What’s all this talk about “safer beauty”??

Beautycounter Safer Skincare and Makeup

Y’all, I’ve got to be honest with you: I have a new obsession. It’s called #switchtosafer.

After I had Adeline, I became hyper sensitive about what was inside the products I put on her skin. I think it was the realization that she was so pure. As a freshly born babe, her skin hadn’t even seen direct sunlight! So it certainly hadn’t directly absorbed any chemicals from lotion, shampoo, sunscreen, body wash, etc… and that realization made me think twice about every single thing I rubbed on her skin.

Then I wondered, what am I putting on my skin that rubs against her skin? And don’t even get me started on what did I use while I was pregnant that also affected her?! That’s a hole we just don’t want to go down.

To me, Adeline was a “new beginning,” and I wanted to make sure everything that touched her skin was the least harmful product possible. I wanted to make sure it was as safe for her as possible.

Enter my discovery of the #switchtosafer beauty movement.

Beautycounter Charcoal Bar and Mask Safer Beauty

Did you know that in the United States, there are almost no regulations on the beauty industry? The last federal law passed regulating the safety of the ingredients in personal care products was in 1938. NINETEEN THIRTY EIGHT, y’all. (source) Think about how much has changed since then. The beauty industry throws around all sorts of terms – natural, organic, blah blah blah – but in all reality, those words hold no weight. There’s nothing holding them accountable to what those words mean in the beauty industry because the FDA has no power to recall items or regulate how those terms are used. (source)

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done a lot of work so that we can be more knowledgeable about what’s inside the products we use. They’ve created a website called Skin Deep where you can search all of the products you use – face wash, makeup, shampoo, etc. – and they rate them based on their hazard concern from 1 (low concern) to 10 (high concern). These ratings are based on the ingredients in each product and what information is (or isn’t) available about their safety in personal product usage. (You can read more on how ratings are picked here.)

The most awesome part is that they have an app for your phone (called Healthy Living), so you can scan your products from your house! I got to scanning everything in our bathroom cabinets and quickly freaked out.

My daily hair product: 6
Bodywash: 5
Shampoo: 5
Conditioner: 5
Facewash: 5
Makeup remover: 4
Face lotion: 3
Blush: 6
Mascara: 3
Deodorant: 4
Toothpaste: 3
Adeline’s Baby Lotion (and it was Burt’s Bees!): 5
Adeline’s Baby Body Wash & Shampoo (Aveeno!): 4

You may be thinking those are middle of the line products, but think about all of those “moderate concerns” for cancer or developmental toxicities added together. And THEN the fact that I use every single one of those products once or twice every single day. Yikes.

This GIANT realization and the beginning of my life-changing switch to safer beauty happened at the same time that I discovered Beautycounter.

From one drugstore beauty buyer to the next, I’m always skeptical of direct sales stuff – mostly because I’m cheap, but also because I’ve been disappointed a lot. I’ve been to many direct sales parties and, frankly, I’m just not interested.

But the thing that caught my attention about Beautycounter is that they are all-in on this movement for safer beauty products. They stand behind their mission for safer beauty with their “Never List” of 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals they do NOT use in any of their products. They also publicly advocate for stricter federal laws to regulate safety and transparency in this industry because they believe in getting safer products into the hands of everyone.

So, I went to a Beautycounter Social – partially because I wanted to support my friend, but also because this idea of safer beauty products sparked my interest.

And, y’all, I am so in.

I didn’t buy anything from the first social I attended, but I agreed to host my own because I wanted to reap the host benefits. I had sampled the charcoal bar and fell in love with it because my face immediately started to clear up. The idea of rubbing black soap on my face was a little freaky, but the stuff worked like a charm and it wasn’t made up of harmful chemicals!

Beautycounter Safer Beauty Products

At my social, I ordered the nourishing cream cleanser, nourishing cream exfoliator, charcoal bar, tint skin foundation, mattify finishing powder and baby oil (used as a makeup remover AND for my baby). I dove right in because I loved what I had used and I wanted to clear my cabinets of the junk that they held.

Can I tell you that I haven’t been disappointed?? Since I started using Beautycounter’s face cleansing products in July, I look forward to washing my face every night! I love the smell, I feel like I’m pampering myself, they do a great job of removing my makeup and I know what I’m using won’t harm me or my baby. The best part is that my skin has been changing!! I still have breakouts (because HORMONES, CAN I GET AN AMEN), but they are drastically fewer and they don’t last as long. My skin is noticeably softer and, for once in my makeup-wearing life, I’m not embarrassed to be found without makeup on – at home or out and about.

