Cleansing oils are increasing in popularity as a gentle way for people to remove dirt and makeup while adding moisture back to skin (although for the record, lots of water soluble, oil-free cleansers are gentle and non-drying). Bobbi Brown's Soothing Cleansing Oil definitely works without making skin feel dry, but the inclusion of a couple of potentially iffy fragrance ingredients means it only earns an average rating.
Soothing Cleansing Oil comes in a large, clear plastic bottle with a pump-style dispenser. It's convenient packaging, because it helps control the amount of oil that comes out. The oil itself is lightweight and spreads across the face easily, removing both dirt and makeup. Bobbi Brown recommends rinsing this off with warm water, though unless you use another cleanser you'll have a small amount of residue left over. That's a good thing for dry skin, though those with oily or combination skin will likely want something that rinses a bit cleaner.
As far as the main ingredients go, this is comprised of emollients and plant oils, such as jojoba, olive, and sunflower seed oils. Though Bobbi Brown advertises the jasmine flower extract this contains, it doesn't have any special benefit, and is most likely included to impart fragrance.
Speaking of fragrance, the reason Soothing Cleansing Oil earns an average rating is because of its inclusion of lavender. What kind of lavender, you ask? Bobbi Brown only has it listed as "lavender" in the ingredients, so it's unclear exactly what part of the plant is being used (whether it's a leaf extract, flower extract, or the more potent lavender oil).
You can definitely smell it as soon as you dispense this oil, though again, it's not clear what part of the lavender plant is used in the formula. One thing is clear: Lavender can be a potential skin irritant, and considering that some of this oil will remain on skin even after it's rinsed, it's something to keep in mind, particularly if you have sensitive skin (see More Info for details on why even a little lavender oil in skincare products can cause skin damage).
If Bobbi Brown Soothing Cleansing Oil had left out the fragrance ingredients, it definitely would have earned a higher rating—perhaps even the highest! As it stands, it doesn't get our enthusiastic recommendation. We suggest instead one of the options on our list of Best Cleansers.
Lavender Oil: In-vitro research indicates that components of lavender, specifically linalool and linalyl acetate, can be cytotoxic, which means that topical application of as little a concentration as 0.25% causes cell death (Cell Proliferation, June 2004). This study was conducted on endothelial cells, which are cells that line blood pathways in the body and play a critical role in the inflammatory process of skin.
As linalool and linalyl acetate are both rapidly absorbed by skin and can be detected within blood cells in less than 20 minutes, endothelial cells are an ideal choice for such a test (Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, 1992). The results of this research also demonstrated that lavender has a damaging effect on fibroblasts, which are cells that produce collagen.
The fragrance constituents in lavender oil, linalool and linalyl acetate, oxidize when exposed to air, and in this process their potential for causing an allergic reaction is increased (Contact Dermatitis, 2008).
If you're wondering why lavender oil doesn't appear to be problematic for you, it's because research has demonstrated that you don't always need to see it or feel it happening for your skin to suffer damage (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
Bobbi Brown At-A-Glance
Strengths: A good cleanser and eye makeup removers; some impressive foundations, with options for all skin types and preferences; very good blushes and eyeshadows (powder and cream); several top-notch mascaras; mostly excellent brushes.
Weaknesses: Multiple moisturizers in jar packaging, otherwise great products hindered with irritating fragrant oils or fragrance components.
It all began with lipsticks. In 1991, New York based makeup artist Bobbi Brown debuted a collection of ten lipsticks at Bergdorf Goodman, expecting to sell about one hundred units in a month. She sold more than that the first day. From there, it's been mostly success after success, as Brown launched her classic foundation stick, wrote her first book, Bobbi Brown Beauty The Ultimate Beauty Resource, and enjoyed continued attention as an in-demand makeup artist and beauty educator.
Today, Bobbi Brown's makeup that continues to excel with superior foundations, true matte blushes and eyeshadows, and with all of the other basics that are essential to anyone’s makeup wardrobe. It isn't the least bit surprising that this makeup collection continues to do so well, because for many it's one-stop shopping that combines classic makeup application techniques with enough fun-yet-functional products to keep customer's interest piqued season to season.
Turning to the skincare collection, there are a few excellent formulas, but unfortunately, many are packaged in a jar, which means their beneficial ingredients are rendered useless due to air exposure (and bacterial contamination from spatulas or fingers). In addition, some suffer from the inclusion of potent fragrant essential oils. Those that should be avoided are noted in their respective reviews. That aside, color is without a doubt Bobbi Brown's strong point—but you will find a few sleeper hits among the selection of skincare products.
For more information about Bobbi Brown, call (877) 310-9222 or visit www.bobbibrowncosmetics.com.
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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