While Assaf spent the first half of her life protesting the use of harmful chemicals in beauty products, she later enrolled at Harvard Business School and she realized she could be the change she wanted to see in the industry. The now-25-year-old entrepreneur teamed up with two female classmates, Enke Bashllari and Katie Power, to launch a curated collection of bioactive skincare called Raw Is Everything. Each of their four skin care solutions contain only a single natural oil that is organic, cold-pressed and unrefined.
We chatted with Assaf to find out what led to the creation of Raw Is Everything, and to talk about the biggest issues facing the beauty industry right now:
On the state of the current cosmetic regulations:
"So at this point in time, regulations have not changed since 1938. In 1938, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was put into action and does not guarantee the safety of our products. [The act] does not require that cosmetic companies disclose their ingredients to the FDA, or any governmental entity, before they hit the shelves. Right now, we're the human guinea pigs. Products are on the market, we use them, and if there are any issues that arise, whether that's immediate allergic reactions or long-term health affects, then they are taken off the shelves. Last week, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million dollars in damages for the death of a woman from ovarian cancer that was caused by the talc in their baby powder. That's where we're at. All these products and all these chemicals are innocent until proven guilty."
On how our regulations differ from the EU:
"The European Union has banned over 1,300 chemicals found in cosmetics. The FDA has only banned 8 and restricted 3. [In the U.S.] it's a free market and you don't have to do anything -- no safety testing required -- until there is a problem. And the issue is, a lot of these health impacts are long-term. It's not like if I develop breast cancer in 20 years, I can link that to the aluminum zirconium in my deodorant. We don't know how these ingredients are interacting when they come into play. The average woman puts 515 synthetic chemicals on her body every single day without even knowing. And 60 percent of what we put onto our skin is absorbed into our bodies."