A Journey to Safer Beauty

My best friend once asked me, “What’s your passion in life?” Without hesitation, I replied, “Identity and anti-aging.” She laughed, but I really had never felt more sure of anything in my life. My first passion is to see people living life to their fullest potential. My second passion is inevitable since I can’t avoid aging. I might as well do it gracefully, right?

Where did this passion come from? I vividly remember sitting in our bathroom almost every night as a young girl, watching my beautiful mom perform her evening beauty ritual. I would stare up at her like she was the Goddess of Beautiful Skin and watch her meticulously remove her makeup and fight off the forbidden wrinkles.

At 14, she pulled me aside and said that it was time. It was as if the trumpets had summoned me and I had just come to age in my womanhood. It was time for my own face regimen to fight off the ugly wrinkle monsters that were waiting to attack down the road. And thus, my product obsession started. From that point on, I researched every product

In 2001, my mom fell ill to cancer and she sadly passed away in 2003. I remember her motioning for me to lean down for one last request before she passed, “Jenna, can you call my nail lady? I need my nails done terribly.” Yep, that was my mom. She probably knew we were about to celebrate her life the following week and god forbid her nails not be done! 

After watching such a horrible illness, I started to educate myself in every facet of health. 

One area that caught my interest was the personal product industry in the US. The more I researched, the more I realized that this industry is virtually unregulated. The products that I had been using… that my mom had used… contain toxic chemicals connected to issues like cancer, infertility, hormonal imbalances, etc. For the first time in my life, something exceeded my passion for products and that was SAFE products.

Let’s Educate Ourselves.

First of all, a lot of us jump to the conclusion that products with chemicals = toxic products. Not all chemicals are bad. Our bodies, the food we eat and the water we drink are made up of chemicals. Toxic chemicals are the bad guys. 

Now, using one product with toxic chemicals isn’t going to cause cancer. Very few of us use just one product though. 

The average woman uses 12 products, containing 168 ingredients, a day. 

These products could be shampoo, lotion, makeup, perfume or even what we use on our kiddos. It’s the continual use of multiple products every day, every month and every year that can create problems. 

Here are some of the facts I’ve discovered:

  • The European Union bans the use of 1,400 toxic chemicals in their products. *1

  • The US bans 30. Wow, thanks for looking out for us! *2

  • The US has not passed a major federal law regulating the cosmetic industry since 1938 and many more chemicals have been introduced since then. *3

  • The FDA does not require cosmetic ingredients or products to be approved before going on the market and it no power to recall a product from the market. *2

  • There are many loopholes in the product industry. For example, natural doesn’t mean healthy. Petroleum is natural but it can suffocate pores, inflame acne and studies show a possible link between low quality petroleum products with increased estrogen levels and cancer. Companies also have a little trade secret — They don’t have to disclose what “Fragrance” means. Usually, it’s a synthetic concoction that includes synthetic musks and phthalates, (aka hormone disruptors, allergens and neurotoxins — eek!)

So, what happened after I got my facts straight? I first went paraben free and when I still wasn't sure if that was enough, I started using coconut oil for everything. Love me some coconut oil.

My efforts towards a safer regimen still didn’t solve the other problem: anti-aging. Slowly, I began to see these teeny little lines on my face. What?! 

There had to be products that were safe AND high performing.

My search continued. 

I was disappointed that finding safe products required extensive research and hours of googling and reading every ingredient on a label. It was madness.

In my search, I was excited to find several companies that were taking a firm stance to develop cleaner products. Yet, there was one company that stood out the most — not just because they developed high performing innovative products, but because they are advocating to raise industry standards. 

Behind the counter of Beautycounter:

During this search, I heard of a woman named Gregg Renfrew. She walked her own journey to find safe personal products that delivered superior results, but came up empty handed. She decided to develop her own U.S. made product line called Beautycounter. Her drive didn't stop there because she didn't want to merely provide another personal product line, she wanted a movement that sought to change the industry in the US and Canada.

I felt like years of my research had been put into this one product line. They had almost everything I had spent years looking for — from high-performing, innovative skin care and makeup to sunscreen. The best part about Beautycounter was that I never had to question its safety because of their extensive screening process, their ingredient transparency promise, and the “Never List” — a list of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that will never be used as ingredients in their products. 

Beautycounter is making a significant social impact by advocating for more health protective laws governing the 62B personal care product industry. Gregg's hope is that chemicals will be highly regulated and that one day, we won't need to read the labels of the products we are putting on our skin everyday. 

Their mission:  “To get safer products into the hands of everyone.” 

With Beautycounter, I have peace that everything on my skin is completely safe and I’m now part of a mission that’s making product safety a normality. I didn't expect it, but this company has helped me pursue my two life passions — it's given me a tool to help people walk in the best form of themselves and and I've found an anti-aging product that I can obsess over.

— Jenna

P.S. After a long journey towards finding the her favorite line of products, Jenna is now a Beauty Counter consultant educating women about safe beauty. For more information visit Beauty Counter here.

*1 ec.europa.eu
*2 fda.gov
*3 saferchemicals.org

About Jenna Kneale:
Jenna Kneale is a wardrobe stylist and blogger based in Nashville, TN. She uses a holistic approach to fashion that empowers women to discover and display their beauty from the inside out.