part of our sourcing. By the end of 2020, we will have proudly audited 100 percent of our mica suppliers. 


Mmmm—the sumptuous scent of vanilla is found in Beautycounter’s sheer lipsticks and lip glosses. But as sweet as it smells, the vanilla industry has a dark side that includes child labor. One of our 2020 goals is to fully trace our vanilla supply chain, and we’re doing that by conducting on-the-ground, third-party audits to fully understand where our vanilla is coming from and how workers are being treated. Stay tuned—we’ll share our progress later this year. 

Palm Oil 

Though palm oil’s unsustainable practices can be damaging to the environment, Beautycounter currently uses palm derivatives to create clean skin-care products. This is because alternative ingredients (like rapeseed and soybean) are potentially even more harmful. To address these issues, we joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which helps businesses source more environmentally friendly palm oil. Beautycounter has been working with all of our contract manufacturing partners to help them become RSPO-certified members. This way, the RSPO-Certified palm oil with which they formulate can be officially highlighted in Beautycounter’s claims. It’s our goal to push for all of our products to be RSPO-certified; a critical piece of that is ensuring that our partners go through the final paperwork and audit process. We are also a founding member of the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance which advocates for green chemistry legislation in DC, focused on funding research on innovative and more sustainable ingredients. 

Creating safer beauty products that benefit both your health and the earth—while protecting human rights—is hard work. But we believe that knowledge combined with transparency is the winning formula for creating an ethical and sustainable supply chain. We’ll always keep you informed, so check back for updates, and until then, read up on our responsible sourcing program

Peeling Back the Curtain: All About Heavy Metals in Color Cosmetics

Beauty marketing claims may lead consumers to believe that “natural” means “safe”—but that isn’t always the case, and heavy metals are a prime example. These naturally occurring elements (arsenic, cadmium, lead, etc.) are plentiful within the earth, but may be harmful to our health depending on various factors such as route of exposure and quantity—and unfortunately they may be present in color cosmetics.

That’s why Beautycounter is tackling this issue head-on. We believe that safer products are built on a foundation of transparency—and we’re using the launch of our very own in-house product testing laboratory as an opportunity to share our safety standards. In the first of a series of posts, “Transparency in Action” will show you how Beautycounter is leading industry efforts in this area.

How do heavy metals end up in color cosmetics in the first place?

Heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and mercury are not intentionally added to beauty products. These metals are often present in raw materials and naturally mined colors that eventually become ingredients in color cosmetics. In other words, they make their way into products by tagging along with other ingredients as contaminants.

Just like gold, heavy metals are distributed throughout the ground in highly variable and often unpredictable ways. That makes it pretty difficult to know where they will be found and in what concentrations (so it’s not as simple as finding a “clean” source, unfortunately). So, when other ingredients like colors are mined, unwanted heavy metals may be inadvertently pulled from the earth as well. This means that using only naturally derived colors doesn’t necessarily mean a product is inherently safer. 

What can we do about unwanted heavy metals in color cosmetics?

As with the safety and sustainability of our products, Beautycounter takes a leading approach to addressing this issue.

We use innovative formulas.

Our color cosmetics include a blend of rigorously screened, naturally derived and synthetic colorants. We found that this blend helps minimize the amount of unwanted heavy metals that can make their way into products, as we continue to strive for the safest formulas possible. Fun fact: the European Union allows 153 colorants in color cosmetics, the United States 65, and Beautycounter? We currently have only approved 18 colorants for use in our products.

We take product testing very seriously.

We test the ingredients used in our color cosmetics and finished cosmetic products obsessively—multiple times—before they go to market. We only use validated test methods and the most advanced laboratory equipment available (Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometer, ICP-MS). This allows us to test for heavy metals at concentrations ten times lower than what is standard practice in the beauty industry (1 part per billion vs 10 parts per million).

To break this down a step further, we check for heavy metals in products at the lowest concentrations scientifically possible through at least a 1ppb detection limit, whereas some equipment has detection limits of 10 ppm. Under this scenario, anything less than 10 ppm would appear as “passing” (or, in scientific lingo, “non-detect”). It is common to use less precise testing, if testing is performed at all. This is why it’s critically important to understand how brands are testing for heavy metals, since catchy headlines don’t tell the full story.

We take action.

