Hydration Boost Facial Serum
There are far more similarities than differences among the numerous serums from this line, and Hydration Boost Facial Serum is a case in point. Although this serum claims to be hydrating (and it is), so are the other serums from Michael Todd—and this one doesn't contain anything special to distinguish it from the pack; in fact, it has nearly identical pros and cons, and, not surprisingly, is another serum from this line that we cannot recommend.
It's great that this serum contains some tried-and-true hydrating ingredients as well as antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. The problem is that these good-for-skin ingredients are paired with problematic ingredients such as fragrant plants, neem oil, and an unidentified mix of essential oils, which just adds more fragrance. See More Info to learn why daily use of highly fragrant products is a problem for all skin types.
A quick comment about neem oil: This plant oil is a source of sulfur, plus it contains an unidentified toxic component that may pose additional risk to the skin (Source: www.naturaldatabase.com). Research has shown that neem oil has strong antifungal and antibacterial activity, and it's used as a natural pesticide—none of which has anything to do with what this serum claims to treat.
Last, this serum's inclusion of the controversial ingredient DMAE deserves some explanation. Research on DMAE (also known as dimethylaminoethanol) has shown conflicting results in terms of its anti-aging effectiveness and subsequent risk to skin. It seems to offer an initial benefit that improves the skin, but these results are short-lived and eventually give way to destruction of the substances in skin that help build healthy collagen (Sources: Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, November-December 2007, pages 711–718; and American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, volume 6, 2005, pages 39–47).
- Contains some good emollient, skin-repairing, and antioxidant ingredients.
- Hydrates and leaves a slight dewy glow.
- Highly fragrant formula poses daily risk of irritation.
- Contains unidentified "essential oils," which are just another source of fragrance and irritation.
- Neem oil has no benefits for aging skin, but does pose a risk of irritation and is a proven toxic ingredient.
- Contains the controversial ingredient DMAE.
Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
Made with organic ingredients, Hydration Boost contains neem oil and black willow tree extract, recognized for thousands of years for their healing properties, in a base of cupuacu butter and healing organic aloe vera juice to help strengthen the skins moisture barrier. Added hyaluronic acid and DMAE work to retain moisture and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Achieves a dewy, but not oily, finish to your skin a la JLo with a couple of squirts!
Several products contain a good range of anti-aging ingredients; products are packaged to keep the light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use; good moisturizing mask.
Many of the products are highly fragrant and/or contain fragrant plant extracts or oils known to be irritating; several of the serums contain the exact same ingredients, just listed in a different order, which makes things needlessly confusing; in a line full of anti-aging lotions and potions; no options with reliable amounts of ingredients proven to treat dark spots, red marks from acne, or breakouts; the claim of aloe being special for skin is overinflated.
What do the popular hair accessory line called SCUNCI (aka "scrunchy") and the natural-themed skin-care brand Michael Todd True Organics have in common? Both are associated with a man named Lewis Hendler. Hendler founded SCUNCI in the early '90s and sold the company to Conair in 2005. Then, in 2008, Hendler acquired the little-known Michael Todd True Organics skin-care brand.
As we understand it, there really was someone named Michael Todd who played a role in the brand's history, but there's no mention of the real Michael Todd to be found on the company's website. We did find a press release explaining that he is or was a model and actor, but that's about it. Hendler is the brand's public face, along with a few lesser known celebrities.
This Florida-based company has captured the attention of many consumers due to its claims of using natural and organic ingredients coupled with active anti-aging and anti-acne ingredients (all of which, by the way, are synthetic, which is just fine for skin, just not as "all natural" as the company wants you to believe).
Like many natural-themed lines, Michael Todd True Organics promotes some of the most absurd and misleading information imaginable about skin and skin care. A big onedirectly from the owner himselfis that everything we put on our skin is absorbed into the body cosmetic ingredients go right past the skin and into the bloodstream. If that were true (it isn't, thank goodness, but we'll get to that shortly), then moisturizers couldn't moisturize, exfoliants couldn't remove the top layers of dead, dried skin, and sunscreens would not prevent sunburns or tanning. Most skin-care ingredients do their job by staying on top (or at least in the top layers) of the skin, not by being absorbed into the body.
In essence, if absorption into the body were true, then even Hendler would have to admit that his own products (many of which contain problematic ingredients like neem oil and/or lavender oil, which are toxic when ingested) would do little for the skin because as soon as you apply thempoof! They're in the body, just like as soon as you swallow food it's on its way to your digestive system.
The truth is that skin is a very good barrier, and that it's difficult to get cosmetic ingredients to penetrate much past the uppermost layers, much less into the bloodstream, as almost all cosmetics chemists will tell you. The good news is that keeping skin-care ingredients, such as moisturizing agents, skin-repairing ingredients, sunscreen actives, and antioxidants, in the skin's outermost layers is really helpfulit means that the skin's surface (its first line of defense) has a better chance of remaining healthy, smooth, and better able to protect itself against environmental damage. But assuming everything we put on our skin did get into the body, thinking that natural ingredients are safer is wrong; there are hundreds of problematic natural ingredients that could cause serious health problems if they routinely got into the body.
Michael Todd True Organics is big on promoting what their products don't contain, including water, which is bizarre given that water is one of the most natural ingredients on earth. But, more to the point, these products absolutely do contain water in the form of aloe juice; aloe is 99.5% water (Sources: Indian Journal of Dermatology, volume 53, issue 4, 2008, pages 163166; and http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js2200e/6.html#Js2200e.6). You're not really getting a more concentrated product simply because it's based on aloe rather than pure water.
What's important to know is that there are good and bad natural ingredients, as well as good and bad synthetic ingredients. Seeing a preponderance of natural ingredients on a skin-care label is no guarantee the product you're considering is better or safer than one that contains natural and synthetic ingredients.
The Michael Todd brand also avoids the usual group of ingredients that have been given an undeserved bad rap, such as parabens, sulfates, triclosan, mineral oil, and synthetic fragrances, all of which we discuss elsewhere on our website (A quick summary: None of the aforementioned ingredients are dangerous for skin. If you still are concerned, don't think for a minute that this is the only line that leaves them out!)
What Michael Todd's product information doesn't tell you about is the extensive amount of research that shows how problematic the fragrant oils and plant extracts that they include in their products are. The irony is that the ingredients they brag about not using are comparably better and, yes, safer for your skin! That's not to say that this brand's products are unsafe; rather, it's to illustrate the point that synthetic ingredients aren't automatically evil, and that all-natural ingredients are not angelic.
The company definitely ups the beneficial ante with ingredients like retinol, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and vitamins (all synthetic by the way), but these great ingredients are surrounded by not-so-great ingredients, many of which are overly fragrantand the research is clear: Fragrance isn't skin-caring in the least.
Sadly, what you get with almost the entire Michael Todd line is a mixed bag. Product after product contains a frustrating mix of beneficial and problematic ingredientsand many of the products pose a strong risk of irritation, especially those with numerous citrus oils, and irritation is always bad for skin, whether the source is synthetic or natural.
For more information on Michael Todd True Organics, call 772-343-0222 or visit www.michaeltoddtrueorganics.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.