My BeautyCounter Review and 10 Favorite Products

 This is not a sponsored post. Instead, I merely want to share my love of Beautycounter with you all as well as provide you with a special promotion that has been offered to me by my Beautycounter consultant, Mara. I had the pleasure of meeting and becoming fast friends with Mara 10 years ago when I lived in Pennsylvania and over the past year, it has been a pleasure to have her back in my life not only as my Beautycounter consultant but also as a supporter throughout pregnancy and motherhood as she is the mother of twins!

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For years, I was a self-prescribed low-maintence beauty junkie. Since I worked in the beauty industry I had boxes of samples, freebies and new product launches many of which I’d try once or twice before passing them on to my friends. My beauty and skin care was very simple on a daily basis. I washed my face in the shower with whichever “normal skin cleanser” I had on hand and then I’d quickly put makeup on each morning, using only a BB cream, mascara and lipstick. Sometimes, I’d take an extra few minutes and apply blush, eye shadow and eye liner but those days were few and far between. Don’t even ask me about my evening routine. I rarely removed my makeup and moisturizer was only used during the coldest of winter months when the arid weather had sucked all the moisture out of my skin.

Even though I knew a great deal about skin care and makeup, I saved most of my knowledge for my friends when they would ask questions versus applying it to my own life.

When Bo and I started trying to get pregnant, I had many health care professionals tell me that evaluating what went in and on my body could do nothing but help our journey. In addition to focusing on eating more natural, unprocessed foods and getting more sleep I started to evaluate the products I put on my body each day. At this same time, my 32-year old skin was starting to show some signs of aging due to years of sun exposure. I started to notice crow’s feet and sun spots when I’d look in the mirror. While I didn’t do a huge overhaul of all my products, I started to purchase cleaner options when my existing products ran out.

When Bo and I announced we were pregnant, a few friends reached out, recommending Beautycounter as a safe and effective beauty line that I could use throughout pregnancy. Beautycounter is committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what is legally required in the United States. Did you know the U.S. only bans 30 ingredients from being used in personal care products? Beautycounter prohibits the use of over 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals, which they call The Never List™. Somehow, I had never heard of the company previously, even though it was founded in 2013 by Gregg Renfrew.

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Over the past few months, Beautycounter has not only helped me convert to a cleaner skin and makeup routine, but it has also helped me streamline and simplify the process. They recently launched a marketing campaign for the FLAWLESS IN FIVE which includes six products to help any woman get a fresh, polished look in just minutes. In addition, by following one of their skin care regimens, taking care of my face is easy. These days, the last thing I have time to do is research new products and spend time on ME. Having a trusted and effective skin care routine has allowed me to maintain it and diligently use each product daily; without it feeling like a hassle. Better yet, after consistent use, my skin is noticeably brighter, smoother and plumper. The fine lines are starting to go away and my pregnancy mask looks 10x better than it did. While I realize some of this naturally occurs as my hormones balance out, I know that using this regimen has made me feel more confident. The person I see on unfiltered Instagram stories or first thing in the morning doesn’t scare me or make me feel like I look far beyond my age. The simplified makeup routine helps me feel put together, even on the craziest days trying to balance life as a new mom but without that “cakey, I just put on 10 layers of makeup to hide the bags” look.

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Since placing my first order 11 months ago, I have placed 10 more orders both for myself and for friends and family. I’ve tried more 19 different products, and today, I thought it would be fun to share my 10 favorites with you.

If you are interested in trying Beautycounter or are an avid Beautycounter user and need to place an order, today Mara and I have partnered to create the Healthy, Happier Shopping event! By using this link, any person who spends $100 or more will receive a free charcoal cleansing bar*, one of their top sellers. This bar detoxifies without drying out your skin and the gentle formula can be used daily! If you have questions, leave them in the comments and Mara or I will be sure to answer them ASAP. *Note, the free Charcoal Cleansing Bar ($24 value) will ship separately and won’t appear in your cart.

Now, in no particular order, here are the 10 products I have used, loved and re-ordered as soon as they ran out.

