To gear up for our Summit21 Conference this year in Atlanta, 21Ninety has scored exclusive interviews with some of this year's participants. 

Good skin is always in, sis. And, if you are in search of an all-natural skincare and makeup line, then look no further than Beautycounter, a company that strives to provide safer and effective skin care and cosmetics for women and families, according to Kerryn Agyekum, Vice President of Corporate Communications & Community Expansion.

Read 21Ninety's exclusive interview below:

21Ninety: Can you give us a little of your background? What inspired you to create Beautycounter products? What was the vision behind the name?

Kerryn Agyekum: In 2006, our Founder & CEO, Gregg Renfrew, watched the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. She began connecting the dots that what was detrimental to the earth, might also be harmful to human health. She learned that the European Union banned or restricted over 1400 ingredients from their personal care products, of which the United States had only banned 30. She also learned that the United States had not passed a primary federal law governing the beauty industry since 1938. 

She began making sweeping changes in her life — she could change plastic out for glass containers, choose organic mattresses, get rid of her Teflon pans, but when it came to the beauty industry, she couldn't find products that met her high standards and were also void of potentially-harmful ingredients she knew were banned in the EU. Outraged with what she had learned, she knew she had to do something about it. 

Gregg saw a void in the marketplace for products that were high-performing but made with ingredients significantly safer for health – so she founded Beautycounter. Beautycounter is a company devoted to progress and empowering others with education about ways we can all make better choices on behalf of ourselves and our families. Our mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone, and my role in Community Expansion (our diversity and inclusion function) is to make sure the 'everyone' in our mission, really means everyone. It has been a joy not only to support this mission but to be a part of extending it into our community.  

Photo: Beautycounter

21N: How long have you been creating these makeup/beauty/skincare products?

KA: Beautycounter launched its first product in 2013.

21N: What kind of work goes into the process of creating them? What ingredients are used?

KA: At Beautycounter, we're committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what's required by U.S. law: We've prohibited the use of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals through "The Never List" — all while ensuring our products perform, and that they're as indulgent as any luxe shampoo, lipstick, or oil in the market. For easy reference, you can go on Beautycounter to download a pocket-sized Never List that you can use to shop the market. 

That list contains 30 of the top worst offenders you want to avoid when buying personal care or cosmetic products. If there is an easy tip for people just starting with clean beauty — it is to shop the market fragrance-free. Given this is something that affects the black community directly (recent studies have shown that women of color are disproportionately affected by harmful ingredients in beauty products) Beautycounter actively locks arms with organizations like Black Women for Wellness to educate against the use of products marketed to women of color – think skin lighteners, dyes, hair relaxers — that are known to contain hormone —disruptors and carcinogens.  

Photo: Beautycounter

21N: Which ones were the most fun to create? Any customer favorites?

KA: We have many customer favorites, one of which is included in Chateau21: Beautycounter's Overnight Resurfacing Peel. Formulated with 15 botanically-derived acids, this leave-on AHA/BHA peel improves skin texture and minimizes the appearance of pores, fine lines, and dark spots without irritation or over-drying. Specifically, the product is fantastic for people with deeper skin tones, as it can help address hyperpigmentation through resurfacing acids, as well as soothing acids that hydrate, replenish, and protect the skin.

21N: What do you think makes your business/platform unique over others like it?

KA: One by one, we are leading a movement to a future where all beauty is clean beauty. People power us, and our collective mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone. Formulate, advocate, & educate — that's our motto for creating products that truly perform while holding ourselves to exceptional standards of safety. Why? It's this simple: beauty should be right for you.

21N: What do you hope to gain from Summit21 this year?

KA: We hope to connect with the Black millennial community through our safer beauty and skin care products, mission, and advocacy. Community is vital to us as black women, and through Beautycounter's mission and direct selling business model, we are fostering conversations and connections with one another around safer cosmetics and personal care products.

Photo: Beautycounter

21N: Is there anything you wish to teach/inform the Summit21 audience about?  

KA: Educating yourself is key. Look at the ingredients in the products you use daily. Become familiar with EWG's Skin Deep database, which is a great resource to help inform you and your family about harmful chemicals in a product, or connect with community organizations that have started the research for you. Participate in the process for advocating for safer personal care products within your community and by contacting you're local, state, and federal representatives.

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