Hyaluronic DMAE Lift & Firm Cream could have been a relatively good option for normal to dry skin, unfortunately it is packaged in a jar and contains a few less than desirable ingredients for a formula intended for daily use. What beneficial ingredients it does contain (and there are several) are compromised upon exposure to air and light. See More Info for the additional details on the disadvantages of jar packaging.
The jar packaging is an especially unfortunate choice, as Andalou Naturals took the care to include multiple antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients. Resveratrol, ubiquinone (CoQ10), vitamins E and C are all prone to breaking down with repeated exposure to light and air. To aid in repairing dry skin, argan, jojoba and sunflower oil are present, as well as shea butter—a comprehensive package to reduce signs of aging.
Andalou Naturals includes their Fruit Stem Cell mix, as is the case with many of their products, but we should note that fruit stem cells have no special demonstrated anti-aging benefit for skin (aside from their potential as antioxidants). See the More Info section for additional details on stem cells in skincare.
The inclusion of the controversial ingredient DMAE is another misstep. Also known as dimethylaminoethanol, DMAE research has conflicting results in terms of its anti-aging effectiveness and subsequent risk to the skin. It seems to offer an initial benefit that improves the skin, but these results are short-lived and eventually give way to breakdown of the substances in skin that help build healthy collagen (Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 2007 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2005).
Despite its beneficial ingredients, Hyaluronic DMAE Lift & Firm Cream earned its rating because of its use of the ingredient DMAE and its jar packaging, which renders what benefits are provided largely useless. See the Best Moisturizers Without Sunscreen list for moisturizers that don't share the weaknesses of this product.
Note: The marketing for this product makes note of supposed "Lift & Firm" abilities. While healthier skin can be firmer to the touch, once skin has begun to lose elasticity and sag, there isn't anything topical that can reverse this progression outside of cosmetic procedures.
Last, please refer to the brand summary for a discussion of Andalou Natural's BioActive 8 Berry Complex.
Jar Packaging: The fact that it's packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air. Therefore, once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria that further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients.
Antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients not only can help prevent free-radical damage, but also, to a fairly impressive extent, help repair that damage. Surprisingly, almost all of these ingredients are just as vulnerable to light exposure, pollution, and cigarette smoke as your skin. That means the vast majority of ingredients that are most beneficial for your skin are not stable in the presence of light and air (Pharmacognosy Review, 2013 & Journal of Biophotonics, 2010).
One of the critical factors in any anti-aging or skin-healing formula is the amount and variety of antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients, and the more the better. These function in a variety of ways to reduce the effects of the constant environmental stresses your skin experiences (Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012 & The Journal of Pathology, 2007).
Once you open that jar you bought, you immediately compromise the stability of the anti-aging superstars it contains. (You can visualize their benefits disappearing like puffs of air each time you open up that lid!)
Stem Cells in Skincare: Stem cells are cells in animals and plants that are capable of becoming any other type of cell in that organism and of producing more of those cells. Despite the fact that stem cell research is in its infancy, many cosmetics companies claim they are successfully using plant-based or human-derived stem cells in their anti-aging products. The claims run the gamut, from reducing wrinkles to elastin repair and cell regeneration, so the temptation for consumers to try these is intense.
The truth is that stem cells in skin-care products do not work as claimed. In fact, they likely have no effect at all because stem cells must be alive to function as stem cells. Once these delicate cells are added to skin-care products, they are long dead and, therefore, useless.
Plant stem cells, such as those derived from apples, melons, flowers, and rice, cannot stimulate stem cells in human skin, but because they are from plants these ingredients likely have antioxidant properties. Actually, it's a good thing plant stem cells can't work as stem cells in skin-care products; after all, you don't want your skin to absorb cells that can grow into apples or watermelons!
There are also claims that because a plant's stem cells allow a plant to repair itself or to survive in harsh climates, these benefits can be passed on to human skin. How a plant functions in nature is unrelated to human skin, and these claims are completely without substantiation.
