Limiting Your Toxic Burden

People hear me talk about Beautycounter and ask frequently about how to know whether the products they’re using are as detrimental to their health as they fear. It’s easy to retreat back into your bubble of safe, comfortable ignorance rather than face the reality of this industry, as terrifying as it may seem, but take a deep breath, step away from the Google machine and read on — There are some easy ways to educate yourself on the chemicals that you may be unknowingly consuming, and this awareness is the first step in making a change. I’ve included a few practical steps to limiting your toxic burden below, so scroll down for tips beyond the beauty cabinet!

Walking through the airport today, I was inspired to share some of my thoughts on the environmental toxins, namely the conventional makeup and skincare, with which travelers are bombarded every time they step foot in an airport. The consumer market, rife with toxic substances, is incredibly hard to avoid and even harder to avoid becoming victim to. SK-II, you’re not fooling me with those tantalizing celebrity face mask promos and glossy posters. Plus, who the hell spends $200 on sheet masks?!

The average American woman will spend $15,000 on beauty products over the course of her lifetime. The beauty industry is currently valued at over $62 billion, and is expected to climb exponentially to over $200 billion within the next 5 years. The main aspect of this market that upsets me is that millions of women spend thousands of dollars on beauty products that are potentially extremely harmful to their overall health; a fact that is often intentionally hidden from them, a disclosure that is not required by any regulatory institution as of yet.

Many women, previously myself included, are unaware that approximately 85,000 chemical substances are used in commerce today. Many of these chemicals are known to be harmful, but most have not been assessed for their long-term health impacts. In fact, we only have significant safety data on about 10% of these chemicals. 

So how do we know whether the products we’re using are safe? 

1. First, I would recommend referring to Beautycounter’s Never List ( . Beautycounter’s health and safety standards, in particular, their ingredient selection process, goes above and beyond what is legally required in the United States. The Never List is made up of over 1,500 known harmful or questionable chemicals that they never include in their products. This includes the 1,400 chemicals banned by the European Union, and takes it a step further by also banning chemicals that they have screened and found to be harmful or questionable to human health. Elimination of toxins is not necessarily the issue here, 

2. Cross check your current products! Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database ( allows you to search any product, from your favorite drug-store mascara to high-end luxury face creams, with a breakdown and warning of which toxic ingredients they contain and the health implications of each. It can be a bit scary finding out the salon-quality shampoo you’ve been using for years and spending tons of money on is actually loaded with hormone-disruptors or may contribute to cancer growth… But knowledge is power 

3. Ask me! I love when friends or acquaintances come to me in search of a safer alternative to their favorite concealer, shampoo or moisturizer. Email me or go to my personal shopping site at to shop and learn more about how you can participate in the clean beauty movement! My favorite part of my work with Beautycounter rests on the foundation of human-to-human connection; we do not pay for celebrity endorsements because we believe in the power of sharing our personal stories and journeys.

This is one of the facets that sets Beautycounter apart from any other brand out there! Not only are we creating safer products and providing a tangible, competitive solution, but also fighting for change in Washington. Several (big name) beauty brands are against the new proposed Personal Care Act (not yet passed) promising we ban Formaldehyde. 


Formaldehyde can still be found in many products (including baby products!), particularly in eye creams and moisturizers, and some companies are fighting to keep it IN your products because they prioritize their bottom line over consumer health and safety. There is hardly a distinction between cheaper drug-store brands and expensive, high-end products you’d find at luxury department stores. If we learn this information and continue to buy these conventional products, we are supporting these companies and sending the message that our health is not a priority. 

Now imagine, formaldehyde is just one of 1,500 ingredients known to be harmful or questionable to human health STILL permitted in the U.S. market. Doesn’t it seem criminal that consumers are spending hard-earned cash on products known to be harmful to their health and that of their family? Doesn’t it seem unjust that so many beauty brands are making billions of dollars off of this ignorance and lack of awareness?

While I did grow up in the notoriously outdoors-y, health-centric city of Portland, I didn’t personally prioritize my health until I was forced to. I continued to push forward, disregarding the clear warning signs, but chronic health issues caught up with me full force, eventually forcing me to quit my job so that I had no choice but to put my health first. This meant diet, exercise, lifestyle, and especially the products I was using in my skin and around my home everyday. I equipped myself with the research, information and data I needed to see there was a clear disconnect between what we were being sold and what we, as consumers, were being told. 

I encourage anyone who reads this to not wait like I did until you have no choice. Make your health a priority now, even if in the smallest ways like changing your hand soap or one product out of the 12 that you use everyday. 

