Origins Skincare Review

If you read my recent FAB and Beautycounter posts, you know that I am someone who has battled sensitive skin and blemishes for as long as I can remember. Because of that, I have come to really value a good skincare routine. It is super important to me that I find products that keep my skin looking and feeling its best. Whenever possible I also try to opt for “cleaner” and “safer” ingredients. Three of my favorite tried and true skincare brands are First Aid Beauty, Beautycounter and Origins. I have re-purchased products from these brands repeatedly over the last four years. Origins’ values sustainability, ingredient sourcing and being proactive about their environmental impacts. You can read more about Origins’ mission and values on their site (click here). Many of Origins’ products have received the “clean at Sephora” label as well.

Some of the Origins’ products, including a few from today’s post, are currently on sale at Sephora!

Active Charcoal Mask

This is a great mask (click here) for oily skin and clogged pores. Since my skin is on the dry side, I focus this in the areas where I need it instead of a full face mask. Sometimes I’ll leave it overnight as a spot treatment. I have found it works best after I steam or exfoliate my skin; this helps to open up my pores, so the charcoal can get to work. This has been a great buy for me because it’s effective and it has lasted a really long time. Keep in mind, that this can be drying and probably not something you will use daily.

High-Potency Night-a-Mins™ Oil-Free

This night cream (click here) resurfaces and refreshes skin overnight. Every time I use this, I feel like my skin is moisturized and glowing when I wake up. It’s a good option if you’re looking to even out your skin tone and fade dark marks. It has a gel-like consistency and a light citrus scent. Origins also makes this in a heavier, non-oil-free version too (click here). I definitely recommend this one!

Origins Drink Up™ Intensive Overnight Hydrating Mask

This mask (click here) is great for nights you need extra moisture. I have borrowed this from my mom a bunch. Unlike most masks, you actually don’t rinse this one off. Instead, it’s meant to soak into your skin overnight for extra hydration; more like a heavy moisturizer versus a mask. It has a very light scent and has not cause my skin to breakout. I have loved using this, as needed, throughout the winter.

Checks and Balances™ Frothy Face Wash

This is a great, gentle cleanser (click here) for oily and acne prone skin. It does a good job of removing makeup and excess oil. If you have dry skin, I would not recommend this one as it may leave your face very tight and dry.

Please note this site and this post include affiliate links. When you purchase an item through an affiliate link, I may earn a small commission.  All opinions/recommendations are my own. Thank you for shopping through my links!

Gluten Free French Onion Soup

One of my all time favorite soups is French Onion soup. I remember the last time I had it before going gluten-free years ago. Since then I have longed to enjoy this delicious soup again, but I have never found it on a gluten-free menu. This summer, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make it myself. It is a fairly easy soup to make, but it is very time consuming. I decided to make it again recently and I loved how this recipe turned out. Thankfully, I wrote everything down while I was cooking in hopes of sharing it all with you here. Please note this site and this post include affiliate links.

I made this soup using my 8.5qt stainless steel Calphalon Dutch oven. I don’t think my exact one is available anymore, but found two similar pots (click here and here). If you don’t have this exact style pot, you will just want to use a well-made, large, heavy pot that heats evenly; I believe this helps with the caramelization. The Le Creuset Dutch oven or something similar would also work well. To serve this soup, I ordered soup crocks and soup spoons to make sure we got the “real” French onion soup feel. When we traveled to Ireland a few years ago, I had the most delicious soups throughout our trip and they were always served with the best soup spoons. Having these spoons at home now reminds me of our time in Ireland.

I hope you try and enjoy this recipe!

The Ingredients:

Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 2 hours Servings: About 8

  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) of unsalted butter
  • 6lbs of yellow onions, sliced into half moons
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 large cloves of garlic finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.5 c red wine (I used a red blend)
  • 32oz low sodium beef stock
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • 4-8oz Gruyere cheese thinly sliced or grated
  • 1 Gluten Free Baguette 

The Directions:

  • Slice the onions into half-moon shape and set aside in a large bowl.
  • Melt butter over medium/low heat then add the onions and stir to coat the onions into the melted butter.
  • Over medium/low heat, regularly stir the onions and bay leaf. You will need to keep an eye on the pot to make sure the onions do not stick. For this amount of onions, the caramelization process can take up to 1.5 hrs
  • Once the onions start to darken (about 30 minutes) add the dark brown sugar which will help with caramelizing the onions.
  • When the onions are close to fully caramelized (about 1.25 hrs), add black pepper, thyme and fresh garlic then stir.
  • When the onions have a dark, rich color and are fully caramelized add red wine to deglaze. Let the alcohol cook out and reduce the liquid for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the beef stock and 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar which will help to balance out the sweetness of the onions and sugar. Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.
  • While you soup simmers, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Taste your soup. If it’s still too sweet, gradually add another tbsp of vinegar and season with salt to taste.
  • Slice your baguette (or brea of your choice), drizzle with olive oil and toast in the oven.
  • Spoon your soup into the crocks, add toasted bread and top with gruyere cheese.
  • Place the crocks on a baking sheet and broil on high about about 5 minutes or until the cheese is fully melted and slightly charred.
  • Top with a sprinkle of dried (or fresh) thyme and serve.

