Carol's Daughter

Acai Clarifying Foam Cleanser

4.00 fl. oz. for $ 20.00
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Brand Overview

This liquid-to-foam cleanser will definitely wash away the oil. In fact, its main cleansing agent will wash away more oil that it should, likely leaving skin feeling dry and tight. The questionable cleansing agent is C14-16 olefin sulfonate. According to the final safety assessment for this ingredient, it can be drying and irritating to skin in concentrations as low as 2% (Source: International Journal of Toxicology, volume 17, no. 5, 1998, pages 39–65). That’s not good news when you consider that it’s most likely present at twice that amount in this cleanser (it’s the second ingredient). The concentration mentioned above referred to this cleansing agent’s use in leave-on products, but it also illustrates the fact that this isn’t a mild or particularly moisturizing cleansing agent, although Carol’s Daughter makes moisturizing claims for it. Even if the main cleansing agent were among the best available, the fragrant oils included will irritate skin and are a distinct problem when used around the eyes. It is not recommended.

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

Keep oily skin at bay with this gentle daily cleanser, which marries ingredients such as Lemongrass and Meadowsweet essential oils and Acai Berry extract to boost skin's moisture. Gently dissolves build up and oil while providing clean-feeling moisture and balances skins oil production with Lemongrass and Geranium for shine-free skin. Features Acai Berry extract, known for its antioxidant and anti-aging benefits.

Water, C14-16 Alpha Olefin Sulfonate, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Coco-Glucoside, Disodium Cocoamphoacetate, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus (Lemongrass) Oil, Verbena Officinalis Oil, Spiria Ulmaria (Meadowsweet) Extract, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai berry) Extract, Lactobicillus/Arundinaria Gigantea Ferment Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Phytate, Glycerin, Retinyl Palmitate, and Tocopheryl Acetate

Carol's Daughter At-a-Glance

Strengths: Company provides complete ingredient lists on their web site; one good facial moisturizer.

Weaknesses: Almost every product contains one or more irritating fragrant oils; under-performing skin care; the body-care products have mundane, often greasy, and repetitive formulas whose main difference is fragrance; sunscreen does not provide adequate UVA protection.

There has been an intense amount of curiosity about this line, clearly correlated with the amount of attention it's been garnering in fashion magazines along with the generous comments from several celebrities as it being their favorite. Of course, the preeminent hook is that Carol's Daughter is yet another line whose emphasis is on natural ingredients.

As the story goes the Carol's Daughter line was created by Lisa Price, who began mixing her own moisturizers at home in the early 1990s. She gave them to friends and family as gifts and, before too long, the brand launched as a mail order business with ensuing pomp and circumstance, and eventual distribution in Sephora and in major department stores.

Regardless of celebrity endorsements, what counts is whether or not the products contain ingredients that are helpful for your skin. Once you put the hype and marketing lingo aside you can get a clear picture of what is real and what is nonsense. It turns out that even though Carol's Daughter includes plenty of natural ingredients, it also has a fair share of synthetic ingredients, including preservatives, synthetic vitamins, triethanalomine, detergent cleansing agents, polyethylene glycol, and thickeners. What is particularly disappointing is that many of the natural ingredients are potent skin irritants, while the rest have little to no proven benefit for skin beyond folklore or anecdotal claims.

State-of-the-art ingredients and formulas are lacking; instead, fragrance reigns supreme, playing a central role in every Carol's Daughter product. This vast line has repetitive formulations with little rhyme or reason for their existence other than creating a product with a new name, label, and fragrance. The body-care products have the same basic formulas between sub-brands, with the only notable difference being a change in fragrance. Sweet, citrusy, or musky fragrances waft from these products like steam from a hot apple pie, but that's actually bad news for your skin.

Women often assume that the risk to skin from fragrance in skin-care products applies only to synthetic fragrance "chemicals" and not to fragrant plant extracts and oils, but that is absolutely not the case. Regardless of the source, most fragrances, natural or synthetic, can cause problems for skin, including damaging the skin barrier and breaking down collagen (Sources: Chemical Research in Toxicology, January 2008, pages 5369; British Journal of Dermatology, August 2007, pages 295300; Contact Dermatitis, July 2007, pages 110; Journal of Infection and Chemotherapy, December 2006, pages 349354; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, April 2003, pages 789798).

One other marketing angle this brand asserts deserves mention. The company insists that all of their products are made by hand (reminiscent of Kiehl's original claims before they were bought by L'Oreal). We're not disputing the love portion of that claim (though once you get the product home, love has nothing to with efficacy), but the handmade part is completely irrelevant. First, technically, all cosmetics are made by hand, because robots aren't doing the work. It is ludicrous to imagine that Carol's Daughter products are being batched up in some way that's different from a million other products from hundreds of other companies. How would that work for thousands of pounds of one product anyway? Hopefully, all cosmetics are being made in labs and manufacturing facilities that meet FDA standards for controls over the purity of the water and product contamination, to name just a few issues, and given that humans are doing the work, that counts for being made by hand as well.

As for the products themselves, they are, in many respects, a giant step backward in quality of formulation. The homemade, fresh-from-the-kitchen story is indeed sweet, but current science and research is what you want for your skin. Just like you wouldn't use a 10- or 15-year-old computer, given what we now know skin needs you would be trading good skin care for folklore and homespun tales. Carol's Daughter's formulas are more like using products from the 1950s than anything else. The packaging is as basic as it gets, and the facial-care and most of the body-care products are loaded with irritants.

For more information about Carol's Daughter, call (877) 540-2101 or visit www.carolsdaughter.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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