Blue Algae Vitamin C Dark Spot Correcting Peel
Algenist’s Blue Algae Vitamin C Dark Spot Correcting Peel contains an intriguing, pH-correct mix of exfoliating acids alongside ingredients proven to visibly reduce dark spots and improve skin tone as claimed. But a handful of problematic ingredients keep it from earning full praise, not to mention the brief time the beneficial ingredients are left on skin.
Housed in an opaque, double-walled dark blue bottle topped with a pump dispenser, this oil-based gel dispenses easily and feels pleasant (not greasy) on skin. The packaging nicely protects the delicate ingredients from light and air exposure, and the formula contains a mix of exfoliating acids, including AHAs like glycolic and mandelic acids plus PHA (polyhydroxy acid) gluconolactone.
Lesser amounts of AHA malic acid and BHA salicylic acid round out the mix, plus you also get dark spot-diminishing azelaic and tranexamic acids. It’s an interesting mix, but Algenist does not reveal the percentage of any of the exfoliating acids, leaving you to wonder how much you’re getting. Based on the azelaic and tranexamic acids appearing after chamomile-derived ingredient bisabolol, we suspect both are used in amounts below what’s needed to fade discoloration. We’re basing this on bisabolol’s safety report indicating it is typically not used in amounts above 1%, yet tranexamic acid, for example, need a concentration of 2% or more to improve discolorations.
On the upside, based on the ingredient list, it seems you’re getting an effective amount of the glycolic and gluconolactone ingredients. And this peel’s pH of 3.9 ensures exfoliation will occur in the 20 minutes you’re directed to leave this on skin before rinsing. By the way, this is surprisingly easy to rinse considering its oil content.
Between the exfoliating and brightening ingredients (azelaic and tranexamic acid are joined by vitamin C, spirulina, and a licorice derivative) this seems a smart buy; however, a closer look reveals several problems: this contains skin irritants such as the potent menthol derivative menthoxypropanediol as well as lavender oil. Lavender adds a calming scent, but research has shown it damages skin cells and is pro-oxidant. And the menthol derivative’s tingle isn’t a refreshing experience, it’s your skin telling you it’s being irritated.
A lesser issue still worth noting is that if you’re hoping for a brightening effect, several of the bio-active ingredients this contains need more than 20 minutes to work. You’re still likely to see some improvement, but for best results these types of ingredients need to be left on for hours, not minutes.
Ultimately, Blue Algae Vitamin C Dark Spot Correcting Peel can make good on its exfoliation claims and, to a lesser extent, on the brightening aspect. But don’t expect much in the way of fading dark spots and, sadly, the irritants this contains make it less desirable compared to many other potent rinse-off peels.
- Contains a pH-correct mix of exfoliating acids.
- Oil-based gel texture is pleasant to use and surprisingly easy to rinse.
- Packaging keeps its light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable.
- Contains research-supported ingredients for tackling hyperpigmentation.
- Contains potent menthol-derived irritant menthoxypropanediol.
- Lavender oil poses a risk of harming skin cells and is pro-oxidant.
- The discoloration-treating ingredients need more than 20 minutes to work.
Irritating Ingredients: We cannot stress this enough: Sensitizing, harsh, abrasive, and/or fragrant ingredients are bad for all skin types. Daily application of skincare products that contain these irritating ingredients is a major way we unwittingly do our skin a disservice.
Irritating ingredients are a problem because they can lead to visible problems, such as redness, rough skin, dull skin, dryness, increased oil production, and clogged pores, and they contribute to making signs of aging worse.
Switching to non-irritating, gentle skincare products can make all the difference in the world. Non-irritating products are those packed with beneficial ingredients that also replenish and soothe skin, without any volatile ingredients, such as those present in fragrance ingredients, whether natural or synthetic.
A surprising fact: Research has demonstrated that you do not need to see or feel the effects of irritants on your skin for it to be suffering, and visible damage may not become apparent for a long time. Don’t get lulled into thinking that if you don’t see or feel signs of irritation, everything is OK.
