Let me start out by saying I'm skeptical about all miracle creams and systems. I've also tried All The Things. Botox, check. Retinol. Yep. Don't get me started on the glycolic acid or Retin-A. But I'm here to tell you I've found a system that's beauty enhancing without the toxic and painful side effects. It's the natural retinol alternative by Beautycounter called Countertime.
Over the years I've used so many over-priced, harsh, and toxic creams that burned my skin and made my face red and splotchy. I didn't know skincare could make me feel good. The Beautycounter Countertime natural retinol alternative has changed the way I feel about my skin and skincare. I know that sounds cheesy, but let me explain.
I'll be honest, I've had a love/hate relationship with my body and skin since I was a teenager. When my friends had rock hard abs in high school, I was always a little flabby. My hair has yet to decide if it's curly or straight. I started breaking out when I was 12 and I still had breakouts well into my 30's. Beauty never came easily for me.
Natural beauty begins inside
It wasn't until I was four months postpartum with my daughter that I found the path I'm on now. It started when I went to see a holistic doctor regarding a cyst the size of Texas right above my cleavage. He showed me how to get rid of it using castor oil and a raw sliced potato. That's right, a potato. The cyst a dermatologist told me required a large incision that would inevitably cause a sizeable scar was removed with some oil and a spud. That's when I realized how powerful natural healing can be.
I asked him how to prevent cysts in the future, and went on to explain I had problem skin in general. He said the health of my skin begins on the inside. Wait, what? Beauty comes from the inside? Not from a bottle? Revolutionary! He recommended that I cut out dairy and red meat and see how it goes.
Viola. Clear skin. No more cysts. Way fewer breakouts. No cream necessary. It really did feel like a miracle.
Nothing lasts forever though. Not long after my skin cleared up, it started to wrinkle. Yes, wrinkle. I'm not talking fine lines here. They are wrinkles. I started testing natural wrinkle creams. I found a great natural one, but it was outrageously expensive. My share of the rent in college expensive. Talk about unsustainable!
Then I got a prescription for Retin A. It bothered my skin and made me more sun-sensitive than I already am. However, it did work. It smoothed my fine lines and helped prevent minor break-outs. But it was expensive, required a prescription and felt gross on my skin. I switched to an over the counter retinol serum but stopped when I read about the health hazards. Even though it worked, I just couldn't continue.
The problem with retinol
Retinoic acid and retinyl palmitate (from the vitamin A family) are commonly used as the active ingredient in anti-aging creams. But there are health issues associated with it. An animal study by the National Toxicology Program showed tumors formed on mice when exposed to both ingredients.
Retinol is a potent form of synthetic vitamin A. Data from an FDA study indicate that retinoid ingredients may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions on sun-exposed skin. FDA, Norwegian and German health agencies have raised a concern that daily skin application of vitamin A creams may contribute to excessive vitamin A intake for pregnant women and other populations."- EWG Skin Deep
The natural retinol alternative
So when I heard Beautycounter* had developed a natural retinol alternative called Retinatural Complex I was thrilled but hesitant about buying an entire system. But a natural retinol without the cancer risk? That's a yes! Switching to a whole system of products gave me pause, but I decided to go for it Just This One Time. Well, now I'm addicted!
After the first night using the system, my skin felt softer. Not just a little softer, but significantly softer. Now I've been using the Beautycounter Countertime natural retinol alternative for about eight months, and I truly see a difference. After about a month of using it, friends started commenting on my skin. A friend said, "Your skin is glowing, are you pregnant?" Thankfully it's glowing because of CounterTime, not because I'm preggers. Two high energy kids is all I can handle!
BeautyCounter says the Retinatural Complex firms, brightens and plumps the skin. I see CounterTime as wrinkle prevention, with the added perk of smoothing fine lines and adding plumpness and glow.
Countertime EWG Rated
The best part is, most Countertime Collection* products are EWG Verified and Top Scoring. Beauty should make you beautiful on the inside and outside, don't you think?