Cooking Notes:

  • This soup is heavier on the onions than it is on the stock. If you prefer you soup to have more broth, you can add some while cooking, but you may have to adjust the seasonings to maintain the flavor.
  • When I reheated this soup, I added a little extra stock each time.

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Beautycounter Skincare Review

If you read my recent FAB post, you know that I am someone who has battled sensitive skin and blemishes for as long as I can remember. Because of that, I have come to really value a good skincare routine. It is super important to me that I find products that keep my skin looking and feeling its best. Whenever possible I also try to opt for “cleaner” and “safer” ingredients. Three of my favorite tried and true skincare brands are First Aid Beauty, Beautycounter and Origins. I have re-purchased products from these brands repeatedly over the years.

In today’s post I am reviewing all of the Beautycounter products I have tried over the last two years. Beautycounter is really transparent about its practices, values and ingredient lists. The company has over 1,500 ingredients on its “never list.” Beautycounter also advocates and lobbies for legislative changes that will make beauty products “clean for all.” The company is trying lead positive changes for the beauty industry as a whole and not just itself. These are some of the reasons I was drawn to Beautycounter in the first place. If you’re in the market for new skincare or are looking for “cleaner options,” keep reading!

Please note this site and this post include affiliate links.

Beauty Counter has variety of skincare products which are categorized into 5 regimes. Here is the high level summary of the concerns each of these lines target:

  • Counterstart: Soothing hydration
  • Countercontrol: Mattifying, blemish prevention
  • Countermatch: Hydration, radiance and anti-aging
  • Countertime: Extra hydration, anti-aging and a boost of anti-oxidants.
  • Counter+: Added steps for targeted needs such as extra moisture, unevenness, brightening and tone.

In full transparency, I do want to mention that Beautycounter makeup has been more of a slam dunk for me than the skincare (read my makeup review here). I consider my skin to be dry and blemish prone, which is a a bit tricky. Most blemish prevention products are very drying while products made for dryness often contain emollient ingredients that can clog pores. My perfect skincare routine is quite the balancing act, so finding the right combo has resulted from trial and error. Don’t let this turn you away from Beautycounter just yet. Beautycounter is a leader in the clean beauty space and their products have a lot to offer. One regime alone may not be the perfect fit for your skin, so don’t be afraid to mix and match the lines. That’s what I have done.

Countercontrol Matte Effect Gel Cream: This is an oil-free, light weight moisturizer that’s great for oily skin or those looking for something lighter, especially during humid months. It has ingredients that help to clear blemishes while keeping your skin balanced. When I use this moisturizer, I will usually need to pair it with a hydrating serum or oil. I realize adding oil to an oil-free moisturizer sounds counterproductive, but it works for me (keep reading for my oil review). I most often use this cream as my daytime moisturizer during the summer.

Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser: This cleanser has jojoba beads and Salicylic Acid that provide gentle exfoliation. It’s a great option for oily skin. For me personally, this cleanser is too drying to use everyday. I use it a couple times a week when I feel like I need bit more exfoliation. I have also found it beneficial when using really hydrating moisturizers. Sometimes my skin need extra exfoliation in order for those hydrating products to do their job without clogging my pores.

Update: This cleanser also works really well if you experience breakouts on your chest or back.

Countercontrol SOS Acne Spot Treatment: I recently purchased this spot treatment, so I can focus the blemish fighting ingredients where I need them most. My skin is generally too dry and sensitive for an all-over acne treatment. Too soon to review though, check back soon!

Update: A little goes a long way. This product is drying, so be sure you use it as a true spot treatment and all over your face

Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion: In general, I think the Countermatch line is the best match (pun intended) for most people. It’s simple, soothing and hydrating. This particular moisturizer gives my skin a really nice glow, especially under my makeup. What has really impressed me is that when I use this moisturizer I notice my makeup wears really well throughout the day. When using other moisturizers I have noticed that around my mouth and chin my makeup will flake or crease by the end of the day. This moisturizer seems to keep my skin balanced all day long.

Countermatch Eye Rescue Cream: Although I usually prefer an eye cream with a thick consistency, this eye cream is soothing, hydrating and does not irritate my eyes at all. A little goes a long way and this tube last quite a while too. It can be used morning and night.

Countermatch Intense Moisture Serum: This serum did not wow me when I tried it last year. I also felt that it was causing breakouts. I reviewed the ingredient list, but none seemed to be the obviously culprit. Fortunately, Beautycounter has a great 60 day return policy that includes free return shipping. No harm in trying something when the return policy is great.

Countertime Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream: This night cream is super thick and moisturizing. This is a pricey item, but I will say it’s big jar and a little goes a long way. It’s probably the best match for very dry and/or aging skin. If your skin is at all on the oily side, I wouldn’t recommend this one as. your first pick. I loved how moisturizing this was for me (no flakiness in sight), but it definitely clogged my pores a bit. I had to bump up my exfoliation to balance out the heaviness of this cream. I felt that while using this I was breaking out more than normal, so I decided to return it. I may have added this to my routine when my skin was a bit out of sorts which wasn’t the best timing for a new product. For this reason, I am open to trying this cream again in the future.

