- Beautycounter just released a skin-care line called Countertime that’s made specifically for aging skin. It includes a proprietary plant-based substitute for retinol, a popular but potentially harmful skin-care ingredient.
- I had the opportunity to try the Countertime set ahead of its launch, and the products were gentle, hydrating, and easy to layer.
- My skin did appear plumper, firmer, and better hydrated overall, with the Hydrating Essence ($59) and Tripeptide Radiance Serum ($79) being standouts for me.
- There’s no denying the prices are high ($49-$89 per bottle), but if that’s comfortable for you, Countertime formulas are a great option for addressing signs of aging.
Beautycounter, known for its clean beauty activism and strict policy of eschewing potentially harmful ingredients, just released its first-ever skin-care line engineered specifically for aging skin: Countertime.
Steering clear of the passé idea that women’s worst fear and greatest sin is the audacity to age and show said aging, Beautycounter avoids billing Countertime as an "anti-aging" line and focuses instead on the desire to meet time on your own terms. That said, it’s still a skin-care line designed to target the effects of time on the skin — just without the branded shame of aging.
For aging skin, Beautycounter’s main concerns were strengthening the skin’s natural barrier, increasing its ability to defend itself against environmental stressors, and visibly reducing fine lines and wrinkles by fortifying the skin’s elasticity and firmness.
In most skin-care lines designed for aging skin, you’ll find retinol in the ingredients list. According to Harvard Health, retinoids are the most-used and most-studied anti-aging compounds. Their benefits include reducing fine lines and wrinkles by increasing collagen production, improving skin color by stimulating new blood vessels, and fading age spots and softening rough patches. However, Beautycounter decided to forgo adding retinol to Countertime due to concerns over its safety — citing internal and external studies that have shown potential for reproductive toxicity and general skin irritation (the latter a mainstream consumer complaint).
Removing retinol from a debut collection designed specifically for aging skin leaves a big hole in the recipe. To fill it, Beautycounter tasked its lab of researchers with concocting something new that could safely — and effectively — fill the void. Flash forward many failed Frankensteins and lab tests later, and Beautycounter found success with a new retinol dupe it’s calling the Retinatural Complex. Beautycounter credits the Complex with keeping skin plump and hydrated, increasing the feeling of firmness, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, boosting the skin’s barrier function, improving texture and tone, and protecting against oxidative damage which can cause chronic disease.
The Retinatural Complex leans on two under-the-radar anti-aging plant essences: Bakuchiol and Swiss Alpine Rose.
Bakuchiol is a vegan, non-irritating retinol alternative, as explained by Allure in 2018. But, before then, it was used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic skin-care remedies for centuries. Like retinol, clinical testing shows it increases cell turnover by stimulating collagen and diminishing skin concerns associated with aging like fine lines, wrinkles, photodamage, and skin laxity — all without the potentially harmful or irritating side-effects.
Swiss Alpine Rose, on the other hand, grows at the highest altitudes of the Swiss Alps, and it’s best-known for an uncanny ability to protect itself against environmental stressors and dehydration.
Beautycounter sent me Countertime products to test ahead of their launch, so I’ve compiled what each product does — and how they performed — below for reference. In general, they were gentle, effective, and easy to layer — a set you can realistically use in tandem. My skin seemed tighter, more "glowy", firmer, and plumper post-use. I don’t wear foundation typically, but I’ve started to look forward to using this as a kind of makeup because it makes my skin look so dewy and fresh. However, it takes about three to six months for you to see a reduction in wrinkles with retinoids, and the exact number for the Retinatural Complex wasn’t readily available, so only prolonged use will demonstrate if these are long-term results. The price range of $49-$89 is not ideal, but if you’re willing to pay more for efficacy, clean ingredients, and daily luxury, you’ll likely find this line to be worth it.
Another (less) important thing to note is that Countertime is a good-looking collection. But, more than that, it comes in glass bottles rather than plastic. According to Beautycounter, this will reduce the line’s greenhouse gas footprint by an estimated 38%. You can also find easy-to-follow instructions on recycling on the packaging itself.
Skin care is a notoriously personal process, and what works for me may not work for you. If you do decide to try a Countertime product but you don’t love it, Beautycounter’s return policy online states that you can return the unused portion within 60 days from the ship date for your money back — though the company won’t pay back original shipping and handling fees.
Keep reading for a personal review of the products I tried from the Countertime collection:
Countertime Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil
In person, this is a lightweight cleansing oil — probably exactly what you’re thinking. If you want something gentle to remove makeup and grime without stripping your skin, this will do it. Ingredients like vitamin E, fatty acids, and the Retinatural Complex leave the skin feeling hydrated and clean.
It does its job well, but it would probably be lower on the list of products I’d restock for myself in terms of value for the price. I still like to double-cleanse, and I prefer to feel a bit more gentle resurfacing in a facial cleanser (like what you’d expect from AHAs and BHAs).
Countertime Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence
This was one of the best products of the collection. Its combination of fermented sugars, mineral-rich seawater, and the Retinatural Complex made my skin look glowy, tight, and firm. The company cites a clinical study of 32 subjects where, immediately following a single application, the formula had improved the skin’s barrier function (its main goal).
Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum
After the mineral-rich essence, you massage this serum into your decolletage, neck, and face in upward motions. Peptides, amino acids, and the Retinatural Complex work together to support the skin’s moisture barrier, improve hydration and radiance, diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Post-use, my skin looks glowy and firm, and it locks in the products underneath.
As I learned when a dermatologist critiqued my skin-care routine, serums are considered workhorse products. They deliver actives deep into the skin to target your specific concerns: fine lines, hyperpigmentation, etc. If you’re only going to make one Countertime purchase and you really want to make it count, this is a good candidate.
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