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Makeup

· Lengthening Mascara – The first time I tried Beautycounter’s mascara I had such a negative experience, I actually returned it. The formulation left my lashes feeling dry and it was really difficult to remove. But, their new formulation which launched this Summer is AMAZING. My short lashes look instantly longer while still feeling soft to the touch.

· Concealer Pen – This is the first step in my makeup routine these days, gliding the thin brush across my eyelids and under-eye area. The long-lasting formula helps make me look more rested and is also a great base color on my eyelids, diminishing the pesky veins.  As an FYI, I wear the light shade and find that it blends easily.

· Brow Pencil – Once upon a time I had thick, gorgeous eyebrows. Then, ten years ago, I thought it was a good idea to get my eyebrows waxed at my neighborhood nail spa. They knew how to do nails but man they weren’t the experts in eye brows. Their lack of skills combined with the latest in beauty trends led me down the over-tweezed, over waxed thin eyebrow stage. Unfortunately, my brows were never the same. I’ve always had nightmares of my high school guidance counselor’s overly penciled, drawn on eye brows when I saw eye brow pencils. But then, after admiring a few of my friends eyebrows I discovered that they used eye brow pencils. I have been using the medium shade of this pencil and love the natural, groomed appearance it gives my brows when I use the pencil to fill in and then blend using the attached brush.

· Mattifying Powder – By the end of the day, my face tends to by shiny and my makeup is smudged thanks to humidity and lots of very active pores. I discovered mattifying powder a few years ago thanks to a very sweet woman at Sephora who told me that this would allow my makeup to stay in place, look better and eliminate the 4pm t-zone glow. The Beautycounter mattifying powder immediately absorbs shine and blends invisibly, regardless of your skin tone. It’s the final step in my daily makeup routine and sometimes, if I’m going to happy hour or an early dinner with Bo and Katie, will use it again in the afternoon to give my makeup a fresh appearance.

· Powder Blush Duo – I love the way my cheeks look after an early-morning run or a bout of laughter – vibrant and flushed. Unfortunately, especially during the winter months, my skin doesn’t have a vibrant tone and the winter weather leaves my face looking dull. I’ve gone through three different orders of the Beautycounter Powder Blush Duo as I’m in love with the perfect, vibrant hue the color combinations give to my cheeks. I actually own two of them – tawny/whisper and bloom/tulip. The tawny hue goes on more like a bronzer while the bloom is a bright, cheery color that gives me that rosy appearance.

· Lip Gloss – My mom always tells me that a simple swipe of lip color makes me look 10x better. Unfortunately, most of the lip glosses I’ve worn historically are either sticky or they dried out my lips. However, I’m obsessed with this moisturizing lip gloss and have reordered it multiple times. I’ve been loving Dahlia, which delivers a bright pop of color and Bare Shimmer, which is a perfect everyday color.

· Tint Skin Foundation – As I mentioned previously, I used to be a bit of an extremist when it came to foundation. I either wore nothing at all, barely a little bit of BB cream or I caked on the layers with a heavy foundation. I couldn’t find a formula that helped even out my skin tone while looking natural. This lightweight foundation blends easily and hides my lines and pigmentation while giving me a dewy, glowing appearance. I’m currently wearing Sand but I also own Linen for the winter months when my skin is paler.

Skin Care

· No 1 Brightening Oil – Hands down, this is my favorite Beautycounter product. Unlike anything I’ve used previously, this lightweight facial oil moisturizes my skin while leaving it looking radiant and vibrant. Packed with Vitamin C it is one of the only breastfeeding friendly products I found that actually helped my pregnancy mask! I apply 3-4 drops to my face and neck both morning and night before applying my moisturizer. Within a week I started to notice a difference in my skin tone, texture and appearance and within two weeks friends and family started asking me what I’d changed in my routine. Fun Fact: It just won a Best of Beauty award from Allure Magazine.

