This is a very good, lightly hydrating toner whose only weak spot is the inclusion of a few potentially problematic plant ingredients, including orange oil along with witch hazel, rosemary, and papaya extracts. Papaya in particular can be an irritant but more of a minor one than, say, lavender or menthol. Like most plant extracts, it's a good source of antioxidants, and antioxidants are plentiful in this alcohol-free toner.
It also contains a blend of cell-communicating (niacinamide) and repairing ingredients along with plant-based anti-irritants in a far more impressive mix than what we typically see in most toners. If not for the handful of less desirable plant extracts, this would've earned our top rating. As is, though, it's still worth considering and should prove helpful for those with an uneven skin tone.
Evenly Radiant Brightening Toner is recommended for all skin types except sensitive. Note that the Madonna lily doesn't have any research proving its worth for skin (Source: www.naturaldatabase.com).
Restore pH balance and prepare skin to receive optimal benefits from moisturizer or treatment with this skin-brightening toner. Formulated with our own Intensive Skin Brightening Complex containing Madonna Lily Plant Stem Cells, Bearberry, Niacinamide, Green Tea and C-Ester plus Papaya, Witch Hazel, Aloe and Chamomile, this refreshing toner promotes a fresher, brighter complexion. Ideal for skin showing signs of uneven pigmentation, discoloration, sun damage, freckles, age spots and dark spots.
Purified Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C, Stay-C® 50), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi (Bearberry) Leaf Extract, Lilium Candidum (Madonna Lily) Leaf Cell Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Salix Alba (White Willow) Bark Extract, Caffeine, Organic Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract (.2%), Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (.1%), Organic Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract (.1%), Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Rosa Canina (Rosehips) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Allantoin, Panthenol (Provitamin B5), Polysorbate 20, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Essential Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.
Derma E At-a-Glance
Strengths: Inexpensive considering the formulas; company provides complete ingredient lists on their Web site; an effective AHA product; tea tree oil–based disinfectants for acne; some good cleansers and a good toner; well-formulated mask.
Weaknesses: Jar packaging is rampant for many of the antioxidant-rich products; several boring moisturizers; abrasive scrubs; one skin-lightening product with questionable efficacy; products that contain the controversial ingredient DMAE; several products contain natural ingredients that have not been proven effective for their intended purpose; the anti-aging products with peptides make over-the-top claims not supported by what they contain.
"Formulated for results" and "We're serious about skin care" are phrases you'll see throughout the Derma E line—that and a heavy accent on all things natural. In business since 1984, this California-based, family-owned skin-care company's products are often seen in health food stores. We suspect the numerous questions we've been asked about the Derma E line are tied not only to their use of natural ingredients, but also to their emphasis on antioxidants, which they include in almost every product. In many cases, there are antioxidants aplenty; however, more often than not, the choice of jar packaging spoils the benefit the antioxidants Derma E chose could provide (air-tight packaging is critical because antioxidants deteriorate in the presence of air).
More so than any other line weve reviewed so far, where packaging is critical to ingredient efficacy and stability, Derma E has seemingly turned a blind eye to this glaring error. Because of that, there are very few products to extol or recommend, even though the line is priced fairly and some of the products have good formulations. But, just as you shouldn't eat food that no longer has any nutritional properties, the same goes for skin care, why bother if your skin isn't getting what it needs to be healthy?
The company's founders talk openly about their commitment to formulating quality products, often using proprietary ingredients (meaning ingredients unique to Derma E). Yet a quick look at the ingredients on the label shows that isn't true. Even if it were true, the notion that you would be getting something better for skin is sheer nonsense. There are lots of brilliant ingredients for skin available in the cosmetics world, and there is no single company that has a secret lurking in its laboratory that is a must for skin. It can be a very compelling story unless you know better, and if you don't already know better, you will after reading the reviews. Product after product either disappoints or comes in below average based on packaging issues or on problematic natural ingredients, the claims for which are based on folklore and anecdotal experience, not on solid science.
It all gets rather muddled where Derma E is concerned because several of their anti-aging products do contain some interesting peptides and impressive amounts of antioxidants. In many respects, the antioxidants chosen have reliable track records when it comes to their skin-care benefits. But again, jar packaging sabotages these performance-based ingredients to the point that it's difficult to take anything else the company does seriously. After all, if they can't get this fundamental right, what's the point of continually talking up their commitment to results-oriented products?
It doesn't seem that sun protection is very high on Derma E's priority list either. You'll find moisturizers and eye creams galore, including many with antiwrinkle and skin-firming claims—but only one sunscreen. One. In the entire line. And, surprise, it doesn’t contain natural sunscreen agents, at least not entirely. It never ceases to amaze me when "natural" product companies choose synthetic sunscreen actives when there are natural alternatives such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Synthetic sunscreens are perfectly fine, but if you're going to shout natural from the rooftops, why are you using synthetic sunscreen actives? Plus, any line that touts their anti-aging, antiwrinkle prowess should have more than one sunscreen. Walking away from the store after buying products only from this line is a guarantee you will be cheating your skin.
A common falsehood, perpetuated by Derma E and by many other cosmetics companies, is that their products are "natural" (whatever that truly means). Rest assured that that's about as probable as sandy, warm beaches in Antarctica (or a snowball in Hades). Derma E products contain many natural ingredients, but plenty of synthetic ingredients have been cast in major or supporting formulary roles. For example, Linda Miles, one of Derma E's founders, has stated that the company won't use the natural version of alpha lipoic acid because it is "a butcher house by-product," meaning it's derived from animals. She admits the company uses synthetic alpha lipoic acid, however, and she must be unaware that alpha lipoic acid need not be derived from meat; it also can be derived from spinach, carrots, broccoli, potatoes, yams, and yeast, all of which are very natural and, of course, not derived from animal flesh (Sources: www.naturaldatabase.com; and The Rose Sheet, May 26, 2008, page 4).
Miles also admitted that Derma E has struggled to find a good preservative system to replace the synthetic ones they currently use. That's not surprising, as it's an issue that any line that wants to go natural must deal with; the reality is that there are no natural preservatives that work as well in low amounts as the synthetic options.
We could go on about Derma E's claims in terms of what they do and don't use and will and won't do, but you've heard it all before from other natural lines. As is usually the case, there are some standout products to consider from Derma E. If the company overhauled its packaging to improve antioxidant stability, the handful of products would become a basket's worth, but there is no word on whether such a change is happening or even in the works.
For more information about Derma E, call (800) 521-3342 or visit www.dermae.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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