Amino Derm Gel Clear Skin Complex
There are so many things wrong with this anti-acne product we don't really know where to start! OK, let's begin by stating point blank that this is 100% not recommended.
This product is truly a problem for all skin types: The inclusion of several irritants, including witch hazel, alcohol, lemon oil, and calamine powder, is a big problem for blemish-prone skin. Especially the alcohol, which triggers free-radical damage causing collagen to break down, hurting the skin's ability to heal, which makes red marks worse. These irritants won’t reduce redness and they have the potential to stimulate excess oil production at the base of your pores. This leads to your oily skin getting worse, and your breakouts will hang around much longer than they would if you were treating them with soothing, healing ingredients.
We know the pull of natural products is strong (and, for the most part, this product is as natural as it gets), but the truth is acne requires synthetic ingredients (like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid) to improve, at least that's what abundant research shows, and there is no research showing this formula can do anything for skin except cause problems. Treating acne is simply one area where natural products are at a strong disadvantage compared with synthetics. For best results, look for anti-acne products that combine the best synthetic and natural ingredients that are proven helpful for reddened, acne-prone, or oily skin.
- Does not contain ingredients known to improve acne.
- Alcohol causes dryness, irritation, and free-radical damage (see More Info).
- The combination of irritating ingredients is likely to make acne, redness, and oily skin worse.
Alcohol in skin-care products causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin's ability to heal. The irritation it causes damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse (Sources: “Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In,” Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).
Applying irritating ingredients to oily skin stimulates excess oil production at the base of the pores, so skin ends up more oily and pores become (or stay) enlarged. If you want to see improvements in oily skin, the best approach is to treat your skin gently with effective products designed to absorb excess oil, exfoliate inside the pore, and help normalize pore function (Sources: Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366; and Dermatology, January 2003, pages 17–23).
Ideal for teenagers and adults with blemish-prone skin, this fast-acting gel works overtime to calm trouble spots, dissolve dirt and oil deposits and help keep pores clear and healthy.
Aubrey Organics At-A-Glance
Strengths:A few decent moisturizer options; one good makeup brush.
Weaknesses: Too numerous to list, but major issues include a lack of sunscreens without a problematic active ingredient; consistent use of ingredients proven to be irritating to skin while offering no substantiated benefit; a complete lack of products to address common skin-care concerns, from acne to pigmentation problems; the makeup is abysmal.
If there is such a thing as a "natural" true believer, Aubrey Hampton is indeed one. His books Natural Organic Hair and Skin Care (Organica Press, 1987) and What's in Your Cosmetics? (Organica Press, 2000) articulately express his convictions. Foremost is his philosophic position regarding his products: "For almost 30 years I have collected herbs from around the world and combined them in 100% natural hair- and skin-care products. I make my natural shampoos, conditioners, soaps, lotions, masks, and so forth the way my mother taught me almost 50 years ago, without chemicals, using herbs known to be beneficial to the hair and skin." And yes, every plant is a miracle and every synthetic ingredient that he doesn't use is avoided solely because it's bad.
If Hampton is relying on information that is over 50 years old, people using his products, which launched in 1967, are in a lot of trouble. What we know about sun protection we've only learned about over the past decade, and Hampton did not offer sunscreens with sufficient UVA-protecting ingredients until 2006 (perhaps he has finally eschewed some of his mother's teachings).
Additionally, cell turnover (the life-and-death process of every skin cell) is a recent discovery, too, not to mention the role topical application of antioxidants plays, and options to maintain the skin's barrier function, a vital component of healthy skin for everyone. The whole complex physiology of skin, along with the nature of skin disease, is continually being investigated. Data regarding the exact chemical and biomolecular structure of skin fills volumes with new research, revealing astonishing information that has altered everything we once thought to be true about the skin. It's nice to think Mom knew it all, but we wouldn't make a skin-care decision based on such obsolete and fanciful thinking anymore than we would decide to exchange my laptop for an old-fashioned typewriter.
Hampton also lauds his position on animal testing: "I don't believe in animal testing and never use it. None of my products are formulated with data obtained from animal testing, and yet I know they're safe to use because they contain ingredients that have been used for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years by people all over the world. That's the best track record, don't you think?" Well, we don't think so in the least. As nice as all that sounds, in some ways it's actually dangerous. By his own admission, Hampton has only anecdotal history to go by, and that is fraught with risk. "Natural" powders laced with "natural" lead were used by fashionably correct women centuries ago, causing necrotic skin and sometimes death. So much for history being an arbiter of good health. And there are lots of plants we wouldn't know are toxic if it weren't for animal testing.
Furthermore, while we abhor animal testing, over the past 20 years scientists have ascertained the benefits of most new skin-care ingredients, from skin-identical ingredients and the new anti-irritants to AHAs, BHA, Retin-A, and sunscreens, mostly on the basis of animal research. If Hampton is truly telling us that he ignores all that information, his products would be precarious to use and some of the most dated in the industry (and, it turns out, in many respects, they are).
Another Hampton phobia, shared by many other "natural" enthusiasts in the world, has to do with petrochemicals. (We assume Hampton doesn't drive a car, take a taxi, or fly anywhere.) He states, "Petrochemicals, [which] are infinitely cheaper and much more convenient for mass manufacturers to use... [make] our hair and skin suffer as a result. What's worse, the long-term effects of these harsh chemicals on both the body and the environment are still unknown...." Suggesting that all petrochemicals are harsh and all plants are good is as uninformed as thinking that eating any plant you encounter in the wild won't kill you because it is natural. Besides, petrochemicals have a decidedly natural source: they come from decomposed plant and animal life!
Ironically, many of Aubrey's products contain PABA, a synthetic sunscreen ingredient that has long been set aside by cosmetic formulators because it poses a high risk of irritation and sensitizing skin reactions (Source: Australasian Journal of Dermatology, February 1999, page 51).
Hampton still handles his skin-care ingredient lists with blatant inaccuracy, ignoring basic FDA and European regulatory mandates. They make no mention of standard cosmetic preservatives, and the ones that are listed, vitamins A, C, and E, have their own stability problems, with vitamin C being the most unreliable. Further, given that there are myriad types of vitamins A, C, and E, and there is no ingredient called "coconut fatty acid" (there are dozens of this type of fatty acid, each with its own pros and cons), there is truly no way to make sense of these misleading ingredient labels. This concern was echoed in an industry newsletter, The Rose Sheet (March 15, 1999), which stated that Aubrey Organics was "in violation of catalog mislabeling and Good Manufacturing Practices. [The] FDA investigators also determined several Aubrey products bear labeling that is not in compliance." In fact, because Aubrey's labels are not compliant with CTFA (Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association) or FDA labeling regulations, reviewing this line with any modicum of accuracy is a long shot, because there is no way to know what is really in these products and what is going on your face. A warning letter sent to the company by the FDA contained shocking revelations about how disorganized and noncompliant Aubrey Organics is.
For example, at the time of the FDA inspection, the company did not even have stability testing records for their products (Source: www.fda.gov/foi/warning_letters/m2393n.pdf). How that may have changed over the years is not information the company is willing to share, but what's right there on every product is inaccurate ingredient labeling, and that's reason enough to view this line with a healthy dose of skepticism and suspicion.
For more information, call (800) 282-7394, or visit www.aubrey-organics.com.
Aubrey Organics Makeup
Perhaps the two best words to describe the small assortment of makeup from Aubrey Organics are "Don't bother"but "What were they thinking?" is a close second. What you'll find here, available as single products or in pre-selected kits, is a selection of loose powders and sheer lip tints.
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.