Alpha Grapefruit Cleansing Lotion
Reformulated since our original review, Mario Badescu’s Alpha Grapefruit Cleansing Lotion isn’t a lotion in the traditional sense, nor is it a cleanser; rather, it’s a watery liquid toner that’s intensely fragranced. The strong, lingering scent makes this a problem for all skin types due to the irritation it can cause.
Sadly, there isn’t a single redeeming quality to this bottle of perfume—sorry, toner. It contains a couple of so-so skin care ingredients, far below what you’ll find in today’s best toners. Instead, skin is exposed to fragrant ingredient after fragrant ingredients, followed by several fragrance chemicals (like eugenol and limonene) research has shown irritate skin.
One more comment: citrus extracts do not and cannot function as AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) in skin care products. In order to get the exfoliating or hydrating benefits of the best AHA exfoliants, you need to look for ingredients like glycolic, lactic, and malic acids.
- Highly fragrant formula very likely to irritate skin.
- Contains zero great skin care ingredients.
- The citrus extracts can’t work like AHAs.
Why Fragrance Is a Problem for Skin: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes a chronic sensitizing reaction on skin.
This reaction in turn leads to all kinds of problems, including disrupting skin’s barrier, worsening dryness, increasing or triggering redness, depleting vital substances in skin’s surface, and generally preventing skin from looking healthy, smooth, and hydrated. Fragrance free is always the best way to go for all skin types.
A surprising fact: Even though you can’t always see or feel the negative effects of fragrant ingredients on skin, the damage will still be taking place, even if it’s not evident on the surface. Research has demonstrated that you don’t need to see or feel the effects of irritation for your skin to be suffering. Much like the effects from cumulative sun damage, the negative impact and the visible damage from fragrance may not become apparent for a long time.
References for this information:
Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821–832
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, pages 191–202
International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement, pages 1–43
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798
Perk up tired, lackluster skin. Our revitalizing, alcohol-free toner harnesses the exfoliating powers of fresh fruit extracts to gently cleanse and rejuvenate skin. Aloe and Linden provide soothing benefits as alpha hydroxy acids (found naturally in Grapefruit and Lemon Extracts) help improve brightness and minimize the appearance of fine lines.
Mario Badescu At-A-Glance
Strengths: Inexpensive; the company includes complete ingredient lists on their website (though many of the ingredient lists don't follow FDA labeling requirements); most of the products are fragrance-free; a few good cleansing options.
Weaknesses: Repetitive, lackluster moisturizer formulas; terrible products for acne; the daytime moisturizers cannot be relied on for sun protection; poorly formulated exfoliants and scrubs; mostly irritating masks; boring toners; several moisturizers contain irritating ingredients.
Fashion magazines have been mentioning Mario Badescu products for some time, and in New York the Badescu salon has been around since 1967. Unfortunately for your skin, most of the products seem to be stuck in that era, when the state of skin-care knowledge was vastly different (meaning backward, simple, and naive) from what it is today. The company claims to use natural ingredients with advanced technology, but the formulas only support a small part of that assertion.
A tempting hook for this line is the number of celebrities and models who not only have facials and other services performed at the Mario Badescu Salon but also claim to use the products. We can't confirm whether or not celebrities really use these products, but even if there are some who do, plenty of other celebrities are using lots of different products, so that's no way to make an educated skin-care decision.
It probably goes without saying, or at least you won't be surprised when we mention it, that none of these products are natural in the least. They contain all the same old standard ingredients that show up throughout the cosmetics industry. The prices are more than reasonable, especially in comparison to other spa or boutique skin-care lines, but products that leave skin vulnerable to sun damage or cause irritation are never a good idea at any price. The sparse amounts of skin-identical ingredients, antioxidants, and anti-irritants included in the preponderance of products here is not in line with current skin-care science. The cleansers are unimpressive, the acne products are an irritation waiting to happen, and the AHA moisturizers either don't contain AHAs, don't have enough of the ingredient, or have a pH too high for them to be effective as exfoliants.
Several of the Badescu products contain an ingredient called "seamollient." As exotic as the name sounds, it's just a fancy term for water and algae. Given that the Creme de la Mer products also brag about algaeand charge an astronomical sum for itif you want algae on your skin, you may as well put it there via the Badescu products for far less money. (Actually, algae is not the fountain of youth for anyone's skin, which is why its continuing popularity befuddles me.)
As consumers become more savvy about ingredients and insist on examining a product's contents before purchasing, it should be pointed out that the Mario Badescu products engage in a bit of deception by disguising their use of commonplace ingredients such as mineral oil and petrolatum with trade names. For example, rather than listing mineral oil or Vaseline in their products, Badescu uses trade names such as Sonojell or Protol. Further, and most distressing, is that doing this means Badescu's products fail to meet either FDA or European labeling requirements. This act of cloaking ingredients in trade names and ignoring FDA labeling guidelines doesn't help the consumer, though it does help the cosmetics companies make their ordinary products sound more mysterious and natural.
For more information about Mario Badescu, call (800) 223-3728 or visit www.mariobadescu.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.