Another twist on the issue is that cosmetics company's claim they have taken components (such as peptides) out of the plant stem cells and made them stable so they then can work as stem cells. This approach is not valid because stem cells must be complete to function normally. Even if you could isolate substances or extracts from these cells and make them stable, there is no published research showing they can affect stem cells in human skin.
Strengths: Good options for well-formulated facial moisturizers and serums; many products contain multiple antioxidants; a few good toners; (mostly) refreshingly free of hyperbole that is common with many “natural-themed” brands; reasonably priced products; multiple broad-spectrum sunscreen options.
Weaknesses: A few moisturizers packaged in jars; some products contain potentially problematic amounts of fragrance ingredients; lacks research-proven treatments for acne; the body-care products tend to be overly fragrant; claims about plant stem cells are over the top as they don’t renew or generate human cells of any kind.
Andalou Naturals is a rare presence in the saturated market of natural-themed cosmetics lines because the brand manages to keep the focus on their products and ingredients without resorting to the silly “scary chemical” and fear-mongering marketing approach common to so many other natural lines.
Just as impressive as their marketing are many of their formulas, several of which include many antioxidants and multiple skin-repairing ingredients, and aren’t laden with natural fragrance ingredients, which may please your nose but can be very irritating to the skin, even if you don’t see or feel the damage taking place.
Headquartered in Petaluma, California, Andalou Naturals was founded by husband and wife Mark and Stacey Egide—both of whom also created the Avalon Organics line. The duo sold Avalon Organics in 2002, and started Andalou Naturals in 2011, where it’s sold at health food stores and online.
Visit their site and you’ll quickly find the brand is focused on the “feel-good” approach to skin care. Andalou Naturals brand philosophy is heavily steeped in philanthropy: Their “A Force of Nature” fund regularly donates to various nonprofit groups, and every order you place on their site adds $1 to this fund. How wonderful!
Andalou Naturals offers an extensive line of face-, body-, and hair-care products, themed around what they call, “Fruit Stem Cell Science,” which includes extracts from apple, grape, and argan. While these types of ingredients have antioxidant benefit, the idea that they work like your stem cells to turn back time isn’t supported by published research of any kind.
Stem cells work only if they are alive, and in a skin-care product, they are long dead. Not to mention that even if stem cells could survive the skin-care formulation process, an apple stem cell is helpful only to an apple—your skin cells wouldn’t have the first clue how to use stem cells from a plant. Stem-cell research is still in its infancy—science is just beginning to understand how stem cells work and/or how they can actually benefit our health; the cosmetics industry isn’t beating the medical industry in this regard!
The company also includes what they refer to as “BioActive 8 Berry Complex” in many of their products. This is really a blanket name for a mix of non-fragrant berry juice extracts (acai, aronia, bearberry, bilberry, black elderberry, goji berry, rosehips berry, and sea buckthorn berry). All of these ingredients have antioxidant function on the skin, but, again, they aren’t miracle ingredients by any stretch, nor is Andalou Naturals the only line using them.
We should note that Andalou Naturals, at the time of this review, doesn’t list all of the ingredients in their “BioActive 8 Berry Complex” on their product labels. While the individual berry extracts mentioned above are listed on their website as part of their marketing messaging, they omit them on their products, which violates International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) and FDA labeling regulatory requirements. This is an important oversight, because you have the right to know all of the ingredients in your skin-care products, without having to jump through extra hoops. We hope the company rectifies this in the near future.
On a more positive note, we found that many of the skin-care products Andalou Naturals offers were good—mostly for normal to dry skin, although there also are a few winners for those with oily to combination skin. Many contain some amount of fragrance (but to their credit, the facial formulas that did contain fragrance mostly had only a minimum amount, which is not typical of natural-themed lines).
We were especially impressed that they avoided the boring or basic formulas so common among natural skin-care brands. Several of their products contain the types of beneficial ingredients that have plenty of published research to back up their claims. What a great change of pace!
The missteps were the few instances of jar packaging (which marred what would’ve otherwise been well-rated products) that expose delicate ingredients to air and light, as well as their body-care formulas, which tended to include higher amounts of fragrance.
For more information, call (888) 898-6955, or visit www.andalou.com.
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