· No 1 Mask – I love a good face mask. There is nothing I look forward to more than relaxing on the couch in pajamas, sipping red wine, watching Grey’s Anatomy and giving my face some TLC with a face mask. This mask is gentle enough to use 2-3 times per week and leaves my skin feeling fresh, looking brighter and refreshed. Since using it in combination with the brightening oil and pads I have seen a significant improvement in my skin tone and texture.

· Toner pads – These were a total surprise for me as they were an impulse purchase. My consultant, Mara, said that she and her friends felt that the toner pads served as a very effective prep step before applying the oils, masks, serums or moisturizers as it helps the skin better absorb them. I figured that I’d give them a try during my desperate, post-pregnancy state. Within a few days I was in love with the way they made my skin feel when I used them immediately after washing my face. They leave my skin feeling moisturized and have definitely made a difference in my sun spots, when combined with the oil and mask. I will say that they are pricey, and therefore some people may prefer to use them once per day or cut the pads in half.

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Where to Eat in Savannah, Georgia

There is no denying it, the best seasons to visit Savannah, Georgia are fall, winter, and spring. Whether you’re a tourist or a local, this lovely Southern town is the perfect destination for a long weekend especially if you live in an area of the country that has brutally cold winters. As most of you know, Bo and I were both raised in Savannah, calling it home until we each left for college at the age of 18. While we only get back 3-4 times per year, the gorgeous moss covered oak trees, marsh grass sunsets, beach walks, history, and, of course, our family still make it our favorite city. Whether you are in town for 24 hours or moving there permanently, I thought I would put together a list of our favorite places to eat in Savannah and Tybee Island

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Most of these spots are conveniently located within walking distance to downtown, historic Savannah hotels but a few of them are out on Tybee, our beach which is a 15-20 minute drive from downtown Savannah.

Eats

  • B. Matthews Eatery – This bistro located near River Street is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but their weekend brunch is what keeps me coming back! The made from scratch biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits, or mayme’s omelette make this a regular stop anytime I’m home.
  • Mrs Wilkes Dining Room – There is no better fried chicken in Savannah. Only open Monday through Friday the wait is well worth it. Enjoy family style Southern food in the heart of historic Savannah and wash it all down with sweet tea.
  • The Olde Pink House – A perfect location for a date night dinner their menu will leave you drooling but leave room for dessert. I highly recommend the scored flounder.
  • Zunzi’s – Incredible sandwiches and an extensive vegetarian menu bring locals and tourists alike to this small spot which blends South African, Italian, Swiss and Dutch flavors together due to the owner’s backgrounds.
  • Vinnie Van GoGo’s Pizza – A cash only Savannah institution serving up thin crust pizzas in the heart of City Market.
  • Crystal Beer Parlor – When all you are craving is a burger and beer there is no better spot than this Savannah institution which reopened downtown a few years ago.
  • Vic’s on the River – Enjoy views of the waterfront while enjoying fried green tomatoes, crawfish beignets, lump crab cakes and shrimp and grits. Go hungry and with a fun crowd because this is one of my favorite places to steal tastes from other people’s plates!
  • Elizabeth’s on 37th – You can go for lunch if you aren’t looking for a formal dinner experience or date night while you’re in town. Everything on their menu is incredible and the staff makes you feel like your family as you dine in an old, Savannah home. The herbs on your salad are from their garden, I dream about their cheddar biscuits and orange marmalade and the restaurant has hosted the likes of the Marc Jacobs and the Dalai Lama to name a few in recent years.
  • Starland Cafe – This is currently my favorite lunch spot in Savannah. While their sandwiches and soups look delicious, the salads are what I always find myself ordering as they include a unique menu of ingredients and are always piled high with fresh, local, seasonal ingredients.  Their famous, homemade pimiento cheese is also a delicious way to start the meal!
  • Treylor Park – This downtown spot is perfect for lunch, dinner or drinks as the fun atmosphere is perfect for almost any occasion. We’ve been to wedding festivities as well as a casual afternoon of “bar food” here and enjoyed the food and drinks both times. While the PB&J wings and friend avocado can’t be missed, their drink menu is creative as well. If you go on a weekend expect to wait as this is a very popular spot especially during the cooler months when their back patio makes the perfect spot to dine or sip.