I wish there was a way to say that and NOT sound like an empty sales pitch because it’s truly not. I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to become a consultant with Beautycounter because of exactly what I said earlier – I’m not into the direct sales thing: I’m cheap and I’m generally not into fancy beauty products. But over the past several months, I haven’t shut up about it. I’m obsessed with sharing Beautycounter with my friends, but I’m also passionate about sharing my newfound knowledge about switching to safer products in general. Beautycounter isn’t the only company who makes products rated 1 on the EWG Skin Deep website – there are many others! But Beautycounter is committed to getting safer products into the hands of everyone, and I am, too. For your sake, my daughter’s sake, and my own sake!

I plan on sharing more about my journey with Beautycounter, the products I’ve changed out as I #switchtosafer and I’d LOVE to chat with you more about any of this if you’re interested! Email me (laurenwithbeautycounter@gmail.com), comment below, or check out my “Why Safer Beauty” tab above to read more about my journey!

Tell me: what products do you use everyday that you want to #switchtosafer!?

*All photos in this post belong to Beautycounter.





The Best Handmade Shops YOU Should be Gifting this year

You guys, can you just scroll up again and look at all the photos of these gorgeous handmade pieces one more time?! My favorite part about being a creative is that we can make things, and I love even more when people get to make things for their livelihood!

The prints and decor items pictured above are all handmade by some seriously talented people – people who love what they do and what they make. I wanted to highlight some of them for you, to tell you a bit more about them/their shop AND a few of them have offered special discounts for you all!!

Check them out:

1 //  Winsome Easel

Kristin is the creative mind (and hands!) behind her lovely prints. She is actually from the town we moved from and our circles of friends overlapped, so we saw each other quite a bit. We even worshiped together at the same church! She is a lovely, inspiring woman of God on a mission and you could spend hours drooling over every time in her shop. She sells prints, pennant banners, custom invitations and beautiful woodcuts, all graced by her hand-lettered magic.

The heart behind her shop, so whimsically named Winsome Easel, is that she believes beautiful words and authentic relationships can transform this world. She wants to give you a visual reminder of words we know to be true, but sometimes forget. And she wants to help us celebrate the events and moments of life that make us filled to the brim with joy.

You can check out her shop and follow her on social media here:

2 // Ruffled Paper

Jess, the mastermind behind Ruffled Paper and all of its adorableness, and I kind of “go way back” in the blogging world. She has advertised on 34 Magnolia Street (I think even when it used to be The Albrechts Blog?!) and we’ve stayed in touch off and on since then. I’ve LOVED her prints for a long time – she has such a variety and they are so fun.

The “be brave” print of hers really strikes a chord with me because it seems like as twenty-somethings, we have to be brave to survive! We’re all in this weird tension between wanting to do great things, but not being quite there yet… we’ve got to be brave to make those dreams a reality. She also sent me her “don’t let the muggles get you down” print, which I just think is adorably hilarious.

** You can use the code MAGNOLIASTREET to get 20% off her prints now through 1/20/2015!**
You can check out her shop and follow her on social media here:

3 // Opus & Verse

Barbara was so fabulous to work with throughout this process – you can tell she truly loves what she does. To see a little glimpse into who she is, check out her very own words about starting her shop:

“I love maps! Truly, everything about them — the vintage color combinations, the intricate details, the names of the cities and countries, the unending possibilities they represent. I have been working with maps since I started my first Etsy shop — Magpie and Max — back in 2011, where I make banners and other decor from vintage maps, vintage books and vintage sheet music.

But with Opus and Verse, I wanted to do something more artistic and keep the maps intact. I started by making a few as gifts for friends — travelers, new moms, fellow map-lovers. The response was great and I knew I had to start separate shops for these prints. I enjoy the process of creating each one and love it so much when my customers send me photos of their prints in place at their home, especially in nurseries and children’s rooms. I also love making custom prints for people, so they have just the right wording and map for their space. I always use REAL vintage maps and not photocopies or prints, because I think there’s a real difference in the quality and feel of the piece when the maps are authentic.”

**You can use the code OPUS2014 to get 25% off your entire purchase now through 12/31/2014!**
You can check out her shop here:

4 // The Rustic Orange

Annette seems like such a vibrant lady, from the brief conversations and Instagram stalking I may or may not have done once she agreed to work with me… ;).

But seriously, her pieces are oh, so adorable! I’d encourage all of y’all to check her out on Instagram, since her Etsy shop is on hold until she gets through her next craft show! Despite her Etsy break, be sure to visit her shop and “heart” it, so you can get updates! It’s stalk full of adorably inspiring and I-need-this-now pieces.

This little wooden, glittery, encouraging block has added the perfect bright touch to our dining area!

