The Beauty Brand That’s Putting Safety First


Blush from Beautycounter (Photo: Beautycounter)

Look at any beauty label these days, and you’ll see safety is an issue across the board. Just the sheer amount of “frees” (paraben-, phthalates-, formaldehyde- etc) can be mind-boggling, and many of us, myself included, have increasingly sought out natural or organic products thinking they’re a better option.

But now Mia Davis, head of health and safety at Beautycounter, a Santa Monica-based skincare and beauty line whose mission is to put out safe products, is turning the industry on its head. The overarching goal of Beautycounter, which turns two years old today on March 4, is to get the industry to change its ways. “The bill that governs ingredients in beauty products is from 1938 and only a page and a half long!” Davis says. “We need to change that bill.” In the meantime, Davis hopes that “consumers become sleuths,” but that also requires transparency.


Face oil from Beautycounter (Photo: Beautycounter)

If she’s to be taken seriously, then perhaps our good faith efforts in buying up natural products have been for naught. “You can have something that’s natural that’s not safe, and you can have a synthetic ingredient that is non-toxic and non-harming,” says Davis. Lead is a natural ingredient that’s obviously toxic. We tested a naturals makeup line and found a lot of toxic metals. And there are baby products that are marketed as safe that have formaldehyde in it.”

Freaked out, yet?

Rather than dwell on the status quo, Davis, whose impressive resume includes getting BPAs banned from baby bottles, says she’s out to change it.  She joined Beautycounter as its first employee, and says the company is doing things differently. All of their products are tested for safety and the company self-regulates by avoiding some 1500+ chemicals that are banned in the E.U. or have otherwise been deemed unsafe through research. (Each product sold is also given a safety rating from independent watchdog the Environmental Working Group.) “Just recently, we’ve actually started our own testing of ingredients, assessing safety and doing exhaustive reviews—no animals were tested of course,” says Davis.


Eye cream from Beautycounter (Photo: Beautycounter)

Out of the lab, the company, which grew by 500% last year and uses a direct sale approach via e-commerce and brand ambassadors, has also got some buzzy panache. It was recently picked up by J.Crew as a featured brand, and it’s also earned some celebrity fans, including Lauren Conrad, who has raved about the brand’s Skin Tint ($38)

In honor of its second anniversary, the brand is launching a collection of nine of its original products ($325) for a limited time—cause for celebration. The company is also working to make more information on ingredients available and hope that beauty brands will push their own chemical suppliers to make changes. She says: “The point is to not get freaked out, but to be empowered.”


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