REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask


Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask

1.70 fl. oz. for $ 56.00
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Brand Overview

Ren’s Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask has the potential to exfoliate skin, but due to a formula that contains multiple irritating citrus oils, its execution is way off.

This somewhat thick, orange-colored gel comes in a plastic bottle with a pump dispenser. Though it’s initially viscous, it’s easy to spread across your face and get even coverage. Ren instructs you to leave it on for 10 minutes, then rinse it off, after which you’re supposed to see rejuvenated skin. We found that despite its thickness, it rinsed cleanly, though complete removal takes several splashes of water.

Ren claims this mask can reduce hyperpigmentation and acne scarring, and one of its main ingredients, the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) lactic acid can do that. Even better: it’s here in an amount that will help with exfoliation, and at a pH of 3.55 that’s optimal for it to do so.  The problem is that it’s rinsed from skin before it has a chance to do much (AHA exfoliants are most effective in leave-on products), though it can still have some hydrating benefits in a rinse-off product.

There are other good ingredients included as well, among them black currant seed oil, grape seed oil, and cranberry seed oil, all which help moisturize skin and deliver antioxidants.

While that’s good, what’s not so good is the inclusion of multiple forms of citrus, among them lemon extract, tangerine, grapefruit, and two kinds of orange oil. All of these put skin at risk of irritation and increased sun sensitivity, even in a rinse-off formula.

Adding to the potential problems are fragrance, the fragrance ingredients limonene and linalool, and denatured alcohol, which can further irritate skin. This is especially an issue for the acne-prone skin this is designed for, since irritation can cause skin to increase oil production (see More Info for details).

These citrus ingredients are included because Ren claims the fruit-based acids will help brighten skin, but they aren’t as effective as other AHAs, and certainly not worth the risk involved. This is one example where natural ingredients aren’t the best choice (although just to be clear, there are MANY brilliant natural ingredients--citrus fruits just aren’t part of this group).

One more note: though “Glycol” is part of this mask’s name, it does not contain any glycolic acid, which we find a bit misleading.

While Ren claims this can have skin-brightening results, you can get those without the potential for skin irritation from the products you’ll find on our list of best AHA exfoliants.

  • Contains AHA exfoliant lactic acid at a pH that’s optimal for exfoliation.
  • Contains citrus oils and extracts that put skin at risk for irritation.
  • Contains fragrance and fragrance ingredients that can further irritate skin.
  • Does not contain glycolic acid, as the name implies.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

A cult-favorite exfoliating peel mask for dry, combination and acne-prone skin, clinically proven to smooth and firm while reducing hyper-pigmentation and acne scarring. Developed to renew and refine, this deeply exfoliating mask works to brighten and restore aging skin as it exfoliates, leaving behind even, more radiant skin. Excellent for mature or sun-damaged skin types, this natural fruit acid-based mask will visibly improve the look and feel of most skin types.

Aqua (Water), Polysorbate 60, Glycerin, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Leaf Extract, Lecithin, Lactic Acid, Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Seed Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Passiflora Quadrangularis Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Alcohol Denat., Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Parfum (Fragrance), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Oil, Limonene, Linalool, Citral, Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Tocopherol.

Ren At-A-Glance

Strengths: Good toner; some worthwhile moisturizers and masks (but not the anti-acne formula); a bounty of products for dry to very dry skin; some products contain especially high amounts of known antioxidants.

Weaknesses: Expensive; repetitive formulas that aren't nearly as natural as they're made out to be; several products contain irritants with no established benefit for skin; very irritating products for those with acne;no skin-lightening options; unappealing products for oily skin.

Hailing from the United Kingdom, the Ren line was developed by two businessmen who are, according to company information, "evangelical" about skin care. The story goes that Robert Calcraft and Anthony Buck were former consultants who began researching the skin-care market after Buck's wife began having adverse reactions to every skin-care product she used while pregnant. Apparently neither man believed that there was a line out there that offered consumers high-tech products that were "totally clean" and "completely effective," and so, voil, a new skin-care line was born.

We wish we could write that these men were really onto something for all women, not just Buck's wife, but that's simply not the case. First of all, their assessment of the cosmetics industry is bizarre, because in truth there are indeed many cosmetic lines offering "clean" and "effective" products ("clean," by Ren's definition, are products that don't contain problematic ingredients). Second, which lines did Ren's founders check out to determine that there was a missing link? An even better question is: What criteria were they using, because almost all of their products are either poorly formulated or contain irritating ingredients?

Calcraft and Buck apparently worked with a cosmetic pharmacologist; although that sounds impressive, a cosmetic pharmacologist works with drugs designed to improve mental ability in healthy individuals, not with skin-care formulations. All of this back story is nothing more than proof that the people behind this line really didn't do their homework, and the consumer who buys these products will be the poorer (both skin health- and money-wise) because of it.

It still shocks us when we review a line that's laden with products claiming to improve wrinkles and other signs of aging skin, and yet there's limited options for sun protection. Few researchers question how critical daily sun protection is to preserving the health and appearance of skin. Many of Ren's products contain antioxidants, and several have high amounts of green tea oil. But all the green tea in Japan isn't capable of protecting skin from environmental damage, which of course includes sunlight.

More so than many other lines that eschew certain ingredients for their alleged (and, sometimes, proven) negative effects when present in skin-care products, Ren loves to point out everything they don't use. This is a line for those who love to see the word "No" followed by a long list of chemical-sounding names that can seem scary to the uninformed. A consumer may have no idea what a polyquaternium is, but because of lines like Ren, the message is clear that it's not desirable. Ren doesn't provide any documentation supporting their ban on certain ingredients, which is typical of lines whose marketing angle relies on perpetuating the myth that synthetic ingredients are evil and that natural is the only truly safe way to go.

It would be great if Ren's "do not use" list benefited consumers, but it doesn't. Frustratingly, many of the ingredients Ren opts to use instead of synthetics are proven irritants for skin. Bergamot, peppermint, tangerine, and arnica are indeed natural ingredients, but each has its share of problems for skin. We could go on, but you get ourpoint: Ren is really nothing more than an overly fragranced, fear-mongering, natural "me too" line using the same tired plant-based ingredient angle as countless other brands. The difference is that many of those other brands have a product assortment that, either from a price or formulary perspective, is much better than this one.

For more information about Ren, now owned by Unilever, call (732) 553-1185 or visit

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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