Vote with your wallet. Vote with your dollar. When you support the big name, conventional corporate brands, you are supporting an industry that disregards your health in favor of a profit. That means these brands are profiting off of your ignorance and lack of knowledge, intentionally withholding information that would force them to make the change that I hope will someday be inevitably required of all brands: to inform their consumers of safety concerns, and to provide better product solutions. 


Every dollar that you spend is a vote that shapes the world we live in, and the world we leave behind for generations to come.This information can scare you, or empower you to make a change for the better, for your own health and that of the planet. Remember, not only do these chemicals go on your skin, but down the sink, into the ground water and oceans. If every person in the U.S. swapped just one of their daily products for a safer Beautycounter alternative, we would reduce a few chemicals from being exposed to our bodies and oceans, and when you consider that there are 325 million people in the U.S… that’s a massive reduction in the chemical burden we are placing on ourselves and the environment! Small changes, over time and cumulatively, have a massive impact. 

When I pass by the airport duty-free or one of the big-name cosmetics stores, I can't help but feel overwhelmed by the gratitude and amazing fortune I have to be in possession of this information, and how so many around me are not. I’m sharing this information purely to help educate others on all the things that I’ve learned, to help advance this important social mission vital to everyone, especially future generations. I want to participate in the creation of a world where women don't have to worry about whether their lipstick or lotion could be contributing to  the growth of cancer. 

Every person who comes to Beautycounter does so because they have faced some kind of health crisis or personal adversity. We cannot control our exposure 100%, but we can lessen the burden of chemical exposure the best we can by learning and choosing the best, safest options out there. 

A couple practical tips as I sign off…

  1. Shop Beautycounter! Support the safe beauty movement (and me! I need support!)

  2. The next time you need to re-up your cleaning products, choose safer, non-toxic options. I recommend DoTerra laundry detergent, cleaning solution, toothpaste and deodorant, or Seventh Generation if you’ve just got to shop in the grocery and don’t have patience to order online (but honestly does anyone NOT shop online for everything at this point?). You can shop DoTerra with me at and becoming a wholesale customer. 

  3. Follow Asian house rules and keep a bin by the door so that people can remove their shoes before entering your home. This is a common practice in many Asian countries, which I hope more American households follow suit. You track a plethora of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and other toxic chemicals (and God knows what else) onto your shoes throughout the day, and removing them before entering your house will prevent you and your family from exposing your bare feet to these chemicals… Plus it keeps your house cleaner and I’m all about that added benefit.

  4. Swap your non-stick cooking utensils for cast-iron skillets or the Green pan, which doesn’t leach toxic chemicals into your food. You can buy a Lodge (my favorite, pre-seasoned cast-iron) or Green Pan at most Targets, on Amazon, or directly from 

  5. The next time you have to purchase a mattress, pillow or furniture, double check The Good Trade for a reliable ranking and list of safe, healthier options. You’d be shocked to learn some of the toxic chemicals in mattresses, and considering we spend 1/3 of our lives in bed (probably more for me), it’s totally worthwhile to make a better investment when you can! 

I want to reiterate that when you support my Beautycounter and DoTerra businesses, you are supporting women entrepreneurs, environmental causes, community-based business, and conscious consumption. I personally would prefer to support individuals (particularly my friends) and socially-responsible businesses rather than large corporations who do not give a damn about me or my health. Thank you so much to all my loyal Beautycounter and DoTerra clients! You make it possible for me to live my passion in bringing better health to women, men and kids everywhere. I am so grateful for this work.



Photo by  Ava Pessina

Photo by Ava Pessina

When I was in 7th grade, my amazingly strong mama was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. With no family history of breast cancer and, after extensive testing, discovering that she did not even carry the BRCA1 gene, I’ve continued to research and consider all the ways that this malignant disease could have taken hold. I had to wonder what else could have been contributing to growing cancer inside a seemingly-healthy, robust woman like my mom… 

A few years ago, I lost my only uncle to a massive heart attack. Our family was shocked, considering he was at the healthy age of just 65-years-old. My uncle was very physically fit; he spent most his time outdoors, walking and playing with his three feisty whippet pups, drove race cars, loved playing bass guitar, ate a healthy, balanced diet, albeit with quite the sweet tooth attached… We all thought he would live to be 120. 

My story does not live in isolation. Everyone knows, and probably loves, someone who has been affected by heart disease, cancer, or another serious degenerative disease. We are seeing a rapid exponential increase in the number of autoimmune disease cases, and all of these issue have one thing in common: inflammation. 

