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Clean Beauty: What Is It & Why Is It Important?

80+ years is a long time. Just imagine all the ways that technology has changed. What’s one thing that hasn’t changed? The laws regulating our personal care products.

A couple months ago I sat down to chat with local Beautycounter consultant, Kristen Beilein. It's not often that I make time to talk with beauty companies that reach out, but Kristen was different, and ultimately the way she went about the experience as a learning process was what motivated me to learn more (sales reps everywhere, take note)!

We met at Soleil in Fayetteville, and our over an hour long chat reminded me so much of an organization I helped bring to life on campus during my undergrad days at SU - Protect Our Breasts. I was so passionate about this organization during my junior and senior years - we provided resources for our campus community like the EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database and the 'Detox Me' app, an app that allows users to scan barcodes on products to decode product labels and find non-toxic alternatives. If there's one thing I hope you take from this blog its these resources that can help you make informed decisions about what you put in and on your body.

We chatted about both of our struggles with celiac and Kristen helped open my eyes to the fact that honestly, a lot of beauty products aren't gluten free (probably why my skin continues to break out even when I watch what I eat). She shared with me a lot of really concerning information about the beauty industry, and in return, I wanted to share that with all of you. Whether or not you choose to buy Beautycounter, I feel it's my obligation to share with the women in my life information about the harmful chemicals in products that we don't even know about.

(For the record - I am not a Beautycounter consultant and am not getting paid to write this article).

Some history & information about the beauty industry:

1938 was the last time that the US passed a major federal law to update what chemicals can be used in our skincare and cosmetic products. To compare numbers, the EU bans over 1400 chemicals known to cause cancer, endocrine disruption, infertility, etc. The US bans just 30. The most confusing part of this industry, though, lies in the marketing tactics. We’ve all been bombard by claims such as “clean,” “natural,” or “non-toxic” just to name a few. Unfortunately for consumers, the Federal Food & Drug Administration has little if not any control over these terms - “Green washing” at it’s finest.

Decades of studies indicate that serious health issues are on the rise and due in some part to our ongoing exposure to toxic chemicals—whether it's in the shower, on our commute, or the products we clean our home with. There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today- most of which don’t have any safety data. This is especially true in the skin care and beauty industry. The average female applies 168 chemicals to their face and body before even leaving the door in the morning. That's insane.

Some history & information about Beautycounter:

Beautycounter introduced the term “clean beauty”  when it was founded in 2013, standing for a "never list" of more than 1,800 questionable or harmful chemicals that are never used in the process of formulating of their products. This includes the 1,400+ chemicals banned or restricted in personal care products by the European Union, plus additional chemicals screened by Beautycounter and found to be of potential concern. Beautycounter also screens each and every ingredient for 23 health and environmental endpoints, and provides transparency among all ingredients used in its products.

Long story short, the personal care industry is shockingly and sadly far behind in so many (un-safe and un-healthy) ways. The responsibly currently lies with the consumers to make safe choices for themselves despite the marketing clutter. It's overwhelming. So where to start? 

Kristen gave me some suggestions to share with y'all:

K: "I always recommend starting with skincare first. What is the first layer of product that you are using on your body (your largest organ)? Start there, the first layer. Investing in a safe and high performing skincare regimen is one of the best ways you can protect your skin for the years to come. One of the reasons I was personally drawn to Beautycounter was because they do the work for us. When I was initially beginning to make the switch to safer products  I was extremely intimidated by the process of reading ingredient labels where most chemicals were being withheld. It put me at ease knowing the research and testing that Beautycounter invested into their product assortment - for my skin and especially for the products I was using on my kids."

It's true, looking for over 1800 dangerous ingredients on our skin care products is more than daunting, so Kristen also provided us with her short list of ingredients to avoid when scanning different labels:

“Fragrance” — Fragrance is considered a trade secret, so companies aren’t legally bound to disclose what chemicals make up the scent and often times it encompasses thousands of hormone disruptors and allergens that aren't required to be listed.

Parabens (methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl-, and others) are class of preservatives commonly used in products to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine (hormone) disruptors, meaning they alter the hormone mechanism and may play a role in triggering cancers and other serious health issues (often found in: shampoos, cleansers, body washes, lotions and foundation).

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) / Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are surfactants that cause skin irritation and trigger allergies. Found in more than 90% of personal care and cleaning products, SLS’s are known to irritate the skin, lung, eyes and can cause kidney and respiratory damage. (often found in: shampoo, body wash, and bubble bath).

Polyethylene Glycol (PEG compounds)

PEGs are widely used in products as thickeners, solvents, and to carry moisture. Depending on manufacturing, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of carcinogens (often found in: creams, sunscreens and shampoos).

Beautycounter in particular offers a wide range of products from skincare to makeup and for women to men, kids and babies. The offering is expanding every month with really exciting new products launching this summer & fall.


In the spirit of clean beauty, Kristen and I have teamed up this upcoming week for an incredible giveaway! How incredible you may ask? We want you to try Beautycounter for yourself so one lucky winner will receive Beautycounter's brand new "Counter + All Bright C Serum" (retail value $79) along with this fun canvas carry pouch!

"Counter+ All Bright C Serum", an ultra-potent 10% blend of two forms of vitamin C, instantly brightens skin and helps reduce the appearance of existing dark spots, while antioxidant-rich tumeric and camu camu extracts help protect against new ones. A little fun fact: it's the #1 best selling product in Beautycounter's history - ever - selling out in less than 3 weeks when it first launched this past month. The product just came back in stock with an over 8K waitlist, so you'll want to get in on this one!

To enter:

Head to GuessItsJess & Kristen Beilein Instagram pages - give us a follow!

Enter your email address here (so we can send you fun updates & notify the winner!)

Share to your story (make sure to tag us so we see!)

BONUS ENTRY for each additional friend you tag in the comments.

2 BONUS ENTRIES if you purchase any product during the giveaway window using this link, or choosing the drop down for "Guess Its Jess" at checkout!

If you have any questions about the giveaway or clean beauty in general, feel free to reach out to Kristen or myself directly! Good luck!


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