Safer Skincare: Beautycounter Review

Given my interest and affinity for all things “good health”, I guess you could say I was a little late to the game when it comes to one thing health-related: what you put on your skin. You’d think it’d be a no-brainer given how much attention I pay to what I put in my body, but it never occurred to me to consider what I put on my body. Part of that has to do with the fact that I don’t have much of a beauty routine to start with, but mostly it was just do to ignorance. Like they say, “you don’t know what you don’t know”.

beautycounter canvas pouches

It wasn’t until I was pregnant the first time around that even considered what I was putting on my body was necessarily safe. My little tiny skin-care world was rocked when I learned that the sunscreen I thought I was protecting myself with was potentially as damaging as the sunburn I was trying to prevent in the first place.

Thus began the seemingly never ending search for skincare/beauty products that were not only not hazardous, but worked and didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Luckily, companies are starting to catch on to the health conscious public’s need and it’s getting easier to find such things. I’ve actually been able to slather sunscreen on myself and my three year old this summer without having us walking around looking like white-slathered snowmen, which keeps both of us happy.

Now that I’m pregnant again, it’s time to start paying even more attention again to what I’m putting in and on my body. A friend of mine, Laura, {a fellow Pure Barre-er that I copied religiously during my first class when I was utterly clueless} let me borrow some of her safe beauty products from Beautycounter to test out. {Editorial note: this is not sponsored and I don’t make money from Beautycounter, just sharing with you!}

beautycounter products

Try it: Beautycounter Clean Cream Cleanser

I’d heard about Beautycounter and thought the company philosophy sounded great, but never paid much more attention to it and hadn’t gone as far as trying it. This was the perfect time to check it out.

For those that aren’t familiar with Beautycounter, here’s the deal in a nutshell: they have list “NO” ingredients that aren’t included in any of their products. {They’ve banned over 1,500 ingredients and just for comparison’s sake, our often better-at-regulating friends in Europe have banned 1,300. The U.S., by the way, has banned 11 and hasn’t updated this since 1938. Lame.} They also print their ingredients on the package labels, which is not a beauty industry standard. That means everything is transparent and you don’t have to go hunting for a list of ingredients and try to remember what’s dangerous and what’s not. {Honestly, I can usually remember parabens are bad and that’s as far as I get.}

It’s frustrating trying to remember what’s safe and what’s not, and especially what’s safe for pregnancy and what’s not. Beautycounter made it super easy by making all of their products pregnancy safe. {Especially rare with anti-aging products!} They even have a line specifically for kids, which is nice because honestly most of the time I care more about what I’m putting on my kid than on myself.

On to what I tried:

beautycounter natural beauty products


The Essentials line, including a cream cleanser, exfoliator polishing cream, and day and night moisturizers.

Rose Water Uplifting Spray

Lustro Oil #2 {Jasmine}

Lustro Body Oil {Rosemary + Citrus}

Countertime Eye Cream {from the anti-aging line}

Kids Body Wash & Shampoo

beautycounter kids products

What I thought:

Honestly I pretty much thought I’d be able to tell you a little bit about my experience but obviously not share any results after just a few days of use. But my skin really did look and feel better even after a use or two.

The best part was how hydrating everything was – while I used the whole line, my face felt more moisturized even just after using the cleanser, which is unusual {usually it dries you out and then you have to counteract the soap with lotion}. The moisturizer only added to the hydration and didn’t make my skin feel greasy or suffocated at all, even with adding in the Lustro oil {a blend of essential oils} for extra oomph. The same goes for the eye cream – moisturizing but not heavy. The exfoliator felt effective without being too harsh and abrasive, which is extra nice for my sensitive skin.

beautycounter review

The rose water smelled delicious and was a nice refresher and I feel in love with the body oil. I’ve always been a fan of oil-based moisturizes verses lotions, and this one was no exception. It felt good and soaked in quickly, and was super-soothing on my rapidly-expanding belly.

beautycounter kids line

My token kid-tester gave the kid bath line a shot. He hates bathing but put up with me to be a good sport. I loved that it smelled good without having toxic or artificial fragrances in it. {We skipped the conditioner because his curls are cut short for the summer, but we both liked the shampoo and body wash.}

So I’d say the products get two thumbs up and super extra bonus points for being safe and natural but still effective.

