Category Archives: Lifestyle

Our Rome to Amalfi Coast Itinerary + My Top Babymoon Tips

Read the details of our week-long trip from Rome to Amalfi Coast we took when I was 28 weeks pregnant, and my top babymoon tips for an active vacation!

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Positano

My husband and I recently came back from an epic trip to Italy (Rome to Amafi Coast) for our babymoon, and it was so much fun and relaxing! We actually started planning this trip during my first trimester, which made me a bit nervous and excited at the same time, because I had no idea if my growing body will be able to keep up with all the walking or handle the hot Italy weather.

Thankfully, I’ve been quite active throughout my pregnancy so I had no trouble keeping up with my husband and doing all the touristy things. I seriously enjoyed every minute of it!

Prepare Before Leaving

  • Purchase a SIM card. I’m so glad we got SIM cards instead of paying international data fees through our cell service company. These are SO MUCH CHEAPER, and they allowed us to not get lost during our trip, research restaurants and sites, and more, since we had service everywhere we went. This 12 GB data card was plenty for our 10 day trip (and we had so much data to spare by the end), if you connect to wifi whenever it’s available. All you have to do is contact your phone company to make sure your phone is unlocked, and just switch out the SIM cards once you get to your destination.
  • Make sure to purchase plug adapters appropriate for where you are traveling to, and check that all your chargers, hair dryers, and whatever else you want to bring are compatible to the county’s voltage unless you have a converter. We bought this pack of adapters for super cheap!
  • Check airline fees for checked bags. Most of the time, you pay less if you purchase these ahead of time. It’s a small way to save money!
  • Pack healthy snacks for long flights. The meals they give out on the flights were horrible quality filled with sugar, so if you want to feel optimal during your travels, it’s a good idea to pack some healthier snacks to munch on.
  • Research transportations to and from each location. Do this research ahead of time to save time and headache once you are there. Being prepared with this made it so much easier to know what to expect every time we were hopping from one destination to another. Also, some train tickets are way cheaper if you purchase them ahead of time so it’s a small way to save money!
  • Plan any tours or excursions. We aren’t fans of group tours since we are picky about what we want to see and we like to see them at our own pace, but if that’s something that you are interested in, definitely plan them out before the trip. This way, you’ll have plenty of time to research the tours and their reviews without having to decide last minute. We did this for our food tours, and they were so worth it!

4 Days in Rome

What’s funny is I’ve been to Rome when I was in college, but I wasn’t a fan so I didn’t expect to like it much when I went back. I just remember it being super crowded, dirty, and not pretty. This time, however, I fell in love with the city: its beauty that I somehow missed before, the people, the FOOD, and everything. It’s crazy how you see places in a different light at different stages of your life!

Where we stayed

We did a bunch of research and asking around for what area to stay while we were there. We wanted somewhere convenient enough to be close to bars and restaurants and public transportation, but away from tourists. Many people recommended the area of Trastevere, so we ended up booking an Airbnb there.

Honestly, I LOVED this area. It was young, hip, GORGEOUS, with so many great places to eat. We got to our Airbnb around midnight the first night we got there and there were still restaurants open, which was amazing because we were still on LA time zone and it was lunch time for us.

There were also bus stops 5 minutes from our Airbnb that easily took us to all the major tourist sites. They say Trastevere is the greenest neighborhood of Italy because of all the urban greens and plants of the beautiful alleyways, and it really was!

What we saw

We did a lot of the typical tourist sightseeing like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. We also walked around a bit in Vatican City, but didn’t want to wait in the long line for the museum and the Sistine Chapel and I’ve done that in my previous trip so we opted out of it.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Colosseum

I honestly loved all the walking around in the alleyways and checking out the local shops and streets of Rome way more than seeing the sites. My husband, who loves history and architecture, will probably tell you that he liked seeing the sites more. Whatever you prefer, Rome is just a great place filled with so much beauty.

What we ate

Food was one of the BEST parts of Rome! My husband, who thought that he didn’t like Italian food, was floored by how delicious everything was. I honestly had no trouble eating gluten free because Italy has the highest rate of celiac disease so they are very accommodating for gluten intolerances. Somehow, their gluten free foods taste so much like the real, gluten version!

Also, because their ingredient quality is so high, I found that I was totally fine sneaking in gluten from time to time there. I usually have the worst stomachache with brain fog when I get exposed to it in the US, but I was able to tolerate it much better there.

Here are some of our top favorite spots:

Iari the Vino: The best gluten free pizza near the Colosseum! Plus, the outdoor seating area is in the cutest little alleyway.

Arancio d’Oro: This is a classic Italian place with awesome gluten free pasta. The service was great, and I loved that it was away from the busy touristy area. They also have gluten free pizza, but we didn’t get to try it out.

Mercato Di Campagna: If you have the chance to cook at your Airbnb while you are there, or if you just like farmers markets, I highly recommend this lively indoor market filled with local vendors. They have the freshest of every kind of produce, bread, fruits, meat, seafood, and even flowers, and it’s just so fun to walk around. They also sell prepared food there that we unfortunately didn’t take advantage of.

Tiramisu Roma Trastevere: For dessert fans who love tiramisu, this is your spot. They make each tiramisu in front of you, and in various flavors! I LOVED that they weren’t too rich or sweet, but still tasted amazing. My husband and I never get desserts and we don’t have a sweet tooth, but we ended up demolishing ours. I really loved the pistachio flavor!

