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Michele Kekac x Beautycounter Interview

Michele Kekac x Beautycounter Interview

Michele Kekac is a wife, a stay-at-home mom of two, a new home-school teacher thanks to COVID-19, a woman of colour, and is also a Director of Beautycounter.

For those that don’t know, Beautycounter is a company that was launched in 2013 by Gregg Renfrew, dedicated to their mission to set the cleanest standards in beauty through makeup, skincare, and bath and body products. This is an addition to their many initiatives towards sustainability, safety and the ability to educate people on the importance of clean beauty standards.

We had the pleasure to sit down with Michele for an interview to talk about her work and experience with Beautycounter, which is just phenomenal. Today, Michele talks about her favourite Beautycounter products, tips on how to make your beauty routine more clean, the importance of using ethical products and Beautycounter’s new Impact Scholarship initiative that many people have the ability to participate in!

Be sure to check out today’s interview to learn more about Michele, Beautycounter and how you can incorporate better sustainable and clean-beauty initiatives into your daily routine.

What inspired you to get involved with Beautycounter?

I had no idea the products we put on our skin every single day are not safe and are not regulated by the FDA. When I became pregnant with my daughter over 8 years ago, I thought I was doing a great job eating organic and cleaning our home with safer options. It wasn’t until her first summer as a toddler that I decided to search for safer sunscreen and came across Beautycounter and their mission.

At the time, I found out about the Environmental Working Group App called Healthy Living – an app that makes it easier to find healthier skin care and food products. I went on to scan all the products we were using and found out my 16 month old’s body wash rated a 5 out of 10 with a high risk of fertility issues (Important: this is how the app worked in 2015. Now it gives ratings on specific ingredients for each product). My husband’s lotion was an 8 out of 10 with a high risk of cancer. I was furious and shocked at how little I knew. I had a miscarriage before having my daughter and worried what fertility issues she might encounter when she was ready to start a family, if I continued using unsafe products on her day in and day out. I knew then I had to be a part of the solution.

What does your role as Director look like?

My job looks different every day. I love having the flexibility to be present for my kids while helping educate others to make safer choices for themselves. Most of what I do can be done from my phone and I spend a lot of time serving my clients, helping to answer questions about products they purchased or are looking to incorporate into their routine. I also send lots of samples to people interested in trying our brand, I share educational information on social media, and love to help people get a great deal by facilitating events where we share products and the mission with their friends and family.

One of the big aspects of my job, as well as one of my favorites, is to mentor other people who feel passionately about clean beauty and have joined our movement. I am a coach, a motivator, a cheerleader, and am always there to help them be successful. We have such a wonderful community across the United States and Canada, sharing a positive message with our networks.

What do you want people to know about Beautycounter?

Beautycounter is a leader in the clean beauty movement. Our Founder and CEO, Gregg Renfrew, wanted to create products that were safe AND high-performing. She wanted to make products that could be put to the test next to other popular brands and perform just as well, if not better.

We are founded on three pillars: education, formulation and advocacy. We educate the consumer about the current state of products and how to find safer options. We formulate products by excluding over 1800 toxic chemicals and using more than 80% natural and plant-based ingredients. And we advocate for more health protective laws because we all deserve better. We are a B-Corporation and cruelty-free, with a Leaping Bunny Certification.

Our mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone.

Tell us all about some of the various products and lines the brand sells.

I love to share our products because I love and use everything in my day to day life. We make safer and high-performing skincare, make-up, deodorant, sun care, bath and body, and men’s products as well. Our skincare lines are geared towards dry and mature skin (Countertime), sensitive and normal skin (Countermatch), oily and acne prone skin (Countercontrol), sensitive and normal skin for teens or someone just starting to care for their skin (Counterstart), and last, but not least, a line made especially for the men in your life (Counterman).

We also have several booster products such as a Charcoal Facial Mask, Overnight Resurfacing Peel, All Bright C Serum, and our incredible multi-purpose Cleansing Balm. Our Countersun line includes several different options for sun protection with a body lotion, mist, face lotion, and face stick. Our sunscreen goes on like a lotion, smells incredible and leaves no white cast. It is effective and makes it easier to apply on kids who just want to run into the water.

What are some of your favorite products that you would recommend to first-time Beautycounter consumers?

