B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel
B Triple C Facial Balancing Gel is a perplexing product. Marketed as a treatment that provides "intense antioxidant protection," it contains a mix of potent irritants and fragrance. As irritation can trigger free-radical damage, using this means you're working against the very benefits (and purpose) of the beneficial ingredients included in this product. See More Info for details on irritating ingredients in skin-care products.
This does contain a good amount of vitamin C, in the form of magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, but, Aesop, in continuing its self-sabotaging products, packaged it in a jar. This means that any of the benefits from the vitamin C (and other beneficial ingredients) will be negated due to their exposure to air. See More Info for the lowdown on jar packaging.
Come to mention it, we're not sure what Aesop is referring to by the "Triple C" in this product's name—there is only one form of vitamin C present. Although the term Triple C could mean anything, in this case perhaps it means "three times more money wasted" when compared with other, better vitamin C products.
The final, and perhaps most significant downside of this product, is the inclusion of witch hazel and lavender oil. Witch hazel water (which is present here) has a high-alcohol content (most forms of witch hazel are 14–15% ethanol, which is another name for the bad kind of alcohol you should not be putting on your face) due to the distillation process used to extract it from the plant. Also, lavender oil may smell nice, but it's a skin irritant, as we explain in the More Info section below.
Last, as if witch hazel and lavender weren't enough, Aesop also included the preservative blend of methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone. Also known by its trade name Kathon CG, this preservative blend is known to be sensitizing, and generally is best to avoid in leave-on products (Sources: Contact Dermatitis, November 2001, pages 257–264; and European Journal of Dermatology, March 1999, pages 144–160).
Skip this and opt for any of the better picks on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products in Beautypedia. We suggest this category because, depending on what you are looking for, you may be interested in a serum or moisturizer—either way you will find it there
- Contains an impressive amount of vitamin C in the form of magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.
- Jar packaging renders the vitamin C and other antioxidants ineffective.
- Formula contains a significant amount of irritants, such as witch hazel and lavender oil.
- The preservative system is not recommended for use in leave-on products.
- The price is as disappointing as the formula.
Irritation and Your Skin: Irritation, whether you see it on the surface of your skin or not, causes inflammation and as a result impairs healing, damages collagen, and depletes the vital substances your skin needs to stay young. For these reasons, it is best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to known skin irritants, especially when there are brilliant formulas available that do not include these types of problematic ingredients (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
Lavender Oil: Research indicates that components of lavender, specifically linalool, can be cytotoxic, which means that topical application causes skin-cell death (Source: Cell Proliferation, June 2004, pages 221–229). Lavender leaves contain camphor, which is a known skin irritant. Because the fragrance constituents in lavender oil oxidize when exposed to air, lavender oil is a pro-oxidant, and this enhanced oxidation increases its irritancy on skin (Source: Contact Dermatitis, September 2008, pages 143–150). Lavender oil is the most potent form, and even small amounts of it (0.25% or less) are problematic. Although it's fine as an aromatherapy agent for inhalation or relaxation, it is a must to avoid in skin-care products (Sources: Psychiatry Research, February 2007, pages 89–96; and www.naturaldatabase.com).
Jar Packaging: The fact that this product is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and most other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also present a hygiene issue because even if you wash your hands or use a spatula to remove the product, you're introducing bacteria that cause further breakdown (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818-829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271-288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314-321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197-203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1-32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).
This swiftly absorbed gel formulation delivers intense anti-oxidant protection and light hydration to skin. Its robust texture and embracing matte finish make this the ideal treatment for urban dwellers and those who reside in humid climates.
Strengths: Some products are packaged to keep their light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable.
Weaknesses:Multiple fragrant ingredients are present in each product reviewed, and this poses a strong risk of irritation; no effective options for treating concerns like acne, brown spots, or rosacea; jar packaging for some of the moisturizers wont keep the beneficial ingredients stable; overpriced.
Australian brand Aesop bears the same name as the famous Greek storyteller, and their skin-care products certainly emulate the art of storytelling with their formulas and marketing. The question is whether or not you can believe Aesop and their natural-themed skin-care stories, or if its mostly fable.
From Aesop's stripped-down, utilitarian packaging, earthy product descriptions, and overall design aesthetic, its easy to see why those interested in natural-oriented products are attracted to the Aesop brand. How could skin-care products that seem to be so pure and natural be bad, right? We certainly understand the emotional pull natural products have on many people, but the truth is there are good and bad natural ingredients (snake venom and poison ivy are both natural ingredients, but you wouldn't want them on your face), just as there are good and bad synthetic ingredients. Going natural without knowing the details of what you're buying is a recipe for skin problems, not a guarantee of better products.
Refreshingly, compared to many natural-themed lines, Aesop doesn't rely on scare tactics or outlandish claims. Therefore, you wont read anything about toxins or about made-up claims that all chemicals are bad (because everything is composed of chemicals). Instead, Aesop prefers to rest on the quality of their formulas and oeuvre to do the real selling. Judging by the number of requests we've had to review this brand, their less sensationalized approach is working!
With that promising start, its disappointing that Aesop chose to include such a generous amount of fragrance and plant-based irritants in many of their products. In fact, there wasn't a single fragrance-free option in any of the products that we reviewed. (In fact, the box they were shipped in was saturated with fragrance just from the shipping process.) There were a few products with lower amounts of added fragrance, these instances are noted (where applicable)but there usually were other compelling reasons to avoid any given product in this brand, or at least to consider it cautiously.
Also noteworthy: You will find that much of Aesop's line, from their cleansers, toners, and moisturizers to their masks and eye treatments, have high-end price tags. While we tend to leave it up to the reader to determine what is or isn't expensive, there were a few instances where the formulas were so basic that we had to mention the disconnect with the cost, these were truly simple blends of ingredients that in no way justified their cost.
All of the above is a prelude to the most critical downfall of the Aesop products: There are no options that can successfully (and without potential irritation) address the needs of various skin types or skin concerns of many people. Whether you're struggling with acne, wrinkles, both, or numerous other concerns, from sensitive skin to conditions like rosacea or eczema, you wont find brilliant products to treat them here. Overall, that means assembling a great skin-care routine with Aesop products just isn't possible.
Aesop is sold primarily in department stores like Barneys New York, online, as well as freestanding Aesop stores throughout the United States. Despite their growing distribution, we cannot stress enough how much this lines products disappoint. Aesop has natural ingredients aplenty, but what good is that when so many of the natural ingredients they chose are of little to no benefit for skin, or are potentially problematic?
For more information about Aesop, visit http://www.aesop.com/usa/
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.