Food Tour of Trastevere: My husband pushed us into doing this food tour and I’m so glad he did! It was one of the best ways to see the Trastevere area while tasting food from local spots that we wouldn’t have found otherwise. Everything tasted AMAZING, truly. We started out with a little wine tasting with charcuterie, enjoyed several pasta dishes, and ended with dessert. We even got a bit of food history lesson and learned a lot of about Roman food.

Pizza in Rome

Getting around

Rome is a relatively small city, so we had no trouble walking everywhere. However, by the third day, my pregnancy was catching up to me so we took the bus when we could (so cheap and easy), or we took the taxi.

Unlike the US, you can’t just hail cabs anywhere on the streets of Rome. You have to find cab stands (they came up when I searched on Google Maps!) where you’ll see cabs waiting in line to service the customers.

We also downloaded the app mytaxi, which is basically an Uber in Rome and you can input your credit card in the app for payment. Since many taxi drivers do not use this app, you can wait for a long time for one of them respond, but it worked for us when we felt stranded without a taxi stand near by.

Tips

  • Make sure to taste Italian coffee. They are ridiculously strong but so delicious. If you want a regular coffee that you can get in the states, say “Americano” because they’ll give you a shot of espresso if you say “coffee.”
  • Bring/buy water everywhere! The heat is no joke.
  • Don’t be fooled by ticket scalpers who are at every tourist location.
  • Remember to bring your sunscreen.
  • Comfortable shoes are a MUST.
Rome to Amalfi Coast - Italian Coffee

Getting to Amalfi Coast from Rome

We stayed in Rome for 3 days and it was time to go to Amalfi coast (the part that I was REALLY excited about). To get to Amalfi coast, the easiest way is by train.

You’ll take a train from Roma Termini to Naples-Napoli Centrale through ItaliaRail (the tickets are cheaper if you buy them in advance). You can then take a local Circumvesuviana train from here and go all the way to Sorrento (one of the main cities of Amalfi Coast), but we decided to make a stop at Pompeii on the way to Amalfi Coast.

The transportation was really easy. There’s a short train to Pompeii, and then there’s another subway train from Pompeii to Sorrento.

3 Hours in Pompeii

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Pompeii

We only stayed in Pompeii for a few hours, but the ruins are quite amazing. It was unbearably hot when we were there and you have to walk a ton to get around the ruins, but we were able to see the major sites and take in a ton of amazing history.

There isn’t really much around Pompeii unless you are willing to walk to the main streets or take a cab. We were eager to get to Amalfi Coast so we took to train to Sorrento soon after we saw the ruins.

3 Days in Positano

My top favorite destination of our trip! To get to Positano, we took the Circumvesuviana train from Pompeii to Sorrento. From there, we took the local bus to central Positano.

I’ll be honest, the bus times were not reliable and I think we waited almost an hour for it, but it was SO worth it! The bus ride itself was so gorgeous since you drive up the mountain where you get to see the beautiful coastline. And once you finally get to Positano, every part of it is like a dream!: the vertical houses and buildings, the beach, and the colorful shops.

What we saw

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Positano

Positano is a tiny coastal town, but it’s quite vertical with steep hills so be prepared to get some exercise walking around. If you love the beach, seafood, shopping, and breathtaking scenery, then this is the spot for you.

Since there are so many other beautiful coastal towns nearby, we thought about taking the bus to them, but we were pretty tired from Rome and really just wanted to lounge and relax. We only had 3 days here so we decided to stay put and just take in everything Positano.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Positano Fornillo Beach
  • Spiaggia Grande: The main beach of Positano that you see in all the Instagram photos. It’s gorgeous and surrounded by vertical buildings and definitely picture worthy. It does get quite crowded though, but it didn’t bother me.
  • Fornillo: I actually liked this beach more than the main one. You have to walk about 15 minutes to get to it, but it’s less crowded, cheaper, but still gorgeous and clean. It’s surrounded by green mountains and so so peaceful.
  • Best sunset: I really wanted the beaches to have an amazing sunset, but the sun sets towards the mountain in Positano. If you want to experience the beautiful pink hazy look on all the buildings, you just have to climb up the steep road (there’s only one main road, Viale Pasitea). You’ll find that one side of the road always faces the water and you’ll be able to take in some breathtaking views as you go higher.
Rome to Amalfi Coast - Positano Sunset

What we ate

It’s all about seafood in Amalfi Coast, and they are GOOD. We had some of the best mussels, fish, shrimp, and more, and while the price was higher than in Rome, it was all worth it!