Some notes from Laura: 

Favorite Beautycounter products: 

Routine Clean Face Cleanser, The Vibrant Eye Perfector, The Hydrate body lotion, Nude Lip Sheer and Peony lip gloss.

Why she uses Beautycounter:

I became interested in the company when I was searching for safer products for my sons. My four-year old was having reactions to California baby and some of the other more natural brands that I was buying and he was experiencing eczema. I had always tried to watch what we ate and tried to eat as clean as possible but never really thought too much about all of the ingredients in the body products we were using. I was just trusting the labels. After I learned more about Beautycounter and it’s mission and learned about their extensive “Never List” I became passionate about sharing this information with others. It helped that the products performed well and were beautiful. Then after using them for 6 months or so I decided to become a consultant. I always walk away after meetings and socials feeling better that those people are more aware and can help spread the word and hopefully help makes some changes in the laws in the U.S.

If you’re interested in trying them out do so here: Beautycounter Safer Skincare <– psst Laura will throw in a free canvas beauty bag for any orders $150+.

If you have questions about the company or different products feel free to leave them below and Laura can answer them for you!


Try it:

Beautycounter Clean Cream Cleanser

Rejuvenating Night Cream

Radiance Serum

How to Keep Your Guts Healthy This Holiday Season

Hey guys – what follows is a sponsored post I’ve created with a brand that I believe in and we already use in our day to day lives. I feel good about supporting it and hope you do to. Here’s to a happy, memorable holiday season that doesn’t include that “uggggh” feeling from all the stress of “adulting” at the holidays.

Is your gut ready for the holiday season?

Gift-shopping, cookie-making, coordinating travel to every branch of your family… This time of year, might be magical, but it can also be stressful! I distinctly remember the first year as a parent with a kid old enough to be excited by the magic of the season, only to be absolutely floored by how much work went into making that “magic” happen as an adult. As a kid, it was simply about wrapping presents, baking cookies, and hoping for snowfall. But as an adult it’s also about planning, strategizing, and organizing (aka “adulting”). I mean, someone has to buy all the gifts for every extended family member (and figure out what to get Aunt Sally that already has everything) and sure, decorating sugar cookies is a tradition not to be skipped, but again, someone has to clean up the mess left in that sugar-frenzied mess. And somehow, though the weeks have the same amount of days as always, there just never seems to be enough time to squeeze in all of that holiday fun.

holiday fun healthy guts

While the holidays are fun, it’s easy to fall prey to the stress and exhaustion of the holiday season. Parties, kids’ concerts, cooking holiday meals… Not to mention the bloating and sluggishness from all the holiday fun and travel. It’s no wonder our immune systems can get compromised and leave us dragging and feeling “ugh”. It’s not all about time management though – did you know the balance in your gut plays a pivotal role in how you feel? To ensure you feel your best heading into the holiday season and keep that out-of-whack feeling at bay, make sure your gut is ready.

holiday season healthy guts

More than just regulating how our stomach feels after a meal, a healthy gut can help improve your overall physical and mental well-being. Research has shown that a healthy gut can help lower stress, boost energy, and improve sleep. It can even help boost immunity (at least 70% of your immune system is in your gut!) and even help with the dreaded post-holiday party hangover.

how to keep your guts healthy this holiday season

How can a healthy gut help with stress? It’s not just all in your head – there’s a physiologic reason for why you feel so crummy when you’re under a lot of stress. Our body reacts to stress (both the acute and the chronic kind) by releasing cortisol from the adrenal glands. Cortisol in turn kicks your immune system into high-drive and causes inflammation. That makes sense if you have an injury or infection you’re trying to fight, but can be pretty harmful if you’re constantly in such a state (like what happens with that chronic kind of stress). After the cortisol spike, your immune system gets suppressed to try to balance things out. Enter an open invitation for germs and that dragging, “ugh” feeling here. Those chronic levels of inflammation can also damage the lining of the gut, leaving it vulnerable to invaders and impairing digestion. Keeping your gut healthy can help prevent some of this damage and keep your immune system operating at its peak.

Even when we’re doing our best to keep our stress at bay, there’s still all the holiday meals, rich indulgences, and holiday parties to take into account.

A healthy gut can also help on those days when you get a little carried away with the magic of the season and drink one too many holiday cocktails. Probiotics (the “good” kind of bacteria) help mop up acetaldehyde, the toxic chemical that causes you to feel hungover. Plus, alcohol can destroy some of the healthy bacteria that live in your gut, so it’s important to restore those essential allies.

