Beautycounter’s Groundbreaking Collaboration with Researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine

When you pick up a Beautycounter product, you know that the ingredients in the moisturizer, lipstick, or shampoo you hold have been rigorously screened as part of our Five-Step Ingredient Selection Process. But did you know that your dollars are also contributing to cutting-edge research that will lead to even safer personal care products across the industry?

Every ingredient used in the formulation of our products is analyzed against 23 safety standards and screened for carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, and reproductive and developmental harms, among other endpoints. However, there is still much that we do not understand about how certain ingredients affect human health.

One of the largest data gaps in the beauty industry is in the endocrine or hormonal effects of ingredients commonly used in personal care products. Endocrine disruptors are particularly problematic because they may contribute to adverse health effects such as developmental delays, interference with reproduction, increased cancer risk, and compromised immune function. Despite the significant impacts of endocrine disruptors, we found little peer-reviewed research that would help our scientists determine more effectively which ingredients were safer to use.

So, we decided to do something about it. In 2017, the scientists at Beautycounter began a research collaboration with Ana Soto of Tufts University School of Medicine, a leader in research on the hormonal effects of chemicals. Dr. Soto and her scientific partner, Dr. Carlos Sonnenschein, were instrumental in the removal of BPA from consumer goods such as plastic water bottles and baby products, as their research uncovered the chemical’s endocrine-disruptive effects. Working with Dr. Soto and her team, we aimed to help fill the data gap on the potential endocrine effects of certain ingredients used in personal care products and plastic packaging.

The testing strategy takes a three-pronged approach. First, we test active ingredients at concentrations mirroring their usage in our formulations that play a key role in our products’ performance. Second, we select ingredients with major data gaps or limited information on endocrine disruption. Finally, we include in the list of ingredients to be tested those that have a chemical structure resembling that of ingredients that are known endocrine disruptors.

We are testing the ingredients for their potential estrogenic and androgenic (female and male hormone, respectively) activity.  Instead of using animals, Dr. Soto’s laboratory uses an “E-Screen” for estrogens and “A-Screen” for androgens, tests based on human cell lines, in addition to other tests that use complementary approaches to detect hormonal activity.

We expect to report on the results of our testing, including the use of phenoxyethanol—used by Beautycounter as a preservative—in peer-reviewed academic literature. We will also provide information directly to you.

In the meantime, we can share an ingredient among the dozen that we tested that is featured in Beautycounter’s Nourishing skin care line. Our current lavender extract, used in the Nourishing Cream Cleanser, Nourishing Eye Cream, and Nourishing Day and Night Creams, was found to have no detectable estrogenic or androgenic activity.

While we could keep our research findings to ourselves like most companies, our goal is to help shift the entire market toward safer ingredients. We will share the results and any peer-reviewed studies with you as they become available. Beautycounter will never stop innovating, and we will use this information to continue formulating products that bring you greater peace of mind both today and tomorrow.

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