Some of my favorite products are the Countertime line, which is our aging gracefully line, and after this long pandemic, we can all use some rejuvenation. I also love our Vitamin C serum and how much my skin glows since I started to use it. During the summer, I love our Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer with SPF. I use it daily and it gives me a great no-makeup makeup look. Another must I can’t live without is our brand new Hand Savior. It’s a serum for our poor hands after so much cleansing this past year and it is an effective hand sanitizer as well, killing 99.99% of bacteria.

Why should more people be socially, ethically and health-conscious of their beauty brand products?

Many people may not be aware that the United States only bans 30 harmful chemicals from all our personal care products and cosmetics. The European Union bans 1800 and Canada bans 600. Beautycounter has gone above and beyond with a robust Never List excluding over 1800 toxic chemicals we will never use in our formulations.

The last major federal law regulating the beauty industry was passed in 1938. That is 83 years! So much of our world has changed, yet this multi-billion dollar industry has an outdated regulation that is only 1.5 pages long. We deserve better.

At Beautycounter, we believe that no one should have to sacrifice their health for beauty. Our skin is our largest organ and what we put on it matters.

Tell us about Beautycounter’s Impact Scholarship.

Women have gotten the short end of the stick with the pandemic, as millions have lost their jobs or had to quit to care for their children. Beautycounter is determined to be a part of the solution and created the Impact Scholarship to offer an opportunity for applicants to receive substantial support in starting their own Beautycounter business. Every month, 25 applicants will be awarded one Digital Enrollment Kit, one Deluxe Starter Set of products (worth $1,354 USD | 1,764 CAD$) and one “Pay It Forward” Enrollment Code to extend to someone within their networks.

See Also

The Impact Scholarship is aimed at enabling applicants from underrepresented backgrounds to bring #betterbeauty and safer products to their communities, thereby realizing our mission to get safer products into the hands of everyone. We encourage all prospects from underrepresented communities to apply, with a specific emphasis on African American, Hispanic/Latina, Asian American and Native American/Indigenous communities.

Our application window is from the 1-8th of every month and I would love the opportunity to sponsor new people on their journey to clean beauty!

How do you think this scholarship will help support diverse backgrounds and communities having access to safe and clean beauty resources in the long run?

In the past 70 years, the manufacture and use of industrial chemicals has increased exponentially. There are now approximately 85,000 chemical substances used in commerce. Many of these chemicals are known to be harmful, but most have not been assessed for their long-term health impacts.

Exposure to potentially harmful chemicals is a problem we all share in the United States, across all ethnicities, age groups, and geographic locations. Chemicals linked to harm are now pervasive in the environment: they may be found in air, water, soil, food, and consumer products we use every day.

However, several studies have shown that women of colour (defined as women of Asian/Pacific Islander, Arab/ Middle-Eastern, Black/African American/Caribbean/West Indies, Native/Indigenous, and Hispanic/Latin descent) are exposed to a variety of indoor pollutants, including lead, allergens, and pesticides at levels greater than in Caucasian populations. In addition, some of the cosmetic products marketed to women of colour, such as skin lighteners, dyes, hair relaxers, and nail polish, contain some of the most concerning chemicals used in cosmetics, including known hormone disruptors and carcinogens. It’s important to educate underrepresented communities and help them to make better choices for themselves and their families.

Finally, any advice on how to easily transition one’s beauty routine into a more clean and sustainable one?

It can feel overwhelming to discover so much new information and feel like there is too much that needs to be changed at once. My advice would be to take a deep breath and start slow. Replace one product at a time. As you start to run out of your skincare and cosmetics, you can begin to replace them with safer options. If you dig deeper, you can begin to make some safer swaps in your kitchen and cleaning products as well. Thankfully, there are many alternatives available to us now. I am happy to be a resource and can be found on Instagram @skincareandcurlyhair. I would recommend following @beautycounter and @lindsay_dahl as well. Lindsay is our Senior VP of Social Mission and extremely knowledgeable in all things clean beauty. There is so much support and we are all here for you.

Thank you so much to Michele for sharing her story, words of wisdom and her experience from the unique brand, Beautycounter! From their amazing Impact Scholarship program, to their dedication to educating people on the lack of clean standard regulations, Beautycounter has so much to offer to a multitude of communities.

When it comes to clean beauty, we are glad to see Beautycounter at the forefront of this initiative and mission. We hope this interview inspired you to think more consciously about the products you use and how you can do your part by incorporating more clean items in your beauty routines!

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