Citrus Kombucha Cleansing Gel
Citrus Kombucha Cleansing Gel earned its rating because of the unfortunate inclusion of lemon juice (Citrus medica limonum), which research demonstrates has strong potential to provoke an allergenic and irritant response on the skin (Contact Dermatitis, 2006 and 2012). This also contains other fragrant plant oils, each of which poses a strong risk of irritation and should not be used around the eyes (see More Info for additional details on fragrance in skin-care products).
Andalou Naturals included a mix of antioxidants (vitamin C, grape seed, willow bark, and others), but these are wasted in a cleanser formula because they are rinsed off the skin before they can be of much benefit. Ironically, antioxidants need to remain on the skin to work, yet ingredients that irritate the skin need only seconds of contact to provoke irritation.
Please disregard the claims made about the fruit stem cell ingredients in this product (see More Info if you wish to read the considerable details explaining why). While these ingredients aren’t harmful or irritating to the skin (and can have antioxidant benefit), there is no research to support the claims of regenerating skin or functioning like your skin’s own stem cells, which would push this product from its status as a cosmetic to a drug. The notion that plant stem cells can “renew dormant cells, repair damaged cells, or regenerate healthy cells” may be true for a plant, but it isn’t for human skin.
Bottom line: There are excellent alternatives to Citrus Kombucha Cleansing Gel (even within the Andalou Naturals line) that don’t share the problematic ingredients present here. Check out our top picks from other brands in the Best Cleansers (Including Cleansing Cloths) section of Beautypedia.
- Includes gentle cleansing agents, appropriate for combination to normal skin types.
- Includes a significant amount of Citrus medica limonum (lemon) extract, a potent irritant for the skin.
- You may have trouble removing water-resistant makeup with this formula.
- The antioxidants and other beneficial ingredients are rinsed away before they can benefit the skin.
- Plant stem cells don't renew or generate human cells of any kind.
Stem Cells in Skin Care: Stem cells are cells in animals and plants that are capable of becoming any other type of cell in that organism and of producing more of those cells. Despite the fact that stem cell research is in its infancy, many cosmetics companies claim they are successfully using plant-based or human-derived stem cells in their anti-aging products. The claims run the gamut, from reducing wrinkles to elastin repair and cell regeneration, so the temptation for consumers to try these is intense.
The truth is that stem cells in skin-care products do not work as claimed. In fact, they likely have no effect at all because stem cells must be alive to function as stem cells. Once these delicate cells are added to skin-care products, they are long dead and, therefore, useless.
Plant stem cells, such as those derived from apples, melons, flowers, and rice, cannot stimulate stem cells in human skin, but because they are from plants these ingredients likely have antioxidant
properties. Actually, it's a good thing plant stem cells can't work as stem cells in skin-care products; after all, you don't want your skin to absorb cells that can grow into apples or watermelons!
There are also claims that because a plant's stem cells allow a plant to repair itself or to survive in harsh climates, these benefits can be passed on to human skin. How a plant functions in nature is unrelated to human skin, and these claims are completely without substantiation.
Another twist on the issue is that cosmetics company's claim they have taken components (such as peptides) out of the plant stem cells and made them stable so they then can work as stem cells. This approach is not valid because stem cells must be complete to function normally. Even if you could isolate substances or extracts from these cells and make them stable, there is no published research showing they can affect stem cells in human skin.
Fruit Stem Cell Complex and citrus Kombucha, rich in skin friendly probiotics and aminos, replenishes beneficial microflora. Clarifying willow bark and aloe vera gently foam to whisk away excess oil, maintaining a healthy moisture barrier for clean, clear skin.
Strengths: Good options for well-formulated facial moisturizers and serums; many products contain multiple antioxidants; a few good toners; (mostly) refreshingly free of hyperbole that is common with many natural-themed brands; reasonably priced products; multiple broad-spectrum sunscreen options.
Weaknesses: A few moisturizers packaged in jars; some products contain potentially problematic amounts of fragrance ingredients; lacks research-proven treatments for acne; the body-care products tend to be overly fragrant; claims about plant stem cells are over the top as they don't renew or generate human cells of any kind.
Andalou Naturals is a rare presence in the saturated market of natural-themed cosmetics lines because the brand manages to keep the focus on their products and ingredients without resorting to the silly scary chemical and fear-mongering marketing approach common to so many other natural lines.
Just as impressive as their marketing are many of their formulas, several of which include many antioxidants and multiple skin-repairing ingredients, and aren't laden with natural fragrance ingredients, which may please your nose but can be very irritating to the skin, even if you don't see or feel the damage taking place.
Headquartered in Petaluma, California, Andalou Naturals was founded by husband and wife Mark and Stacey Egideboth of whom also created the Avalon Organics line. The duo sold Avalon Organics in 2002, and started Andalou Naturals in 2011, where its sold at health food stores and online.
Visit their site and you'll quickly find the brand is focused on the feel-good approach to skin care. Andalou Naturals brand philosophy is heavily steeped in philanthropy: Their A Force of Nature fund regularly donates to various nonprofit groups, and every order you place on their site adds $1 to this fund. How wonderful!
Andalou Naturals offers an extensive line of face-, body-, and hair-care products, themed around what they call, Fruit Stem Cell Science, which includes extracts from apple, grape, and argan. While these types of ingredients have antioxidant benefit, the idea that they work like your stem cells to turn back time isn't supported by published research of any kind.
Stem cells work only if they are alive, and in a skin-care product, they are long dead. Not to mention that even if stem cells could survive the skin-care formulation process, an apple stem cell is helpful only to an apple, your skin cells wouldn't have the first clue how to use stem cells from a plant. Stem-cell research is still in its infancy, science is just beginning to understand how stem cells work and/or how they can actually benefit our health; the cosmetics industry isn't beating the medical industry in this regard!
The company also includes what they refer to as BioActive 8 Berry Complex in many of their products. This is really a blanket name for a mix of non-fragrant berry juice extracts (acai, aronia, bearberry, bilberry, black elderberry, goji berry, rosehips berry, and sea buckthorn berry). All of these ingredients have antioxidant function on the skin, but, again, they aren't miracle ingredients by any stretch, nor is Andalou Naturals the only line using them.
We should note that Andalou Naturals, at the time of this review, doesn't list all of the ingredients in their BioActive 8 Berry Complex on their product labels. While the individual berry extracts mentioned above are listed on their website as part of their marketing messaging, they omit them on their products, which violates International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) and FDA labeling regulatory requirements. This is an important oversight, because you have the right to know all of the ingredients in your skin-care products, without having to jump through extra hoops. We hope the company rectifies this in the near future.
On a more positive note, we found that many of the skin-care products Andalou Naturals offers were good, mostly for normal to dry skin, although there also are a few winners for those with oily to combination skin. Many contain some amount of fragrance (but to their credit, the facial formulas that did contain fragrance mostly had only a minimum amount, which is not typical of natural-themed lines).
We were especially impressed that they avoided the boring or basic formulas so common among natural skin-care brands. Several of their products contain the types of beneficial ingredients that have plenty of published research to back up their claims. What a great change of pace!
The missteps were the few instances of jar packaging (which marred what would've otherwise been well-rated products) that expose delicate ingredients to air and light, as well as their body-care formulas, which tended to include higher amounts of fragrance.
For more information, call (888) 898-6955, or visit www.andalou.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.