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 EWG.org 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 Beautycounter.com/jessiecoleman to learn more and shop safer products for men, women, children and babies -- there's truly something for everyone! Email me at jessieelinor@gmail.com for questions about color matching, skincare recommendations, or how you can get involved in the better beauty movement!

Xx Jessie