A Chat With Gregg Renfrew

The Beautycounter founder on lobbying in D.C., being fired as CEO by messenger (!), and her brilliant beauty tips.

a-chat-with_gregg-renfrewFact: 1 in 3 women in the US will be diagnosed with cancer (1 in 2 men). But did you know that our country still allows companies to use hundreds of ingredients linked to cancer in our personal care products?

It’s appalling, and Gregg Renfrew is on a mission to change that. The founder of Beautycounter, a chic line of safer beauty products, is doing more than just creating nontoxic, totally effective cosmetics – she’s lobbying in Washington for more regulation. On that she told us,

“We got as far as Joe Biden – I cried that whole afternoon!”

She’s also educating all of us, so we can make smarter decisions while shopping for everyday items. Bookmark her Never List stat and reference it when purchasing anything, from toothpaste to makeup to soap to sunscreen.

We caught up with the LA-based entrepreneur and mom of 3 to talk about her strong parenting game, her career lowpoint (hint: it includes being fired as the CEO – by messenger!), and (duh) her favorite beauty products.

Meet the force that is Gregg Renfrew.

Taking It To D.C.

I’ve started lobbying for more regulation in beauty products, and as a DC newbie and it’s incredible to see how it all works. We got as far as Joe Biden (I cried that whole afternoon). It is extremely difficult in this political climate, and it takes many steps to move things forward.

On Balance

I unapologetically rely on my husband, as I believe parenting is a team effort and both need to participate. I am extremely organized so I try to  prepare the night before, but I also don’t sweat the small stuff – especially when it comes to getting dressed for school in the morning: Buy clothes you like, and allow them to put outfits together how they see fit – it’s not worth the fight!

Product Junkie

I cannot live without my Beautycounter Cleansing Balm! It has so many uses: cleanser, overnight mask for added hydration, makeup remover, and you can even put it on your cuticles at night. I also use our twig Lip Sheer on my cheeks in a pinch as a cream blusher.

Career Highlights

I was in a meeting with Bono and his wife Ali Hewson because Beautycounter acquired Ali’s business Nude Skincare (another safe beauty line), and Bono turned to me and said ‘We’re going to do great things together.’ Not only are he and Ali incredibly passionate about our mission, but he also happens to be my favorite rock star.

Career Lowpoint

Being fired by Susie Hilfiger – by messenger. I was fired because my vision for Best & Co was not in line with Susie’s vision. I learned that if you’re entering an organization and trying to make sweeping changes, you need to be respectful of the past. Highly creative people often take criticism to their work very seriously, and it’s best to channel it in a way that makes them feel safe and respected.

On Aging

It’s not easy to grow older. No one wants to age, but the reality is it happens to every single person. My advice is to embrace it and age gracefully by using clean products, always staying active, and drinking lots of water.

Relationship Advice

Don’t lose yourself in the kids – you need to focus on each other as much as you focus on them. Mark and I believe children should get plenty of sleep, so we are bedtime sticklers, which gives us an hour or two alone at the end of the day to catch up or watch a movie. We also find great people who we’re comfortable with caring for our children, so we can take time away from them to make sure our relationship stays in check. It’s good for them to see that.

Parenting Game Strong

Empower your children to make their own decisions and allow them to fail – it’s part of the learning process. Pick a few rules and stick with them; be consistent. For me, that is manners, honesty, and taking responsibility.
1. I’m hyper-focused on manners, as it’s incredibly important to me that my kids are polite.
2. As part of our family, they’re all responsible for keeping things neat – making their beds, hanging up towels, cleaning dishes, etc.
3. Lying is a no-go in our home, especially when it comes to TV and age-checking on Common Sense Media.


Beck’s song “Wow
Dang coconut chips
Big earrings
This is Us

Phrase She Wishes Would Go Away

‘You don’t get it’ – it’s what my 11-year-old and 9-year-old say to me all the time.

How She Unwinds

A bath
A glass of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc
Jumping on the trampoline with my kids

Ideal Date Night

Uber to Malibu Soho House, a tequila soda grapefruit cocktail, and moonlight on the Pacific Ocean.

Fave Kids Date

Mizu 212 for organic shabu shabu and, in the summer, walking to the Brentwood Country Mart for ice cream at Sweet Rose Creamery.


As a woman who takes pride in making my kids lunches everyday, I dropped the ball recently and sent them all to school without lunch in their lunch boxes!!!