  • Valle dei Mulini: This place had a cute outdoor patio and was the first place we ate at. It’s also casual and less expensive than most restaurants in the area. I can’t speak much about the seafood here, but the steak??? It was perfection.
  • Restaurant L’Incanto: This is the beach club we hung out at to lay out in, right on the Sappagio Grande beach. Yes, it’s touristy, but mussels soup was fantastic. We got it as an appetizer and we ALMOST ordered another one after because it was so amazing and not fishy at all! The shrimp risotto was delicious as well.
  • Fratelli Grassi Positano: This is a beach club in Fornillo Beach. It’s small with a limited menu, but our Airbnb host recommended it to us for their caponata (toasted bread salad). It did not disappoint and the price was great too. This was one of the time I decided to eat gluten during the trip and it was totally worth it!
  • Il Grottino Azzurro: This is a small restaurant on top of Positano where locals go, and the seafood here was amazing. The walk to this restaurant is no joke and it’s an uphill climb for about 45 minutes, and we were both incredibly out of breath afterwards. I would recommend getting a taxi there. However, the food is fantastic and so is the service.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Mussels

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Caponata

Tips

  • Bring water shoes or water-friendly sandals. The beaches in Positano are covered with sharp dark rocks and pebbles, and it’s a bit painful to walk on barefoot. I had to wear my flip flops going into the water.
  • This is not a handicap-friendly town. The streets are bumpy, steep and narrow, so be prepared to get in some workouts getting around town, or hire a private car!
  • The beach club chair and umbrella rentals can be expensive, but I thought they were worth it because it was comfortable and relaxing. There are small sections on the beaches where it’s free, but it’s not as comfortable to lay on the bumpy rocks.
  • If you love colorful ceramics, make sure to pick up some handmade pieces from here because that’s what Positano is known for!
  • Enjoy some limoncello. They aren’t too sweet and they are so refreshing! The Amalfi Coast has some of the biggest lemons that aren’t too tart (perfect for limoncello), so that’s why limoncellos are so popular and delicious here.

2 Days in Capri

After 3 days in Positano, we headed to the beautiful island of Capri. It’s actually really easy to get to Capri from Positano. There’s a direct ferry ride to the island from Positano’s main port. However, there aren’t many ferries that go there each day, so make sure to check the schedule prior so you can be prepared to leave at the correct time.

Where we stayed

While we’ve never been to Capri, we decided to stay in the less touristy side of the island called Anacapri in the west and we LOVED it. It was quiet and filled with such cute restaurants and shops, and we had the most amazing views of the coast and the beaches being so high up in the mountain. Also, it’s really easy to get to from the port of Capri with a simple bus ride.

If you want the city and the busy downtown vibe, I would recommend the Capri side. The price is also higher there. But if you are more into relaxing and slowing down, Anacapri was perfect for that. However, the bus system is awesome and the island itself is pretty small, so you can get from one side to the other very easily through public transportation.

What we saw

Since we stayed in Anacapri and we were there only for 2 days, we mainly stayed in that area. If we stayed longer, we might have explored the east side of Capri more, but everything we saw was so beautiful so we didn’t feel like we missed out.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Punta Carena Lighthouse
  • Punta Carena Lighthouse: One of the biggest perks of staying in Anacapri was how close we were to the Punta Carena Lighthouse. It’s on the far end of Anacapri and easily accessible by the local bus. It’s the spot for the one of the most BEAUTIFUL sunsets on the island and there’s a path along the rocky coast that you can walk on that’s just just breathtaking. There’s also a very small beach area that you can lay out in, as well as a spot to grab drinks and food.
  • Marina Grande: To be honest, the beaches in Capri do not compare to the Positano beaches. They are tiny, insanely crowded, but pretty and very clean, nonetheless. We didn’t do much laying out in Capri for this reason, but it was nice to soak our feet in this cold and crystal clear water after walking around during the day.
  • Villa San Michele: This is a beautiful mansion built by Axel Munthe, a Swedish doctor. While I have never heard of him, this villa faces the amazing views of Capri in the back, alongside beautiful Mediterranean gardens.

    You can explore the inside with an entry fee, but we decided to just walk around the villa. That was honestly enough for us because we got to see the beauty of it, but there’s a collection of Roman artifacts and interesting rooms to see inside. In addition, the walk to the villa is really fun because it’s a part of Anacapri with cute shops and restaurants that we didn’t know existed until we were there.
Rome to Amalfi Coast - View from Monte Solaro

What we ate

Since we weren’t in Capri for a long time, this will be a short list. A lot of the food here is seafood-focused, which we didn’t mind at all.

Aumm Aumm Ristorante Pizzeria: This is a casual spot in Anacapri, and we were blown away by the food. They have pizza and pasta, and are gluten-free friendly. I got the fish of the day, and my husband had the seafood pasta, and they were both fantastic and so well prepared. The back garden area is also really relaxing and cozy for dinnertime, and the price wasn’t as high as other restaurants in the area either!

La Taberna degli Amici: This is a restaurant/pub that’s actually right across the street from Aumm Aumm and we had a delicious lunch there. They had gluten free bread for me and they serve classic Italian food, as well as sandwiches and burgers. We both enjoyed our meals (a sandwich and a burger) and the service was exceptional. I also have heard that their pasta and appetizers are amazing as well, but we didn’t get to try them.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Capri food

The Rest of the Trip

From Capri, we took a high speed ferry to Naples, and from here, we flew to Greece for a short 3 day trip. Since we didn’t do much there that you can’t find in other popular guides and the trip itself was so short, I decided to not include it in this guide. Our favorite parts were all the things we did from Rome to Amalfi Coast anyway.

Rome to Amalfi Coast - Short Stop in GREECE

If you want to check out my Instagram Stories for everything I captured during our trip, you can check out my highlights on here (part 1) and here (part 2).

