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!
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.
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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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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I’ve always loved shopping on Etsy, and it is one of my favorite websites to find special gifts. A few months ago I shared a blog post about a few of my favorite businesses to shop local. Since we’re in the midst of the holiday season, I thought it would be a great time to round up some of my favorite shops on Etsy. In this post I will share shops that I have ordered from for myself or as gifts multiple times. Be sure to check out all of these great small businesses. You just might find the perfect gift for someone you’re shopping for (pups included).
Everthine Designs | San Diego, California: This year I purchased three wooden initials to add to our stockings from Everthine Designs. These initials were the perfect compliment to our neutral-colored Christmas decor. I love that they were affordable (shipping too) and came well-packaged. Aside from these initials, this shop has a variety of items for holidays, babies, pregnancy announcements, weddings and more. Definitely a great little shop to commemorate many life milestones.
Happy Mail Boutique | Newport News, Virginia: I purchased and received the most beautiful glass ornaments from Happy Mail Boutique. The two I have on my Christmas tree are wedding-related and I love them so much. The quality is excellent and they’re actually super heavy and durable. I also love that they came with cloth bags that help to keep them safe in my ornament storage box. Sadly this shop no longer makes the style ornament I have, but she has a new style ornament that comes in a lot of different designs; 2020 themed ornaments included!
Essentially Charlie | Brooklyn, New York: If you know me, you know that I have shied away from using candles over the last year (essential oil user over here). That’s not the case for a lot of my family and friends and candles often make a great gift. A few months ago I was specifically searching for Brooklyn-made gifts for a friend when I came across Essentially Charlie. Their candles are made with beeswax, coconut oil, and essential oils. The shop also includes more specific details on the quality of essential oils used. “We use pure, ethically-sourced, therapeutic-grade oils that are steam-distilled from plants or cold-pressed from fruit/seeds.” I felt more comfortable knowing I was purchasing a candle made without synthetic fragrances. The shop owner was super responsive via message and my order shipped quickly. To complete my Brooklyn-themed gift, I paired this candle with a book about Brooklyn (which I am sure you could find in a local shop too!).
Maywind Market | The Woodlands, Texas: I have purchased 3 or 4 personalized makeup bags for newly engaged friends and brides-to-be from Maywind Market. I love how I could customize the text, font color and tassel color. The size, quality and price are great too, which is why I have gifted from this shop multiple times. I think personalized gifts are so fun during the wedding stage of life. These would also make great personalized stocking stuffers, teacher gifts or co-worker gifts.
A Yellow Fish | Oregon: I love stationery and especially love custom return stamps. I have purchased a return stamp for myself as well as a gift from the shop A Yellow Fish. I think these custom stamps are great wedding, bridal shower or house warming gifts. Although I don’t send a ton of traditional mail, I really love using this stamp for cards and special occasions. I think it’s a stamp everyone should have in their drawer. This shop offers free shipping too!
Qualtry | Lindon, Utah: One of the most used gifts I received for my engagement are personalized cork hot plates. They are cute and always come in handy when we’re making dinner or entertaining. I know the ones I have are from Etsy, but I am not sure which shop they were from. Last year I ordered personalized cork hot plates for a friend from Qualtry. They were pretty much identical to the ones I have. I think personalized gifts are special and these in particular are extremely practical. Hot plates don’t sound like your thing? Don’t worry, this Etsy shop has tons of different items to chose from!
BARKnBABES | Parker, Colorado: One of the first bandanas I ever bought for Henry was from BarknBabes. This shop makes both tie and slip over the collar style bandanas in tons of seasonal prints. I really like that a lot of the prints are double sided, so it’s kind of like getting 2 bandanas in one. I have purchased from this shop several times over the last 2 years and the quality has been great each time. Sadly, Henry has outgrown some of my favorites. It may be Christmas time, but I am already eyeing a Valentine’s Day print for him. I most recently bought Henry a large flannel tie style bandana. His neck is about 19 inches around and he’s a lanky 50lbs. I have to roll the bandana a few times, but I would rather having extra room versus not being able to tie it. I really like the quality of the flannel bandana and Henry has been wearing it for over a year.
Stella Mae Co. | Kannapolis, North Carolina: Another really well-made dog bandana company I have ordered from multiple times is Stella Mae Co. I have purchased a few of these bandanas for Henry and as gifts. These high quality bandanas are made with thick and durable material which is important to me because my dopey dog likes to test my patience by trying to pull his bandanas off. I most recently bought Henry a tie style bandana in size medium. Even with size medium I have to roll the bandana a few times and it fits him great. I see many more Stella Mae Co bandanas in Henry’s future.
Natural Simple Crazy | Medford, NY: The newest addition to Henry’s bandana collection is from my friend at Natural Simple Crazy. This shop makes affordable bandanas that can be customized with your pet’s name. The bandanas from Natural Simple Crazy are slip over the collar style bandanas that come in holiday prints, plaid and camo. Each bandana has a frayed edge which makes them extra stylish for your dog. I ordered a size medium in the Christmas truck print, but I think I large would fit Henry better. These bandanas would be perfect stocking stuffer for you pup!
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