Meet the Experts Making Beauty Better

Introducing the Beautycounter Science Advisory Council.

Decades of peer-reviewed research show a link between daily exposure to certain harmful chemicals and negative health outcomes such as cancer, infertility, and hormone disruption. But, as we know, cause and effect are complex and dependent on a variety of factors. That is why we work with leading academic researchers and scientists across the country to do our best to reduce environmental exposure wherever possible.  We believe that using the best-available science is important to reduce exposure to harmful ingredients and we’ve hired an all-star, in-house team of scientists to help us do so. We also recruited some of the brightest minds within the independent scientific and medical community to serve as a sounding board for our approach to safety. 

Today, we’re excited to introduce these leading researchers, health professionals, and organizations as we launch the Beautycounter Science Advisory Council. This group of experts shares our passion for making informed and precautionary decisions when formulating products. Their research will help guide and inform us about ingredient safety, making sure we are always ahead of the curve. We are so honored to have this team on our side—together, we’re going to make better beauty for all.

It’s hard for us to describe the breadth and caliber of these leaders, so we will let their work speak for itself. Collectively this group has published nearly 500 peer-reviewed papers on topics ranging from the health impacts of endocrine-disrupting chemicals to the effects of inaction on our global economy.

Get to know our esteemed Science Advisory Council: 

Kim Harley, MPH PhD

Associate Professor of Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health, UC Berkeley School of Public Health

Dr. Harley is a reproductive epidemiologist whose research focuses on endocrine-disrupting chemicals and women’s health, including associations with fertility, birth outcomes, timing of puberty, and obesity. Her latest research investigates chemicals of concern in cosmetics and personal care products marketed towards minority women. Dr. Harley has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers on the health effects and exposure patterns of phthalates, parabens, BPA, flame retardants, pesticides, and other endocrine disruptors in our homes and daily lives.  

 Joe Laakso, PhD

Director, Science Policy at the Endocrine Society—the leading professional organization for endocrinologists, who are on a mission tounite, lead, and grow the endocrine community to accelerate scientific breakthroughs and improve health worldwide.

Dr. Laakso helps the world’s leading experts in the field of endocrinology to advance policies that accelerate scientific discovery and ensure that endocrine science is reflected in legislation and regulatory decision making. Dr. Laakso is passionate about the promise of research and the ability of governments to use scientific knowledge to advance effective, science-based policies. He uses his blend of scientific and policy expertise to distill and communicate complicated scientific issues to policymakers and other audiences.

Allyson Ocean, MD

Medical oncologist and attending physician in hematology and medical oncology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center; Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Weill Medical College of Cornell and the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center.

Dr. Ocean is a principal investigator on clinical trials with novel therapeutics, radiolabeled therapies, antibody-drug conjugates, and targeted therapies. She is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles and abstracts and is an active member of several professional societies, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Association for Cancer Research. Dr. Ocean also represents Stand Up to Cancer,  and is the co-founder of two nonprofits in the cancer space: Michael’s Mission and Let’s Win Pancreatic Cancer.

Lora Shahine, MD, FACOG

Reproductive endocrinologist at Pacific NW Fertility and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle specializing in infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss.  

Dr. Shahine is the accomplished author of three books that take an integrative approach to fertility care and recurrent miscarriage, including her best-selling book, Not Broken, as well as over 50 peer-reviewed clinical research papers. She is passionate about increasing awareness of the reproductive and overall health impact of environmental toxins and endocrine disruptors through legislative advocacy, speaking, writing, and an active social media presence.

Ana Soto, MD

Professor of Immunology, Tufts University School of Medicine. Blaise Pascal Chair 2013-15 and Fellow at the Centre Cavaillès, Ecole Normale Supérieure of Paris.

Dr. Ana Soto is an internationally renowned leader in environmental health and a pioneer in the field of endocrine disruptors. Her research team discovered the deleterious effects of fetal exposure to bisphenol-A, a chemical often used in plastic products. She was instrumental in providing evidence that resulted in laws banning BPA from food-contacting materials in France. Together with Dr. Carlos Sonnenschein she authored the book The Society of Cells; published in 1999, it has become a classic of cancer biology. Dr Soto has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles both on experimental and theoretical biology. She and her team of scientists also work on identifying the endocrine effects of ingredients used in personal care products and plastic packaging. Dr. Soto was elected a member of the prestigious Collegium Ramazzini, Carpi, Italy in 2011, and is the recipient of several awards, including the Grand Vermeil Medal, the highest distinction from the City of Paris, for her pioneering role in the discovery of endocrine disruptors and her contributions to public health.

Leo Trasande, MD, MPP

Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Pediatrics; Chief, Division of Environmental Pediatrics; Professor of Environmental Medicine & Population Health, NYU School of Medicine

Dr. Trasande is an internationally renowned leader in children’s environmental health, a pediatrician, a prolific researcher, and the author of the best-selling book Sicker Fatter Poorer. His research focuses on identifying the role of environmental exposures in childhood obesity and cardiovascular risks. He examines the effects of chemicals like phthalates, bisphenols, organophosphate pesticides, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on fetal as well as postnatal growth and early cardiovascular and renal risks. Dr. Trasande leads one of 35 centers across the country as part of the National Institute of Health’s Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes program and is Principal Investigator on numerous NIH-funded projects. He is perhaps best known for a series of landmark studies that document disease costs due to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

 Sara Wordingham, MD, FAAHPM

Assistant Professor of Medicine, Center for Palliative Medicine, Mayo Clinic

Dr. Wordingham is an accomplished clinician and patient advocate who is passionate about medical ethics, whole-person care, and maximizing quality of life for patients and loved ones facing advanced illness. After watching her older sister become an advocate for clean beauty products, she began questioning if there were not safer ways to care for our bodies and exploring how physicians can help promote change. As someone who sees patients with advanced cancer and heart disease on a daily basis, she hopes to continue to innovate and advocate for safer environmental health practices.

