Beautycounter is the gold standard when it comes to clean beauty products — here’s what we thought of its bestsellers

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Beautycounter Facebook

  • Beautycounter, the skin care and makeup brand, has become synonymous with the clean beauty movement.
  • Since its launch in 2013, the company has stuck to “The Never List” – which consists of 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that are never used in their products.
  • The company is also a certified B-Corp, meaning it adheres to the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.
  • Some of its standout products (and personal favorites that I’ve reviewed) include the Adaptive Moisture Lotion ($49) and Brilliant Brow Gel ($24).

A lot has changed in the US in the last 80 years. Personal computers transformed the workforce, globalization transformed the economy, and the internet transformed pretty much everything else.

But something that’s remained constant are the laws regulating the cosmetics industry. Since 1938, the US hasn’t passed a major federal law updating what can and can’t be put in makeup.

For context, the EU bans over 1,300 chemicals known to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm, or birth defects. The US bans just 11, placing the burden of research and personal safety on the consumer.

This vacuum in the industry has given rise to the term “clean beauty” and to companies like Beautycounter, which has become nearly synonymous with movement for better, cleaner ingredients.

Since its founding in 2013, the skin care and makeup company has had what it calls The Never List – a laundry list of 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that are never used in its products, including the ones banned or restricted by the EU.

The list includes buzzy words you know to screen for like parabens and phthalates, as well as those that fly under the radar, like formaldehyde – a preservative used in cosmetics, hair relaxing treatments, and embalming. It’s a known carcinogen, and it may be listed under a handful of names on your product bottle (methylene glycol, diazolidinyl urea in face and hair care, and quaternium-15, which is typically found in face makeup, especially powders).

Beautycounter products also forgo fragrance, a common (and unnecessary) addition to all types of cosmetics that is only loosely defined as containing any combination of 3,000-plus stock chemical ingredients, which includes everything from hormone disruptors to allergens. Since fragrance formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets, what’s really inside that ingredient in your lotion can remain undisclosed to you, without companies ever needing to tell you about them. In the industry, this is referred to as the “fragrance loophole.”

While the company goes above and beyond when it comes to clean ingredients, it’s also committed to upholding strong, ethical values in its business practices. Beautycounter is a certified B-Corp, which means it has volunteered to be graded by the non-profit B Lab each year to ensure it’s meeting the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability.

So we’ve established that Beautycounter as a company is one of the best. But are the products any good? And, beyond that, can they possibly stack up to the stuff that comes laden with chemicals?

In my experience, the answer has so far been yes – especially in its skin care. Clean beauty can often get a bad wrap, but at least for me, Beautycounter is just like any other makeup line: You’ll fall in love with some of it, you’ll pass on some others.

Here’s what I’ve tried, and how each product worked out:

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Beautycounter

Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion, $49

Beautycounter’s Adaptive Moisture Lotion caused a big buzz online. Thanks to Bio-Mimic Technology that uses plants to match the structure of skin, the lotion provides up to 24-hours of hydration and auto-adjusts throughout the day. In person, it’s a long-lasting, non-greasy moisturizer that sinks in quickly and doesn’t leave any residue – making it well-suited to wear under makeup. The price is high, but the bottle should last for a long time.

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Beautycounter

No. 2 Plumping Facial Oil

This oil was my first introduction to Beautycounter years ago, and it’s still one of the best skin care products I’ve tried. It’s deeply hydrating, silky smooth and luxurious to apply, and never blocked my pores – even when it seemed like everything I put on my skin caused a breakout. I put the recommended four to six drops onto my face alone or under a moisturizer, and my dry combination skin was softer, more luminous, and noticeably better hydrated without ever drifting into oily territory. The combination of omega-rich argan oil, grape seed oil, and jasmine also smells amazing. It’s technically one of three facial oils, and the No. 1 Brightening Oil ($69) won an Allure Best of Beauty award in 2018.

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Beautycounter

No. 3 Balancing Facial Mask, $49

This was one of the best products I tried, though you can get great, powerful clay masks for cheaper. I put it on for ten minutes a couple of times per week and watch the impurities in my pores float to the surface like they’re being pulled by a magnet (in the form of activated charcoal). Gross, but satisfying. Salicylic acid aids in exfoliation.

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Beautycounter

Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer, $45

I’ve been foundation-free for a few months now, but I’ll occasionally put on tinted moisturizer if I’m feeling fancy. This one offers sheer coverage, five shade ranges, and SPF protection. It comes out of the container thicker than expected but feels lightweight and breathable once applied – and my skin feels soft and moisturized both during and post-wear. Though tinted moisturizer blends easier than other face makeups, five shade ranges aren’t ideal – and it can be hard to color swatch using the photos online. It can also appear slightly shiny after application but I’ve never had an issue when I’ve dusted powder on top of my T-Zone. And while it’s an ideal sheer coverage now, I wouldn’t have ever been able to get by with this level of coverage before I cleared my skin up. If you’ve used Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer ($46) in the past, you’ll get markedly less coverage from this one.

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Beautycounter

Brilliant Brow Gel, $24

I’ve been a loyal user of Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz ($23) and Glossier’s Boy Brow ($16) for years, and this is pretty much interchangeable with the latter, though the conditioning ingredients make it slightly more silky during application. The overall effect is that you’ve just been naturally gifted with full, well-mannered brows. The light formula clings to individual hairs unlike the more conspicuously painted-on (though precise) effect of a pencil, and the application is fast and foolproof. If I leave the house wearing minimal makeup, I’m wearing this.

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Beautycounter

Velvet Eyeshadow Palette – Classic, $50

This palette delivers on rich color, easy blendability, and universally flattering shades that can be dressed up or down for pretty much any occasion. My eyelids can be oily, so I relied on a primer to prevent the shadow from creasing during sweaty, humid summer days, but the color pigmentation and smooth blending is something to write home about.

The bottom line

All in all, Beautycounter is a solid choice. It’s the beauty line I own the most from, and the one I both gift most frequently and urge my mom and sister to buy. Ultimately, I’m willing to pay a little bit more if need be – and even have my tinted moisturizer look a little less preternaturally luminescent – if that means I don’t have to pull on reading glasses and pull up Google every time I buy something new just in case it’s laced with carcinogens.

If you’re interested in clean beauty but not sure Beautycounter is the right fit for you or your budget, start by browsing the “Clean” category at Sephora and check your go-to products on the EWG Healthy Living app to see if they’re worth replacing.

Browse Beautycounter here.