How two women are revolutionizing skin care on Nantucket and beyond.
Would you ever consider drinking a small cup of household chemicals? Well believe it or not, applying everyday skincare products exposes your body to potentially harmful or even cancer causing chemicals that are rapidly absorbed through the skin, nearly as fast as if you drank them. In fact, more than 1,300 ingredients found in American health and beauty products are currently banned in Europe, while only eleven have been banned in the United States. Thankfully, there are two women who are on a mission to change the face of skincare products on Nantucket and beyond.
“Imagine my surprise when I learned that companies are allowed to use known toxins — ingredients that have been linked to cancer, reproductive issues, hormone disruption — without telling us,” says Gregg Renfrew, the owner of the newly opened Beautycounter on 1 Old South Wharf. Renfrew originally came to Nantucket as a college student and started a housekeeping business. She later created an internet startup called the Wedding List, which she sold to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in 2001. That led to her becoming the CEO of Best & Co, the children’s division of Tommy Hilfiger. Now she’s the founder and CEO of Beautycounter, a natural beauty company that is on pace to sell six million products this year and is projected to generate an estimated $150 million in sales nationally, according to Fast Company. Renfrew is both passionate about her mission to clean up cosmetics and at the same time is redefining how skin products are made and marketed.
With a new satellite store on Old South Wharf and her headquarters in California, Renfrew has taken the fight to rid American products of toxins all the way to Washington, DC where, this past spring, she petitioned senators for increased FDA oversight. It’s been nearly eighty years since the US government passed a law regulating the safety of ingredients used in skin care, and Renfrew is out to change that. Here on Nantucket, she’s found an ally in a fellow entrepreneur with skin in the game.
Much like Renfrew, Tara Foley, the founder and CEO of Follain on 9 South Beach Street, was your average health-conscious New Yorker in 2009. She exercised, raced in triathlons and ate local and sustainably grown foods. But when she learned about the harmful ingredients in her beauty products, Foley realized that she wasn’t quite as healthy as she once thought. The discovery quickly consumed her life and Foley began intensely researching safe and sustainable skincare methods. She moved to France and apprenticed at a sustainable lavender farm, and then worked at a skincare company in Maine. Foley eventually earned her MBA at Babson College and won a national business plan contest to launch Follain. Today, in addition to her shop on Nantucket, she has three other locations spanning the East Coast that offer more than forty-five different health conscious skin products.
“You shouldn’t have to sacrifice health or values for beauty,” Foley says. “At Follain, we love powerful beauty products and know that the ingredients in these products can be seriously helpful, or harmful, to our bodies and planet, especially after years of use. We want to help others avoid the harmful, toxic ingredients found in most beauty products, and instead choose safe and effective options.”
Foley and Renfrew offer carefully-curated products to keep your skin healthy and protected this summer. So what are the must-haves for your beach bag? The first thing, as you may have guessed, is sunscreen. But there won’t be any zinc-colored noses here. “You can still have a high amount of zinc, but it’s what it’s balanced out with that makes it not as white and pasty,” Foley says. She recommends a brand called Josh Rosebrook SPF Nutrient Day Cream ($85), a light and breathable formula that’s perfect for everyday use. At Beautycounter, Renfrew recommends Protect Stick Sunscreen SPF 30 ($18 for small, $34 for large), which is small enough to fit into your pocket and perfect for easy application directly on noses and cheeks while leaving hands clean and dry.
In the event of a sunburn, Beautycounter’s Lustro Soothing Face Oil ($68) is a calming oil that alleviates redness and irritation. Or try Follain’s Farmaesthetics Herbal Hydration Mask ($50). Loaded with cooling peppermint and essential oils, it’s a formula meant to both moisturize and reduce inflammation.
Even off Nantucket, you can also fake that beach glow with Follain’s SUNTEGRITY Self Tanner ($36), an all-natural tanning formula that never streaks and offers just a little bit of that natural bronze look. Meanwhile Beautycounter’s Sea Salt Spray ($26) will give your hair a sexy, wavy look that comes from a day in the ocean.
“Exfoliating a few times a week just to renew your skin is really nice,” says Beautycounter’s Head of Innovation, Christy Coleman, who recommends using the Lustro Sugar Scrub ($40), a brown sugar formula that smells delicious enough to eat. Foley echoes this advice: “Body scrubs have a lot of oil in them, so when you get out of the shower you will feel like you applied lotion already.” At Follain, she recommends the Indie Lee Coconut Citrus Scrub ($38).
If you simply don’t know where to begin in charting your course toward safer products, visit Beautycounter and Follain for a personal consultation. Although these two businesses may technically be competitors here on Nantucket, Gregg Renfrew and Tara Folley are more committed to the bigger objective of improving people’s health and educating them to the harsh toxins around us—lessons that we all must face.