But how exactly do you achieve a healthy gut and power your potential to survive these common holiday season #adulting situations? Nutrition experts agree that one of the most efficient and impactful ways to bring balance to the digestive tract is with a daily probiotic like Renew Life® Ultimate Flora Probiotics, recommended for their blends of multiple strains and billions of live cultures which reflects the natural diversity in the gut.

probiotics for healthy guts

And while probiotics and a healthy gut can also help keep some of that post-holiday meal bloat and discomfort from happening in the first place, sometimes we need a little extra help. Taking an enzyme supplement like Renew Life® Digest Smart Enzymes before meals can help dispel gas and bloat. Digestive enzymes help break down food into smaller parts so that our bodies can absorb and utilize them, letting meal times remain memorable because of your favorite uncle’s milk-out-the-nose inducing jokes or passing embarrassing childhood photos around the table, not because you’re curled up in a ball of misery after indulging in your holiday favorites.

So, in the midst of all the planning, cleaning, and gift-wrapping, remember to keep a healthy gut (and immune system) a priority.

enzymes for healthy guts

[[Just a reminder, this is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics.]] 

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How I Squelched My Non-Stop Pregnancy Hunger

Two things I did to end that constant, gnawing pregnancy hunger while maintaining optimal nutrition.

I’ve always been a snacker. It doesn’t matter how big my meals are, I simply can’t go hours and hours between eating. I’ll never be a three square meals a day girl – even four doesn’t cut it. I’m completely and 100% okay with this and have gotten used to always having snacks on hand and knowing I’m probably going to want to eat before anyone else is ready.

How to end that constant, gnawing pregnancy hunger.

Despite this being my “usual” eating style, pregnancy has brought on a whole new level of hunger: a constant, incessant need to eat. Pregnancy hunger is real, y’all. And not just because I want to or have a craving or feel like I can, I’m really truly hungry. Even accounting for the extra calories needed in pregnancy {boy do I wish that eating for two thing was true}, I was still always hungry. {And even in the throes of the worst morning sickness, I was still hungry, how cruel is that? Or rather not hungry but always needing to eat…}

how i squelched my non stop pregnancy hunger

But back to pregnancy hunger – it was driving me absolutely crazy. No matter what I was eating or how frequently, I could never squelch the hunger. And trust me, hunger + pregnancy do not mix. Eventually after experimenting and searching and more experimenting I found two things that worked together to help keep the hunger and constant need to snack at bay. {Don’t get me wrong – I’m still eating and snacking plenty! It’s just helped eliminate that incessant gnawing in my belly even right after a meal. And also don’t get me wrong, I still am and will always be a fan of 2nd breakfast.}

#1. Fat first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Specifically in the form of what’s known as “bullet /// proof” coffee. {<—side note: writing it funny because I once got threatening lawyer letters because that name is copywrited and I’m not using their brand. Word to the wise if you ever write about this stuff.}

coffee butter cubes for crushing hunger

Pregnancy and coffee and any words involving bullet and proof probably don’t seem to go together, but since about the middle of the second trimester I’ve been able to tolerate coffee again {those were sad sad days in the beginning}. I stick to one cup of the regular stuff then switch to decaf. Don’t hate on the decaf.

But back to the fat. Fat helps keep you full; no secret there. But something about having it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach has helped me more than the most fad-loaded, protein-loaded breakfast I can make.

coffee butter cubes recipe to decrease hunger

I use a combination of coconut oil and clarified butter {I clarify it because I am still mostly dairy-free after eliminating while breastfeeding my intolerant son – I learned I do better without it as well}. Instead of adding to the work I need to do to get that first cup of coffee and an ungodly am hour, I prep it all ahead of time by putting it in an ice cube tray {I love these push-pop silicone ice cube trays} and keeping it in the freezer. Then I just pop a circle in my cup and brew the coffee on top so it melts.

