Beautycounter cosmetics and skin care products have enjoyed growing popularity in recent years, as the brand continues to promote “safe,” “clean” beauty. Reviews are fairly mixed online, however. Consumers, beauty bloggers, and influencers have a variety of opinions on the company and the products themselves.
At The Derm Review, our priority and focus is always the science behind the products. We asked our team of biochemists to review the most popular Beautycounter products, in order to get beyond anecdotes, to the facts.
9 Best Beautycounter Products Reviewed
Beautycounter produces more than 150 products for skin and hair. Our lab looked at the most popular Beautycounter products:
- Countersun sunscreen
- All Bright Vitamin C Serum
- Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer
- Counter+ Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm
- Counter+ Overnight Resurfacing Peel
- Counter+ Charcoal Facial Mask
- Countertime Ultra Renewal Eye Cream
- Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation
- Lip Gloss
Beautycounter Sunscreen: Countersun
Sunscreen is one of the most essential pieces of a skincare routine, but it can also be one of the most difficult. There are different types of sunscreen, with different SPF ratings, ingredients, etc. Beautycounter’s Countersun is known for being light on the skin and blending easily, but does it work?
Countersun checks all the boxes for a good sunscreen. It is a broad spectrum sunscreen, which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. It offers 30 SPF, which protects against 97% of damaging UV rays.
Additionally, Countersun is a mineral sunscreen, rather than a chemical one. Mineral sunscreens are also known as “physical” sunscreens, because they sit on top of the skin to block UV rays from contacting skin. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays instead. Mineral sunscreens are safer for long-term use and for sensitive skin—like the face.
As a mineral sunscreen, zinc oxide is the active ingredient in Beautycounter’s sunscreen, at 19% of the formula. The rest is primarily synthetic emollients for keeping skin hydrated.
Beautycounter Vitamin C: All Bright Vitamin C Serum
There’s a reason that so many “anti-aging” serums and creams are promoted for their vitamin C content: It’s a safe, natural ingredient with a wide variety of skin care benefits. Vitamin C:
- Boosts collagen production, which helps smooth fine lines and prevent or tighten sagging skin.
- Inhibits melanin production, evening skin tone and lightening under-eye circles.
- Protects against, and heals, sunburn.
- Protects the skin from free radical damage.
A topical vitamin C is important in any skin care routine, and Beautycounter’s All Bright Vitamin C Serum is an effective solution. The Beautycounter vitamin C serum contains a 10% blend of two stable forms of vitamin C: tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and bis-glyceryl ascorbate.
Other key ingredients include:
- Coconut oil for hydration.
- Turmeric root extract (an antioxidant) for UV protection and healing, as well as evening skin tone and enhancing brightness.
- Camu Camu extract for protection against UV rays as well as other environmental stressors.
Vitamin C serums are generally considered safe for all skin types. Some individuals with adverse reactions to coconut oil, should exercise caution with Beautycounter’s vitamin C serum.
Beautycounter Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer
Beautycounter’s Dew Skin is a facial moisturizer, available in six shades, that makes a lot of claims. This moisturizer is said to protect against UV rays, create a more youthful appearance, and moisturize skin.
- UV protection — The Dew Skin moisturizers, like Countersun, are mineral sunscreens using non-nano zinc oxide. Although the Dew Skin only offers 20 SPF.
- Youthful appearance — This formula includes vitamin c, peony extract, and black currant seed oil, which are all powerful antioxidants to help even skin tone and enhance brightness.
- Moisturize — The rest of the Dew Skin formula mostly consists of silicones and emollients. The majority of the emollients are synthetic, however, there are some natural emollients like beeswax and hydrogenated castor oil.
The right ingredients exist to make Beautycounter’s Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer a powerful product. It’s also worth mentioning, however, that quite a few reviews for the product mention that the texture is sticky and that the shades don’t match skin tones very well.
Beautycounter Cleansing Balm: Counter+ Lotus Glow
The Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm is marketed as a dual-purpose product: It can be used as a facial cleanser and/or as a hydrating overnight mask.
The Beautycounter cleansing balm formula includes a long list of natural oils and butters:
- Apricot kernel oil
- Shea butter
- Avocado oil
- Jojoba seed oil
- Lotus extract
- Mango seed butter
- Sunflower seed oil
- Bergamot fruit oil
- Lemon peel oil
- And more
As a facial cleanser, Lotus Glow is both effective and gentle, because substances with a similar type of bonding will dissolve one another. Chemists say that, “like dissolves like,” which means that these natural oils can easily dissolve most makeups without stripping moisture from the skin.