Generally, it’s best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to ingredients that are known to irritate skin. There are many completely non-irritating products that contain effective ingredients, so there’s no reason to put your skin at risk with products that include ingredients research has shown can be a problem.
References for this information:
Annals of the Brazilian Journal of Dermatology, July-August 2017, pages 521-525
Journal of Dermatological Sciences, January 2015, pages 28–36
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2014, pages 379–385
Clinical Dermatology, May-June 2012, pages 257–262
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798
A resurfacing & exfoliating peel that visibly reduces the appearance of dark spots and discoloration, formulated with our patented Alguronic Acid from algae, exclusive Vitamin C from Spirulina - a well-known form of blue-green algae rich in essential vitamins and minerals - potent antioxidant Phycocyanin & our Triple-Acid Complex of AHAs/BHA/PHA. Skin is refined and resurfaced with a reduction in the look of discoloration as well as blemishes & imperfections, revealing radiance, smoothed texture, more even skin tone and a brighter overall complexion.
Strengths: Good facial cleanser and toner; select serums and moisturizers formulated with an impressive mix of anti-aging ingredients; Targeted Deep Wrinkle Minimizer really does make wrinkles less apparent.
Weaknesses: Expensive; the star ingredient (a modified form of algae) doesn't have reliable research to support its anti-aging efficacy; jar packaging; some of the moisturizers contain eucalyptus oil, which can be a potent irritant.
Algenist is a small range of skin care products sold at Sephora with a focus on anti-aging. Like several other cosmetics companies, Algenist has based their brand on a single ingredient, an ingredient they claim has superior benefits for skin and that, therefore, is worth the steep price tag. In this case, it was the "accidental" discovery of a substance found in algae. As the story goes, a group of biotechnology scientists were looking for ways to use something called microalgae as a renewable source of energy when they stumbled upon a compound known as alguronic acid. Their research revealed that alguronic acid is one of the compounds responsible for regenerating and protecting algae cells.
Figuring they were on to something, the company did further in vitro testing (although the details of their tests are not available) and, of course, found that alguronic acid had anti-aging benefits on skin, too. Aside from having no idea what their studies did or didn't really show, in vitro means this ingredient was examined in a petri dish, not directly on human skin. They did limited testing on human skin, but many key details of these "studies" are not available. Instead, we're asked to accept that their ingredient made a remarkable difference. At the time of this writing, there isn't a single published study attesting to the claims Algenist makes for alguronic acid, so you're taking an expensive leap of faith in buying these products! We should note, there are several forms of algae that are valuable when it comes to providing skin with anti-aging benefits - it's just that the research surrounding alguronic acid remains scant.
Whether the story about alguronic acid being the answer for your skin is true or not, it is critical to keep in mind that skin, and skin care, is far more complex than one allegedly miraculous ingredient. Think of it like your diet: As healthy as green tea is, if that's all you consumed, you'd soon be malnourished. Just like your diet should contain a healthy mix of nutritious foods, your skin (which is your body's largest organ) needs a wide array of helpful ingredients to become and remain smooth, healthy, and, yes, able to look and act younger.
To Algenist's credit, their products contain more than just alguronic acid. Most of them have a good blend of skin-repairing and antioxidant ingredients, although the ones they call out as key ingredients (such as apple stem cells) have no real published research proving their efficacy. Despite the fact that their products contain some tried-and-true anti-aging ingredients, Algenist makes the same mistakes as many other lines, such as using jar packaging (which won't keep any of the beneficial ingredients stable during use) and including fragrance or fragrant plant extracts to give the products an appealing scent. Fragrance isn't skin care and, in fact, more often than not, will cause irritation that hurts your skin's ability to look and act younger!
In the end, Algenist is not a must-have line, and it certainly isn't worth expanding your beauty budget to afford. There are some acceptable to impressive options for those who don't mind spending more than they need to for effective products, but you'll find a wider, often better range of options on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products.
For more information about Algenist, call (877) 650-1837 or visit www.algenist.com.
Note: Algenist lists the alguronic acid in their products as algae exopolysaccharides, which is the accepted cosmetic labeling name for alguronic acid.
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.