Given the sorry state of most toners, it’s surprising and refreshing to see such a good entry from Fresh! Although this toner has some issues worth considering before handing over your money (and speaking of money, this is definitely on the pricey side), there’s enough to love that we feel comfortable recommending this—there are so few good toners, let alone great ones.
Starting things off well is the alcohol-free formula that’s front-loaded with soothing oat kernel and a good mix of antioxidants which have multiple benefits for skin. This also contains the cell-communicating ingredient adenosine, which research shows can help skin make better, healthier cells. The formula also contains a light mix of hydrating ingredients that work to smooth skin and reinforce the benefits from your moisturizer (with or without SPF).
The downside mostly stems from the fragrance, which comes from fragrance itself plus fragrant rose water and fragrance chemicals like linalool and citronellol. Although this toner isn’t super-fragrant, it must be said that the fragrance ingredients do pose a risk of irritation, so this toner isn’t a sure thing for those with extra-sensitive skin or rosacea. Otherwise, it’s a suitable option for all skin types, including breakout-prone.
Note: This toner is packaged in a glass bottle, so isn’t the best choice if you tend to drop things while getting ready in the morning!
This radiance-boosting formula softens the skin which allows ingredients to penetrate more deeply, enhancing the efficacy of your complete skincare ritual. A proprietary complex derived from a potent blend of black tea, blackberry leaf extract, and lychee seed extract is proven to inhibit damaging free radicals and improve skin elasticity while polysaccharides help to smooth the skin.
Water, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract, Rubus Fruticosus (Blackberry) Leaf Extract, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Litchi Chinensis Seed Extract, Adenosine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Tocopherol, Glycerin, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, PEG-150, Fragrance, Butylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Tetrasodium EDTA, Maltodextrin, Carbomer, Tromethamine, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, BHT, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Potassium Sorbate, Biotin, Phenoxyethanol, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol.
The story of how Boston-bred "fresh" came into existence is full of compelling adjectives and phrases like "dynamic," "passions," "inspiration," and "destined to create." It seems that back in 1991, two happy newlyweds, both with artistic backgrounds, felt there was a void in the world of luxury bath soaps. They searched far and wide, but could not find a soap that met their criteria. They began experimenting, gained a following for what they developed, and fresh was born.
Their success has led them from a single boutique in Boston to a series of shops in New York City and a presence in upscale department stores such as Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. In 2000, fresh was purchased by luxury good purveyor (and owner of Sephora) LVMH, which is not surprising given fresh's price point and positioning.
Naturally, given all of this attention, fresh quickly expanded beyond soaps. They now also offer "future of beauty" products that capitalize on such innocuous-sounding, good-for-you ingredients as black tea, rice, and soy, coupled with the latest scientific advances. In other words, according to fresh, they're giving you the best of nature and science, with a heavy accent on natural (even though in most cases it's the synthetic ingredients that are responsible for their product's texture and functionality).
In the marketing copy each fresh product includes a history of how it came to be. It's pleasant to read about products inspired by stories passed down from one generation to the next, and about cultural secrets that have been discovered, incorporated into cosmetic potions, and adorably packaged for your "fresh lifestyle" experience. However, we wouldn't encourage anyone to rely on fables and anecdotal information when it comes to making serious decisions about how to care for your skin, any more than you would do so to make dietary or health-care decisions. What your grandmother ate or what your great-grandmother put on her skin is no more relevant than basing your computer needs on what they were using back then. We now know a lot more about skin care than ever before in history. Going back to the old ways may sound idealistic, but that doesn't take the best care of you.
Almost the entire fresh premise revolves around their products' fragrance content. For all their talk of cutting-edge technology and the wisdom of traditional remedies, what you will notice most about all of these products is the almost overpowering fragrance. Compared with countless other skin-care and hair-care lines, including Aveda, Bath & Body Works, and Origins, fresh is far more perfumed—and that spells trouble for all skin types. Perfume and eau de cologne, natural or otherwise, are serious problems for skin. The irony is that fresh's signature scents are what put them on the map, and what continue to enthrall consumers. (Women find it hard to give up fragrance in their skin-care products, just like lots of women can't eschew sun tanning, smoking, or using overly expensive skin-care products.) In contrast, many of the natural ingredients in fresh products are present only for show, not effect, and the effects from the beneficial plants are impeded by irritating plant extracts.
From facial skin care to body and hair care, fresh products are a collection of relatively standard to below-average formulations counting on the romanticized stories behind them to help them make the leap from store shelf to your home, and that seems to be happening quite a lot. However, very few of fresh's facial-care products have anything that approaches the current state of the art, especially in regard to interesting skin-identical ingredients, anti-irritants, or antioxidants. And for all the fancy posturing, their soaps are just that, soap, and the fragrance is the only unique aspect of each. None of this makes for superior skin care.
For more information about fresh visit www.fresh.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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