The #BetterBeauty Advocacy Update: Summer 2020

It’s been a summer of working to help keep our communities safe, but Beautycounter’s advocacy for #betterbeauty laws hasn’t stopped—in fact, we’re making some big strides. From legislation that empowers consumers to choose safer products to taking steps to ban dangerous ingredients, we’re excited to share the progress we’ve made.

California Bills Signal Nationwide Change

As a clean beauty brand founded in Santa Monica, we’ve always been proud of our Southern California roots. This summer, we have two more reasons to be happily headquartered in California: the passage of the Safer Fragrance bill (SB 312) and the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act (AB 2762).

The Safer Fragrance bill takes a significant step towards closing the “fragrance loophole” which allows companies to keep their fragrance ingredients a secret. Under the new law, companies are required to disclose fragrance allergens to the California Department of Public Health who must then create a publicly accessible database. We believe in the power of transparency and advocate for consumers to have the right to look up—and more importantly, avoid—ingredients that could be problematic to their health.

The Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act also protects consumers by prohibiting the use of 12 ingredients in personal-care products sold in the state of California. These ingredients, such as formaldehyde, parabens, and mercury, have long been a part of Beautycounter’s The Never List, as peer-reviewed research links them to negative health consequences.

Even though these are California laws, they affect more than just its residents. California has the largest consumer market in the U.S. and the fifth-largest economy in the world, which means its policies have a major impact on the behavior of companies everywhere. With the passage of these two laws, companies will not want to make two versions of the same product  (like one with formaldehyde and one without) and thus will most likely default to producing the version that is allowed in California, resulting in safer products in all fifty states.

Want to help us keep the momentum going? Text SAFERSCENT to 52886 to support the Safer Fragrance bill and TOXICFREE to 52886 to support the Toxic Free Cosmetics Act. With your support, we can encourage Governor Newsom to sign these bills into law later this year.

Federal Legislation Spurs Ingredient Innovation

While lawmakers in D.C. have been focused on the pandemic response, they’ve also been supporting legislation that promotes safer personal-care products. For three years, Beautycounter has worked closely with the Sustainable Chemistry Alliance to advocate for the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act. This bill provides federal funding for research and coordination of green chemistry initiatives which will bring safer and more sustainable ingredients to market. For Beautycounter, this means that we will have a wider array of safer ingredients to choose from, which means more innovative products for you.

A problematic beauty ingredient—hydroquinone—has also recently been under scrutiny. Used in skin-lightening creams marketed to Black women and women of South Asian descent, hydroquinone is linked to health concerns ranging from skin irritation to long-lasting damage. The March 2020 COVID response bill included an expedited process for the FDA to ban an ingredient when determined unsafe for consumer use—and hydroquinone was one of them. Though it is still available through prescription, over-the-counter products with the ingredient must be removed from the market by the end of September 2020.

Believe us: advocacy works, and our dedication is paying off. We’re changing the beauty industry for the better, but we can’t do it without you. Text BETTERBEAUTY to 52886 to join our movement.

TIME TO STEP UP FOR EQUALITY: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO TAKE ACTION NOW.

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.

LEARN & DONATE

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.

REGISTER TO VOTE

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


GET EDUCATED

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


SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES

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.

SHOP BLACK-OWNED BRANDS

Here are a few we love.

84Gem

Aba Love Apothecary

Anne’s Apothecary

Aqua Equity Water Co.

Black Girl Sunscreen

BLK & BOLD

BLK + GRN

Briogeo

Brooklyn Blooms NYC

Clare

Dr Locs

Ellie Bianca

Epi.logic

FORM

Galerie.LA

Golde

Hanahana Beauty

Herb’n Beauty

Hyper Skin

I+I Botanicals

LAMIK

LOOM

Melanin Essentials

Mented

Meraki

Minimo Skin Essentials

Mischo Beauty

Movita

NaturAll Club

Naturally London

Obia Naturals

Ooli

OrganiGrowHairCo

Oui the People

People of Color

Shani Darden

Sienna Naturals

TCTLE

The Foundry

The Glowercy

The Honey Pot Co

Unsun

Vegan Skin

Whit Hazen

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

WHAT ARE WE DOING AT BEAUTYCOUNTER?

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.



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/

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.

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.