My Top Babymoon Tips

Since I received so many messages and questions on Instagram about traveling while 7 months pregnant, I decided share my top babymoon tips of what worked for me during my trip. I actually thought I would have a harder time with all the walking, but it was totally fine and I enjoyed the trip so much!

  • Pack light! Unless you are going to a resort or a relaxing beach vacation, it’s important to pack just what you need for an active vacation. The European streets are mostly cobblestones, and Positano is made up of steep hills, so it was important to keep our luggage light, especially since my husband had to carry both of our loads most of the time. We actually packed both of our luggage into 1 big check-in bag so he could handle it better. Luckily, since it was a summer trip, we only really needed light, minimal clothing.
  • Check with your doctor and airlines. I probably should’ve have done this before we booked everything during the 1st trimester. Some women with high-risk pregnancies are warned not to travel at even 28 weeks. I was lucky that this didn’t happen for me, but I would check with your doctor to make sure you are good to travel. Also, every airline has different rules about when you need a doctor’s note so you can fly with them. Make sure to check this before your travel date, so you can have a doctor’s note on hand if necessary.
  • Pick and choose your activities. Don’t expect to be able to do everything. I honestly had all these hikes planned out for Amalfi Coast, but realized they wouldn’t be easy nor enjoyable being this far along. We also decided not to wait for hours to see the sites of Vatican City to conserve my energy. It’s important to listen to your body and have your partner understand your limits as well.
  • Home base for naps. While I was able to last 7-8 hours of walking in Rome each day, this was only possible because we went back to our Airbnb in the late afternoon to rest and nap before dinnertime. Make sure to have a home base where you can go back to to lounge around if you are too tired.
  • Sneakers and memory foam shoes. I think this applies whether you are pregnant or not, but comfortable shoes are crucial. If want something a bit more stylish than sneakers, these memory foam sandals were amazingly comfortable and I wore them everyday there through all the long walks. They are super cute too!
  • Backpacks. When you have pregnancy back pain and sore feet, the last thing you want to do it carry a bag on one shoulder. You’ll feel SO much better at the end of the day with a backpack, that’ll evenly distribute the weight of all the items you are carrying. I’ve had my Fjallraven Kanken backpack for a while now, and it’s my go-to for traveling because it so great with weight distribution and preventing back pain. For everyday touring during our trip, I also brought this smaller, cute backpack which worked really well and looked stylish too!
  • Compression socks and sweatpants for the plane. The flights were long for this trip (12-15 hours) and that was probably the most annoying part. To reduce swelling, make sure to wear compression socks (these worked well for me) and comfy sweatpants. I also booked an aisle seat because I seriously had to pee every hour, and I walked around the plane whenever I could to bring circulation into my legs.
  • Water. Hydration is so important normally, but even more so when you are pregnant! We always made sure we had water on us, and with the Italian summer heat, you’ll need a lot of it. All the more reason to have a backpack to keep your water in.
  • Enjoy wine. If you feel safe and comfortable, I highly recommend you fit in a glass of wine during your babymoon. It’s totally the norm to enjoy wine in Italy when you are pregnant, and I definitely took advantage of this on 2-3 occasions throughout our 10-day trip. I was asked at every restaurant if I wanted wine and I was clearly showing. If you feel okay and your doctor gives you the green light, you don’t want to miss out on the wine because it’s so delicious there!
  • Take photos. This one is an obvious one, but seriously, take all the photos! This is an amazing time of your life with your growing belly, and my husband took so many photos in all the pretty European settings. I can’t wait to show my kid one day all the places we’ve been together when she was inside me, and who knows if I’ll be pregnant again? I just know I’ll cherish these moments forever with my baby kicking constantly as we travel from one destination to another, and I want to be able to look back at them in the future.
First Day of 3rd Trimester - babymoon tips

If you have any additional questions about our trip from Rome to Amalfi Coast, or if you want to learn more about traveling when you are pregnant, leave me a comment below!

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My Review of Beautycounter’s Countertime Anti-Aging Line + Negative Retinol Side Effects

Check out my full, honest review of the new anti-aging line, Beautycounter’s Countertime, what it did to my skin, and the special safer ingredients it uses to avoid the negative retinol side effects!

Want more educational info and updates on discounts, giveaways, and my monthly gifts with purchase? Sign up for my Safer Skincare Newsletter! I also have a private Instagram account where I share these as well if that’s where you are more active.

I’m so excited that Beautycounter’s Countertime line is finally launched! It’s been years in researching and formulating a set of revolutionary anti-aging products that are safe AND effective for the company, and it’s finally out in the world.

Beautycounter's Countertime Launch

I only usually do reviews on products that have truly changed my skin and made a difference (like the Overnight Resurfacing Peel and oil cleansing products), so you know this line is pretty darn fantastic and I’ll share in detail why.

What is Beautycounter’s Countertime Line?

First, if you’ve never heard of this line and you have a big interest in anti-aging products, then you’ll want to learn more. It’s currently Beautycounter’s most advanced and innovative line designed to visibly firm, plump, and brighten skin using safer ingredients that are just as effective as some of the conventional anti-aging products on the market without the side effects.

Inspired by Korea’s advanced 10-step skin care routine, the full set includes a step-by-step process, each with a specific purpose that builds on the previous one to ensure optimal performance and results.