Countertime Ultra Renewal Eye Cream: This eye cream is a great way for everyone to incorporate anti-aging into their skincare routines. I think this works for any skin type. It’s another pricey item (as is all of the Countertime line), but a little goes a long way and it will last a while. I have been using this for 5 months and I still have about 1/4 (maybe a bit less) of the jar left. I have some fine lines around the outer corners of my eyes that I really wish would go away. I can’t say the lines are totally gone, but I do feel that they have diminished and the skin around my eyes is more glowing and hydrated. Most days I this morning and night.

Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum: I have been really impressed by this serum. I noticed a huge improvement in the overall tone and radiance of my skin after using this for a few weeks. After I used up my second bottle, I stopped using this for about a month and felt at my skin didn’t look as great. I use this morning and night unless I’m using another serum or treatment in the evening. Each bottle has lasted me about 2 months. Since it doesn’t contain any oils, I think this (along with the eye cream) is the best Countertime product for blemish prone skin.

The entire Countertime line contains Beautycounter’s Retinatural Complex which are cleaner ingredient alternatives to retinol.

Counter+ No. 3 Balancing Facial Oil: The Beautycounter oils’ primary purpose is extra hydration followed by the concern addressed in its name. No. 1-brightening, No. 2-plumping and No. 3-balancing. The No. 3 oil is the best choice if you are looking to calm and/or clear your skin.

The No. 3 oil came highly recommended by a few consultants I follow on Instagram. After hesitating for about a year, I finally gave it a try. I am so surprised by how much I like this product. I gradually added this to my routine by adding 1 drop, 1 time a day to my moisturizer. Now I use 1-2 drops morning and night or as needed. I don’t think it’s caused breakouts; it actually seems like the opposite. As implied by its name, I do really feel like this balances my skin. It also gives my skin the prettiest glow under my makeup. The No.3 oil + the countertime serum were game changers for me this summer.

I don’t think all oils are created equal and they don’t work the same for everyone. I think the trick is to find the oil(s) that are the best match for your skin type – oily and acne skin included!

Counter+ Overnight Resurfacing Peel: This product is a Beautycounter cult favorite and best-seller. Although peel is in the name, it does not make your skin peel. Think of it as a resurfacing serum that you use a few times a week. It has ingredients that help to exfoliate away dead skin cells leaving your skin more even, glowing and bright while also minimizing pores. When I am not using another AHA product, I will use this 1-2x a week. The next morning my skin is definitely brighter and the pores around my chin and nose look smaller. It has also helped to fade my dark spots. You can use this a few nights a week in place of your normal serum (or “treatment” step). I would recommend starting with 1-2 nights to see how your skin tolerates the peel then potentially increase your usage from there.

Counter+ All Bright C Serum: This serum has quickly become one of my favorite Beautycounter products. It has two forms of vitamin c that help to fade dark spots and brighten your skin. With my first use of this serum, my skin felt soft, smooth and hydrated. After using it daily for one month, I started to see a noticeable difference in the tone of my skin. Overall, I feel that my skin looks more even and bright. Also, dark spots from prior breakouts faded quicker with this product than any other that I have tried.

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Counter+ Charcoal Cleansing Bar: Years ago the esthetician at my favorite spa suggested a charcoal bar soap to help with breakouts. I was shocked how well it worked, but it has been a long time since I used a similar product. I recently purchased Beautycounter’s charcoal cleansing bar after suddenly experiencing mild breakouts on my upper back. Within a few days of using this bar, my breakouts cleared up completely. Even though this is a bar soap, it does not dry out my skin, so I have been using it a few days a week on my face too.

In hopes of making this bar last longer and not get messy in my shower, I found these soap savers on Amazon. So far, so good! It definitely seems to keep my soap dish cleaner and the bar of soap dryer.

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While I am rounding up Beautycounter skincare, I thought this would be a good place to explain the Band of Beauty membership. Think of it as Amazon Prime for Beautycounter. You pay $29 to join and in return you receive welcome gift (when you spend $50+ on when enrolling — often valued at more than $29), earn a 10% credit on your orders and unlock free shipping on order of $100+. The membership lasts for 1 year. If you plan to order from Beautycounter more than once a year, I think it’s a good option to consider, especially for the free gift.

If you really enjoy using Beautycounter you may want to take the next leap and become a consultant. There are some costs to enroll, but being a consultant provides you access to exclusive products and a discount on your own purchases. Earlier in the year, Beautycounter offered a great deal for new consultants, so I decided to go for it. You can also earn a commission if others purchase through you. If you don’t meet the minimum sales requirements, you will be bumped down to a Band of Beauty membership – which is what will probably happen to me :). For more info on this, you can checkout the website or follow two of my favs on Instagram @afoodiestaysfit and @espressoandcreamblog — the first two Beautycounter gals I ever followed!