If our test results show heavy metals at concentrations that concern us, we immediately investigate and address potential contamination issues with our suppliers, sometimes halting the production or launch of a product. We have a state-of-the-art, in-house lab (allowing for nimble testing throughout the product development process, rather than a “one and done” approach) and we rely on third-party tests to validate our results throughout the year. Our third-party testing facility tests in “duplicates,” a scientific term to describe testing each product twice, to account for variability in how heavy metals may be distributed.

Curious to see some test results yourself? You can view recent test results here.

Beautycounter sets strict standards.

We use the best-available science to establish limits that reflect the specific characteristics of different heavy metal contaminants. Our team of scientists uses a variety of criteria to set our internal limits and we review these with external experts annually.

We fight for stronger regulations to help protect everyone.

We actively advocate for more stringent federal regulations to reduce heavy metal exposure across the industry (you can read an op-ed from our CEO on this topic here). Our CEO recently testified before the House of Representatives asking Congress for more regulations of beauty industry.

What do Beautycounter’s heavy metals test results reveal?

While some companies make claims to be “heavy metal free” or “lead free,” our testing shows such claims cannot be supported since heavy metals are naturally occurring contaminants in colorants. But that does not stop us from trying to bring a new level of rigor to the beauty industry.

Recent test results from Beautycounter product testing can be viewed here. For extra credit, you can also view our talc test results here.

Table 1. Average Heavy Metals Concentrations and Limits (ppm) from 2019 color cosmetic products testing data

Heavy Metal Average Beautycounter Concentrations (ppm)1   FDA Regulatory Limits (ppm)2,3
Arsenic 0.1 3.0
Antimony 0.2 None
Cadmium 0.02 None
Lead (lip) 0.2 10.0 (all products)
Lead (non-lip) 0.6   10.0 (all products)
Mercury 0.01 1.0

1 Based on third-party testing data for Beautycounter color cosmetic products made and tested in 2019.

2FDA Regulatory Limits shown are for concentrations in raw ingredients.

3 The FDA also has limits established for heavy metal impurities in color additives as ingredients, which are not shown. Source: https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/potential-contaminants-cosmetics/fdas-testing-cosmetics-arsenic-cadmium-chromium-cobalt-lead-mercury-and-nickel-content#limits

As you can see, these average concentrations are also well below FDA limits.

Not surprisingly, given the challenges in the sourcing of colors described above, we may detect concentrations of heavy metals in batches of products that exceed our own internal limits. These situations are more rare than frequent and are also unpredictable. Even samples taken from the same product but in different spots can yield different levels of heavy metals when tested. For example, taking samples from opposite corners of an eyeshadow pan can give you different concentrations when heavy metals are present.

If our testing reveals a product that exceeds our internal limits, we prevent it from being sold (even if it meets all relevant regulatory limits).

How do Beautycounter’s heavy metals limits compare to common industry practice?

You may notice that heavy metal concentrations and limits for other brands of color cosmetics are missing from the table above. It is not industry practice to publicly disclose test results or publish heavy metal concentrations allowed in most brands’ products. In some cases, we understand that brands may simply be relying on guarantees from ingredient suppliers instead of conducting testing on their own products.

Looking ahead

Beautycounter is doing everything possible to reduce heavy metals exposure from color cosmetics—and we will continue to improve our efforts. Most importantly, we want you to be in the know about everything we do, because understanding the “whys” and “hows” helps you make the best decisions for yourself and your family. This is the power of transparency.



Sharing, and Protecting, Information

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 isolated incident.

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 questions@beautycounter.com.  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.

Leading By Example

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 facility. 

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 applicable product. 

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 allergens.

What’s Next

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

Chairwoman Eshoo, Ranking Member Burgess, and Members of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, thank you for holding this important hearing and for inviting me to participate.

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.

Beautycounter is 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 2024.[1]

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.

First, we need a health-protective safety standard.

The current 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.

Beautycounter 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.

Second, we encourage timely ingredient review, based on the best available science.

We 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.

Reflecting 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.

Third, we support a user fee system that fully funds the FDA.

As 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 increase accordingly.

Fourth, 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.

At Beautycounter, 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.

In 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 forever.

Thank you for your time today and for your leadership on this important issue.

[1] Statista, available at https://www.statista.com/statistics/750779/natural-organic-beauty-market-worldwide/