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Beautycounter copyI recently discovered a new brand in my never-ending quest for beauty products that won’t poison me: Beautycounter. My friend Kim invited me to get to know Beautycounter by participating in a Facebook event – the equivalent of a Mary Kay party for the digital age.

Kim’s Beautycounter consultant, Blair Waldo, presented a series of infographics with background information and was available for questions through the commenting feature of Facebook. (I asked a lot of questions. I may not have been much of a gunner in law school, but I sure am when it comes to beauty!)

You may not think about it much, but every day we are bombarded with chemicals. They’re in the air we breathe, the food and drink we ingest, and the products we use. Living in America, we can rely on the Environmental Protection Agency to limit the number and amount of toxins in our air and water. And we have the Food & Drug Administration to monitor – wait for it – food and drugs. But who monitors what goes in your shampoo? Or your eye shadow? Or your body lotion?

The answer, frighteningly enough, is no one. No one oversees ingredients in cosmetics. The last federal regulation governing personal care product ingredients was in 1938! Manufacturers can put in pretty much whatever they want. I say “pretty much” because market forces do have some influence on manufacturers. You can bet that if people using a particular product started dying and the cause could be traced back to that product, the market for it would evaporate pretty quickly.

But those are two very big “if”s, and relying on “the free market” to police the manufacturers of personal care products means putting your life in their hands. I’m not comfortable with that, which is why I go out of my way (and spend a bit more) to buy and use products that commit to eliminating harmful ingredients.

Beautycounter has a list of more than 1500 ingredients that are banned from its products – 1500 things that have been linked in some way to harmful effects, but that regularly appear in products you use every day. I don’t know about you, but I use A LOT of products. Between getting out of bed in the morning and leaving for work, I use 20 different products on my hair and skin (literally 20, I just counted).

Beautycounter also eschews nanotechnology, which hasn’t actually been shown to have any harmful effects, but also hasn’t been fully studied. Nanotech definitely shows up in some unexpected places (Burt’s Bees lip balm, for one), so if you’re concerned about it, Beautycounter is the only company I know of that outright bans its use in products.

Impressed with Blair’s presentation, I decided to try a few products. I’m not going to lie to you: Beautycounter is not cheap. I bought three products to start because I was concerned about spending too much. The good news is that all three of them are really great.

My absolute favorite is the Lustro Face Oil. I loooooove this product! I may never buy nighttime moisturizer again.

Lustro Face Oil: Beautycounter website

Lustro Face Oil: Beautycounter website

If you’ve ever had a facial, you’re familiar with that dewy, soft feeling your skin has when you leave the spa – like a baby’s skin. And you feel like you’re wrapped in a cloud of relaxing fragrance. That’s how I feel every night when I apply the Face Oil! And when I wake up the next day, my skin still feels silky smooth. (Granted, it’s summer in swampy DC where the humidity is off the charts most of the time. I’m looking forward to seeing how it handles things in January.)

Lustro Face Oil is available in three scents: Calendula, Jasmine, and Ylang Ylang & Wild Chamomile. They are designed for sensitive, dry or mature, and problem skin, respectively. I use Jasmine because my skin tends toward dryness.

The product is $64 for 0.67 ounces (or nearly $1 for every hundredth of an ounce – yikes) but you barely use any with each application, so I expect it will last quite a while. The bottle comes with a medicine-dropper; I use three drops each night. You could also use it in the morning, under makeup, but I prefer to use moisturizer with sun protection during the day.

Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer - Beautycounter website

Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer – Beautycounter website

And that’s why I chose my second item: Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20. If you read my Favorite Things post a couple weeks ago, you know how much I love my Origins VitaZing SPF 15 tinted moisturizer. Dew Skin is a worthy rival.

One of the things I love about Dew Skin is the packaging design. It has a push nozzle so you can dispense exactly the amount you want. It also has a cap that snaps tightly into place so the nozzle isn’t accidentally pushed during travel.

Dew Skin doesn’t quite glide over my skin the way VitaZing does – there’s a bit of drag – but it moisturizes excellently and does, in fact, leave my skin dewy. I’ve used it as a moisturizer under BB cream, as a BB cream over other moisturizer, and on its own. It works well in all three situations, a true multi-tasker.

Dew Skin is available in five different shades to complement all skin tones. At $42 for a 1-ounce tube, it costs a bit more than VitaZing, so the decision comes down to my tolerance for carcinogens and endocrine disruptors in my skin care products. Spoiler alert: it’s low.

Gentle Exfoliator Polishing Cream - Beautycounter website

Gentle Exfoliator Polishing Cream – Beautycounter website

The third product I tried is the Gentle Exfoliator Polishing Cream. I’m a big fan of exfoliating facial cleansers, especially for nighttime use when I’m removing makeup, and this one is a winner. The cleanser has a very light, pleasant, vaguely floral scent, rinses easily, and leaves my skin feeling soft and clean. It’s $30 for a 4-ounce tube, and the exfoliating beads are made from natural, biodegradable jojoba.

This is important because the beads in many brands’ exfoliating cleansers are made from plastic, which can’t be filtered out by water treatment plants due to their small size and end up contaminating waterways and harming wildlife. You can read more about it here and here. Some states have already taken steps to ban the sale of products containing plastic microbeads, but the onus is mostly on the consumer to avoid products containing them.

Given how much I liked these three products, I plan to keep sampling Beautycounter’s wares. Next up on my list of products to try are the Everyday Clean Shampoo and Rinse Everyday Conditioner, and the Tint Skin Foundation. I’d like to try their cosmetics at some point, but I currently have too much makeup, so I need to get through some of that before I go buying more!

If you want to try Beautycounter for yourself, here’s a link to Blair’s site: http://www.beautycounter.com/blairwaldo. (All the embedded hyperlinks in this post will also take you to her site.)

As with all the products I write about, I paid for these myself and received no compensation for writing this post. (But I might earn some discounts if enough of you decide to place an order!)

Beautycounter offers flat-rate $5 shipping on all orders, which is really quite reasonable. Or you can join the Band of Beauty Membership Program for $25. You get free shipping on orders over $100, you earn $25 in rewards for every $300 spent, and Beautycounter donates $10 of the membership fee to your choice of one of three charities: Environmental Working Group, Healthy Child Healthy World, or Breast Cancer Fund.

If you order something, let me know what it was and what you think of it!

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