What are the key benefits of Countertime?

  • Optimizes hydration to strengthen skin barrier function and support skin elasticity
  • Regenerates of skin cells to smooth and refine the surface of the skin
  • Defends against daily environmental stressors (sun, pollutants) by protecting the skin with natural antioxidants
  • The process of aging IS losing hydration and skin being damaged by environmental and internal stressors, and Countertime reduces both of these processes through its advanced formula!

Products details in the 4-step regimen

Beautycounter's Countertime - 4 step regimen

There are 4 steps in the full Countertime regimen, and the whole line works best when all four of these steps are used in order. When the all the steps are incorporated, it becomes the ultimate solution to to help reverse signs of aging and keep skin in its peak, youthful performance (yes, please!).

  1. CLEANSE: Countertime Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil. Instead of being a foaming cleanser, this cleansing oil is just that: an oil. You massage it into your dry face and neck, and then apply warm water so it becomes milky, and then you rinse it off. Because it’s an oil, it doesn’t dry out your skin or strip away your natural oils while still cleaning the face (and removes makeup!).

    It contains vitamin E and essential fatty acids, which are amazing for the integrity of skin and skin’s moisture barrier. It’s a dream cleanser for dry skin like mine!
  2. PREP: Countertime Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence. Usually the prep step, both in the conventional and safer skincare world, is drying for the skin with products like toners, witch hazel, and alcohol sprays. However, this essence contains mineral enriched deep seawater sourced from island in France to boost better moisture retention!

    It also contains fermented sugars to boost hydration, minimize the appearance of pores, and allows moisturizers in the next steps be better absorbed by the skin. This essence is best absorbed when pressed into the skin, instead of rubbing it in.
  3. TREAT: Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum. I’m so excited about this product because it contains peptides! Peptides increase skin’s firmness and elasticity, improves skin barrier function, and keeps skin plump and hydrated. It works by binding to the free radicals and stabilizing them so they don’t cause damage to the skin.

    Free radicals, which are unavoidable in the air and environment, cause cell decay and dysfunction, causing our skin to break down. With the peptides in this serum, our skin can repair faster and keep its radiance. Another important ingredient in this serum is amino acids, which also protects our skin from environmental stressors.
  4. PROTECT: There are 2 products for this step, one for the morning and one for the evening.
    • Countertime Antioxidant Soft Cream (AM). Not only does this product contain fermented sugars which helps skin optimize hydration, it also contains Nasturtium Flower Extract which protects skin from oxidative damage and drying environmental stressors all throughout the day. This ingredient is unique to just this product in the whole line!
    • Countertime Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream (PM). This is a thick gel/cream that’s rich and feels so luxurious. Before using this, it’s important to set our skin up for the best product absorption. This is why the previous steps are so important.

      Not only does it contain fermented sugars like in the previous products, it also contains tetrapeptide (more peptides than the serum!) to smooth the skin surface, increase skin elasticity, minimize lines, boost firmness.
  5. BONUS STEP: Ultra Renewal Eye Cream. This eye cream contains a special ingredient: Persian Silk Tree Extract, which has been clinically proven to brighten the under-eye area. The reason this area is so sensitive to puffiness, darkening, and wrinkles is because the skin there is thinner than the rest of the face. This special ingredient, along with the Retinatural complex (more on this below!) diminishes puffiness, reduces crows feet, and brightens the area through hydration.
Countertime packaging
Worried you won’t get the steps right? You’ll see the what step each product is right on the box!

Why is Beautycounter’s Countertime line different than other anti-aging lines?

While Countertime rivals some of the top anti-aging products on the market, it’s actually very unique and innovative in the ingredients it uses (and does NOT use). The biggest way it stands out is that not only is it amazingly effective in firming and brightening skin, it uses SAFER ingredients without harmful side effects and irritation!

1. Does NOT use retinol

Retinol is the collective term for a group of vitamin A derivatives used in the skincare and cosmetics industry to exfoliate skin, promote cell turnover, heal acne, and smooth fine lines. It’s in MANY anti-aging products, as well as foundations, concealers, sunscreens, and even hand sanitizers.

NEGATIVE RETINOL SIDE EFFECTS

What’s little known about retinol is that it actually comes with harmful side effects and multiple animal studies have shown tumor growth at very low doses.

Retinyl palmitate seems to be the most troubling derivative of vitamin A and one of the most prevalent in skincare and cosmetics. The EWG ranks retinyl palmitate as a 9, nearly the highest hazard ranking in their 1-10 database, based off or several studies linking this ingredient to increased cancer risk. 

Even FDA considers retinyl palmitate a KNOWN human carcinogen as well, yet they have yet to ban it from US products. At the same time, both the EU and Canada have restricted the use of retinol because of these risk factors!

Not only that, retinol can really damage and inflame the skin by drying it out and irritating it to the point of flakiness and redness. This is because the retinol makes skin cell turnover way too fast, pushing it to sensitivity and dryness. It’s also habit forming and you just keep needing more of it overtime. a

2. Uses Bakuchiol + Swiss Alpine Rose instead (Retinatrual Complex)

Instead of retinol, Beautycounter’s Countertime uses something called Retinatural Complex, a plant-based formulation with 2 unique ingredients: Bakuchiol and Swiss Alpine Rose. This formula is contained ALL of the products in the Countertime line.