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.

A BIG DAY FOR #BETTERBEAUTY: WE TESTIFIED FOR COSMETIC REFORM

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/

Baking Clean: Healthy Holiday Cookies with Laurel Gallucci from Sweet Laurel Bakery

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: What’s your favorite hostess gift?
LG: Freshly baked goods (usually cookies)!

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.

Learn more about our own Ingredient Selection Process.

A big day for #betterbeauty—We’re testifying for Cosmetic Reform

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:

  1. Congress recognizes that clean beauty is here to stay.
  2. Our voices are being heard.
  3. 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 you.

The Best Beauty Mark

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. 

Staying (Body) Positive with Clémentine Desseaux

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.

How to make a big impact on your health (and the planet)

How to make a big impact on your health (and the planet)

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. 

Home 

  1. Choose a safer detergent. Some detergents are made with potentially harmful ingredients with which your skin may come into contact. 
  1. Choose glass over plastic. Some plastics contain the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which has been shown to be disruptive to the hormone system. 
  1. Leave your shoes at the door. Wearing your shoes inside can increase your exposure to dust, lead, bacteria, and pollutants. 
  1. Support brands that fully disclose their fragrance ingredients. When “fragrance” is listed as an ingredient, it’s usually a blend of various chemical compounds, many of which are common allergens or have links to hormone disruption. And since are they protected as trade secrets, there is no way to know for sure what ingredients are in the formulas. 
  1. Swap out dryer sheets for wool dryer balls. Wool what? These reusable dryer balls are a great option for reducing waste as well as exposure to potentially toxic chemicals and hormone disruptors. If you want your clothes to smell fresh, just add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil to the dryer ball before use. 

Food 

  1. Buy organic. Some fruits and vegetables have a thinner skin, meaning they have a higher risk of absorbing harmful chemicals from pesticides. If buying everything organic isn’t in your budget, prioritize! Check out EWG’s dirty dozen list for fruits and veggies with the highest risk of pesticide exposure. 
  1. Shop local. Farmer’s markets not only support the community, but also help the environment by reducing the carbon footprint from shipping. But don’t worry if you can’t make it to the market. There are services like CSA or Farm Fresh to You that will deliver boxes of organic produce from local farms to your doorstep. 
  1. Replace non-stick with stainless steel. Although non-stick pans are easier to clean, they may be more hazardous to your health and the environment. PTFE (polytetrafluoroetheylene) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) are used for non-stick coating, which can release chemical fumes at high temperatures. These surface particles and toxic gases may work their way into your food and the air. Choose stainless steel or cast iron instead! 
  1. Give Meatless Monday a try. Meat production causes deforestation, freshwater use, and greenhouse gas emissions. Meatless Monday is a worldwide campaign that encourages going meat-free for just one day a week to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and chronic illness. Plus, it’s better for the planet. 

Conscious Living 

  1. Take shorter showers. The longer the shower, the more water and energy resources are depleted. Pure, clean water is necessary for life. It protects wildlife, supports cities, reduces pollution, and conserves fuel resources. 
  1. Walk and bike when possible. Skip the car and reduce your carbon footprint. Walking and biking help increase your cardiovascular function, reduce stress, and contribute to overall well-being. 
  1. Make time to meditate. Studies show that by unplugging daily and focusing on your breath, you can reduce anxiety, stress, negative emotions, blood pressure, and even change your brain function. 
  1. Add indoor plants for cleaner air. Did you know that the air we breathe indoors can be polluted if there’s not proper ventilation? Plants are an easy way to purify the air inside. Try a bamboo palm, spider plant, or aloe vera. 
  1. Use reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags are overwhelmingly destructive to the environment: they suffocate wildlife, block soil nutrients, and fill up landfills, where they never decompose. An estimated 300 million plastic bags wind up in the Atlantic Ocean alone, creating one of the biggest problems for sea life. Canvas, cotton, or jute fiber are a few sturdy reusable bag alternatives 

Beauty 

  1. Use safer sunscreen. Shield skin from the sun’s damaging rays UVA and UVB rays with a mineral sunscreen. Instead of using potentially irritating chemical filters, we use non-nano zinc oxide—a safer mineral blocker that sits on the surface of skin and bounces sun’s rays away. 
  1. Wash your hair less often. Save water, use less product, and train your hair to be less greasy. It may sound counterintuitive, but giving your hair enough time to naturally produce oils—instead of stripping them by shampooing too frequently—will ultimately lead to less oil production. 
  1. Choose cloth instead of paper. Tissues and paper towels come from trees (you knew that). Chlorine bleach is used to whiten the tree pulp and isn’t eco-friendly. Save paper and opt for a cloth towel for cleaning, drying your hands, or wiping your nose. 
  1. Know the ingredients. Information is one of the most powerful factors in any purchasing decision. At Beautycounter, we handpick every ingredient that goes into our products using industry-leading screening and testing procedures. You can learn more about the ingredients  we use to formulate our products—and everything we prohibit—on The Never List™ . 

Ready to get going on a safer lifestyle for you and your family? With products that are obsessively tested and always clean, Beautycounter is on a mission to change beauty forever. Join us and start making small changes that have a big impact by shopping our lineup of clean beauty