Ac­tion Plan

Fashion (Canada) - - The Draw Sustainability Reboot -

It’s a chilly March morn­ing in Wash­ing­ton, D.C, and just out­side the steps of the Capi­tol Build­ing, Gregg Ren­frew is wear­ing a light navy puffer and New Bal­ance sneak­ers while hop­ping up and down in or­der to stay warm. The founder and CEO of Beau­ty­counter is hud­dled with staff, and around her, over 100 con­sul­tants from across the United States have joined them for a day of meet­ings to lobby for the Per­sonal Care Prod­ucts Safety Act, a bi­par­ti­san bill to re­form the reg­u­la­tion of beauty prod­ucts (cos­metic and oth­er­wise) to en­sure the safety of their in­gre­di­ents. Once ev­ery­one is herded to­gether for a group photo, Ren­frew ad­dresses them. “This is the rea­son I started the com­pany,” she bel­lows.

That was in 2013. Ren­frew wanted to cre­ate a beauty brand that made prod­ucts that were high per­form­ing and safe. But she didn’t stop there; she made ac­tivism an in­te­gral part of the com­pany and vis­ited the Hill in D.C. the fol­low­ing year. “I didn’t feel the world needed an­other beauty brand per se,” she says. “What I felt it needed was a move­ment.”

And that’s the point of to­day in Wash­ing­ton. To date, ma­jor laws sur­round­ing the reg­u­la­tion of beauty prod­ucts in the United States have not been up­dated since 1938, re­strict­ing and ban­ning only 30 in­gre­di­ents. (In Canada, we’ve done that with around 600). Beau­ty­counter, how­ever, bans the use of 1,500 in­gre­di­ents that it be­lieves to be of con­cern. So Ren­frew has brought her con­sul­tants to meet with the staff of the se­na­tors to lobby for sup­port of the bill. “We know we’re mak­ing in­roads,” she ex­plains. “They may not agree on how we go about it, but I think ev­ery­one can agree that we need to pro­tect our health.”

While we are ahead of the United States in terms of reg­u­la­tions, Ren­frew be­lieves “there’s still work to be done.” That in­cludes the loop­hole that al­lows com­pa­nies to not list in­gre­di­ents if they fall un­der the cat­e­gory fra­grance. “It keeps con­sumers in the dark about com­mon al­ler­gens and hor­mone-dis­rupt­ing chem­i­cals,” ex­plains Ren­frew. The other is­sue is met­als in cos­met­ics. Both are is­sues she’d like to see in­cluded in fu­ture Cana­dian En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Act (CEPA) re­views.

Un­like other beauty brands that throw around the word “toxic,” Beau­ty­counter steers clear of that rhetoric. “We talk about the in­gre­di­ents that we choose to use,” she says. “That said, we do share in­for­ma­tion that can scare peo­ple be­cause most as­sume that their govern­ment is pro­tect­ing them.” But, above all, Ren­frew be­lieves that Beau­ty­counter’s role is “to cre­ate higher per­form­ing, safer prod­ucts, to ed­u­cate the con­sumer, to ad­vo­cate tire­lessly and to change the in­dus­try and the world.”


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