BAKUCHIOL

Traditionally used in Chinese and Ayurvedic skin-care remedies, Bakuchiol is a plant that has all the benefits that retinol provides without the cancer risks and irritation! It has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as antibacterial properties. It’s also ranked as 1 on the EWG, making it a safe ingredient to use, even during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

negative retinol side effects and risks

SWISS ALPINE ROSE

Grown at the highest altitudes of the Alps, this flower is known for its ability to protect itself against environmental stressors like dehydration and helps boost skin’s antioxidant defense. This protection is essential for keeping our skin young and firm by shielding it from these cell-damaging components we face everyday.

Combining these 2 plant-derived ingredients, the Retinatural Complex:

  • promotes healthy barrier function to maintain the skin’s natural hydration levels and increase elasticity.
  • visibly plumps and firms the skin by boosting collagen.
  • improves resilience by protecting the skin from oxidative stress and cell damage.

3. Does not use PEGs, petroleum, or mineral oils

Many moisturizers and creams are made with PEGs, petroleum, and mineral oils. These are ingredients that are on Beautycounter’s Never List because they contain carcinogens.

They are rapidly absorbed into our bloodstreams and cause estrogen dominance and hormonal imbalance. This is because they contain xenoestrogens, chemicals which cause hormone disruption by raising the levels of estrogen in the body. This imbalance is linked to infertility, menstrual problems, accelerated aging, allergies and autoimmune problems as well as nutrient deficiencies, sleep problems and even some types of cancers.

Not only that, these petroleum-based compounds are a crude-oil byproduct and the environmental impact of petroleum is toxic to almost all forms of life and its extraction fuels climate change.

For these reasons, I’m so glad Countertime doesn’t contain these harmful ingredients so popular in conventional skincare.

4. Sustainable glass packaging

countertime glass packaging

Countertime line products all come in glass packaging and I’m so thrilled about this! Glass is recycled more easily than plastic and does not emit harmful materials as it degrades—which plastic does. They source their glass containers from North America, which means fewer greenhouse gas emissions from shipping products across the ocean. 

Transitioning the Countertime line from plastic to glass will reduce the line’s greenhouse gas footprint by an estimated 38%. How cool is that?

My personal experience with Beautycounter’s Countertime line

I’m 32 and so I wasn’t sure if the Countertime line would be right for me. However, your skin actually starts its aging process at the age of 25, so it’s a good idea to look in to anti-aging products starting then for preventative measures. It’ll actually protect your skin from aging years later!

More about my skin

While I don’t struggle with fine lines at this age, I’ve always had chronic dry skin since my teenage years were over, as well as redness and dark spots around my nose and chin. I also have large pores on my nose that I was always self-conscious about. While the Overnight Resurfacing Peel reduced a lot of these concerns, they weren’t completely gone.

Because of my dry skin and knowing that the lack of hydration contributes to aging skin, I’ve been using anti-aging products for a few years now and I was extremely excited to start using Beautycounter’s Countertime once it was available.

The results

Still being at a young age, I didn’t think I would see a huge difference from the previous line I was using designed for dry and dull skin, Beautycounter’s Countermatch collection. But holy moly, I was wrong. I couldn’t believe the amount of hydration it gave my skin even just after 1 day of using it, and I can definitely see and feel difference in my skin.

Beautycounter's Countertime Results
My bare face with no makeup after a week of Countertime!

Here are some things I noticed after a week of using the entire collection:

  • More hydration throughout the day
  • Even skin tone with less redness
  • SMALLER PORES!!! This was something I noticed in just 3 days and I almost jumped up and down because I was so excited about this.
  • Skin texture was more even and smooth.
  • My makeup went on way more evenly and looked so much better, especially the Tint Skin Foundation.

I honestly couldn’t recommend this line enough for anything who is thinking about anti-aging needs for their skin. If it made this much difference in my 32-year-old skin, I can’t imagine what it’ll do for the 40+ crowd.

Beautycounter's Countertime Results

FAQs about Beautycounter’s Countertime

With all the hype and promise of great results, I know I’ll get several questions about this product so I’m going to answer several of them here. I do suggest you read through the post above since I do answer a lot of potential questions you may have about the line.

And if you have any more that I didn’t answer below, leave me a comment below!

What type of skin is it for?

Countertime works for ALL skin tones, but especially those concerned with aging or drier skin over the age of 25 (that’s when the process of aging starts!). If you do have oilier or acne-prone skin, I do recommend you switching the Countertime Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil with something like Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser.

Is the line scented?

The only products that are lightly scented are Countertime Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil and the Countertime Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence. I found the cleansing oil a bit stronger smelling than the essence but it’s actually a pleasant scent. Since Beautycounter NEVER uses chemical fragrances, these products are scented with a blend of rose and geranium.

Is it safer during pregnancy/breastfeeding?

Yes! I started using the line when I was 30 weeks pregnant, and unlike conventional anti-aging products, there are no harmful ingredients like retinol. With that being said, pregnancy is different for everyone so consult with your doctor before starting out this regimen. I would also do spot test before incorporating the entire regimen, since hormones make your skin do crazy things!

Can I still use the Overnight Resurfacing Peel with Countertime?

