A Letter From Gregg To The Hill: Current Practices in the Beauty Industry

Today, Beautycounter CEO Gregg Renfrew attended the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) hearing, Exploring Current Practices in Cosmetic Development and Safety. Beautycounter sent the letter below to offer our perspectives on the significant challenges safer and natural beauty brands face, and to once again call for dramatically increased regulation of cosmetic ingredients. While there is still much work to be done, we are taking great steps toward our mission of getting safer products into the hands of everyone. Together, we can accomplish anything.

Gregg Renfrew in D.C.

Read Beautycounter’s letter to the Committee:

September 22nd, 2016

Re: Current Practices in the Beauty Industry, Next Steps

Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:

I would like to thank you and your staff for holding a hearing on the state of the beauty industry. This is a timely and important consumer safety issue. In light of today’s oversight hearing, “Exploring Current Practices in Cosmetic Development and Safety,” I am providing some perspective from the beauty company I lead, Beautycounter. We are living the American dream, now growing from a startup company to a mid-sized, fast-growth company operating across the United States and Canada. More than 25,000 women share our message and products.

Beautycounter is a leader in the safer skin care and cleaner cosmetics category. Our disruptive approach to business is building a national movement for improved transparency and accountability in the beauty industry, including advocacy to update federal regulations that have stood largely unchanged since 1938. Our company’s mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone, and we believe that more health-protective federal regulations are an important part of delivering on this mission.

Beautycounter develops and distributes nearly 100 products across skin care, color cosmetics, kids, baby, and personal care collections, and is a Certified B Corporation. We launched in 2013 as a direct-retail brand that is now available through our Consultants across North America, online at Beautycounter.com, and through strategic partnerships including J.Crew, goop, and a limited-edition collection with Target nationwide.

Existing Regulatory Structure No Longer Serves the Public or Industry

It is widely recognized that the United States federal personal care regulatory system is far behind other countries. Some companies, including Beautycounter, are working to create safer products in the absence of government leadership, and much work remains to be done. Research shows the vast majority of American consumers remains totally unaware of the risks associated with many ingredients. Most falsely believe the FDA already regulates personal care products.

The truth is, the personal care and beauty industries are severely under regulated. As you know, the few consumer protections that do exist date back to the World War II era. Science and consumer expectations have changed dramatically since then, and Congress must act now to protect the public.

The existing regulatory structure is not working for consumers, nor is it working for businesses seeking to create safer products. In fact, safer and natural beauty brands are the fastest growing segments of the industry, while mainstream growth in cosmetics and personal care products is stagnant. Many of us who are leading the fast-growing safer beauty space see increased scrutiny of harmful ingredients as the way of the future. We are equally pro-business and pro-regulation. We do not believe compromising health for profit is acceptable.

As leaders in safer skin care and cosmetics, we do our best to produce the safest products possible, but a murky supply chain can sometimes make that hard to do. We see significant opportunities for new federal regulations to not only protect public health, but also help businesses by increasing transparency along our supply chain. More transparency gives us increased business security and the confidence of knowing the products we bring to market are meeting our higher standards.

Beautycounter’s Ingredient Selection Process

At Beautycounter, we use a five-step Ingredient Selection Process when formulating our products. The lengths to which we go at Beautycounter to formulate our products are not standard in the industry. We are proud to climb the very steep hill of self-imposed higher standards. It is what our consumers deserve.

The first step involves restricting approximately 1,500 ingredients with questionable or potentially harmful health effects from product formulations. This includes over 1,400 chemicals banned or restricted in personal care products by the European Union, the chemicals prohibited or restricted in cosmetics by Health Canada, plus additional chemicals screened by Beautycounter that indicate a cause for concern.

The second step is our ingredient screen, which uses the best available research from leading industry and peer-reviewed articles on ingredient safety. We look for potential hazards like cancer, developmental toxicity, hormone disruption, and infertility, and we consider the potential routes of exposure and possible cumulative exposures when screening every potential ingredient. We source our information from the industry, academia, and government bodies, and we consult with scientists and industry leaders working to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals and develop safer chemicals. Our process also extends to responsible sourcing, dedication to research, and sharing our processes transparently.

While businesses can sometimes move faster than government action, there is still a need for a new regulatory structure. Without key improvements to our government’s existing regulatory system, many companies will not have the tools necessary to make the safest products possible.

New Laws, Better Beauty

Looking forward, we see the following elements as crucial to meaningful reform of the beauty industry:

– Empowering the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review and restrict ingredients linked to possible harm

– A public health-protective safety standard by which the FDA would review ingredients

– Timely review of ingredients to bring the U.S. regulatory structure up to the international marketplace standard

– Increased transparency across the supply chain, including proper communications between raw ingredient suppliers, formulating labs, and consumer brands

– Limited state preemption, allowing states to take action on harmful ingredients where the Federal Government has not yet acted

– Mandatory recall authority and adverse event reporting

– Sufficient resources for the FDA to implement a new regulatory system

We know intimately how complicated this issue is, but we are confident that meaningful action can take place given the unprecedented and widespread support for legislative reform.

We look forward to working with you to advocate for reform in the coming months, and we thank you for your continued leadership.


Gregg Renfrew

Founder and CEO, Beautycounter


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