You can check out her shop and follow her on social media here:

5 // Ace Avenue

Rachel and Drew are the creatives behind their stunning handcrafted wooden signs, knives and furniture. I’ve been eyeing those signs for a while now (haven’t you seen them all over Pinterest?!) and jumped at the chance to partner with them! The inspiration for their shop comes out of their desire to share the hope, comfort and love they’ve found in Christ.

Decorating our home with reminders that Christ is truly all we need is one of my goals because, despite the glaring beauty of that truth, it’s too hard for us to forget! I adore this rustic sign Rachel made us.

**You can use the code MAGNOLIA for 15% off their shop now through 11/30/14!**
You can check out their shop here:

6 // Naptime Diaries

Jess and her team at Naptime Diaries have been such an inspiration to me for a looonggg time. Her work is beautiful, and she has such a heart for encouraging women in their dreams, but also in where you are right now. Because sometime life is just straight up hard.

If you’re looking for inspiration – this is your stop. Check out her blog and her shop, and then go spend some time in the Word. Because you’ll want to.

**You can use the code MAGNOLIA for 15% off now through 11/30/14!**
You can check out her shop and follower her on social media here:

Phew, I hope you loved these prints and decor items as much as I do! It has been such a pleasure to share these shops with you because I’m a big believer in chasing big dreams, even when it’s scary. All of these ladies (and men!) are chasing their dreams in ways that inspire me to dig deeper into my own.

I hope you’ll feel that same little push in your heart. Also, I hope you feel that little push to go check out some of these great entrepreneurs! They deserve a few seconds of your awe today 🙂

P.S. HAPPY FRIDAY Y’ALL!! Let’s celebrate for a second.

1 Month Shop Reflections & a Giveaway!

Well, it’s been just over a month now since I opened my shop. The shop I’ve been dreaming of and talking about for more than a year!

And a month in, I’m very proud of my little corner of the e-commerce world. Not only did I blow my first month’s sales goal out of the water ($50) – I tripled it! So thank you to all of y’all who made purchases and encouraged me along the way! It’s an exciting ride, for sure.

Interested in what I’ve learned so far?

+ Launching is the easiest part. I built a lot of hype for the launch date on this blog and my social media platforms, so people were ready and knew it was coming. The day it launched, I had a bunch of page views, tons of social media shares and, the best part, the sales started flowing in! It was a dream come true. I don’t think I stopped smiling for a single second that day.

+ Ongoing marketing is a completely unknown world to me. Now that the launch date hype has come and gone, now what? Right now I’m learning a lot about marketing my shop in the day-to-day… what does that look like? How can I do it differently to gain traction in a world swimming with e-shops like mine? I have an Instagram specifically for my shop, and am launching the Facebook TODAY, but I’m paddling in an ocean here, for sure.

+ Balancing my shop with a full time job, blogging, being involved at church, investing in my marriage, spending time with friends, sitting in the quiet before the Lord and actually sleeping well is really challenging. I’m constantly learning and re-learning balance and shifting what is a priority that day.

+ I have a lot to learn. There’s so much I’m really clueless about – take e-shop marketing, for instance. But there are also classes I’d like to take to further develop my skills! I also have a lot to learn in the profit area – how much do I take for profit? How much do I re-invest in my shop for marketing, for learning, etc?

Now I know there are lots of y’all out there with shops, too! What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?

So Let’s Celebrate!

But, because I’m so thankful for how much you all have supported me, spread the word about my shop, and encouraged me beyond belief, I want to give back to you & say thanks in a fun way! So today I’m giving away two prints to my shop – you can enter to win in the Rafflecopter widget below! You don’t have to be a blogger to enter, and this is open to people outside the U.S. The winner will receive two PDFs of the prints of their choice via email. The giveaway is open for a week – good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


P.S. If you’re looking to learn more about these things yourself, I wrote a list of the books I’ve learned so much from already – check it out here.

Practical Steps to Dreaming with Intention

You guys have to be sick of me talking about chasing dreams by now, right? I hope not, because I don’t plan on stopping. I wholeheartedly believe that God gave us passions to use for his glory, and dreaming big is one avenue to be obedient in that way!

Now dreaming big is fun, but you can’t stop there… not if you want those dreams to become a reality, anyway. To do that, you have to take some action steps.

Write out your dreams and goals. 

I know this sounds corny, but take time to really think through what you want to accomplish. This might take a while, and that’s okay. It’s hard to sift through what other people tell you to do and what you actually want to do.

Write out achievable steps to get there. 

Sometimes it’s easy to work backward. So you want to write a book? Okay, when do you want to be finished – a year from now? That’s twelve months. Keep dividing that down to figure out how many words you need to write each month, week, and even each day. To launch my shop, I made a list of literally every single thing I could think of that needed to be done – researching, brainstorming a name, setting up listings, creating business documents, designing new products, etc.!