Now that I've been using it a while the system feels like an old habit. It just took a few days to get used to it. Here's the lowdown on each product:
The Countertime Cleanser
Step 1: Cleanse using the Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil* - The first time I used it I didn't understand it. It feels like oil going on, but it washes off like a cleansing milk. I like cleansing oils because I don't want to strip my face of more oils than necessary, but I worried it wasn't taking off all my sunscreen and makeup. I was wrong. It does indeed leave my skin clean, and it also leaves it with a layer of softness that I don't feel after using most cleansers.
Now that I've been using the Beautycounter Countertime cleansing oil for almost a year, I have to say I simply don't want to use anything else. The oil helps keep moisture in, which seems to be key for me as I'm getting older and my skin needs to retain as much moisture as possible.
The Countertime Anti-Aging Treatments
Step 2: Prep skin with Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence* - BeautyCounter says it's like a toner, but more beneficial. This step adds nutrients and a moisture barrier that's designed to renew and balance the skin.
Now that I've been using it for several months, I realized that I saw a noticeable difference in my skin when I skipped this step for a few days. In the beginning, I occasionally skipped this step because I thought it was unnecessary, but no more! It helps lock in the glow somehow. Not sure exactly why it works, but it works.
Step 3: Treat skin with Tripeptide Radiance Serum* - This one cannot be skipped. This seems to be the glow-maker. It's the line-smoother and face plumper. If you're not ready to commit to the whole system, buy just the CounterTime Radiance Serum. Use it for a week and see how your skin feels. I bet you'll be back for more.
Note: This is an EWG Verified Top Scoring Product, which means it's been verified as safe by the Environmental Working Group. That matters a lot to me because I know how important it is that the beauty products I put on my skin are not only making me prettier on the outside, but also keeping me healthy on the outside.
The Countertime Wrinkle Prevention
Step 4 am: Protect skin with Antioxidant Soft Cream* - This is the holy grail of skin softening. I'll be honest though. If I'm in a huge rush in the morning, I skip this one and go straight to the Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer. (More about Dew Skin below). This is an EWG Verified Top Scoring Product.
Step 5 pm: Protect skin with Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream* - I never skip the evening cleansing and moisturizing routine. That's one good habit I've had since I was twelve. I cleanse my face thoroughly, then always apply a night cream. This one is super creamy and it feels great on my skin. I don't skimp on this stuff. Face. Neck. Chest. Full coverage. This is an EWG Verified Top Scoring Product.
The Countertime Eye Cream
Step 6 - Ultra Renewal Eye Cream* - I said I never skip the evening routine, and I don't. But eye cream has never been part of my regimen and I'll admit it's hard to start. I've skipped this one a few evenings, but I might regret that in a decade. For now, I use it when I'm not falling down exhausted. Progress not perfection, right? This is an EWG Verified Top Scoring Product.
On another note, all products come in glass containers. It's great if you're trying to eliminate plastic from your routine. Not so great if you drop it on the bathroom floor. Careful with slippery hands and butterfingers.
Buy the full Countertime Collection here*.
Beautycounter's Countertime Collection alternatives
If all those steps are too much, I get it.
The Regimen Collection* has the same products as the BeautyCounter CounterTime Collection, but it does not include eye cream. If eye cream is not part of your routine, start with the CounterTime Regimen Collection.
Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer* - Remember how I said I sometimes skip the Antioxidant Soft Day Cream? That's because the Dew Foundation with 20 SPF is a moisturizer, foundation, and low SPF sunscreen all in one. What I love is that I can re-apply in the afternoon to ensure I get the sun protection. It glides on smooth and streak-free.
I've been using a color-correcting cream for years (Juice Beauty offers a great one as well.) The Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer is more moisturizing. Juice Beauty goes on a bit drier, but it has a higher SPF. Choices are good, right?
The Retinatural Complex
So how did this come to be? Bakuchiol and Swiss Alpine rose. BeautyCounter took both plant-derived ingredients and created a natural alternative to retinol.
Bakuchiol acts like retinol but without the skin sensitivity and health issues associated with retinol according to Beautycounter. Swiss Alpine rose boosts the skin’s antioxidant defense. The combination gives you beautiful glowing skin without a trip to the dermatologist's office.
Beauty products should be good for us
As I said, beauty comes from the inside. If you're eating foods that don't agree with you, it will show up on your skin and your body. However, if you're already eating healthy and exercising, then Countertime by Beautycounter is the ultimate natural retinol alternative.
Updated: June 27, 2020