Want to Clean Up Your Act? These Two Gen X-ers Can Help
I’ve written before about my approach to greener, cleaner beauty: I aim to lessen my so-called chemical burden by slotting in formulas free of questionable ingredients when I can without compromising on performance. For me, this means natural deodorant (Schmidts), physical sunblock (Drunk Elephant), lipsticks (Kosas) and simple cleansing balms (Naturopathica, Emma Hardie, GOOP). What I won’t give up: self-tanner, Retin-A, most hair products, and traditional Eau de Parfum.
Finding beauty balance can be tricky, however, given how little guidance we get in store. Many brands see dollar signs in natural/green/clean beauty and will slap unregulated terms like “natural,” “organic” and “earth-friendly” on their labels. So, while these adjectives sound promising, they can’t be trusted to actually mean anything.
I’m not alone in this frustration. Dozens of beauty brands founded in the last ten years were the creations of women fed up with the lack of transparency and regulation in U.S. product formulation—and who were worried about the ingredients they were slathering on their families and themselves. Did you know there are currently hundreds of ingredients used in U.S. beauty products that are banned in the European Union because they were deemed too risky for personal care use? In response to this, Gregg Renfrow started Beautycounter; Rose-Marie Swift created RMS Beauty; Tiffany Masterson developed Drunk Elephant Skincare, and Tata Harper launched her eponymous skincare brand. The newest addition to this entrepreneurial tribe: Amy Carr and Mary Schulman. The two college friends—now grownups with families—recently launched PYT (as in Pretty Young Thing), an easy-to-wear collection of color cosmetics.
The idea for PYT was first hatched when Mary went shopping for mascara at Sephora with her 13-year-old daughter Sunny. “As we looked around at all the options, I had an epiphany. In the early 2000s, I started a snack company called Snikiddy because I was unhappy with the nutrition content of kids’ snacks in grocery stores. [Snikiddy was sold to Utz in 2017.] As we walked around Sephora, I realized the same thing was going on with makeup. I didn’t like what I was seeing in the ingredients lists, and Sunny wouldn’t go for the options I felt comfortable with because they didn’t perform the way she wanted,” says Mary.
Sensing there was a hole in the market, Mary reached out to Amy, who’d spent her career in the retail sector, working at the GAP and, more recently, studying CRM (customer relationship management) at, of all places, Sephora. Amy immediately agreed that there was a need not being met.
Although the genesis of the idea was Mary’s Sephora trip with teenage Sunny, Mary and Amy decided they’d make PYT appeal to a broader demographic, one not so much defined by age as by a priority for clean ingredients, a.k.a. free of potentially-harmful additives like parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, and polyethylene glycols (PEGS). “What was most important was that we bridged the gap between what Mary wanted and Sunny wanted,” says Amy. “That means making products that don’t have any, what we call, B.S. ingredients, but that are also high performing. And we threw in a reasonable price point, because, as moms, we resented the high markups we saw in stores.”
The line initially launched in July with an easy-to-wear, neutral eyeshadow palette ($28, colors shown above) and three powder cheek colors ($22). They’ve since added highlighting powder ($22) and a primer plus mascara ($20) upon which both Mary and Sunny can agree. PYT Beauty products can be found on pytbeauty.com, as well as at ulta.com, and at Credo Beauty (credobeauty.com), a beauty boutique known to be an especially-discerning curator of clean brands.