For a long time my consumer attitude toward the use of chemicals in beauty products would ping pong between anti-chemical crusader to very laissez faire. The cycle would go like this: a magazine article or blogpost or news segment would compel me to get very righteous about sticking with all natural products. Toss everything out. Ban it! Burn it! And then, bit by bit I’d start to use some of my old favorites – a Nars lip pencil, a Clarins serum, a Dior blush – and my concerns floated to the periphery until they were out of view.
Sticking to an extreme position simply won’t work for a beauty addict like myself. The way I’ve come to manage the problem of chemicals is to find areas of give and take, and to form my own guiding set of principles to abide by. I’ll expand on this in a later post, but just to give an idea: I avoid any skincare or body products with artificial fragrance or dyes – they’re irritants, pointless and potentially harmful. However, I don’t believe all chemicals are inherently bad. There are many research-based, clinical skincare products that deliver cell-communicating benefits to your skin through various synthetic formulas and technologies – and I’m okay with a lot of these. I stick with physical sunscreen over chemical, but I’m less worried about non-natural shampoo (from what I’ve read sodium laureth sulfate doesn’t worry me too much). You get the idea. Give and take. And so on and so forth.
It’s important to be very clear on one thing: the FDA does not approve or regulate ingredients used in cosmetics or personal care products. People tend to meet this fact with disbelief, but it’s absolutely true. To add some context, In Europe, there are over 1300 ingredients that are banned from beauty products. in the US there are 11. Because we have to be our own educated advocates forming our own tolerance guidelines, I really appreciate when a brand does everything it can to make that process easier on the individual. I appreciate transparency. Beautycounter is transparent, and more.
The company was started by Gregg Renfrew, a mom and wife who was aghast to learn of the unregulated use of toxins in products and sought to put “truth back in beauty”. Beautycounter chooses their ingredients with clear intentions: safety and efficacy. They start with natural ingredients wherever possible. They eliminate any ingredients that are known to be potentially harmful, and use ingredients with safety data over ones with no data. (Read more about their ingredient screening here.) I feel particularly at ease using their products knowing that they’re free of all “never-list” ingredients:
Beautycounter caught my eye because their product development and marketing teams were tied to the same message. That they seemed to care about building trust with their clients more than any other brand in the beauty realm made me eager to play with the products myself. So, for the past couple months I’ve been testing testing testing — and loving loving loving.
Oh and apart from the marvelous products themselves, the colors of the packaging are exactly the same as this blog’s theme colors (powder blush and black) so naturally, they had me at (design) hello. By the way, beautiful packaging = great gift ideas.
Here are some of my favorite skincare, body, and cosmetics products from Beautycounter:
You know how every commercial ever for a lipstick boasts color AND moisture? Very few of them deliver on that promise because most color-based lip products suck moisture out of the skin. The lip sheer from Beautycounter actually does both. I don’t even need a base chapstick or lip balm before applying this. The color starts as a soft, sheer tint. With more swipes, you can build the color up, serving your day-into-night needs. The shades are remarkably universal. “Petal” a healthy pink, is perfect against my snow white skin right now. I don’t think there’s a woman out there wouldn’t enjoy this product.
Cleansing balms are having a real moment right now and and I’m all for it. An oil-based cleanser that one massages onto skin and removes with a damp cloth (muslin or flannel), a balm is the most pampering way to clean your face at the end of the day. Massaging the balm into the face ignites circulation and feels like a mini-facial. Then, the oils in the balm deposit hydration while pulling grime out of skin (cleansing balms are particularly good at breaking down sunscreen and removing waterproof makeup). Lastly, the removal method leaves your skin plump and soft. Countertime is wonderfully rich in nourishing oils such as avocado, jojoba, and almond and you can even use it as a moisturizer or face mask. It’s a hefty price tag but so is a cashmere sweater. Yep, we’re talking that kind of luxury.
Routine Clean is a gentle, calming, non-drying cleanser. This one lives in my gym bag as it’s become my post-workout cleanser of choice. It’s also the cleanser I take with me on trips. It’s so mild I can rely on it to keep my skin happily balanced in changing environments. The coconut oil-based formula has a creamy texture, not oily at all. And that bright almond and orange scent always leaves me in a good mood – especially because I know it comes from real botanicals (Beautycounter uses NO synthetic dyes or fragrances).
If you are a face oil fanatic, you’ve come to the right place. Beautycounter offers 3 options of their Lustro Face Oil though they’re all essentially identical formulas with one variant ingredient to create choices in scent. The blend is made up of rosehip oil, virgin grapeseed oil, sea buckthorn oil, virgin argan nut oil, marula oil, meadowfoam seed oil and rose otto oil. Lustro #1 tops it off with Calendula (an earthy-floral scent), Lustro #2 with Jasmine (a floral-floral scent) and Lustro #3 with Ylang Ylang and Chamomile (an herbal scent). I like all three. Self-admitted oil fanatic.
The Lustro body oil is the superstar of the oil department. It’s both fast-absorbing and smells lemony-fresh wonderful: agreeable texture and scent are surprisingly hard to find in a body oil. Especially in winter, one of the sweetest things you can do for yourself is apply a nourishing oil right out of the shower. It will help bring a healthy glow back to your skin, and guard against cold, drying weather. This oil absorbs much faster than any lotion so no pesky sticking to clothes or sheets. It comes in two scents: rosemary-citrus, and jasmine. The 100% natural blend is made of golden jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, meadowfoam seed oil, virgin grapeseed oil, rosehip oil, sea buckthorn oil, marula oil, argan nut oil, rose otto oil, apricot oil, grapefruit oil, sweet orange oil, and rosemary oil.
This is my go-to for a tinted moisturizer without SPF. Attention ladies in pursuit of that “no-makeup” look. Tint Skin evens skin tone and color corrects, but feels superbly light. For those who want more coverage, simply layer it. The finish is dewy, thanks in part to hyaluronic acid which features in the formula. Tint Skin is offered in 7 shades which are designed to be mixed if you need to customize. Between this and my Chantecaille Just Skin, I haven’t worn my previous staple foundation, Armani Maestro, in easily 6 months. It’s so liberating to cast aside the full coverage foundations and lighten up the routine. Can’t say enough about Tint Skin – other than make sure you are committed to wearing sunscreen as a separate layer (which really we should all be doing anyway despite what’s purported to be in our tinted moisturizer or foundation!).