Ole Henriksen Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner
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Ole Henriksen

Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner

6.50 fl. oz. for $ 28.00
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Brand Overview

Ole Henriksen’s Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner claims to reduce dark spots and improve skin texture. It does one of those things well, but this highly fragrant formula poses risks for all skin types. That “tingle that tells you it’s working” is misleading because it’s actually your skin sending the message that it’s irritated!

Housed in a tall blue translucent bottle with a standard cap, this toner appears to contain an effective amount of the AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) glycolic and lactic acids. Although the concentration isn’t revealed, we suspect the combined amount is between 5-7%, and the pH of 3.8 allows them to work as exfoliants.

The problem is that fragrance (parfum) is hot on the heels of the great AHA ingredients. This is followed by fragrant lemon and sandalwood extracts plus fragrance chemicals (limonene, linalool), all known to irritate skin. See More Info to learn why daily use of highly fragrant products like this is trouble for skin.

Adding to the fragrance issue is witch hazel water, an ingredient whose tannins can irritate skin (although the water form is the most diluted so it’s less of a concern).

What about this product’s claim of reducing the look of dark spots in seven days? Don’t count on it, at least not to a noticeable degree. Although it’s true that using an AHA exfoliant can help dark spots look better, such a turnaround doesn’t typically happen in a week. More important, research is clear that it takes more than exfoliation to improve dark spots. You need ingredients like niacinamide, vitamin C, and hydroquinone that interrupt melanin production and daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater. Without those pieces of the puzzle, dark spots will just stick around.

There are better AHA exfoliants to consider along with a growing number of  top-rated skin-lightening products that are much more worthy of your time and money.

Pros:
  • Appears to contain an effective amount of AHAs.
  • The solution’s pH means the glycolic and lactic acids will exfoliate.
Cons:
  • Highly fragrant formula likely to irritate skin.
  • Contains several natural fragrance ingredients.
  • Witch hazel water compounds the risk of irritation.
  • Unlikely to reduce dark spots in “as little as 7 days”.

More Info:

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: No
Tested on animals: No

This potent toner, supercharged with a high concentration of AHAs (glycolic and lactic acids) and witch hazel water, reduces the look of dark spots in as little as 7 days. It also targets fine lines and wrinkles, and smoothes texture. Infused with sandalwood, chamomile and licorice extracts, it’s gentle enough for daily use. Plus, with its addictive lemon sugar scent and “it’s working!” tingle, you’ll be hooked from the very first swipe.

Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycolic Acid, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Lactic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum/Fragrance, Phytic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Glycerin, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Extract, Benzoic Acid, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Tocopherol, Citral, Limonene, Linalool.

Ole Henriksen At-A-Glance

Strengths: The Protect the Truth SPF 50+ Sunscreen is good.

Weaknesses: Expensive; not all-natural as claimed; jar packaging for antioxidant-rich products is pervasive; terribly irritating toners; several average serums and moisturizers, including eye creams; lip balm that contains irritating ingredients.

"Facialist to the stars," L.A.'s "number one face man," and "one of Hollywood's hottest facialists" are but a few of the accolades Denmark-born Ole Henriksen has garnered since he first made a name for himself in Los Angeles back in 1974. Henriksen's skin-care philosophy was, and still is, a mix of holistic teachings, common sense, and, as seen in countless other cosmetic lines (though Henriksen was somewhat of a trailblazer when he started), an affinity for Mother Nature and all she has to offer the skin.

We agree with Henriksen's philosophy that feeling good from the inside can manifest itself on the outside, and we applaud the fact that he admonishes his clients for being too hard on themselves when it comes to their complexions. That bromide loses some of its believability, however, when you realize that Henriksen's products are all about fixing the outside of you, especially the parts with wrinkles, puffy eyes, skin discolorations, and on and on.

For example, all the self-confidence in the world won't change the need for sunscreen or change your genetic propensity for certain skin conditions. Clearly, Henriksen believes that, too, because his skin-care products are meant to help his devotees put their best faces forward. He maintains that his products are different because they are "pure," "natural," and "high performance" productsnow really, how often have we heard that? Way too many times, and as is often the case, the products aren't pure or all natural in the least. It turns out that Henriksen's products aren't anywhere close to being all natural. Every product is rife with plenty of unnatural ingredients, most of which are used industry-wide. (That doesn't make them bad, but marketing hype and distortion should not be the basis for making decisions about what skin-care products you use.) In essence, the only unique aspect of this line is Henriksen's ability to charm his clients into thinking that his products are in some way unique and worth the money, when they absolutely are not. A quick review of the ingredient label reveals far more problems than is acceptable for anyone's skin.

Stepping away from the marketing aspect, this product line has way too many missteps to make it interesting or beneficial. While it does contain helpful plant extracts and oils, it is certainly not the only line that includes those ingredients. Sadly, the potency, and yes, even the purity, of many of the good plant extracts are compromised due to his tendency to use jar packaging rather than more stable, airtight options (all plant extracts deteriorate when exposed to air or light). And the amount of irritating plant extracts makes some of his products just hurtful for skin.

Perhaps the saddest part is that a so-called skin-care expert can't even get sun protection right. You place all that trust in someone's expertise and they don't even have the basics down! Henriksen's Herbal Day Creme SPF 15 lacks titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, Mexoryl, or Tinosorb. All the ballyhooed "calming extracts" and "pure botanicals" in the world cannot stave off one wrinkle if your sunscreen lacks sufficient UVA protection. A few of the sunscreens that do provide adequate UVA protection contain skin celldamaging lavender oil. Sigh. It's not fun when you consistently run into examples in line after line that prove that natural ingredients are not inherently better for skin! Given how many consumers want to use such products, we'd love to offer them some slam-dunk options.

This aesthetician-created line has a few reasonably decent options to consider, but overall the line is not on par with many others. The overwhelming emphasis on "natural skincare" (which, we repeat, this line definitely is not) might sound like it will be good for you, but that is not what you will find here. A company's apparent blindness to the published evidence that many of the natural extracts as well as many of the synthetic ingredients they include are potent skin irritants means you don't want to shop this line through rose-colored glasses.

For more information about Ole Henriksen, call (800) 327-0331 or visit www.olehenriksen.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.

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