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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!

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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.


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.


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


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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