Would you be able to rattle off a list if someone were to quiz you on the toxic ingredients found in shampoo or nail polish? Even with beauty product labeling apps like Think Dirty, there are still many harmful chemicals lurking in personal care products that are overlooked.
This is where Harvard Business School MBA student Jessica Assaf and Sleigh Bells frontwoman Alexis Krauss come in. To help consumers to pay closer attention to what goes on their bodies, the duo co-founded #Truthbeauty, a game-changing project that aims to offer women and men the "safest, highest-performing and most affordable products on the market."
The team partnered with 10 companies to launch two bags: one with five skincare products, and the other with five makeup essentials. They recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to pre-sell their products.
The Huffington Post interviewed Assaf and Krauss about how their cool collection of non-toxic cosmetics empowers consumers to use safe beauty products. Check out the exchange below.
The Huffington Post: How did you curate which brands to include in #TruthBeauty?
Jessica Assaf: All 10 companies are mission-driven, and they are owned and operated by women. These companies do not have advertising budgets compared to the commercial brands, and as a result, the majority of consumers have never heard of them. They are also significantly more expensive than the drugstore brands, which makes them unaffordable for most people.
HuffPost: Have you always been an avid user of natural skincare and beauty products?
Assaf: When I was 15 years old, I found out that an ingredient in my favorite mascara was used to wax airplane wheels. I was heartbroken. It felt like my first real breakup. But that realization sparked a longtime passion to transform the beauty industry. Ten years later, I am still trying to improve cosmetic safety, and I am still learning. Because there is no pre-market safety testing or labeling requirements, there is so much we don't know. But it is up to us to figure out the truth about the products we are putting on our skin every single day.
HuffPost: When and how did you make the switch to non-toxic beauty products?
Alexis Krauss: For me, it all started a little over a year ago when I learned about microplastics in face wash. I was horrified that those little scrubbers were causing so much damage to the environment. That was the catalyst that caused me to start looking into other synthetic ingredients on product labels. I learned about each harmful ingredient and started eliminating it from my routine. First I banned parabens, then petrochemicals, then synthetic fragrances. But it wasn't just about banning, it was also about embracing numerous natural ingredients and discovering simple, effective and sustainable alternatives. I also started experimenting with DIY recipes.
HuffPost: How has your experience as a music artist open your eyes to misconceptions about what's in our beauty products?
Krauss: The beauty industry often relies on artists to sell its products. The irony is that the very musicians that are championing the environment and human health are also endorsing major cosmetic companies. They are unknowingly supporting everything from the oil and gas industry to the manufacturing of known carcinogens. I don't blame the artists for this. I once modeled for Sephora because I was completely clueless about these connections. I blame the beauty industry for continuing to be motivated by profit and never educating their consumers on what's really in their products. Artists with influence need to change their own routines and support companies that are acting ethically and sustainably.
HuffPost: What products do you use on the road?
Krauss: I mostly do my shopping before I leave for tour. I make sure my makeup bag is stocked with my favorite healthy beauty essentials. I wear lots of eye makeup on stage so I can never have too much olive oil. It's the best natural eye makeup remover!
HuffPost: What advice do you have for women and men who may be on the fence about trying natural skincare and beauty products?
Krauss: Take it slow! Start by educating yourself on the ingredients inside one product you use every single day. Does it contain endocrine disrupting chemicals, allergens or carcinogens? If it does, ask yourself if it's worth it. Do you really want to be exposing your body to hazardous chemicals when there are so many incredible, safe alternatives out there? Also have fun! Start with making a DIY face mask or body scrub out of ingredients in your kitchen and see where the journey takes you.
Assaf: Don't forget our power as consumers to really influence change. If we collectively boycott a certain product and use targeted marketing to let the company know, they will likely agree to reformulate. I saw that happen with Johnson & Johnson after the public learned their U.S. baby shampoo contained two formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. We really can see change happen if we act strategically.
HuffPost: How do you see the #TruthBeauty bag evolving five or 10 years from now?
Assaf: We eventually want to expand #Truthbeauty into a full e-commerce platform to support all of our favorite products and make these products accessible and affordable for everyone. We also hope to work on legislation that improves the beauty industry as a whole, and to continue to develop unique and interesting content on the Beauty, Lies, Truth blog. It is our dream to help make safe, effective and affordable products the expected norm.
Click here to visit the #TruthBeauty Kickstarter campaign.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.