As an overnight mask, the Beautycounter cleansing balm also deeply moisturizes skin because of the same long list of natural oils. It also contains tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, a stable, lipid-soluble form of vitamin C, to increase skin firmness, brighten skin tone, and reduce the appearance of dark spots while you sleep.
One problem that our chemists identified with the Beautycounter Lotus Glow Balm is the packaging, which may render the antioxidant capability of its ingredients unstable due to exposure to light and air.
Beautycounter Overnight Resurfacing Peel
The Counter+ Overnight Resurfacing Peel is promoted as, “a proprietary multi-acid complex” that naturally dissolves surface cells overnight, revealing the fresh, healthy skin below. Those botanical acids include:
- Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as lactic, glycolic, citric, malic, and tartaric acid. AHAs break down dead skin cells (called corneocytes) in the outermost layer of skin, in a process called corneocyte desquamation. This increases the separation of skin cells, increasing the rate of cell turnover. That means the skin is refreshed faster, leading to a smoother, brighter complexion.
- Gluconic acid is a poly-hydroxy acid (PHA) that functions like AHAs, but is known to cause less irritation. It is also an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
- Phytic acid is derived from legumes and seeds, and is another anti-inflammatory and powerful antioxidant, though it is also known for being gentle on sensitive skin. It also inhibits melanin production by blocking the entrance of iron and copper to prevent the formation of dark spots.
- Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that softens and dissolves keratin—a protein in the skin that acts as a “glue” to hold cells together. This makes salicylic acid a powerful exfoliator, and enables it to penetrate deep into pores, where it can loosen clogs.
In addition to a menu of exfoliators, Beautycounter’s Overnight Resurfacing Peel contains essential fatty acids, like linoleic and linolenic acid, to soothe and nourish fresh skin cells.
Beautycounter Charcoal Facial Mask
Charcoal masks have been used for years to help with problematic skin, detoxification, and congestion. Scientific research on activated charcoal for skin care is extremely limited, so any list of benefits is based largely on anecdotal evidence.
That may be why the Counter+ Charcoal Facial Mask attempts to take the classic charcoal mask to the next level. Even without the charcoal powder, there are several powerful ingredients in this mask:
- Fruit acids gently exfoliate.
- Salicylic acid is an exfoliating BHA that helps to clean deep into pores.
- Natural antioxidants—green tea, ginger, and licorice root—scavenge for free radicals.
- Kaolin is a naturally derived clay powder that helps absorb excess moisture and oil.
- Illite is another naturally derived clay that absorbs excess oil and calms irritated skin, reducing redness.
Beautycounter Eye Cream: Ultra Renewal
Eye creams are very commonly used by people, starting in their 30s. Beautcounter’s most popular eye cream is the Countertime Ultra Renewal Eye Cream. A consumer perception study concluded that, after four weeks of use, more than 90% of participants noticed reduced under-eye shadows and reduced appearance of crow’s feet.
The ingredients list on the Ultra Renewal Eye Cream explains the results:
- Albizia Julibrissin (silk tree) bark extract can counteract the noxious effect of glycation. Glycation occurs when sugars enter the circulation and attach themselves to the amino groups of tissue proteins, such as collagen, rearranging their structure into advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs cause once healthy collagen and elastin fibers to lose their elasticity, thereby becoming rigid, more brittle, and prone to breakage. Albizia Julibrissin bark extract can also neutralize or detoxify the products as they are leading up to glycation, resulting in a reparative effect on tired skin, correcting a loss of radiance and suppleness.
- Coco-caprylate is naturally derived from coconut oil and useful as a moisturizer.
- Bakuchiol is a retinol alternative that is naturally derived, which makes it much more gentle on sensitive skin and ideal for eye creams. It comes from the “babchi” plant and has proven antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.
- Alpine rose extract is a skin care multitasker. It has been proven to reduce redness, improve elasticity, reduce the number of old skin cells, protect against photo aging, and protect skin from oxidative stress.
More than 90% of survey participants for the Countertime Ultra Renewal Eye Cream also reporter brighter eye areas and improved hydration.
Beautycounter Foundation: Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation
Many beauty routines start with a foundation. Nothing else spends more time on delicate facial skin, so finding a safe, effective product is important. Beautycounter’s Hydrating Foundation comes in ten shades, from Porcelain to Espresso, and claims to moisturize while it conceals.
The recipe on Beautycounter’s foundation supports its claims:
- Sodium hyaluronate is a derivative of hyaluronic acid (HA), which is a naturally occuring substance in skin. It attracts, and mixes easily with, water (a property known as “hydrophilic”), and its low molecular weight allows it to penetrate the top layer of skin. That means sodium hyaluronate provides advanced moisturizing care below the surface, while also reducing the appearance of fine lines. It’s also been proven to reduce redness and irritation.
