We get asked all. the. time. what our thoughts are on Beautycounter. Are they actually as clean as they say? Does their beauty standard mean anything? Do their products actually work?! We’ve got the answers to these questions and more. Plus the reason why I, a seasoned beauty blogger, choose not to buy Beautycounter. Let’s dig in!
By: Lisa Fennessy
I’ve been asked “What do you think about Beautycounter” probably about 1,000 times since I first started out as a beauty blogger in 2015. It was one of the very first questions I got and I’m still getting that same question today, nearly 9 years later so…I figured it’s about time I answered it.
The long and the short of it is, I don’t hate Beautycounter. I think they are doing some things really well, but there are also a few reasons why I won’t personally use or promote this line. Here’s my honest opinion about Beautycounter.
IN THIS POST:
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1. Beautycounter is a better option
Beautycounter is a better option. If this is what you like and you are happy with it, I am happy for you. It’s WAY BETTER than mainstream options and you can feel good about using this mascara or blush or foundation or SPF over conventional.
If you take away nothing else from this post, I want you to take away this!
2. Beautycounter works
I’ve tried some Beautycounter over the years and I’ve personally enjoyed the experience. I think it performs well, the packaging is cute and I never felt like my experience was degraded because I was choosing something healthier. A couple years ago, I was gifted their lipstick in BC Red and loved it— Petal is really pretty too. I also think their shampoo works great.
3. They are advocating for better beauty laws and regulations
Love this. You can see all their advocacy work here.
4. Some more standouts…
Not every clean beauty brand does these things so I think it’s important to give snaps for…
- Testing for trace contaminants such as (some) phthalates and (some) heavy metals.
- Conducting in-person audits of their mica suppliers to ensure no child labor.
- Prioritizing the sourcing of ethical vanilla and palm oil.
- Committing to 100% of packaging to be recycled, recyclable, refillable, reused or compostable by 2025.
- Some of their products are third-party verified by EWG.
Now these may not be cons for everyone, but these are cons for me and the reasons why you won’t see me using or promoting Beautycounter.
1. I don’t like some of the ingredients
Beautycounter formulates with some ingredients that go against the grain of The New Knew. As a team, we have committed to continuing the better beauty conversion and pushing the industry forward therefore we have some hard “nos” when it comes to ingredients.
Among these are ingredients like phenoxyethanol, which Beautycounter uses pretty much across the board as a broad spectrum preservative. You can read more about why I don’t like phenoxyethanol here.
In addition, they also formulate with several microplastic ingredients, including acrylates copolymer, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, carbomer (poly(acrylic acid)), hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer and sodium acrylates copolymer.
Kate Noonan, molecular biologist and cosmetic chemist explains, “These specific ingredients were banned on September 25, 2023 in the EU. The ‘acrylates copolymer’ microplastic ingredient often contains ~1500 ppm residual toxic acrylic acid monomer. If used at a standard formula percentage of 10-15%, the residual acrylic acid might exceed the 2ppm OSHA limit for daily dermal exposure in the final product.”
Kate continues, “I would like to see Beautycounter switch away from microplastic ingredients altogether and use an Ecocert certified thickener like xanthan gum or capryloyl glycerin/sebacic acid copolymer.” Me too.
2. I don’t like their messaging, which toes the greenwashing line, IMO
When a brand makes it their mission to “set the cleanest standards in clean beauty” while actually NOT setting “the cleanest standards in clean beauty” —that’s a problem for me.
The cleanest standards in clean beauty are currently set by the COSMOS / ECOCERT certification. Facts. With the help of Krupa Koestline, (clean) cosmetic chemist, Ayurvedic practitioner and founder of KKT Innovation Labs, we compared the most popular clean beauty standards and you can see for yourself that the COSMOS certification is by far the most thorough, meticulous, encompassing and strict standard.
Interestingly enough, COSMOS also does not allow phenoxyethanol in formulations, so I’m just sayin’…you can’t “set the cleanest standards in beauty” when there are standards that are clearly “cleaner” than yours, lol.
3. I don’t like supporting MLM (multi level marketing) businesses
In a nutshell, MLMs (like Beautycounter) are a type of direct selling where independent contractors sell products to customers and recruit others to do the same. This sounds benign on the surface, but can lead to financial and emotional strain and even the government warns against participating.
Anyway, the worst types of MLMs are pyramid schemes (which are technically illegal, but many MLMs are getting around it with lobbying, government connections and a lack of FTC resources—get a deep dive into the history of MLMs here), which can financially devastate people. I’m not saying Beautycounter is that. In fact I know it’s not. However, just the fact that if you want to start selling Beautycounter, you have to PAY BEAUTYCOUNTER sits sideways with me.
Name me a job, any job, that when you “got the job” you are then asked you to open up your wallet and pay them. It’s insane! To sign up to sell Beautycounter, you have to buy a $50 starter kit and then you are immediately sold other “starter sets that are only available during enrollment” (some of which are upwards of $700). If you really want people to succeed, why use scarcity marketing tactics?
And if you choose to bypass those starter kits, you are AGAIN encouraged to shell out by using your 25% off Brand Advocate discount to shop exclusive business aids and the site.
I know it’s not the same thing, but my work kinda is. I’ve been selling other brands’ beauty products for almost 9 years now. I’ve worked with over 100 brands in multiple capacities as an ambassador, affiliate and on sponsored content, and I’ve never (let me say it again for emphasis) NEVER been asked to buy a product a brand wanted me to sell. Not even on day one when I had zero followers and zero page views.
That being said, if you sell Beautycounter and it’s been good for you, then that’s great. I’m talking in broad strokes with the intention of highlighting the bigger picture. I’m not here to cut down your business and I’m genuinely happy for you.
4. Everyone and their sister is selling it—you don’t need me to
Lastly, I’m here to help you discover and delight in healthy beauty (and more). I always say, let me be your guinea pig! I love trying out things and reporting back on what I like and what I don’t. Plus, I have access to beauty industry experts, cosmetic chemists who do this for a living and a team of beauty aficionados who can help you understand more about what you’re putting in and on your body. This works for me and it works for you.
“I know I can buy ANYTHING that Lisa recommends… I used to spend hours researching products and ingredients list, but now that I trust Lisa and how strict she is with her products, I no longer research much and have saved so much time and stress.” – Ashley, TNK reader
The last thing you need is me in your inbox selling you Beautycounter. You’ve already got your next door neighbor, your sister-in-law and that girl from book club to do that for you. I’m good!
Have you tried Beautycounter? What do you think?
TNK Team Note: This article contains affiliate links. TNK uses affiliate links as a source for revenue to fund operations of the business and to be less dependent on branded content. TNK stands behind all product recommendations. Still have questions about these links or our process? Feel free to email us.