Parenthood has the uncanny knack of shifting your perspective on so many things…and when actress Michelle Pfeiffer first became a mom 30-odd years ago, she was no different. “Like many new parents, I started to see the world through my children’s eyes, and I began to question our environment, the food my family ate, and the ingredients in the products we used,” she recalls.  

Pfeiffer not only became a fervent label-reader, she immersed herself in the new-at-the-time Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database. “They rate the hazard level of products based on their ingredients, and I went down the rabbit hole!” she says. What she learned sparked an epiphany—and a dream two decades in the making.

Here, learn how Michelle Pfeiffer turned her green know-how into the groundbreaking non-toxic fragrance line Henry Rose.

Happiest Baby: What were some of the changes you made as a new mom to reduce your children’s exposure to chemicals in products?
Michelle Pfeiffer: It can be really stressful trying to decipher ingredient labels. There is so much clean-washing and green-washing out there. It’s easy to start questioning everything and feel overwhelmed about how and where to start making changes. When I first started looking for safer options, there was enough knowledge out there to become paranoid, but not enough information or resources available to actually do anything about it. We are fortunate now to have so many more tools available to educate ourselves—and a lot of safer, healthier alternatives to everyday products that also really perform.

HB: What’s your best advice for parents who are looking to reduce their family’s chemical exposure?
MP: My advice is always to be mindful, read labels, but don’t let it consume you. Change doesn’t have to happen overnight. When you run out of a product, whether it be laundry detergent, a moisturizer, or a multi-surface cleaner—before you replace it, go to the EWG website, which is a great place to start looking for safer options.

HB: How did your interest in “clean” products lead you to create Henry Rose, which is the first collection of fine fragrances with 100% ingredient transparency?
MP: I noticed that products containing fragrance always received high hazard ratings, not necessarily because they were harmful, but because their ingredients weren’t disclosed, so there was no way to deem them safe. As I delved deeper, I learned that this lack of transparency is common in fine fragrances and any products that contain fragrance, like personal care items and home products. Fragrance formulas are considered trade secrets, and therefore the ingredients aren't required to be disclosed. I searched for fragrance-free products, I tried all-natural options, but none matched the quality I was used to…so, I stopped wearing fragrance. Years later, I really missed it, and realized others might be seeking a safer, transparent fragrance, too.

HB: Can you share some of the challenges you experienced when you began developing Henry Rose?
MP: When I decided to try to create a fine fragrance that disclosed its ingredients, I had no idea how challenging it would be and how much pushback I would get. I tried for years to find a partner to help bring my vision to life, but everyone wanted me to compromise my standards and I simply wasn’t willing to.

I was close to giving up when EWG’s president suggested I contact IFF [International Flavors & Fragrances] directly. They told me that they had been challenged by Cradle to Cradle to create a fragrance that met their strict material health and sustainability standards. And as I learned more about Cradle to Cradle, I realized how important it was to me to meet their certification requirements in addition to EWG’s guidelines. But to meet EWG and Cradle to Cradle criteria, our ingredient palette had to be extremely limited! Perfumers typically can pull from a palette of around 3,000 ingredients, and we started with just 250. In the end, some of the most innovative things come out of scarcity! And I’m incredibly proud of what we were able to accomplish.

HB: What does it mean to be EWG Verified and to meet Cradle to Cradle criteria?
MP: EWG Verified means that a product has been vetted against EWG’s strict standards by a team of toxicologists and scientists for ingredient health and safety. The Environmental Working Group not only makes sure that every ingredient is safe to use, but also ensures that the exact percentages of each ingredient used within a formula fall within a safe range and that there are no known risks of carcinogens or endocrine disruptors. And the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute evaluates products for material health, material reutilization, renewable energy use, carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.

HB: What does it mean to you, personally, to meet these strict standards?
MP: We take material health very seriously at Henry Rose. Since the beginning, we’ve pushed for full transparency when it comes to our ingredients. We want our customers to know exactly what is in our formulas and what they choose to wear on their skin and around their loved ones. The ability to trust that this brand is what it claims to be is at the core of Henry Rose. 

Getting EWG Verification and Cradle to Cradle certification for Henry Rose was so important to me. As a parent, you don’t have ample free time to dedicate to researching ingredients, so these reputable, trusted organizations take a lot of the legwork, guesswork, and stress out of the equation for consumers.

HB: Henry Rose is a great name! What was the inspiration?
MP: I wanted a name that would be memorable but not overly feminine or masculine. I also wanted it to be authentic to the brand. Given that Henry Rose was born from a desire to protect my children, I asked them if they would be okay with me using their middle names, and thankfully they agreed. 

Each of these scents is a dedication to my children and the next generation for all the ways they’ve inspired us to create a safer, better world. Our fragrances make a silent statement—they’re about demanding more, not compromising, because no one should have to choose between quality and safety.

HB: Now that your children are adults, are they following the “green” example you set?
MP: Both of my children are very mindful of the safety of the food they are eating and the products they are using. I think the younger generations across the board are more interested in educating themselves than we were, and much more aware of the long-term implications of repeated exposure to harmful ingredients. This knowledge has led them to demand more transparency. Everyone is learning from the past and making better choices for the future. We’re all in this together!


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