Sweets

  • Leopold’s Ice Cream– Located on Broughton Street this local ice cream shop has been in existence since 1919 but reopened in the current location in 2004. The small shop draws crowds daily thanks to the delicious, creamy ice cream. My favorite flavors are mint chocolate chip, peanut butter chippy and lemon sorbet.
  • River Street Sweets – A perfect rest stop during your River Street exploration, you can thank me later for introducing you to turtles and Southern pralines.

Sips

  • Rocks on the Roof – The roof of the Bohemian Hotel has become an evening or weekend meeting spot due to the gorgeous views, delicious cocktails and convenient location.

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  • North Beach Grill – After spending the morning enjoying some beach time or an afternoon climbing to the top of the Tybee Light House there is no better spot on Tybee then sitting beach side enjoying some life music and seafood fritters, fish taco or one of their more Caribbean dishes.
  • The Breakfast Club – This diner features a chef who is a Culinary Institute of America alum and a multi-page menu filled with dishes such as the Blackhawk burrito, Grill cleaner, country fried steak and other solid foods. I personally love their omelets, filled to the brim with vegetables and shrimp or their egg florentine. They do not take reservations so I recommend getting there early, especially in the Summer months.
  • AJ’s Dockside – My family loves enjoying lunch or dinner dockside at this restaurant as they have some of the best seafood in Savannah. Over the years a number of local places have come and gone but AJ’s has been a staple since 2003 and seems to get better with every visit.  Their menu includes all types of options but the only thing I typically order is their fried shrimp and oyster plate.

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have via the comments, Twitter or email!

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A Day In The Life With a 3-Month-Old

This post is sponsored by The Quaker Oats Company, but as always, the opinions are my own.

It has been 2.5 months since my last Day in The Life post and recently many of you have asked for an update on what my life looks like during maternity leave. Schedules and life change so quickly with a child, but here is a glimpse into what my day looks like now that Katie is 3 months old.

6:45 AM – My alarm goes off and I quickly head downstairs to prepare Katie’s morning bottle. I use a little tray to bring her bottle back upstairs as well as our morning cup of coffee.

7:00 AM – 7:45 AM Bo and I wake Katie up together each morning. After waking her and changing her diaper, I breastfeed her before handing her to Bo. As I’ve mentioned before, due to his work schedule, the only guaranteed feed that Bo is home for is the morning or “breakfast” feed so this is the one that he does. While he gives her a bottle, I typically either hang out with them or do some things around the house such as fold laundry. Right now her bottles consist of an average 4-5 ounces of formula for a total of 6 ounces per feed. After Katie is done eating we enjoy playtime in bed which includes cuddles, resting in her favorite spot or even some tummy time.

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7:45 When Bo hops in the shower I head downstairs with Katie for more coffee, breakfast and catching up on social media and the news. I bring the activity mat into the kitchen so Katie can play while I eat breakfast. As a new mom, I rarely have more than five minutes to eat. Therefore, Quaker Overnight Oats have been a welcome breakfast option during these busy days. A convenient, nutritious and hearty option that can be prepared ahead so it is ready and waiting in the fridge for the morning.  Over the past month I’ve had the opportunity to try all the flavors (Blueberry Banana & Vanilla Bliss, Toasted Coconut & Almond Crunch, Orchard Peach Pecan Perfection and Raisin Walnut & Honey Heaven) and my favorite is still Toasted Coconut & Almond Crunch. I make it with 1% milk and a spoonful of Greek yogurt. Stirring in Greek yogurt gives you a creamy texture. I enjoy the Quaker Overnight Oats with a banana for a quick and easy breakfast.

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8:30 – 10 AM While Katie naps I typically try to do a few things around the house. Today this means washing bottles, unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, cleaning the bathroom, and making the bed.

10 AM –I wake Katie for her mid-morning feed. Since we have somewhere to be at 11, we head out the door as soon as Katie is finished eating, burping and has a clean diaper.

