We'll start by stating this cleanser isn't really a genius, but it is an innovative formula that's best described as a hybrid of cleansing oil and cleansing cream in one easy-to-use product. It's a very good option for cleansing and removing makeup for those with normal to dry skin. Those with extra-sensitive skin should know this contains fragrance, which isn't the best, but the amount is low and the actual scent of this product is far from overpowering.
In order to use this waterless cleansing formula, you're directed to massage a small amount onto dry (rather than damp) skin. Once you've covered your face and eye area in an even film of cleanser (and this does feel somewhat film-y and greasy, but hear us out), you're supposed to dampen your skin with water and massage in circular motions, which turns the thin film into a slightly milky emulsion that, believe it or not, can be rinsed with water.
When rinsing, this doesn't feel like it's coming off. In our tests to remove makeup, we were certain quite a bit would be left behind and that our face would be left feeling greasy. As it turned out, this removed practically every trace of makeup and did not leave a trace of a greasy film, either—just soft, smooth skin!
The emollients and oils in this cleanser do their jobs well, but this is still too rich for those struggling with breakouts or combination skin with more pronounced oily areas.
What about Algenist's claim that their microalgae oil and alguronic acid ingredient are amazing? In short, they're not as incredible as Algenist would like you to believe but they're not bad ingredients for skin, either. What really make this cleanser so effective is its combination of non-fragrant plant oils along with other moisturizing ingredients that also work to break down makeup, allowing it to be rinsed away with no extra effort.
This unique, luxurious melting cleanser is the best of biotechnology and offers an unparalleled sensorial experience. The powerful formula combines both Alguronic Acid, a patented anti-aging breakthrough, and a new source of nourishing oil, Microalgae Oil, to visibly replenish and smooth skin. This transforming cleanser melts into a silky oil to gently and effectively lift away all traces of long-wearing makeup. Upon contact with water, this lightweight oil turns into a milky emulsion and rinses clean to wash away impurities leaving skin beautifully cleansed, soft and radiant looking. This new cleansing sensation delivers an unparalleled sensorial experience.
C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Water (Aqua), Sucrose Laurate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Chlorella Protothecoides Oil, Algae Exopolysaccharides, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Vaccinium Myrtillus Seed Oil, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), Chromium Oxide Greens (CI 77288), Benzyl Benzoate.
Strengths: Good facial cleanser and toner; select serums and moisturizers formulated with an impressive mix of anti-aging ingredients; Targeted Deep Wrinkle Minimizer really does make wrinkles less apparent.
Weaknesses: Expensive; the star ingredient (a modified form of algae) doesn't have reliable research to support its anti-aging efficacy; jar packaging; some of the moisturizers contain eucalyptus oil, which can be a potent irritant.
Algenist is a small, rather expensive range of skin-care products sold at Sephora with a focus on anti-aging. Like several other cosmetics companies, Algenist has based their brand on a single ingredient, an ingredient they claim has superior benefits for skin and that, therefore, is worth the steep price tag. In this case, it was the "accidental" discovery of a substance found in algae. As the story goes, a group of biotechnology scientists were looking for ways to use something called microalgae as a renewable source of energy when they stumbled upon a compound known as alguronic acid. Their research revealed that alguronic acid is one of the compounds responsible for regenerating and protecting algae cells.
Figuring they were on to something, the company did further in vitro testing (although the details of their tests are not available, so you only have a science-fiction style story, not facts) and, of course, found that alguronic acid had anti-aging benefits on skin, too. Aside from having no idea what their studies did or didn't really show, in vitro means this ingredient was examined in a petri dish, not directly on human skin. They did limited testing on human skin, but many key details of these "studies" are not available. Instead, we're asked to accept that their ingredient made a remarkable difference. At the time of this writing, there isn't a single published study attesting to the claims Algenist makes for alguronic acid—so you're taking an expensive leap of faith in buying these products!
Before you get seduced by Algenist's claims and their explanation about how algae reproduces, let us tell you—it has no relation to how human skin works. Algae is about as related to human skin as a 747 jetliner is to roller skates.
Whether the story about alguronic acid being the answer for your skin is true or not, it is critical to keep in mind that skin, and skin care, is far more complex than one allegedly miraculous ingredient. Think of it like your diet: As healthy as green tea is, if that's all you consumed, you'd soon be malnourished. Just like your diet should contain a healthy mix of nutritious foods, your skin (which is your body's largest organ) needs a wide array of helpful ingredients to become and remain smooth, healthy, and, yes, able to look and act younger.
To Algenist's credit, their products contain more than just alguronic acid. Most of them have a good blend of skin-repairing and antioxidant ingredients, although the ones they call out as key ingredients (such as apple stem cells) have no real published research proving their efficacy. Despite the fact that their products contain some tried-and-true anti-aging ingredients, Algenist makes the same mistakes as many other lines, such as using jar packaging (which won't keep any of the beneficial ingredients stable during use) and including fragrance or fragrant plant extracts to give the products an appealing scent. Fragrance isn't skin care and, in fact, more often than not, will cause irritation that hurts your skin's ability to look and act younger!
In the end, Algenist is not a must-have line, and it certainly isn't worth expanding your beauty budget to afford. There are some acceptable to impressive options for those who don't mind spending more than they need to for effective products, but you'll find a wider, often better range of options on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products.
For more information about Algenist, call (877) 650-1837 or visit www.algenist.com.
Note: Algenist lists the alguronic acid in their products as algae exopolysaccharides, which is the accepted cosmetic labeling name for alguronic acid.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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