My uncle’s unexpected passing was the moment I stopped going half-ass in taking care of myself. I dove deeply into studying yoga, nutrition, stress-reduction techniques like meditation, and the significant effect of environmental toxins on overall health. Through my extensive experience with teaching and practicing yoga, I experienced the great peace and clarity that came with having a practice of conscious awareness for my daily habits. 

Photo by Ava Pessina

Photo by Ava Pessina

Through my extensive studies in nutrition and through multiple certifications, I understood the underlying causes of inflammation and the toll it takes on all our vital organs and systems; I became particularly interested in the different ways that inflammation could be triggered. So what causes inflammation in the first place?

Stress causes inflammation. A stressor is any stimulus that causes stress to an organism. Stress can be triggered by a chemical or biological agent, such as a chemical preservative in packaged food, or even an allergy or sensitivity to a food such as gluten, eggs, cow’s milk or peppers. Stress can be triggered by an event, such as a painful break-up or the death of a loved one. Stress can be triggered by an external stimulus, such as a painfully hot Summer day, blindingly bright lights in your eyes, or walking into an overcrowded room. And stress can also be triggered, quite unexpectedly, from environmental conditions, such as coming into contact with toxins that your body cannot recognize or process. 

This is the case for the everyday toxins lurking in your family’s bathroom cabinet. Not many people will think of their skin as a living, breathing organ, but that’s exactly what it is; anything you expose your skin to absorbs into your bloodstream within 8 seconds and enters the limbic part of the nervous system within 15 seconds. Once in your blood stream, these toxins are carried throughout the body and come into contact with all the other organs, including your endocrine, nervous, digestive, and detoxification systems. 

The personal care {i.e. beauty} industry is virtually unregulated, especially within the States. You don’t have to be an expert market researcher to know that the beauty industry is absolutely booming, currently estimated to be $62 billion dollars and expected to increase to over $200 billion in the next 7 to 10 years.

The last time new legislation was written into effect governing this massive industry was in 1938 — the same year that the Golden Gate Bridge was built! Of the legislation that currently exists, you would be shocked to learn that all the legislation governing which ingredients are allowed into this billion dollar market is contained within a whopping ONE AND A HALF PAGES! This essentially means that the government offers absolutely NO incentive for brands to disclose their ingredients. 

For some perspective, consider that the EU has banned over 1,400 harmful chemicals from use in personal care products. The States, meanwhile, has only banned 34… 

Beautycounter is actively working to change this industry for the better. Based out of Santa Monica, Beautycounter is a beauty brand working to get safer products into the hands of everyone through their safer products, advocacy efforts, and social mission. 

Beautycounter takes it a step further, banning the use of over 1,500 known harmful or even questionable ingredients from ever being used in our products. I encourage you to cross-check all your own products, as well as the soaps, shampoos, and lotions your family or kids may be using, with the Never List so that you know what chemicals you are being exposed to everyday. Check out the Never List here and download a copy of the PDF to check all your products yourself!

Because the laws regulating this industry are so incredibly lax and thin, brands can even make marketing claims about their products without providing any evidence whatsoever.

It is currently legal for a brand to market itself as “clean,” nontoxic,” “organic,” “all natural,” or essentially any other misleading tag-line without providing evidence for any standards or testing. I know too many women and men who have fallen victim to good branding, to brands that market themselves as “minimal,” who put all their money into advertising or celebrity sponsors claiming their brand is natural… Beautycounter does not pay for any celebrity sponsors or advertising. They spend ALL of their money TESTING their products and ingredients for safety rather than spending that money on a fancy label or campaign slogan to fool consumers. They put all of their ingredient and screening information directly on their website where consumers can see and decipher for themselves what ingredients they’re purchasing. This is why Beautycounter uses the word "safer", because it's a promise that they know they can ethically fulfill. 

What do you want to spend your money on? A clever, expensive marketing gimmick, or on tried-and-tested ingredients that you know for certain have been screened for healthy consumption? For me, the quality debate is an absolute no-brainer.

This ingredient revelation reminded me of something I learned while studying with Conde Nast and Vogue in London the year after graduating USC… Almost all the high-end fashion houses release a perfume line because it is A. Incredibly cheap to produce, B. The fewest barriers to entry in the market, and C. Because the mark-up price is nearly 300%

One of the most toxic and questionable ingredients still allowed in the European, American and Asian markets is fragrance or “parfum.” Fragrance is a cover label that, in the late 1800’s, was created as a way for master perfumer’s to protect their “trade recipes” under federal law classification without disclosing the individual ingredients. Today, fragrance is used as a blanket item that may itself contain 3,000 or more other stock chemical ingredients, none of which have to be disclosed and many of which contain hormone disruptors and allergens! 

