Last week I spent 2 days in Washington, DC on a Beautycounter advocacy trip. Here’s the recap!
Beautycounter Advocacy Trip to DC
Last week I went to Washington, DC with Beautycounter to lobby for transparency and increased regulation in the beauty industry.
Our food industry is highly regulated, but the beauty industry is not…yet.
As a result, potentially harmful ingredients are allowed to be used in everyday beauty products. Consumers deserve to know what is in the products they use and everyone in our country should be able to walk into a drug store and know that what they are purchasing is free of toxic chemicals.
There are loopholes and a lack of transparency across the beauty industry. Anyone can put the word “clean” on their products. But that word isn’t regulated.
The European Union has banned or restricted 1,400 ingredients from personal care products. But the U.S. has banned or restricted only 30. The U.S. has not passed a major federal law governing the cosmetics industry since 1938. That is almost a century. Think of all that has changed since then.
Since it was founded in 2013, Beautycounter has been advocating for new laws that boost transparency in the industry and get closer to ensuring that all personal care products (not just Beautycounter’s) are safe and free from harmful ingredients. And that they are widely available.
Some advocacy wins
You can learn more about Beautycounter’s advocacy initiatives and successes on this page.
Here are some highlights:
- More than 2,100 meetings, 16,000 calls, and 200,000 emails in the fight for change
- First clean beauty CEO to appear before a Congressional Committee (yay Gregg!)
- Safer Fragrance Bill – a step towards closing the loophole in fragrance
- Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act in California
At the end of the day, the conversation about clean goes beyond makeup and encompasses our health and the environment too. As a B Corporation, Beautycounter is protecting the health of the planet with concerns for sustainability, carbon footprint, ethical and responsible sourcing, and testing every ingredient batch that comes in.
The trip was earned by state. And I was representing Virginia! Consultants from all over the country, including Hawaii and Alaska descended upon the Fairmont Hotel in Georgetown for two days of meetings, networking, and advocacy. And of course, socializing!
The event started with a welcome reception.
There were stations of seafood, kebobs, veggies, and also charcuterie.
I made some new friends! Shoutout to Shayna!
Our founder, Gregg Renfrew, brought us together with a motivating speech about our mission: getting safer products into the hands of everyone.
Photos at the Lincoln Memorial
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast and then headed to the Lincoln Memorial for a photoshoot!
Beautycounter Advocacy Meetings
On Wednesday morning after breakfast, we broke out into small groups to meet with a scheduled set of Congressional staffers over Zoom. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, meetings are still mostly virtual (especially since we were a large group).
My group was mostly East Coasters, and we met with the offices of:
- Sen. Richard Burr (NC)
- Sen. Tim Kaine (VA)
- Sen. Tim Scott (SC)
- Rep. Elaine Luria (VA)
- Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (MD)
- Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD)
While the meetings were mostly with staff members of their offices, we did feel like we were plugged right in. A constituent from the state opened the meeting. And then we gave them an introduction to Beautycounter, went over relevant bills, shared stories, and asked questions.
The bills we discussed
- Senate: The Personal Care Products Safety Act
- House: Safer Beauty Bill Package which includes
- Toxic-Free Beauty Act
- Cosmetic Supply Chain Transparency Act
- Cosmetic Safety for Communities of Color and Professional Salon Workers Act
- Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right To Know Act
These bills would create a system for the FDA to review ingredients for safety, allow products with negative health impacts to be recalled from the market, and help protect consumers from harmful ingredients without having to know ingredients to avoid.
Because this blog is called Kath Eats, I have to share the delicious healthy lunch we had! Quinoa salad, soup, grilled salmon. And really delicious double chocolate cookies!
How it went
I was definitely nervous!! But my speaking parts went smoothly. And I feel like I know a lot more about cosmetic reform after this day!
It was wonderful to hear the stories from other consultants of why they chose to partner with the company. And it was awesome to see the reactions of some of our audience when they learned that the very products they got ready with that morning might have ingredients that were known endocrine disruptors or links to cancer.
After our last meeting, I went back to my room for some downtime. I was supposed to have a roommate, but she cancelled at the last minute. So aside from being up all night Tuesday waiting for her to arrive and feeling super tired, I had my room to myself. Which was amazing!!
I also took a short nap and met Shayna for a walk around Georgetown. Definitely needed the fresh air!!
Wednesday evening, everyone donned their gowns. And then we departed for the Library of Congress for a celebration.
This truly was one of the most beautiful parties I’ve ever been to! The Library ceiling was so stunning. And the setting was magical.
We enjoyed drinks and apps and then sat down to dinner. I had halibut and also the most delicious hazelnut dessert.
Our honored guest for the evening was Rep. Jan Schakowsky from Illinois who is the lead sponsor for the Safer Beauty Bill Package. In fact, she is a firecracker of a woman and had us all laughing with her talk!
And then after dinner, she crushed the dance floor.
We wrapped up our trip on Thursday morning with a science symposium and panel of four different experts independent of Beautycounter sharing their knowledge with us. Telling us what we are doing right, how we can improve, and beyond.
Our in-person panelists were Dr. Leo Trasande, MD, MPP, a pediatric specialist and author of Sicker, Fatter, Poorer, and Dr. Lora Shahine, MD, FACOG (she’s very active on social media) who is an OB-GYN specializing in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. On Zoom, we had Dr. Boma Brown-West, MD from the Environmental Defense Fund and Dr. Kim Harley, PhD.
We spent a lot of time discussing endocrine disruptors in personal care products and their link to cancer, infertility, miscarriage, heart disease, and more. They shared some data from studies that linked BPA in women’s blood to miscarriage. And PFAS’ link to body metabolism.
Many women are motivated to clean up their health when they are trying to conceive or when pregnant. But we must remember to educate our teenage daughters as they are going through adolescence, too. One study found that when teens switched from paraben products to those without, they had a 25-45% decrease in parabens in their bodies in just THREE DAYS. That is a huge drop! Beautycounter’s goal is to arm people with education without fear-mongering. And we discussed how to do that effectively.
We also discussed equity at the core of the clean beauty movement. And how women of color carry a much higher toxic load. Advocacy starts with education so that supply and demand can be tipped.
I say this often about food but it applies here too:
If you can afford to vote with your dollars, DO IT. Companies see change in demand and increase supply, and Congress will finally change the laws. So that those who can’t afford to buy serums can have access to safer products through the whole industry.
Beautycounter Advocacy Video
Want to learn more? Start by watching this video:
Are you passionate about better beauty?
Being a Beautycounter consultant is about so much more than selling skincare. Our primary goals are to educate, advocate, and also market amazing products that lead the industry in safety.
If this topic is at all something you’re passionate about too, you should consider becoming a consultant! It’s the best way to plug in to these important issues with a community of like-minded people. I have a blog post with a lot of FAQs about being a consultant here. Email me to kath at katheats.com if you’re interested in chatting!