When Tara Foley founded Follain in 2013, she made sure to set the skin-care brand apart from others by having a public-facing “restricted substance list” — an ingredient policy made with the protection of human and environmental health in mind. But as more and more brands called themselves “clean,” and with no universally agreed-upon definition of what “clean” even means, she wanted to pursue the Environmental Working Group‘s EWG VERIFIED mark.
Follain has since received the EWG mark on seven of its products — Hydrating Cleanser: Purify + Nourish, Toning Mist: Balance + Prime, Moisturizer: Replenish + Protect, Eye Cream: Firm + Brighten, Ultra Hydrating Mask: Restore + Soften, Mattifying Moisturizer: Oil Control, and Clarifying Spot Gel: Oil Control — all of which are available on Follain’s website (and beyond, but more on that later). However, Follain is also a retailer that carries dozens of other clean brands, and in pledging to dedicate 15 percent of its shelf space to Black-owned brands, Foley had a realization.
“When we were researching new Black-owned clean brands to add to our retail assortment as part of our participation in the 15-percent pledge, we realized that the EWG Verified mark would offer these brands the same level of credibility and visibility we were seeking for our own line,” Foley tells Allure. “It is up to us to work aggressively to even the playing field.”
To do that, Follain has committed to mentoring and sponsoring Black-owned partner brands that want to earn the mark for their own products.
“The clean beauty industry is not very diverse, in part because of barriers to entry-like funds, resources, and mentorship,” Nneka Leiba, vice president of healthy living science at EWG, tells Allure, adding that a 2016 anaylyis by EWG found that although Black women use more personal-care products than any other group, they may be less likely to find what EWG considers safer products marketed to their demographic. “Follain’s pledge to support Black-owned beauty businesses will help to create an equitable space in clean beauty, addressing some of these barriers.”
As Follain works to support the Black-owned brands on its shelves, its own products with the EWG Verified mark are popping up on another retailer’s shelves: Ulta Beauty — nearly 400 locations, in fact.