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TheBalm

Almond Microdermabrasion Face Exfoliating Scrub

2.36 fl. oz. for $ 36.50
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This is a standard, but good, facial scrub that's best for normal to oily or combination skin. Two forms of polyethylene (ground-up plastic) are the abrasive agents, and they're fairly gentle. The scrub ingredients are joined by cleansing ingredients, so this is more of a two-in-one product (cleanser + scrub) than a plain scrub—although lots of other brands offer this convenience for a lot less money. For additional details on plastic microbeads in cosmetics, see the More Info section below.

The fact that this easy-to-rinse scrub is packaged in a jar isn't a big deal because there's nothing in here that will break down with repeated exposure to light and air, save for a teeny-tiny amount of green tea and almond extracts—really too little for the skin to benefit—and this is rinsed from the skin anyway, so it won't matter. Otherwise, the packaging isn't an issue, unless you plan to use this in the shower, where this type of packaging will easily allow water inside, potentially creating a breeding ground for mold.

One more comment: Despite the name, the results and the texture of this scrub are not akin to a microdermabrasion treatment—not even remotely. In fact, scrubs are merely a cleansing adjunct, not a treatment for problem skin. For best results for such concerns as breakouts, clogged pores, and signs of aging, scrubs are not preferred to well-formulated AHA or BHA exfoliants.

Pros:
  • Leaves skin feeling soft and smooth.
  • Easy to rinse.
  • Fairly gentle formula.
Cons:
  • Results are not akin to a microdermabrasion treatment, so the name is misleading.
  • Contains only a tiny amount of beneficial plant extracts, and they are rinsed off the skin.
Jar Packaging: Yes
Tested on animals: No

Almond Microdermabrasion Face Exfoliating Scrub is designed to remove dead surface skin cells and leave your skin smooth.

Water, Polyethylene, Oxidized Polyethylene, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Stearic Acid, Jojoba Esters, Glycerin, Propanediol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Silica, Ceteareth-20, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Extract, Fragrance (Parfum)

Today, most cosmetics companies seem to be launched for one of three distinct reasons: they come about as the extension of a high-end fashion house's brand (like Burberry, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, or Armani); they're created by some corporation under the endorsement of a celebrity (Drew Barrymore's Flower Beauty or Kat Von D's line); or, as is the case for theBalm Cosmetics, an entrepreneur saw an "unfilled niche" in the cosmetics market and decided to get to work.

theBalm was founded in San Francisco by Marissa Shipman, who spent years trying to break into the cosmetics industry before forming her own company in 2004. As the story goes, she crafted her own products in her kitchen by consulting makeup books she bought from Amazon.com. Eventually she was able to hire a chemist, get a lab (Bye-bye, kitchen workshop!), and secure distribution through cosmetics retailer Sephora. theBalm's products have (pardon the pun) exploded and are now sold in dozens of countries worldwide.

It's interesting to note that theBalm is quite reminiscent of the Benefit brand; the similarity of the packaging, marketing, colors, product selection, and even the place of origin - San Francisco is blatant. Featuring recyclable cardboard packaging with retro pinup-style artwork and cutesy names, theBalm line includes both makeup and skin care products, and is reasonably priced, although it's definitely more expensive than what you'll find at the drugstore.

The company's makeup is definitely its stronger suit, with some good options, such as a couple eyeshadow palettes, the mascara, and its pressed-powder blushes. It has one true blockbuster product: Balm Shelter tinted moisturizer. This standout product performs amazingly well and is deserving of its many accolades.

Unfortunately, theBalm also has some problematic makeup, in particular, and ironically, their lip products. The inclusion of irritants in two of its lip products is disappointing, and an otherwise excellent lip gloss (with SPF, no less) is marred by a fragrance that's downright overwhelming initially and potentially irritating if used every day.

As far as skin-care, the company's collection, called TimeBalm, is surprisingly larger than you might think. It includes cleansers, toners, moisturizers, AHA exfoliants, masks, eye-area products, and a handful of ancillary items that are questionable in terms of their benefitthough some of them, like the foundation primer, are indeed worth checking out.

Overall, based on the formulas, theres little reason to give the majority of these skin-care products a second thought, as most of them are laced with one or more problematic ingredients or, in the case of most of the moisturizers, suffer due to jar packaging, which compromises the products stability. The prices are good, but theres not much value in saving money on average-to-problematic products, especially when spending just a bit more can get you far better formulas.

theBalm boasts that TimeBalm skin-care products are free of parabens, synthetic dyes, and phthalates, and many consumers seem to be seeking such products. However, parabens are not a problem, and phthalates arent usually included in skin-care productstheyre more often seen in nail polish and in some fragrances. Not including synthetic dyes is helpful, but it would have been even better for your skin if theBalm had avoided fragrant oils and other plant-based irritants. Lots of theBalm products contain great natural ingredients, but theyre often commingled with potentially irritating natural ingredients, and that doesnt add up to great skin careits more of a ticking time bomb than anything else.

For more information, visit www.thebalm.com. And yes, we're aware that "it's thebalm.com" is an expression used to indicate something that's totally cool. Coincidence? We'll let the reviews speak for themselves!

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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