Photo: Gregg Renfrew, Founder and CEO of Beautycounter.
Beautycounter took its campaign for safer beauty products to Washington, D.C. for a recent congressional hearing on cosmetic development and safety.
The brand’s founder and CEO, Gregg Renfrew, attended a Sept. 22 oversight hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and penned a letter to members outlining the need for greater oversight of the beauty industry. Renfrew launched Beautycounter in 2013 with the express mission to create safe and innovative beauty and skincare products.
“The average American woman’s life expectancy is roughly 80 years,” Renfrew wrote in a Tuesday op-ed for Washington political journal The Hill. “That is approximately how long it has been since the United States has passed a major law ensuring the safety of the cosmetic and personal care products we use every single day.”
In the U.S., beauty products are regulated largely by legislation passed in 1938, and in 2016 the contrast to other countries is stark. European Union officials have banned nearly 1,400 ingredients from personal-care products, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has partially restricted just 11.
Beautycounter has addressed this disparity by compiling its own list of known or suspected toxins banned from its formulas. This Never List includes about 1,500 questionable or harmful ingredients prohibited or restricted by the E.U. and Health Canada, as well as additional chemicals screened by the company itself. However, enforcing rigorous standards across an entire supply chain is no small task, particularly without regulations in place to ensure transparency.
“While businesses can sometimes move faster than government action, there is still a need for a new regulatory structure,” states Renfrew’s letter to committee members. “Without key improvements to our government’s existing regulatory system, many companies will not have the tools necessary to make the safest products possible.”
According to recommendations put forth by Beautycounter, those improvements include empowering the FDA to review and restrict ingredients, with a set standard in place. Renfrew also calls for increasing supply chain transparency and authorizing states to take action on harmful ingredients, as well as introducing a mandatory recall authority and adverse event reporting.