- Jojoba esters are a natural emollient, produced via the hydrogenation of jojoba seed oils.
The Beautycounter foundation also includes a long list of fruit and flower oil extracts for even more natural moisturizing, including:
- Sweet almond oil
- Bergamot fruit oil
- Orange peel oil
- Rose flower oil
- Clary sage oil
- Orange flower oil
- Vanilla fruit
Some reviewers report that tint options don’t match their skin tone well, but those who do find a match can use Beautycounter’s foundation for moisturizing as well as concealing.
Beautycounter Lip Gloss
Skin on the lips is much thinner than skin over the rest of the body, which makes lips dry easier and age faster. They are also exposed to natural stressors almost constantly, so protecting and healing the lips is a crucial (but often overlooked) part of any skin care routine.
Keeping lips hydrated goes a long way in slowing and reducing signs of aging. Beautycounter lip gloss comes in three shades, and is known for its appearance, flavor, and unique applicator. But does it moisturize well? The ingredients tell us:
- Castor seed oil is a natural humectant, which helps prevent moisture loss.
- Ethylhexyl palmitate is a naturally occurring emollient (but can also be produced synthetically).
- Beeswax is naturally moisturizing and also protects against UV rays and other environmental stressors.
- Candelilla wax is similar to beeswax, but naturally derived from the candelilla plant. It is rich in vitamin A and another great moisturizer.
It’s also important to note that the primary ingredient in Beautycounter’s lip gloss is polybutene. Polybutene is commonly used in lip glosses, because it is non-drying, binding, and viscous, but it’s safety is sometimes debated. The Environment Canada Domestic Substance List classifies polybutene as “medium human health priority, classified as expected to be toxic or harmful.” The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) notes that it, “may cause skin irritation.” In the U.S., however, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel determined that it is, “safe as presently used in cosmetics and personal care products.”
What is Beautycounter?
Beautycounter is a U.S.-based, direct-to-consumer company founded in 2013 by Gregg Renfrew after she learned that the ingredients used in personal care products are not regulated, and most contain toxic ingredients that can lead to a variety of health problems. Beautycounter’s mission is to get safer products into the hands of everyone.
The Beautycounter Never List
The Beautycounter Never List is a list of over 1,800 chemicals and additives that Beautycounter is committed to never using in their products. Many of the chemicals on the list are legal to use in the U.S., but are banned in other countries and regions for their questionable health or environmental impact. Still more are chemicals that are not banned anywhere, but that Beautycounter’s research team has found concerning.
Is Beautycounter Cruelty-Free?
Beautycounter products are 100% cruelty-free. They are never tested on animals. Beautycounter is certified cruelty-free through the Leaping Bunny Program—a project of the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC).
The Leaping Bunny certification requires annual renewal and is a guarantee that a company is not testing their products on animals, is not using ingredients that have been tested on animals (including implementation of a supplier monitoring system), and more.
Everyone’s skin and body chemistry is a little bit different. It’s important to remember that each individual may react differently to product ingredients, especially those that are unfamiliar.
Beautycounter reviews across the internet are mostly positive, but they are mixed. There are plenty of negative reviews, from customers who had adverse reactions or did not see the results they expected.
Anytime you are considering a new skin care product, it’s important to review the list of ingredients for any substance that is a known allergen or irritant for you. Then, start small and slow, and increase usage and product adoption gradually.
What are some alternatives to Beautycounter?
Overall, we like that Beautycounter is creating safer skincare products that can help customers reduce the toxic burden in their lives. One problem with Beautycounter skincare products is that many are packed with fragrant plant oils. While these are better than synthetic fragrances, they can still cause skin irritation for some people. If you’re looking for a brand of fragrance free, anti-aging skin care products, we’d like to recommend Formulyst.
One Formulyst product that we particularly love is the Nourishing Oil, an anti-aging face oil made with 100% pure ingredients. This facial oil contains numerous non-fragrant botanical oils that can help to nourish, moisturize, and protect the skin. For example, Formulyst Nourishing Oil includes plenty of omega-rich oils – including amaranth, olive, macadamia and avocado – which provide the skin with omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9. Additional moisturizing oils include safflower seed oil, argan oil, jojoba seed oil, and coconut oil, just to name a few.
There’s no need to compromise when it comes to finding skincare that is effective and safe. Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare, perfectly balancing the power of plants with cutting edge science. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals as well as the preservatives, emulsifiers and thickeners commonly found in skincare products.