butter and coconut oil cubes for staving off hunger

making clarified butter to remove dairy proteins

#2. This seems gimmicky but I’m being honest when I say it really has made an impact. I can’t narrow it down to exactly what factor is key, but adding protein powders + meal replacements to my drinks (or even oatmeal) has reduced my snacky-cravings and desire to eat all-freaking-day-long immensely. I typically reach for Orgain plant-based powder, but I’ve been known to get a little wild in the protein sample aisle. I can feel like a normal human being and eat every few hours instead of every few minutes. It’s admittedly pricey, but adds up to less than all the packaged snacks I was eating, and adds up to less than if I buy every ingredient separately and mix it together myself. Plus I’m lazy. The only part that stinks is that the three year old and the husband are addicted now too and I’m forced to share. I may or may not hide it wayyyy in the back of the cabinet and claim we’re out. Shh don’t tell.

shakeology vegan chocolate for pregnancy hunger

So I still snack plenty and listen to my body {aka eat when I’m hungry}, but I finally feel so much more normal and less low-sugar shaky and grumpy. You’re welcome, husband.

shakeology pregnancy

Any other tricks for putting a lid on constant pregnancy hunger? Or regular snack attacks?

The Program That Can Take Your Blog from Womp, Womp, to Thriving Business

Ok guys. This is a long one. BUT if you’re a blogger, an entrepreneur, an online business owner, or want to be any of those things, it’s a must read. And it’s not about me. It’s about my mentor Melyssa Griffin who is an absolute rockstar.—>
Three years ago, my friend Melyssa Griffin was struggling to grow an audience.

Posting 5 days a week on her blog and baaaarely making enough money to get by.

Today, she has a *thriving* business with over 90,000 email subscribers and multiple online courses that regularly bring in over 6 figures per month. (Yep. Per month.)

So the big question is — how did she make such a huge shift in just 3 years?

Ok — storytime. 🙂

Back when Melyssa was running a web design studio, her strategy for getting new clients consisted of 2 things…

1. Posting on her blog regularly to let people know they could hire her.


2. Posting on social media regularly to let people know they could hire her.

And the results?

{Sound familiar?}
No one messaging her to say, “Omg, I need your help!”

Maybe a couple likes from her family and best friends.

But no new clients.

She thought, “What’s the deal?! Aren’t people interested? How do others have wait lists of clients and I have zilch?”

Turns out, she was trying to grow her audience in the wrong place.

Eventually, Melyssa got herself an email list.

(Even though she’d been hearing about how important email lists are, she’d been putting it off because she “didn’t feel ready” to start one).

Then, despite the fact that she *still* didn’t feel ready…she sent out her first email to the few people who were on her list at the time (around 100 subscribers).

She didn’t talk much about her business or web design studio. But she did include a little image near the bottom, letting people know she was accepting new clients.

From that one email (and the tiny, easy-to-miss image inside), she got TWO clients!

(She also got several responses from people who just loved the email content itself).

So, Melyssa started to realize… she could post a photo on Instagram and get no clients and simple comments like, “nice photo!”…

…or she could simply send out an email to her list every now and then and get clients + authentic engagement. No brainer!

Growing and engaging with her list directly resulted in more clients and customers.

Now Melyssa’s email list has played the starring role in turning her blog into a million dollar e-course business. (You read that right. She crossed $1 million this year.)

Now, I know some of you out there are thinking, “That’s great for Melyssa. But I don’t have the first clue on how to build an email list, let alone make money from it!”
There are so many excuses and reasons for putting off our goals and settling for careers that make us dread days that don’t begin with the letter S.

But this life is the only one we have. And the struggles we’ve been through in the past (or even in the present) do not have to define what we do or feel tomorrow.

So, if you’ve felt that passion to start your own online business or create a profitable blog, then I URGE you to stick with it, even if you haven’t yet achieved the success you’ve hoped for.

Yes, it’s possible. Even with…

…A full-time job.

…A family and kids.

…A small budget.

…Fear that things may not work out.

…A lack of self-confidence.

Melyssa’s passion is now helping people just like you to create profitable blogs and businesses that allow them to live the lifestyle they want, no matter what they’ve been through or where they are right now.

And that’s why she created Blog to Biz Hive, which is NOW OPEN for enrollment – but only until Monday! 

BBH is Melyssa’s flagship program, which is designed to show you how to grow your blog’s traffic and email list, and then leverage your audience by launching a profitable online course.

And oh. my. goodness.

She goes ALL OUT in this course.

Over the years, Melyssa has tried just about every strategy to make money as a blogger — ads, sponsored posts, one-on-one services, selling physical products, and more.

