Gregg Renfrew Is Using Her Company’s Mission to Change Beauty Legislation
Gregg Renfrew has always been an entrepreneur. Growing up, she planned dinner parties to make an extra buck. In college, she started a housekeeping business with her friends in Nantucket, Mass. to raise money for a Semester at Sea program through the University of Vermont. At 24 years old, Renfrew started selling bridesmaid dresses with her friend as a side hustle while she worked in sales.
In 1997, she launched The Wedding List in the U.S., a successful online bridal registry company that was sold to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in 2001. The self-described serial entrepreneur quickly became an e-commerce pioneer who understood the power of online shopping from very early on. In 2013, with a robust portfolio of businesses under her belt, Renfrew launched her latest and greatest venture—Beautycounter, an online retailer selling clean skincare and cosmetics products.
After learning that the U.S. only bans 30 ingredients from personal care products (for context, the EU bans 1,400), Renfrew began thinking about how we can all gain access to safer beauty. “I’d never considered that the products I used on myself and my kids might not be safe,” she writes on her website. “So I started Beautycounter and set out to transform the beauty industry by creating clean, high-performing skincare and makeup, while fighting to change the laws that control what can and cannot be used in products.”
From the streets of Washington D.C. to the infographics on her company’s Instagram account, Renfrew is advocating and spreading awareness for more health-protective legislation across North America. She doesn’t just sell #BetterBeauty, she educates her audience about #BetterBeauty and fights for a better future, too. Her mission to ban toxic ingredients has led to more lawmakers than ever placing cosmetics safety at the top of their legislative agendas. In 2020, Beautycounter helped pass the Safer Fragrance Bill in California, which requires companies to publicly disclose fragrance allergens. They also helped pass the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, which prohibits the use of 24 ingredients (some of which are part of Beautycounter’s The Never List) in personal care products sold in the state of California.
Renfrew feels incredibly passionate about what she does because she knows her mission is making a difference for her family, friends and the world at large. Through her products, she strives for sustainability, accountability, safety and transparency. She believes that consumer demand for clean beauty can change the industry and urges Congress to regulate the ingredients used in our personal care products. Since beauty products aren’t regulated by the federal government, Beautycounter developed the Beautycounter Ingredient Screen to evaluate the safety of each ingredient.
At the height of the pandemic, when safety was top of mind, Renfrew and her team released the 2020 Social Mission Report to show their consumers how they’ve delivered on their goal to give everyone access to safer products. In addition to passing three landmark clean beauty laws, Beautycounter rolled out Blueprint for Clean, 12 safety standards that their formula and manufacturing partners must adhere to. “If they won’t, it’s a hard no,” the company states on its site. They perfected their very first refillable product, a natural deodorant called The Clean Deo, and donated over $655,000 to mission-aligned organizations. The report also goes into detail about the company’s sustainable packaging, mica toolkit and commitment to formulating products without talc.
By 2025, Renfrew’s goal for Beautycounter is to use 100 percent sustainable packaging. By 2030, they intend to achieve carbon neutrality by eliminating their carbon footprint, manufacturing with suppliers that comply with Blueprint for Clean and sourcing more sustainable packaging materials. Renfrew’s promise to strive for #BetterBeauty and a better future through advocacy and education will pave the way for more clean beauty for all.