Countertime Tips & Tricks

Like fine wine, we only get #betterwithage – and we do it safely

I truly hope you are enjoying your Countertime as much as I am mine! The air has been ultra dry here in Chula Vista with the Santa Ana winds, and while my thirst seems unquenchable after runs and workouts, my face is holding strong with hydration and dewiness!

The coveted Countertime Collection. Formulated to be not only significantly safer than retinoids, but also high performing.

Now that this revolutionary and ultra-safe collection for getting #betterwithage (our hashtag on Instagram!) has been in use for several months, we’re getting lots of feedback on the rate of usage of the collection’s individual items. We’re also learning that most of us could use a few useful skin care tips to achieve maximum results. I for sure was one of them, so I was grateful to learn directly from Beautycounter’s Chief Merchandising, Marketing & Product Officer Michael McGeever at a recent leadership retreat I was invited to attend in Denver.

So let’s get started so you can learn what I learned! Whether you have one or two pieces, the Countertime Regimen, or the entire Countertime Collection, my goal is that you are absolutely thrilled with your experience, so keep reading.


Do NOT allow your face to completely dry between steps, as skin absorbs more of that faux-retinol Bakuchiol and active ingredients when damp or slightly tacky. Once skin is dry, it cannot absorb as readily.

1 Cleanse with Countertime Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil 
Apply 2-3 pumps of cleansing oil to your face *without* any water whatsoever, as it’s technically not an oil but rather an ester that milks up with water. Remove with a wet washcloth to physically remove makeup, sweat, and anything else that lands on our faces throughout the day. Splashing water alone is not enough, no matter the cleanser.
Many of you have found that Countertime Cleansing Oil works wonders to remove eye makeup!

Do you find your skin breaking out from this step? Try adding another cleanser afterwards, which is known as the “Double Cleanse” method. I suggest Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser, which is an affordable fan favorite for most skin types.

2 Prep with Countertime Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence
Shake 4-5 splashes of Essence into your fingers – most of us haven’t been using enough – and pat into your damp, freshly cleansed face. 
Remember, don’t let it dry! This is your biggest impact step, as you are restoring the skin’s pH balance in preparation to treat it.

3 Treat with Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum
I love the metaphor of serums as your daily vitamins and moisturizer as your food. The super tiny molecules of these highly-concentrated active ingredients require patting and pressing (never rubbing!) just one pump, maybe 1 ½ pumps into tacky skin. 
Many of us have been burning through our serums because we haven’t been using enough of the Cleansing Oil and Mineral Essence. However we’re also working with our glass packaging company on appropriate sizing, as we’d like all the products to last roughly the same amount of time to make reordering a breeze.

Are you using the Overnight Resurfacing Peel or a Charcoal Balancing Mask? They replace your serum for the night, as they ARE treatments, just like Countertime Serum. Only one treatment per routine!

4 Protect with Countertime Antioxidant Soft Cream or Countertime Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream
Pat one pump of Soft Cream or about a garbanzo bean size of Supreme Cream. Soft Cream is recommended under makeup, as Supreme Cream’s texture may be too thick for your foundation.

If you use Brightening, Plumping, or Balancing Facial Oil, apply it now! 2-3 drops into the fingertips and patted into the face does the trick!

What other questions do you have for me? I am ALWAYS here to help in any way I can. And if I don’t know the answer, I will find out!

How can I help you spread the message of safety?

Our mission of safer ingredients for everyone THRIVES when you help me spread the Beautycounter love!!! A referral, a Me+3 gathering, a Ladies’ Night In, a Luscious Lip Bar or Brow Bar… they all help. Plus BC and I LOVE gifting you for getting the word out! *muah*

Where can I shop better, safer beauty with you?

Right here!

And be sure to consider Band of Beauty membership! All perks, no requirements, for just $29/year non-autorenewing.

$9 of your enrollment is donated to our like-minded organizations in getting safer products into the hands of everyone: Breast Cancer Prevention Fund, Environmental Working Group, and Healthy Child Healthy World.