Remember, fragrance is not only used in perfume, but is added to almost every conventional and high-end beauty product today, especially in kids’ soaps and shampoos — this is known to be harmful to not just healthy, grown adults, but especially to babies’ delicate, undeveloped hormonal systems and brains. 


Let’s take a look at some more incredibly common ingredients and where they might be hiding…

Speaking of fragrance…

Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP and others): a plasticizer added to perfumes to help the fragrance stick to skin or to make other products more pliable. The research is strong that Phthalates may cause birth defects. So why are these ingredients still allowed in our children's and our own everyday, seemingly innocent body products, with absolutely no warning label of the risk we are taking by using them? (By the way, it’s pronounced FAL-ates for those like me who trip on that word every single time.)

Retinyl palmitate and Retinol (Vitamin A): I already know a lot of people aren’t going to be happy to hear this… But while many have praised topical retinol for it’s anti-aging, acne-combatting effects, this nutrient may actually damage DNA and speed the growth of skin tumors. It is often found in moisturizer and anti-aging skincare, and was made famous by brands like Retin-A and Accutane, who continue to profit from selling this potentially dangerous chemical by the bulk to misguided teens frustrated with acne and older women looking to smooth out their wrinkles. There’s a reason why those who take Accutane and its generic brands are required by doctors to take pregnancy tests ensuring they are not pregnant… I remember about 10 years ago when the box actually had a warning label of a baby with a deformed head to warn consumers not to get pregnant while using the product. This is a MASSIVE red-flag when even corrupt pharmaceutical brands are willing to acknowledge that their product causes hormonal imbalances and damage. I would strongly advise any women taking this to do their own research about the extensive side effects and long-term damage that can result from taking this medication!

Oxybenzone, oxtinoxate, avobenzone & homosalate: the most common SPF ingredients in conventional (and even some “nontoxic” brands! Eek!) sunscreens, some of these ingredients were actually banned in the State of Hawaii and abroad as they have been known to actually kill coral reefs and other marine life; just imagine how damaging they must be for our own skin and health! These ingredients are known hormone disruptors, meaning they create an imbalance in our delicate hormonal receptors, that can lead to a cascade of hormonal issues such as acne, weight gain (especially around the waist/hips), brain fog, anxiety, depression, PCOS, infertility, dysmenorrhea, hair loss, trouble focusing, premature aging, allergies, skin issues, and more. What’s ironic is that these ingredients intended for sun protection actually enhance ultraviolet light absorption, meaning they can cause melanoma (darkening/miscoloration of sun spots), irritation, allergic reactions, increased skin sensitivity and hormone disruption. Check them out on yourself for the studies supporting this!

Here is my rationale: We live in a modern world and are bound to run into toxins somewhere. I use all safer products, eat organic produce, drink carbon-filtered spring water, but I die my hair blonde and love the occasional gel manicure. I balance my health like a checkbook. I take these risks KNOWING what risk I am taking.

What is so unjust about the current status quo is that the truth is hidden from consumers. These are basic safety laws that brands should be held accountable for! Remember when we didn’t know the damaging effects of drinking and smoking while pregnant? And after the research came out suggesting so, a law was enacted that required brands to place a label on every bottle of alcohol that specified: “DO NOT DRINK WHILE PREGNANT; MAY CAUSE BIRTH DEFECTS!” Or when smoking was so common, people could smoke on airplanes and inside restaurants or office buildings? Now, every carton of cigarettes has a warning label, “WARNING: MAY CAUSE CANCER!” 

Cosmetic and personal care brands should be held to the same standards for consumer safety and awareness. It is one thing for these ingredients to be allowed into market in the first place; it is an entirely other issue that the government does not yet require warning labels like this to be placed on every tube of lipstick or mascara, every moisturizer, every baby shampoo known to contain ingredients that are harmful to human health! 

Photo by  Ava Pessina  

Photo by Ava Pessina 

THIS IS WHY I LOVE BEAUTYCOUNTER. Beautycounter does not have competition. How?

Because Beautycounter is already doing {and has done since its inception 5 years ago!} what every single other brand should be REQUIRED by law to do: to disclose ingredients with proper warning labels for human health and safety. 