Tell someone your plans.

Choose someone who will hold you accountable and act as a great sounding board throughout the process. My awesome and long-time friend Abbie fulfilled this role for me. A lot of friends knew I wanted to launch a shop, but she helped me come up with the name, checked in with me periodically, and encouraged me to keep going when I couldn’t see how close I was to the finish line!

Carve out time to work on the steps you outlined. 

Even if you’ve followed all of the other steps, not making time to do those things won’t get you anywhere!! And life is busy, I totally get that. So sit down with your calendar and decide how you’re going to make this happen – I’ve started getting up at 6 am to work on dream things before my 8-5 job starts.

I love seeing people chase after things they love, and I’m so inspired by them! I hope this short list convinces you to do that thing you’ve been putting off for way too long. What are the dreams you need to start chasing??


On Hitting “Publish” Daily

Blogging is scary.

When I look back at old journals from high school, sometimes I cringe….  Did I really believe that? Did I really think that way? I feel so much wiser (in some areas, anyway) five years later. But at the same time, I know I have leaps and bounds of growth ahead of me still. 
That’s the scary thing about blogging. I hit “publish” on some of my thoughts almost every day and they are immediately plastered on the internet for people to see and interact with. I wonder if in five more years, I’ll look back at some of these words and cringe with similar feelings.
I’ve been reevaluating this blog lately. Not only because of the “fear factor” of my words kicking me in the butt later, but also because of the effort and sometimes even the pressure I put on myself to make this happen every day. Is this little space worth the hours of time spent on it every week? Could that time be better spent with Jacob, friends, at the gym, meeting my neighbors, or straight up resting? 
If I’m honest, I think I just started wondering, “What’s the point?” But then I finished reading Jeff Goins’ You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One).

He wrote a section about how there comes a point that the excitement of your new venture wears off, and you start questioning yourself. You forget why you started and what you wanted to accomplish in the beginning, and you’re tempted to quit. But this is the time to really dig in and push through, if you really want it. The reason you started – if that’s still what you want, don’t quit when things get though. Keep going. Push through it.

When I started this blog, I wanted to grow in writing. I wanted to share what’s going on in our lives and document things because – if you remember the tagline from “The Albrechts Blog” header – memories are too easily forgotten.

I want this blog to be a creative outlet for me, a continually growing documentation of our lives and our journeys with Christ, and a place to celebrate the gifts and joys of being here on this earth. I still want those things. I still want to share our speck of a story with the world and I absolutely want to write because I love it.

So for those of you hitting a plateau in your goal or dream – don’t stop. And if you need some encouragement, find a good book or resource to learn. I promise you, learning about what I love makes me love it more, and reignites that fire that was once a lot stronger. Sometimes you just need that.

PS I shared some of the books that re-inspired me to chase my dreams yesterday – you can check them out here.

Behind the Scenes: Books that Helped me Hustle

I’ve been a reading machine lately. Well, a reading machine for me. I have this friend who is a crazy fast reader (love you, Lauren!) and has already read more than 170 books this year!!!! So don’t think I’m reading like that, because I don’t think I could ever reach that bar she has set so high. 😉

But I have been reading a lot and I just can’t get enough. I’ve been on a follow-your-dreams kick, which I’m sure you have easily noticed. But these books have really helped me kick my butt into gear, open my shop and learn how to grow my new business!

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
This book helped me really look at how I spend my time each day (and week!) to see how I can use my time better. We all have 168 hours in a week, and there are many people who use those hours well. So well, in fact, that we think they simply must have more time us… but they don’t! They have full family lives, successful careers, are in great shape, etc. The author gives super practical ways to log your time and assess how you can maximize what you love by minimizing what you don’t.

Grow Your Handmade Business: How to Envision, Develop, and Sustain a Successful Creative Business
 by Kari Chapin
This book was recommended to me by my friend Allison, who has an adorable Storenvy shop for embroidery that I honestly do “envy” very much. 😉 I had approached her with a few questions about starting a shop and she told me about the books she had read by Kari Chapin. This book is a very quick read, but was so helpful to get a “behind the scenes” look at how to come up with a business plan for people who have no idea what that means (AKA me). It’s a great book to lay down some basic knowledge for business newbies.

Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff
I read this book about a year ago now, and I think this is what really lit the fire that has been burning in me since then. Jon is witty, inspiring, and downright hilarious. This book left me unsatisfied with doing what I’ve been doing… not in an ugly way, but rather in a motivated way to make a difference! He is the guy who inspired my 6am club habit, by the way.

What books have you read and loved because they inspired you?! Tell me in the comments – I’m always hungry for more good reads.

Also, do you have a Goodreads account? Let’s be friends and share books!