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Natural and organic beauty experts often tell us that we need to use clean, natural products with few additives or ingredients. But, truth be told, with full-time jobs and husbands and kids and demands coming in from every which way, who has the time to inspect every label?
Enter BeautyCounter by Target. A company devoted to progress, BeautyCounter is offering a wealth of information and “healthier” products with ingredients declared to be “safer” products you can trust.
Up Front Disclaimer: Why I’m Not a Big Fan of the “Safer Beauty” Movement
As my readers know, I’m not a big fan of most databases claiming certain ingredients are “safer.” While I certainly appreciate what these people are trying to do, I don’t support the method entirely, because these databases assume all studies are valid, repeatable, and applicable to practical use of skin care and cosmetics. And, quite frankly, all of them are not.
I worked in labs as a technician while in undergrad and during medical school for eight years. I know there can be tremendous pressure to publish. I also know that there are a lot more funds available to, say, find a link between a commonly-used ingredient and some form of cancer than to ascertain which cosmetic ingredient is the most efficacious for wrinkles. I get that.
Too many negative studies about skin care and cosmetic ingredients and not enough positive ones lead the media and some well-meaning organizations to make assumptions that all synthetic skin care and cosmetic ingredients are evil. And to jump to the conclusion that we should all run out into a field and start rubbing plants on our skin or go au naturel because that’s the only way we can possibly protect ourselves from greedy Big Business that is killing us all with their (gasp) chemicals.
In reality, natural and organic is also becoming Big Business — estimates show natural and organic beauty will be worth nearly $16 billion by 2020. What’s more, that estimate doesn’t even include the money that is earned by chemical manufacturing companies creating what we are made to believe are “safer alternatives” to parabens or retinol or whatnot. When in reality, many natural ingredients can cause allergic reactions after repeated exposures, and can be extremely toxic as well (arsenic, anyone?)
But I digress. Let’s give BeautyCounter by Target a fair shake, shall we?
BeautyCounter by Target Product to Buy #1: BeautyCounter for Target Lemongrass Sugar Body Scrub
When it comes to body scrubs, it’s harder to find one better than BeautyCounter for Target Lemongrass Sugar Body Scrub.
People often don’t understand that one of the most important aspects of mechanical exfoliation is the size and shape of the exfoliating particles. For instance, apricot scrub is one of the worst items to use on your skin, because the particles are medium-large and irregularly-shaped, so they can actually rip apart and stretch open your pores. On the other hand, sugar is one of the best ingredients to use, because the particles are small and round, so you’re not going to damage your skin. Its granularity also means that you’re going to be able to exfoliate away even tiny little rough patches of skin.
I also love this product because it won’t dry out your skin. There is an amazing mix of oils here: evening primrose, sweet almond, apricot kernel, and sunflower oil. They all have hydrating properties, and leave skin feeling smoother and more moisturized, which is hard to find.
Ingredients in BeautyCounter for Target Lemongrass Sugar Body Scrub:
Sucrose*, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Cymbopogon Citratus (Lemongrass) Leaf Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai) Sterols, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Ethylhexlglycerin, Oleic Acid,Linolenic Acid.
BeautyCounter by Target Product to Buy #2: BeautyCounter for Target Nourishing Rosewater Mist
You are likely to see a lot more rose water coming from natural and organic product companies soon, just because they’re producing it already if their products contain rose oil: Rose water is a by-product of the extraction from rose petals for rose oil.
Rosewater has traditionally been used as an astringent and anti-inflammatory agent. Its important chemical constituents are citronellol and geraniol, which is a potent antiseptic (seven times more than phenol!) (Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients). In 2003, Tabrizi et. al. assessed R. damascena for its ability to absorb UV rays, and R. damascena extract was found to work in the 5-8% range for UV light in the 200-400 nm range (Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients). So not all UV rays are going to be blocked, and certainly not long-range aging UVA rays, but rose extracts and rose water do seem that they will help blocking with short-range burning UVB rays.
Prominent dermatologist Dr. Leslie Baumann also has cited clinical research studies done by researchers in Japan, which concluded that rose water can significantly reduce UVB-associated damage like elastin fibers and associated wrinkling.
The other thing about BeautyCounter for Target Nourishing Rosewater Mist is that it just feels good on the skin. Period. It smells lovely, and when applied over foundation, it gives a really pretty, youthful, dewy glow. Plus, knowing that it may help to shield some UV rays is a nice bonus!