This Face Has Seen Elements

Photo credit to San Diego Brand Photographer Sofia Negron

This face has spent A LOT of time in the elements! I mean, those miles laced up in my runnings shoes… cold, windy Minnesota winters rainy springs, humid summers, cool, refreshing falls. Barkley and I were outside running, no matter what.

After a January 2018 Boston Marathon 16-mile training run in Minneapolis, MN, weeks before moving to San Diego.

And now, with the exception of San Diego’s May Gray and June Gloom, this face is taking even MORE of a beating with solid months of sunshine. (Not that I’m complaining, but I actually loved Minnesota seasons.)

I remember a visit to my doctor just before joining Beautycounter’s mission in August of 2016. I suggested I might look into a chemical peel for all the sun damage I had amassed on my cheeks and forehead. My wise doctor/friend who knew better (she was a Beautycounter consultant!) advised me against it, saying it would be an aggressive treatment for a condition that could be safely remedied.

Here’s What I Did Instead

I started to wear a hat or visor for every run to protect the top half of my face. As it turns out, hats and visors also reduce the need for sunglasses. Who knew? For the bottom half, I wore Beautycounter non-nano zinc sunscreen. It’s safe for our coral reefs as well as human health. Double win.

I began infusing my skin with clean products containing vitamin C. My regimen varied with the seasons (mostly Countermatch), but the cult-following Cleansing Balm from Beautycounter consistently made an appearance. Packed with vitamin C for brightening and raspberry and cranberry seed oils for hydration, this multi-tasker is a must for any lover of the outdoors.

Overnight Resurfacing Peel instantly became my BFF when it launched in 2018. I apply 2-3 nights per week after cleansing and head to bed to let its active ingredients do the dirty work of clearing away dead skin cells and brightening my complexion.

What Was that Reef-Safe Sunscreen?

Countersun Mineral Sunscreen that comes in several formats.

The kids’ and husband’s preference is the Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Mist, which, because it’s bag-powered, not aerosol, does not pose the inhalation concern that many of us parents have for our littles and sprays.

My preference for larger areas is Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Lotion, also available in a travel size.

And for my face, start with Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer with mineral SPF 20. I carry Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Face Stick with me in my gym bag and purse for reapplication throughout the day.

Clean Swaps

Vitamin C is your clean swap for hydroquinone, a known carcinogen found in lightening and brightening skin care products. They’re commonly found in product marketed to women of color. It’s a hard no from me.

Mineral sunscreens contain UVA and UVB blockers non-nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They form a physical barrier between the sun’s rays and our skin and are reef-safe. In other words, they do not bleach the coral reefs. Read more on this desecration of the reefs here.

Two common sunscreen ingredients have recently been banned from Hawaii and Florida beaches: Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. In addition to harming our reefs, they are also disrupting the hormonal health of those of us who use them. These are chemical sunscreens: They create a chemical reaction in our skin’s cells, absorbing the sun’s rays, to protect us from UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays. Additionally, many of these sunscreens contain synthetic fragrance which further disrupts our endocrine system from its normal functioning.

Where I Buy my Medicine

I am a HUGE podcast listener… anyone else here?

I heard this on The Doctor’s Farmacy with Dr. Mark Hyman, and I immediately thought to share it with you:

Every time you walk into a supermarket, you’re entering a pharmacy.

Look one direction, and you’ll find nutrient-rich foods to nourish our bodies. Move your eyes up a shelf, and yep, right there is the dressing in which we are to bathe it. But it’s likely made of unseemly ingredients and loads of unnecessary, nutrient-lacking calories.

We make choices given the knowledge and priorities we have at any given moment: Do we select the items that will lead us to wellness? Do we bring home any of those foods that don’t?

When we shift our mindset to the idea that food is our medicine, it makes selecting the nutritious stuff and passing over the highly processed stuff far easier.

The problem with nutrition is, well, it’s really hard to pin on just one problem. Our understanding of nutrition is ever-changing with each piece of research published (or promoted by the media). We were sold the idea that fat causes fat a few decades ago, so we increased our sugar intake to make up for the flavor loss. I hate opening up cans of worms, because our journey to dis-ease is honestly convoluted and tightly wound with money and influence instead of knowledge and research.