Yes, but you’ll find that you won’t need it in the same frequency as you used to. While Countertime protects and hydrates your skin, the peel is amazing for cell turnover and exfoliation. Since your skin has better protection from environmental damages and is absorbing products better with Countertime, you can probably reduce the use of the peel to once a week which I have been doing.

To incorporate the peel into Countertime, use it after the Countertime Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil and in place of Countertime Mineral Boost Hydrating Essence and Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum. You can then follow with Countertime Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream since you’ll be using the peel during your evening routing anyway.

Can I still use facial oils?

Of course! I love Beautycounter’s facial oils and they have been a part of my daily routine for over a year now. However, since Countertime’s products are specifically designed to build upon each other, I would add apply the oil at the end.

Will it sensitize you or dry you out?

No, since there aren’t many active ingredients in Countertime and no retinol, you don’t have to worry about this! It’ll keep consistently working to provide hydration and protection for your skin while keep it supple, firm, and radiant.

Beautycounter's Countertime Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream

Can I use it if I have rosacea or sensitive skin?

Yes, the Countertime products are gentle enough for those with skin issues or sensitive skin since there are not many sensitizing ingredients. However, I do advise that you step into it gently, swapping out one product at a time and making sure that each product doesn’t cause any issues

Why is Countertime more expensive than the previous anti-aging line, Rejuvenating?

Countertime lasts longer than the Rejuvenating line and is even more effective! You don’t have to use as much product with Countertime (a little goes a long way) and four of six products actually have larger fills than the comparable products in the Rejuvenating line. Countertime was also formulated with a higher concentration of active ingredients in order to achieve the desired results.

Also, transitioning from plastic to more sustainable glass packaging has increased the price point a bit as well.

How long will the entire line last?

The entire collection, when used everyday day and night, should last a LONG time (I’m thinking 6 months+!). Like I said, this bottles contain A LOT of product and a little goes a long way so expect to use them for a while before having to stock up!

Have any more questions? Leave me a comment below!

If you are ready to try out the Countertime products yourself, click on the link below. And if the products do not perform the way you hoped it would, Beautycounter has an amazing return policy: Even if you opened the packaging, you can return the unused portion within 60 days from the ship date!

Check out Beautycounter’s Countertime Collection

Also, if you want to save on Beautycounter product purchases, you can join the Band of Beauty membership which is $29/year, and you’ll get awesome perks like:

  • Free ground shipping on all orders over $100
  • 10% BACK IN PRODUCT CREDIT on all orders for a year. For example, a product order of $100 will earn you $10 to spend on your next order (and gets you free shipping)!
  • Exclusive members-only offers delivered directly to your inbox throughout the year
  • A welcome gift when you spend $50+

Many times, the welcome gift is worth more than the $29 membership fee itself, so it’s totally worth joining because you end up getting your money back with the free gift! JOIN HERE.

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21 Week Bump Update + GENDER REVEAL!

Sharing my pregnancy journey and 21 week bump update from symptoms, appetite, and products that’s been making my life so much easier. Plus, GENDER REVEAL of our baby!

21 week bump update

I can’t believe I’m already halfway through my pregnancy journey! During my first trimester, when I was feeling so nauseous and tired, it felt like my pregnancy would go on forever. Now that I’m finally out of that stage, time is flying by and I feel like we have so much to get done before the baby comes.

My second trimester so far has been easy peasy. Of course, there are some minor discomforts that come with pregnancy, but so far, my energy and general mood and wellbeing is how I felt pre-pregnancy.

Now, at 21 weeks, we finally know the gender of the baby (scroll down to the bottom for the reveal!) and I’m feeling more and more comfortable in my growing body and all the changes it’s going through.

21 Week Bump Update: Symptoms

  • Bacne, weird rashes: Thankfully, I’m not getting any acne on my face, but I am getting some on my back and weird bumps and rashes on my side boob. Thank you, hormones. Primally’s Pure’s Everything Spray and Beautycounter’s SOS Acne Spot Treatment have been very helpful in reducing those when used twice a day, but it’s been quite annoying with summer just around the corner!
  • No cravings/reduced appetite: I was a bit concerned about this one. I thought I was supposed to be MORE hungry during pregnancy, but I don’t have any kind of cravings and I’m not really that hungry frequently. And when I do eat, I can’t eat that much. I get full way too quickly and if I eat my normal amount pre-pregnancy, I’m uncomfortably full and it’s just not worth it. Thankfully, my recent ultrasound showed that the baby is growing healthily, and all my health markers seem fine, so my midwife said not to stress out about it too much.
  • More energy at the gym: I’m loving this. I feel like I’m pretty active these days and I can last way longer in my workouts. I only workout 3 times a week, but I feel amazing afterwards. I rotate between HIIT workouts, cycling, and yoga, and all of these have been so great in helping me feel like myself as my body changes. In the beginning of my second trimester, I was so out of breath with any little exertion, and I love that I have so much more energy these days.
  • Backaches: As someone with slight scoliosis all her life, I’m not unfamiliar with backaches and shoulder pains. However, it’s been way worse recently, especially in my upper and lower back. I massage my back nightly, take epsom salt baths, go to my chiropractor, and rub CBD cream on the pain points, and the combination of these seem to make a tremendous difference, in addition to my pregnancy pillow,
  • Sneezing and nasal congestion: This is probably the worst part of my pregnancy, and some days it’s way worse than others. From what I’ve been reading and researching, it seems that only 20% of pregnant women suffer from these symptoms and I happen to be one of the lucky ones. Personally, I’ve been noticing that it worsens if I’m stressed out or if I consume too much carbs or sugar, so I’m managing it by reducing these things in my life.
21 week bump update

Products That I’ve Been Loving Throughout My Pregnancy

In the beginning of my pregnancy, I told myself I wouldn’t buy a ton of unnecessary items that I see marketed constantly toward pregnant women. However, as my body changes and I experience different symptoms, there are some necessary items that have helped so much in providing comfort and easing some of those symptoms.