Beautycounter is works tirelessly to change the industry as a whole. They are true innovators in their advocacy for greater safety standards, constantly lobbying on Capitol Hill and working with amazing politicians like California Senator Diane Feinstein to push for better legislation governing what goes into personal care products and testing for human safety. 

When is the last time you heard of a CEO pushing for MORE regulation in their industry?

Email me to learn more about joining the better beauty movement!

Email me to learn more about joining the better beauty movement!

Gregg Renfrew {pictured above} is not only an innovator in the health, wellness and beauty industry {and my personal hero}, she is rewriting the traditional corporate structure as a whole; she is proving that a company can be wildly successful while prioritizing more than just profits. She made sure Beautycounter met all the criteria to be a Certified B-Corp from the get-go 5 years ago (practically unheard of then!). The “B” stands for benefit, meaning the company must prioritize profits, people, and the planet equally. B Corp Certification is the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance, proving that it has a positive impact on all these areas, supported by transparency and accountability requirements. This requires companies to build this impact into their legal structure, ensuring that the business serves more than just shareholders — it has equal responsibility to the community and the environment. 

Your purchase is a political statement in the consumer culture we live in today. Vote with your wallet and your dollar towards companies like Beautycounter that are putting more good into the world and fighting for a worthy purpose that’s bigger than itself!

How can you get involved and support this mission? There are a few ways:

  • Support Beautycounter by use, enjoying and gifting Beautycounter products.
  • Host an event {email me for details!} to educate loved ones or colleagues about everyday toxins in the environment and how to make better choices to protect their health.
  • Join the Band of Beauty rewards program, which donates a percentage of the sign-up fee to Environmental Working Group (our trusted partner); it also has the perks of an amazing sign-up gift, product credit accumulation, and free shipping on orders over $100! It pays for itself and goes towards a worthy cause.
  • Become a consultant like me! We need more passionate, driven, busy, hard-working women to share this vital information with as many people as possible.

Our mission needs more voices. More people need to be made aware of the risk they are taking when they buy certain products, why it may affect their health adversely, and better solutions that protect your health rather than harm it.

If you are interested in joining the better beauty movement and feel inspired to share this information with friends, family and everyone who deserves better health protective products and laws, email me to see if Beautycounter would be a proper fit for you!

Blurry but joyful! Some of my Beautycounter team and I in Minneapolis this past may for Leadership Summit. I'm proud to work with busy moms, architects, doctors, nurses, dermatologists, sales reps, and all sorts of diverse, passionate women dedicated to sharing the mission of safer beauty for everyone! 

Blurry but joyful! Some of my Beautycounter team and I in Minneapolis this past may for Leadership Summit. I'm proud to work with busy moms, architects, doctors, nurses, dermatologists, sales reps, and all sorts of diverse, passionate women dedicated to sharing the mission of safer beauty for everyone! 

I am so grateful and proud of my work with Beautycounter. I am most grateful that I can provide my strong mama and family with the knowledge and awareness to make better choices for their health, for the economy, and for the environment. I love being able to provide them with products that I know have been tested rigorously for human safety. I sleep better at night knowing we are doing the best we can with the information we have.

I believe wholeheartedly that when you know better, you can do better. 

My job is to equip people with the correct information so that they feel empowered to make well-informed choices on their own. This is about so much more than selling makeup. Working in holistic nutrition, yoga, ayurveda, prenatal care and wellness, my background is much more finely tuned towards preventive medicine and practices. I consider using safer products as a major component of that preventive approach to wellness and health.

The vanity perks of using Beautycounter alone made me loyal to the brand. I constantly receive compliments on the glow of my complexion, how amazing my skin looks without makeup, how healthy and vibrant my overall aura comes across. The very vain side of me loves hearing this, but I love even more how the proof is in the pudding: when you use safer products, combined with appropriate diet, hydration and exercise, your body can heal inflammation from the inside out and create this radiant glow. When you feel good, you look good! I can't say the inverse is always true, though social media does a great job of obscuring that facet! 

Pants by  FINI . Photo by  Ava Pessina

Pants by FINI. Photo by Ava Pessina

Countless friends and family have already converted to the safer beauty movement. This is new beauty, and these standards are here to stay! Will you join the movement for better health, better safety, better innovation, and better beauty, too?

Go to to learn more and shop safer products for men, women, children and babies -- there's truly something for everyone! Email me at for questions about color matching, skincare recommendations, or how you can get involved in the better beauty movement!

Xx Jessie