Nature Knows Best

What if we base our meals and snacks mostly on whole foods, the ones closest to nature’s form?

Yes, our soil is nutrient-depleted, but whole foods continue to be significantly better for us than the processed variety.

Perhaps a decade ago, the message was to shop the perimeter of the store. That adage may still have some validity… some. But the food industry has superior consumer research and marketing, so grocers have figured out how to insert pitfalls right into the fruit and vegetable aisle. Strawberries need mini cakes, glaze, and a whipped topping. Ugh. See where I’m going with this?

During my first Whole30 in January 2019, I found my trip to my local Aldi limiting. As I wandered around the store, all I seemed to “see” was what wasn’t compliant with my new guidelines. I read labels looking for nitrites and nitrates in bacon. Found those preservatives, so I passed on the bacon. I found added sugar in places I never would have guessed – like in pretty much every sauce. We like our sauces here in the US, so that also means we’re consuming far more sugar that we think we are.

Clean Swaps

I developed laser focus, honing in on the options I could and should toss in my cart. I became a fan of snacks like prosciutto, which is cured, not processed like other sliced meats, and an apple.

I learned that I preferred almond butter over peanut butter — but beware that many brands contain added sugar. Costco’s organic almond butter became my mainstay for munching on apples and drizzling over fruit bowls for a clean, nutritious, and filling snack.

Coconut amino acids? Yes, please! I didn’t know they existed until I began reading soy sauce labels for MSG and added sugar.

Are there clean swaps for snack foods such as chips and crackers? Well, there are certainly better alternatives, like dried plantain chips. But do we really need them? Do we? How about a handful of almonds and craisins (no sugar added) instead?

Knowledge is Power

It’s empowering to know exactly what TO eat once we know what options are not doing our bodies any favors. The opposite is a hard place, where we find so many restrictions that we fail to see the possibilities. Until I tried Whole30, I didn’t see prosciutto as a better option to sliced meats. I was reading labels, but not hard-core about avoiding certain oils, additives, and preservatives faithfully.

I’m a few months out now and have loosened my habits, but having stuck 100% to Whole30 proved to be an extremely valuable exercise. Whereas prior I was an 80/20 gal, now I consider myself a 90/10 gal: 90% Whole30 choices, 10% not horrible choices. It’s a far more feasible place to live an enjoyable life: A tiny bit of cheese here, a glass of wine there. Or 2. Let’s be honest here.

What’s Your Take?

Have you been making food your medicine? What swaps or changes have you made?

Retinol? Reti-not.

Why I don’t advocate for retinoids, despite their results.

If you’re new to Positively Zen, welcome! I am all about results without the concern of long-term health consequences. That’s in any way, from movement and exercise to the products we use in, on, and around our bodies every day.

For those of you who’ve known me for a while, have you ever wondered why I never taut Retinol and its benefits?

Retinol is well-documented to have great results for acne, skin renewal, and increasing collagen production, so it’s really no wonder why it’s popping up everywhere from sunscreens and SPF-rated moisturizers.

However, it has two downsides, one far more worrisome than the other.

First, it can cause itchiness, redness, flaking, peeling, and photosensitivity for some people. But then many ingredients can cause a reaction, even solid choices like aloe vera.

The more worrisome, and my deal-breaker, is not nearly discussed often enough, even in the “natural” beauty sphere. (Natural is in quotes because it doesn’t actually mean much, per the lack of FDA labeling regulations, but that’s a topic for another post.)

Retinol increases skin cell turnover, which scientists found to speed the development of skin lesions on UV-treated animals.

So while short-term use may very well be safe and unconcerning, I caution against long-term use.

Your Clean Swap is Bakuchiol: All the benefits, none of the concern.

Jen, is there a significantly safer alternative available???

YES! I’m SO glad you asked!

It’s called Bakuchiol, and it’s coming soon to a clean beauty brand near and dear to my heart! Stay tuned for your clean anti-aging & acne-treating swap.