For stretch marks

I know stretch marks are genetic, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to do everything I can do keep them from coming. These are my 2 favorite products are safe and effective without harmful ingredients.

  • Beautycounter Body Oil in Citrus Rosemary: This just feels sooo luxurious and smells amazing! It contains both grape seed oil and rosemary oil, both of which are known to be awesome for stretch marks. Although the price does seem high, it lasts a really long time because it spreads so well!
  • Primally Pure Baby Balm: I rotate between this one and the body oil I previously mentioned. The combination of emu oil and marshmallow root in the Baby Balm are so incredible for stretching skin and so many women love this product during pregnancy.

For back pain:

  • Pregnancy pillow: At first, I thought, “Is this really going to make a big difference??” And heck yes. I can say that now after sleeping with it for over a month. Pregnancy pillows are 100% worth the investment and it makes sleeping on my side so much more comfortable (I’m usually a back sleeper). It provides support at all the right places and I’ve been sleeping so much better. I do love the U-shaped one, but it does take up half of our king-sized bed. There are various shapes and sizes if you prefer a smaller one.
  • Electric massager: Probably the most budget friendly but effective purchase ever to give yourself a massage at home. I actually bought this before being pregnant, but I use and love it SO MUCH MORE now! I use it every night, and it feels amazing while getting out all my knots in my shoulders and back. It heats up and changes directions as well!
  • CBD cream: If you are uncomfortable with using CBD during pregnancy, then this may not be for you. I’ve been loving this topical cream, and I can feel the difference immediately. I’ve tried many CBD creams before and this one is truly the best and the purest!
  • Epsom salt baths: If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m obsessed with baths. Epsom salt is amazing for relaxing your muscles and replenishing your body with minerals, and I take a bath almost everyday because it’s so helpful for my back, as well as my anxiety.

For bacne and random bumps/rashes:

  • Everything Spray: This is my go-to product for any kind of skin issues, and it’s works so well for acne, rashes, or any kind of inflammatory skin conditions. It’s calms down irritation, reduces blemishes, and I’ve been spraying it all my of my back morning and night.
  • Countercontrol SOS Acne Spot Treatment: Anytime I see a hint of acne, this is my lifesaver that kills it in just 2-3 days. I have always had it on hand for emergency pimples, but I’ve been using it way more with my annoying bacne popping up. It contains squeaky clean ingredients that are safe during pregnancy.
  • Cleansing Balm: When it comes to any kind of rashes or inflammation on the skin, the Cleaning Balm heals and protects the problem area quickly. I’ve been using it as a spot treatment on my random rashes, and I can see the difference with just one application. The nutrient-rich raspberry and cranberry seed oils, as well as the vitamin C in it work together to create this healing formula!

For sinus congestion:

  • Nasal strips: I was a bit skeptical about if these will do much to reduce congestion, but they actually made a huge difference! I could feel it working as soon as I put it on, and it’s so helpful during my sleep. I used to wake up in the middle of the night because my nose was so stuffed, but that doesn’t happen anymore with these. Plus, they look crazy sexy.
  • Nasal saline spray: If you have a Neti Pot, that will work as well, but I just love the convenience of this nasal spray. It clears up my nose right away, keeps my passage moist, and contains clean, drug-free ingredients that are safe during pregnancy.

For constipation:

  • Squatty Potty: This is another one of those products that I bought a while ago, but I appreciate it so much more during pregnancy. Constipation is quite common during pregnancy, and although I never got it too badly, I do love the Squatty Potty for regulating my bowel movement. It seems like such a simple product but works extremely well (trust me!).

GENDER REVEAL: It’s a….

21 weeks bump update

We are having A GIRL!

I couldn’t be more excited. I wanted a girl from the beginning so I can teach her to be strong and bossy as hell, and let her know she can be anything she wants to be in this world. I would have been totally happy with a boy, but I just leaned toward a girl more.

We Almost Didn’t Find Out the Gender

At our 20 week ultrasound, we were so excited to find out if we were having a boy or a girl, but we almost walked out without knowing because the baby was crossing her legs until the very end!

Our ultrasound technician told us this sometimes happens so we might not be able to find out at that appointment, but thank goodness, the baby showed us at the very last minute. It was such a magical and happy moment, and we are busy picking out names and clothes already.



Hope you enjoyed reading my 21 week bump update! I had so much fun writing this post, and I tried to address the most common questions I’ve been receiving on social media. If you have anything else you are curious about, leave me a comment below! I’ll probably do another update post before the baby arrives, and I hope sharing my experience is helpful for other women who are or will be going through this beautiful journey of creating a human. As always, thanks so much for your love and support!!

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