But she’s found that e-courses have undoubtedly been the most profitable, least time-consuming to create, and most fulfilling. Not to mention, they’re the perfect monetization method for bloggers.

BBH is an extensive online course that shows you a proven, step-by-step process for finding your focus, growing your audience, and monetizing your blog with a profitable e-course.

The thing I love about Melyssa is that she has a fun teaching style where she’s able to break down complex ideas into simple, easy-to-follow steps. (Her thousands of students would probably agree!) And there’s lots of hand-holding to make sure you get results.

This program can be absolutely life-changing for your business, and I don’t say things like that lightly.

So if you want finalllly go from working your tail off with little return to getting kickbutt results from the get go, I highly urge you to sign up for Blog to Biz Hive before you miss your chance. It’s been SIX MONTHS since she offered it last and I don’t know when it’ll happen again.

Of course, feel free to ask me questions, but don’t wait too long to take that action you know you want to! Investing in yourself is the best way to get your business thriving.

Update: Oops, you missed it! Enrollment is closed. BUT some of her other courses are still open – and just as valuable to your thriving blog or business. Check them out:

Pinfinite Growth: Infinitely grow your traffic and email list with your new secret weapon: Pinterest

List SurgeGet 1,000 new email subscribers in the next 90 days with strategic list-building methods for bloggers and entrepreneurs

Social Media Superhero: Game-changing strategies so that you can grow your community and authority on social media


And psst. just so we’re clear: those are affiliate links!

Catchya Later

{What makes this post rather humorous, especially to me, is that it’s been in drafts for well over a month… insert crying laughing emoji here. #reallife}

So this crazy thing happens every summer where I decide that not arranging childcare is a good idea and that I’ll totally be able to stay on top of all my work and still have the adventure-filled summer that being self-employed and working from home allows.

summer baby

And then real-life happens and hits me in the face.

I like real life, so that’s ok. But it means if I still want the “fun with my kids” part of the summer, something has to give. And that’s usually this space here. See, it doesn’t affect anybody but me whether there’s new stuff happening here, so it’s the first thing that gets dropped when I need a little more “life” part of the work-life balance thing. But it’s killing me that the last post sitting up here is a dumb one about not being able to make decisions. So here’s this one instead; the one that says new content will back in September-ish.

brothersbrother love

Not a promise, just a probably.


Until then, you can still find me and our gluten-free, dairy-free eats on Instagram, and our unedited, behind the scenes, real-life on Snapchat.


Happy rest of summer.

Meal Plan Monday // Not Fall Yet

Preschool has only been in session for two weeks and already it’s completely thrown off my days. This is the first year KB hasn’t gone to school on Mondays, so my week is completely thrown off right from the start. We’re usually up for a few hours before I realize, oh! It’s Monday! Maybe I’ll catch on by the end of the year…

With the tease of cool weather we had in the mornings last week I though we were on the cusp of fall, but NC’s not quite ready to make the leap. I’d hope to squeeze in an apple-picking trip in between volunteering at the preschool consignment sale and KB’s first soccer practice {!!}, but that wasn’t the case. Just shy of 90 degrees didn’t quite feel like apple-picking weather, and I heard the apples were pretty picked over anyways.

While I was hoping for an all-things-apple packed meal plan for the week, I guess I’ll have to hold off on that just a little while longer. Hopefully we can still get our hands on some freshly picked apples this season.

Instead, here’s what’s on the menu this week. I think for once we might all actually be home more evenings than not, which makes meal planning a lot easier!

weekly meal plan ideas

{photo credits to links below}

Monday // Meatless Monday

Black Bean Pineapple Enchiladas


Mahi mahi with Crispy Roasted Potatoes {<– mahi from the freezer section at Costco – SO GOOD. I think it’s called Sea Salt Garlic Mahi Mahi or something similar. Makes everyone think you worked really hard in the kitchen. Shh I won’t tell.}


Slow Cooker Vegetable Korma {paleo, vegetarian}


Brussels Sprouts Cranberry Quinoa Salad {vegetarian}


Crockpot Baked Potatoes with Smashed Chili Beans {because I really want to believe fall is coming…and Fridays are for being lazy in the kitchen.}


Whatever’s left over.

Also… definitely making this sometime this week because why not?! –>>Paleo Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

meal plan monday

Anything good on your meal plan this week?

More meal plan ideas.