The Truth Behind the Label

As consumers we are getting so much savvier, aren’t we? Many of us are practiced at reading food labels, but now we have to read our personal care and cleaning product labels too. We are very familiar with healthy, real food ingredients (eggs, corn, butter, oil), but product labels? Do you know if Arginine is a safe ingredient or not? Is it a plant or a chemical? And why should you care?

This may seem obvious, but think about it for a minute. Many of the ingredients that you slather on your skin — your largest organ — are absorbed directly into your bloodstream. And the most common of those are proving to interfere with your endocrine system, while other are allergens and carcinogens. (These are no bueno. Endocrine disruptors wreak havoc on your metabolism, fertility, waistline, diabetes, thyroid health, balance of immune system and propensity towards autoimmune diseases).

You may be wondering how in the world these ingredients make it into the marketplace? Frankly, the skincare industry is like the wild west. 1938 was the last time a major federal regulation was passed. That’s over 80 years ago!! Since then we’ve had a robust era for creating chemicals, deemed the Chemical Revolution. Thanks to this innovative era, over 80,000 chemicals have entered everyday products and most of these ingredients (an eyebrow raising 80%) have never been tested for safety. These ingredients are in our everyday products (the U.S. has only banned 30 ingredients, compared to the EU who’s banned over 1400). Many of these harmful, yet unbanned ingredients are in the everyday products we buy from drugstores or department stores and even our dermatologists.

If the available research proves these ingredients unsafe for people in the E.U., I’m pretty confident they are not doing anything helpful for your skin or your waistline, thyroid health, or long term cancer outcomes. Maybe you’ve heard the saying, genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger. These are some of the environmental toxins pulling that metaphorical trigger.

Your skin is your largest organ and a direct pathway to your blood and through it all other organs, cells, and even fat tissue. Many of the most harmful ingredients in these products are fat soluble...they attach to any little bit of fat you have and tell your fat cells to grow bigger and multiply. So cruel, right? If you aren’t shedding those pounds, you also aren’t releasing those toxins. Double unfair! They continue to multiply…as you continue to get fatter.

It’s a dirty, rotten cycle. You are playing russian roulette with your products.

Because it’s been over 80 years since a major law has passed, there are gaping loopholes. For example, cosmetics can be labeled “natural,” “sustainable,” and nearly any other word that comes to mind without containing ingredients that accurately meet those descriptions. Products certified as organic can contain as little as 10% organic ingredients, depending on the certifier. “Safe” is not a standardized term, either. The FDA’s Office of Cosmetics (the agency that is in charge of regulating all cosmetics) does not define safety. That's how carcinogens and other harmful ingredients can be in our products -- because they haven't been banned.

How to avoid harmful ingredients in your skincare products:

  1. Be your own advocate!

  2. Learn how to spot dozens, if not hundreds, of common ingredients you want to avoid

  3. Find a few beauty brands you can trust.

  4. Double-check your label reading skills. I rely on rankings in the Healthy Living database by The Environmental Working Group (EWG). They rate common beauty products on a scale of 1-10. You’ll notice several brands that are marketing themselves as “natural” have products that rank 7-10 on the hazard scale. I aim to choose products that score 3 or less.

Because I’m committed to safety, I used to assume that meant that my products wouldn’t work as well either. Maybe my lipstick wouldn’t be as bold or my mascara would not stay in place all day. When I discovered that my all natural, organic products from Whole Foods were not nearly as safe as I thought they should be, I was grateful to find a company that would do the hard work for me. I stumbled upon Beautycounter and was sold when I discovered that they have the most rigorous ingredient screening process, and don’t settle for anything less than high-performance products. I’ve used Beautycounter’s products for 6 years now and it’s one of just a few brands I would recommend to my friends and family.

BONUS TIP: For the next few days, shop Beautycounter Friends & Family Sale for 15% off!

Beautycounter’s Ingredient Screening Process

Greenwashing and What 5 Popular Terms on Beauty Products Mean

Tips for Radiant Skin in the Fall

If you are packing away your shorts and flip-flops, it’s also time to update your skincare routine to match the changing weather. A change of season typically means a change in the way skin behaves. The cooler, windy weather of Fall coupled with the drying effects of heated air, mean we need to treat our skin differently to avoid dryness, breakouts, and lackluster skin. Fall is the season to focus on renewing, moisturizing, and protecting. With a few simple updates, you can have glowing skin in the Fall and Winter too! 


  1. Exfoliate with an oil-based scrub - Exfoliating is imperative for repairing and brightening the complexion. Use an oil-based exfoliator to even skin discoloration (such as sun spots and acne scars), remove dull, tired, dry skin and encourage fresher, plumper cells to form. Exfoliating occasionally will give your skin a flawless finish. For the face use a gentle exfoliator 1-2x per week. Avoid those plastic micro-beads, and look for an oil-based exfoliator with jojoba esters, such as Beautycounter’s Nourishing Cream ExfoliatorIt’s okay to exfoliate your body more often than your face. I love brown sugar scrubs for my body, especially one like this that’s in a mineral-rich blend of oils. 
  2. Ditch the soap - Choose a creamier cleanser for your face and body. For the face, I love a cleanser that does everything and is safe for my skin, my body, and the environment. I use the Nourishing Cream Cleanser  because it’s lightweight yet deeply moisturizing, and contains witch hazel to tone skin, and coconut oil and aloe to help hydrate. (Even if you have oily skin, your skin will benefit and become less oily by using an oil based cleanser.) For my body, I rely on a body wash that is rich in marula and mongongo oils, ingredients that help soften and protect skin while sealing in moisture. My skin has never felt so soft!   
  3. Turn up your moisturizer - Switching from a lotion to a cream for the colder months is critical to focus on repairing from the effects of the harsh summer sun, moisturizing, and protecting against environmental toxins and the drying weather. In the same way that your body craves different foods in the different seasons, so does your skin. On my face I use the Nourishing Cream (AM) , Rejuvenating Night Cream (PM),  and I lather my body in mongongo oil by using the Enrich Body Butter. This is the only product that has helped my husband’s winter-time itchy legs. 
  4. Protect your lips - When you are out in the elements, keep your lips nourished and protected. I recommend this long-lasting, shea butter-and-avocado-oil-packed, hydrating powerhouse, because it works super well under lipstick too. Must be why Glamour named it Best Natural Beauty Product of 2016! Order here.
  5. Help your hands - My guess is that your hands are always helping others. Give them some love too. Use gentle cleanser and moisturizers during the day, and also treat them to overnight treatments regularly. I recommend this hand wash and cream. Our powerhouse product, Beautycounter’s Cleansing Balm, is a winner, not only for the face, but for your hands too! It’s a great overnight treatment (face and hands, plus it works great on my cuticles!) Plus, it’s on sale through September!!