Be Your (Safer) Beautiful: How Beautycounter Changed the Industry

By Samantha Bergeson

You are putting 20 chemicals on your face every day. And your skin absorbs all of it. Decades of studies have determined that thousands of cosmetic ingredients are toxic, causing health issues such as asthma, cancer, and infertility. The European Union has banned over 1,300 ingredients for personal care, reflecting the results of these studies. In contrast, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not updated their cosmetic safety regulations since 1938. The U.S. as a whole has only banned 30 ingredients, allowing a majority of toxic chemicals into cosmetics and lotions.

California mother and entrepreneur, Gregg Renfrew was horrified to learn of the silent toxins permeating her every day life after watching “An Inconvenient Truth.” Soon, Renfrew began investigating just how many elements of her routine were tainted.

“People are so concerned with avoiding pesticides in their food by eating organic, yet they slather chemical-ridden lotions all over their bodies,” Renfrew told Huffington Post.

Worried about the safety of her skin and her childrens’, Renfrew founded Beautycounter in 2013 to promote and create eco-friendly all-natural healthy skincare.

All Beautycounter products are holistically produced, offering lipstick to diaper rash cream. The company promotes a “never” list of ingredients to stay away from, including animal fat, usually found in soap and shaving products; benzophenone, the base for sunscreen and nail polish; and formaldehyde, in shampoo and body wash. (Just a note: benzophenone and formaldehyde are used to preserve dead bodies. No thanks). Instead, Beautycounter prints all of their natural ingredients on the respective product labels.

Beautycounter founder Gregg Renfrew

With slick products dubbed as “addictive” by Vogue, Beautycounter has quickly risen to the top of the cosmetic game, selling over 2.5 million products in the U.S. alone. “The assumption is always that because it’s safer, it doesn’t perform. I think we are a true testament that you can have beautiful, luxurious products,” Renfrew told blog Beautyeditor. “We set out feeling that women were always being asked to compromise on either efficacy or safety, and we’re saying it doesn’t need to be that way.”

Beautycounter has partnered with J.Crew and Target for retail locations, selling out instantly. The company has become more than just a product line, but rather a brand.

Yet, Renfrew cites the main effort of Beautycounter as education. This is completed by the independent business model of Beautycounter expert representatives. These sales representatives, similar to Avon girls of past, reach out to their local communities for both sales and government action towards legislation banning chemical use. We believe our story is best told person to person. We want to build a company that’s financially successful, but we are a social mission,” Renfrew said to The Huffington Post.

Simultaneously, the Beautycounter business model promotes female empowerment and self-love, reminding women to “be your beautiful.”

“We are allowing women to build businesses on a platform that’s been created to allow entrepreneurism without all the risks—women who are looking for an economic opportunity, but want flexibility in their lives,” Renfrew said.

As the Beautycounter website states,” women deserve better products and better legislation”– and Renfrew and Beautycounter will continue until progress is made. “I will not rest until we see a day where our children and future generations of children don’t have to worry about reading the labels of the products they are putting on their bodies every single day,” Renfrew said. “We are creating a movement for safer beauty. Just like someone advocated for seat belts, and car seats for infants, and no smoking on airplanes, we can be that catalyst for change.”