11:00 – 12pm I head to our local Crossfit box for a workout. While I complete the tough workout Katie plays nearby. Unlike our first visit, this time she entertains herself quietly for half the class, intently watching the large fan and then falls asleep. With just a few minutes left in class she wakes up with a wet diaper but otherwise is a champ. The deadlifts and burpees were especially challenging!

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12pm – 1pm Since Katie falls asleep in the stroller on our way home, I keep her in the stroller once we get home. I grab the monitor and dash into the shower to wash off the sweat before quickly eating leftovers for lunch and prepare her next bottle.

1-2:30pm I can’t contain my laughter during this feed session as Katie keeps trying to smile while sipping on the bottle. Now that she’s almost three months old she loves to squirm and try to hold the bottle while feeding. I try to keep Katie upright for 15-20 minutes after each feed as this helps with spit-up and gas. While she bounces in her chair I read three books to her. We spend the next twenty minutes on her activity mat doing back and tummy time. She practices rolling for most of the time, finally giving up in frustration and exhaustion.

2:30 – 4pm During her afternoon nap I focus on blog work and writing thank you notes. While we were traveling I fell behind on thank you notes and now have a long list that I’m trying to get through each day. After writing a few thank you notes I move my focus to the blog. Just as I start to type my blog post I hear Katie on our monitor. After a few cries I head upstairs to change her diaper and try to calm her back to sleep. She isn’t interested in taking the last 15 minutes of her nap so I move her downstairs to the swing.

4pm – 5:30pm This afternoon feed tends to be when Katie is her fussiest so after she finishes her bottle we go on a walk around the neighborhood. It starts to drizzle so we quickly head home. Before going down for her last nap Katie and I play on her activity mat. This time she spends most of the time giggling as she looks at herself in the mirror and squirming around to music. clip_image007

5:30-6:30 The shortest nap of the day is also the most unpredictable. Some days Katie sleeps like a champ during this nap and other days she boycotts the nap. Katie must have been tired as I’m able to spend 45 minutes prepping tonight’s dinner before I hear her stirring in her crib.

6:30 – 7:30 Our hour-long evening routine is all about getting Katie relaxed for a good night’s sleep. Katie loves her evening bath these days, often kicking her feet and then smiling when she’s wrapped in her cozy, hooded towel. Next we change into footed pajamas before heading to the glider for her last bottle of the day. After she is done eating we typically read for 10-15 minutes before I put her in her sleep sack and kiss her goodnight.

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7:45 Once Katie is asleep I head downstairs to put the finishing touches on dinner and prep for the next day while enjoying a glass of wine. Once we are done with dinner I like to be “done” for the day so Bo and I can relax together. Therefore, while the chicken is in the oven I take 10 minutes to wash bottles and their parts, grind and program the coffee and prepare my Quaker Overnight Oats for tomorrow morning. In order to prepare the Quaker Overnight Oats, I simply open the individual cup container, pour 1% milk to the fill line, stir and cover with the lid, put in the refrigerator and let the flavors and ingredients cold steep overnight.

8-8:30 We eat dinner together while catching up on each other’s days.

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8:30 After dinner Bo suggests that I go upstairs to take a shower and read in bed while he cleans the kitchen. There are few words that sound sweeter after a long day and I so appreciate his willingness to help even though he had a long day at work. I take a luxurious 20-minute shower before heading to bed.

9-10pm My bedtime routine these days includes a candle, sipping tea or sipping wine, and reading a book in bed.

While no day looks the same at this point, I have found that building in some social time during the day really helps me while I’m staying at home with Katie. Whether that is a long walk with a friend or a workout, these dates help me feel less isolated. The other thing that has also helped is talking to Katie throughout the day. Even though she’s only 12 weeks old, I talk to her like an adult and provide a running commentary during the day explaining what we are doing and why we are doing it, even during the simple act of changing the diaper.

As always, if you guys have any questions, please continue to send them my way. I am in no means an expert but happy to do my best to answer your questions or lend support!

Thank you to The Quaker Oats Company for sponsoring this post.

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