Hyper-conscious consumerism has infiltrated the fashion industry. Consumers now, more than ever, want to know where their clothes come from, how they're made, who made them, what's in them, who they benefit etc.
Why shouldn't the same pressure be placed on beauty products? With an extremely unregulated beauty industry and the fact that 90% of cancers are caused by lifestyle factors like pollutants and toxins in products, that feels like a no-brainer.
That's what the beauty retailer Follain thinks, too. With a new website that relaunched on Tuesday, Follain has its eyes set on selling people only the most nontoxic, effective and, most importantly, good beauty products they can find.
"There's this pervasive notion that the toxins in products are actually what makes them work," Tara Foley, Follain's founder, said in an interview with Fast Company. "But when you think about it, that makes no sense at all: Skin care problems are often a result of imbalances caused by toxins."
But how are they really making sure that all the products sold by Follain are the most nontoxic, safe and effective products out there?
For starters, every product stocked by Follain, which first launched in 2013, goes through an approval process. They research every single ingredient in these products, referencing their own restricted ingredients list and looking for anything that could be harmful to your skin or linked to cancer, like hydronique, which is used in skin bleachers too. If there is anything that could be harmful, then that product is out of the running.
"Anything can say it's organic as a brand, but that doesn't really mean that it's safe," Foley said in an interview with Mic.
In the U.S., this is especially noteworthy. Compared to Europe, where more than 1,300 ingredients are banned from beauty products, the U.S. has banned just 11. Just this week, U.S. senators started trying to remove a potentially cancer-causing ingredient from more than 8,000 personal care products.
With that in mind, Follain seems to be relaunching at just the right time.
Then, after evaluating whether or not the products have anything toxic, Follain also tests the beauty products for effectiveness on a variety of different people, with various skin tones and hair types. Finally, they look at the supply chain to make sure every brand they sell is ethically made as well.
Given the intensity of this vetting process, Follain prides itself on selling both the best and the safest products on the market, uniting the brand only with other brands that share its affection for beauty that's natural and sans harsh chemicals.
In that sense, it could be thought of as trying to be the Whole Foods of the beauty world, giving natural and ethically-made products a platform to be celebrated, and known.
"People have a lot of questions abut clean beauty, and there's no resource right now," Foley said. "You know where to go for fitness and weddings and stuff, but there's nobody answering questions about clean beauty. This is all leading up to making this as easy as possible and helping them find what's right for them."
That being said, Follain is also incredibly concerned with matching customers with the right products. On the website, Follain offers a quiz so customers can find a personalized skincare routine based on their skin's needs.
"Truly clean beauty products, they still have a bad rap because people aren't finding the right products for their skin type," Foley said. "You go into stores and you don't know what's right for you."
That's something's Follain's trying to stop in its tracks.
Follain currently has no direct competitors. There are the super-beauty-retailers, like Sephora and Ulta and Ricky's, which promise quantity more than quality. But Follain is on its own.
The question now is, if Follain ends up succeeding, will others follow its quest to sell only the safest products on the market, too, and keep their customers' health at the forefront of their own business models?