Ingredients in BeautyCounter for Target Nourishing Rosewater Mist
Aqua/Water/Eau, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Water*, Sodium Hyaluronate, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Peel Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Alcohol,Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.
BeautyCounter by Target Product to Buy #3: BeautyCounter for Target Nourishing Cream Exfoliator
Yep, BeautyCounter by Target certainly has won my loyalty in terms of building amazing exfoliators! This BeautyCounter by Target Nourishing Cream Exfoliator features an extremely high concentration of jojoba esters. Skin sebum itself is made up of wax ester, triglycerides, free fatty acids, and squalene (UT Southwestern), and jojoba helps to closely mimic that composition within the skin.
I also like this exfoliator because it contains green tea. Green tea contains the polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to have remarkable preventive effects in studies. While EGCG comprises only about 50% of “green tea extract” found in skin care and cosmeceuticals (Mukhtar), there is still enough EGCG to demonstrate anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties in most skin care and cosmeceuticals.
This exfoliator is also super gentle and feels great on the skin. It rinses clean easily and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. I highly recommend it, unless you’re pregnant — rosemary is not recommended for pregnant women because rosemary oil is quite a potent stimulant (American Pregnancy Association).
Ingredients in BeautyCounter for Target Nourishing Cream Exfoliator
Aqua/Water/Eau, Jojoba Esters, Cetearyl Alcohol, Decyl Glucoside, Glyceryl Stearate,Glycerin, Cetearyl Olivate, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol,Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract*, Geranium Maculatum (Wild Geranium) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract*, Xanthan Gum, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Sodium Cocoyl Alaninate, Xylitol, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate.
BeautyCounter by Target Products to Pass By
Here are the products from BeautyCounter by Target I wasn’t crazy about (and why):
- BeautyCounter by Target Nourishing Day Cream.
- For one, there’s a really high concentration of coconut oil. Despite the Pinterest craze over coconut oil, coconut oil is an occlusive agent like petrolatum or mineral oil, meaning it can trap other ingredients into the skin and lead to breakouts.
- For another, other than a lower concentration of panthenol, which I love, there aren’t any hard-hitters I generally recommend for a daytime moisturizer, like concentrates of vitamins C and E, green tea, peptides, hyaluronic acid, and most importantly, sunscreen.
- BeautyCounter by Target Nourishing Night Cream.
- Again, coconut oil.
- And, again, not a lot of the ingredients I recommend for nighttime use. Keep in mind that your basal body temperature is elevated at night, so your skin can absorb and metabolize more ingredients at night than any other time. For this reason, I love the use of retinoids or AHAs, peptides, amino acids, hyaluronic acid, and as many antioxidants as you can find on your skin at night. Not getting a lot of these here, other than through plant extracts, which we know can’t be broken down small enough to be absorbed by the skin (that 500 Dalton rule again!)
- BeautyCounter by Target Nourishing Eye Cream.
- This product is great for girls who are 18 and younger who want to use skincare, but don’t have many wrinkles or significant undereye issues.
- There’s no Haloxyl to treat undereye circles caused by blood pooling. There’s no hydroquinone (for light skin tones) or kojic acid, azelaic acid, concentrated vitamin C, or retinol/vitamin K combo (for all skin tones) for dark circles caused by hyperpigmentation. And the ingredients that are in here don’t have substantiative research backing to support their use in reducing the appearance of dark circles.
- There’s no retinoids, peptides, AHAs, or other ingredients that have been shown in independent research studies to increase collagen production and/or reduce fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes.
- Again, great as a hydrator, but not a heavy hitter.
Sometimes natural and organic beauty companies are well-meaning, but create products without heavy-hitting ingredients to replace our favorite synthetics like retinoids, AHAs, peptides, amino acids, and sunscreen. That’s the case with the moisturizers from BeautyCounter by Target, which I don’t find to have enough oomph to combat the appearance of aging issues like wrinkles, skin sagging, uneven tone, sunspots, and the like.
On the other hand, there are a few gems in this line. I do love the BeautyCounter for Target Lemongrass Sugar Body Scrub, which contains skin-friendly exfoliant brown sugar baked into layers of skin-softening oils; BeautyCounter for Target Nourishing Rosewater Mist, which has antioxidant, antiseptic rosewater and a lovely scent (and makes your skin look all dewy to boot); and BeautyCounter by Target Nourishing Cream Exfoliator, which has a super high concentration of jojoba esters, rinses clean and leaves the skin feeling really soft and smooth.
What are your thoughts on BeautyCounter for Target products? Let me know in Comments and on social media!