Beautycounter Led Congressional Briefing Sheds Light on Disparate Impact of Personal Care Products

Beautycounter was back in D.C. yesterday shedding light on how harmful ingredients in personal care products disproportionately impact women of color and solutions that can be found through the government and the marketplace. The briefing included a panel of women who are experts on the topic, including: Dr. Robin Dodson, PhD of Silent Spring Institute, makeup artist and esthetician Ony Danchimah, Boma Brown-West of the Environmental Defense Fund and Beautycounter CEO and Founder Gregg Renfrew. Members of the audience included House Congressional offices specifically targeting members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.


Each of the panelists shared their personal experiences and different perspectives on the issue at hand. Dr. Dodson specifically noted the ethnic disparities in exposure to harmful ingredients, discussing how personal care products marketed to women of color usually have higher levels of phthalates and parabens than products marketed toward the general population. Which is especially alarming considering that “multicultural beauty products have outpaced the overall cosmetics market” according to a paper in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The problem is particularly visible in the hair products marketed towards women of color.

After working as a makeup artist for celebrity clients including Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston as well as for BET Network and the Oprah Winfrey show, Danchimah began rethinking her makeup and skin care arsenal and what she was recommending to clients after her mother became sick with breast cancer. As she transitioned her makeup kit to cleaner brands, she found that finding products for women of color was even harder now that she was also looking for ones with cleaner ingredients.

Brown-West provided an overview of the changing personal care marketplace, stating how consumers are doing their own research into products and becoming more wary of brands’ promises. “Consumers are demanding fewer toxic ingredients and greater transparency,” said Brown-West. She also noted how the consumer and retailer demand for safer products is sending ripples throughout the supply chain and it’s resulting in the reduction of harmful ingredients, growth of clean brands like Beautycounter, and greater ingredient transparency about ingredients. So the old saying about voting with your dollar still holds true.

“From day one, Beautycounter recognized the lack of beauty products created for women of color. But we were a small company at the time and limited by many of the same issues that we are still fighting so hard to solve here in DC: safety reviews, supply chain transparency, federal recall authority, the list goes on. As our company grows, we are constantly innovating, expanding shade ranges and colors that work well for women of all skin tones,” said Renfrew. “It’s not easy balancing safety and performance to create products like our powders, blushes, lipsticks, bronzers and highlighters, that meet our rigorous heavy metal standards. And it’s not enough to just create amazing products. Government must also step in. Beautycounter believes that Congress needs to act quickly to protect American consumers, and we will continue to support legislation that takes meaningful steps towards this goal.”

Ready to help us make a difference? Click here to call on your members of Congress to support better beauty laws that protect everyone. And until the laws change, you can change what you’re using. Because the good news is that according to a recent study by UC Berkeley, “even a short break from certain kinds of makeup, shampoos and lotions can lead to a significant drop in levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the body.”


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