Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask
Herbivore’s Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask is touted as a natural way to give skin the benefits of exfoliation while soothing redness – but the effect it could have on skin is quite the opposite.
Packaged in a glass jar (more on that in a moment), this very fluid gel has a blue-green color that’s attributed to the blue tansy that gives it its name. The color isn’t noticeable on skin, however, and this sinks in quickly. You’re instructed to leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse for a refreshed appearance.
There are some worthy ingredients here, among them soothing aloe plus antioxidant-rich pineapple, neem, and turmeric.
But that’s where the positives end with this mask. The first issue that this has a very strong, lingering herbal scent. Part of that comes from advertised the blue tansy oil, a fragrant oil that has both benefits and risks for skin. In conjunction with fragrant jasmine flower extract, it can cause irritation, even during its brief time on skin (see More Info for details).
Herbivore also claims that the pineapple, papaya, and willow bark extracts this contains serve as gentle, natural exfoliants. In short, they simply cannot act on skin like AHA exfoliants lactic, glycolic, malic, or tartaric acids, or salicylic acid (also known as BHA).
It’s true that pure concentrations of papaya and pineapple can have some exfoliation benefits in large amounts, but the research on this directly benefitting skin remains limited. Willow bark extract can have some skin-soothing benefits, but research has shown it only converts to salicylic acid when consumed orally, so don’t count on it having the same impact when applied topically. It’s not a natural source of salicylic acid, it has to be converted to this in the body.
And that takes us to our last negative: this is packaged in a jar, which is not good news for its ingredients. The fruit extracts that are supposed to give this product its main benefit break down and lose their effectiveness in the presence of light and air, both of which this jar exposes them to (see More Info below for details on that as well).
In the end, while this seems a natural way to make skin clearer and smoother, it doesn’t hold a candle to far better-formulated and better-packaged AHA and BHA exfoliants.
- Contains some good skin-soothing and antioxidant ingredients.
- Highly fragrant formula poses a risk of irritating skin.
- Fruit enzymes and willow bark extract aren’t as effective at exfoliating skin as AHAs and BHA.
- Packaged in a jar, which compromises some of its beneficial ingredients.
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
Jar Packaging & Beneficial Ingredients: Many beneficial ingredients, which include all plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients, are unstable, which means they begin to break down in the presence of air. Once a jar is opened and lets air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate, becoming less and less effective. Routine exposure to daylight also is problematic for these ingredients.
Jar packaging is also unsanitary because you dip your fingers into the jar with each use, contaminating the product. This stresses the preservative system, leading to further deterioration of the beneficial ingredients.
Remember: The ingredients that provide the most benefit in addressing visible signs of aging must be in airtight or air-restrictive packaging to remain effective throughout usage. Buying products in this type of packaging means that the ingredients have the best chance of remaining effective—to the benefit of your skin!
References for this information:
Pharmacology Review, July 2013, pages 97–106
Dermatologic Therapy, May-June 2012, pages 252–259
Current Drug Delivery, November 2011, pages 640–660
Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, May 2011, pages 4676–4683
Journal of Biophotonics, January 2010, pages 82–88
Guidelines of Stability Testing of Cosmetic Products, Colipa-CTFA, March 2004, pages 1–10
A truly natural mask that gently clarifies blemish-prone skin with Fruit Enzymes, White Willow Bark, Aloe, and Blue Tansy Essential Oil to soothe the appearance of redness. Natural alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) including papaya and pineapple work to gently exfoliate and leave the complexion smooth and refined. A natural beta hydroxy acid (BHA), it is high in anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial Salicin to help clarify skin.
Herbivore Botanicals got its start when Julia Wills and her husband Alex Kummerow started making soap in their kitchen in Seattle in 2011. The couple began selling those soaps at local farmer’s markets, then opened up a shop on arts & crafts site Etsy. As the story goes, national retailers Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters reached out to the pair to sell their products in their stores. That led to beauty giant Sephora taking notice and a couple of years later, Herbivore proper was born.
Herbivore’s core philosophy is on natural skin care, a constantly growing market with a lot of interest. The brand’s site states that its products are chemical-free and non-toxic, though those terms aren’t meaningful (or, in the case of chemicals, accurate) descriptions. Nature is full of chemicals – water, after all, is a chemical! – so none of these products is chemical-free, and no skin care product sold in the U.S. is toxic when used as directed. In short, people aren’t dropping dead from skin care and makeup, despite the occasional dire reports alleging such likelihood.
Specific to Herbivore’s products, they offer moisturizers, toners and face mists, masks, exfoliants, facial oils, and scrubs. In line with many natural-themed brands, a daily sun protection product isn’t part of the mix (yet) even though it’s the most important skin care product you can use.
While most of the products have some positive antioxidant ingredients, all of them have fragrant components known to put skin at risk for irritation. Yes, these fragrances are naturally-derived (often from essential oils or flower extracts), but fragrance, regardless of its origin, is not good for skin.
Another issue is that clear packaging and jars are used for many Herbivore products, yet this type of packaging exposes the beneficial ingredients inside to light and air, reducing their effectiveness with each use.
While we appreciate Herbivore’s desire to bring naturally-derived skin care to the masses, it would be better if the brand skipped the fragrance and focused on the non-fragrant natural ingredients (and there are many of them!) that truly have benefit for skin. Ironically, many of the natural ingredient this brand uses do have some benefit for skin; it’s just that they also present risks. There are plenty of natural ingredients that only offer the good stuff, so our recommendation is not to compromise.
You can find out more about Herbivore at https://www.herbivorebotanicals.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.