Hydrating Essence Toner
This alcohol-free, minimally fragranced toner contains proportionately more beneficial than problematic ingredients, with the only concerning ingredient being the witch hazel water. Witch hazel water is the most diluted form of this astringent ingredient, which has a mixed bag profile of benefits and risks for skin. We suspect the amount of witch hazel isn't cause for concern, as this toner most likely contains less than 2% of it; still, it's worth pointing out because it's what kept this otherwise beautifully formulated toner from earing our highest rating.
The nearly weightless yet hydrating texture this toner has makes it a boon for normal to combination skin, including breakout-prone skin. The formula contains a very good mix of anti-aging ingredients, including peptides, soothing plant extracts, and vitamin-based antioxidants (note that the form of vitamin C is ascorbyl glucoside, but is likely not used in an amount that can lighten brown spots).
What about Algenist's hyped ingredient alguronic acid, which is listed as algae exopolysaccharides? You can read what we found out about this allegedly miraculous ingredient in the brand summary for Algenist.
Note: This toner is packaged in a translucent plastic bottle which may hinder the potency of the light- and air-sensitive ingredients it contains if you store it so it's routinely exposed to daylight. For best results, store this toner away from sources of natural light.
- Alcohol-free, fairly gentle formula.
- Contains a very good mix of antioxidants.
- The peptides likely provide an anti-aging boost.
- Feels hydrating but also ultra-light.
- Witch hazel water poses a slight risk of irritating skin.
This hydrating toner combines alguronic acid with witch hazel and chamomile to tone and soothe skin gently, creating a complexion that appears revitalized, brightened, and softened. The formula replenishes and balances skin's moisture levels, purifies, and prepares skin to absorb serums and moisturizers more efficiently.
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.