I-Waken Eye Serum
Indie Lee’s I-Waken Eye Serum features a surprising mix of ingredients… and not in a good way. There are simply one too many red flags to consider putting this on your skin.
Of chief concern, alcohol is one of the main ingredients. Research has proven time and time again that a high concentration of this type of alcohol weakens skin in a number of ways, including eroding its protective barrier. This is a problem for skin anywhere on your face, but especially the eye area, where skin tends to be thinner and more delicate.
That’s reason enough to stop right there, but it gets worse. Moving down the ingredient list you’ll find irritating extracts (pyrus sorbus bud, arnica and witch hazel), which compound the likelihood of negative effects to skin. Those ingredients go completely against what this eye serum’s beneficial ingredients (including jojoba oil, algae extracts, and sodium hyaluronate) have to offer.
We’d also be remiss not to mention that the see-through squeeze tube packaging compromises the stability of light-sensitive ingredients such as antioxidants, so you’d need to keep this stored this in a dark place (i.e. drawer) to protect the formula.
The bottom line: This lotion-esque eye serum doesn’t contain ingredients that can do anything for dark circles, except potentially make them worse, and even if it can temporarily minimizes puffy eyes, what it’s doing to skin in the long run has a troubling consequence. Check out our top-rated eye creams instead.
- Contains proven antioxidants and hydration-boosting sodium hyaluronate.
- Skin-weakening, drying alcohol is a main ingredient.
- The risk to skin is further compounded by irritating extracts throughout the formula.
- Particularly troublesome for delicate eye area skin.
- See-through packaging compromises the stability of light-sensitive ingredients.
Alcohol-Based Skin Care Products: Research makes it clear that alcohol, as a main ingredient in any skincare product, especially one you use frequently and repeatedly, is a problem.
When we express concern about the presence of alcohol in skincare or makeup products, we’re referring to denatured ethanol, which most often is listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat., denatured alcohol, or (less often) isopropyl alcohol.
When you see these types of alcohol listed among the first six ingredients on an ingredient label, the product is highly likely to irritate and cause other problems for skin; it doesn’t take much of this type of alcohol to trigger skin stress. There’s no way around it—these volatile alcohols are simply bad for all skin types.
The reason they’re included in products is because they provide a quick-drying finish, immediately degrease skin, and feel weightless, so it’s easy to see their appeal, especially for those with oily skin. If only those short-term benefits didn’t lead to negative long-term outcomes.
Using products that contain these alcohols will cause dryness, erode skin’s protective barrier, and a strain on how skin replenishes, renews, and rejuvenates itself. Alcohol just weakens everything about skin.
The irony of using alcohol-based products to control oily skin is that the damage from the alcohol can actually lead to an increase in breakouts and enlarged pores. As we said, the alcohol does have an immediate de-greasing effect on skin, but it causes irritation, which eventually will counteract the de-greasing effect and make your oily skin look even more shiny.
There are people who challenge us on the information we’ve presented about alcohol’s effects. They often base their argument on a study in the British Journal of Dermatology (July 2007, pages 74–81) that concluded “alcohol-based hand rubs cause less irritation than hand washing….” But, the only thing this study showed was that alcohol was not as irritating as an even more irritating hand wash, which contained sodium lauryl sulfate. So, the study is actually just telling you that one irritant, sodium lauryl sulfate, is worse than another irritant, alcohol.
Not all alcohols are bad. For example, there are fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be beneficial for skin. Examples that you’ll see on ingredient labels include cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol, all of which are good ingredients for skin. It’s important to differentiate between these skin-friendly alcohols and the problematic alcohols.
What about very low levels of denatured alcohol? These sometimes show up in products because the alcohol may be part of the preservative system or may have been used to make certain ingredients more soluble in the formula. In these instances the amount of alcohol is typically below 0.1%, so is unlikely to pose a risk to skin.
References for this information:
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, April 2017, pages 188-196
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, pages 1–16
Dermato-Endocrinology, January 2011, pages 41–49
Experimental Dermatology, June 2008, pages 542–551
Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366
Alcohol Journal, April 2002, pages 179–190
A hydrating, antioxidant-rich daily eye serum that addresses dark circles and puffiness, leaving skin with a refreshed and firmer appearance.
Indie Lee positions itself as brand focused on clean and natural skin care products. “Clean” is an unregulated term (there is no standardized definition), so how it’s defined varies from brand to brand, and is completely at their discretion. In this case, they choose to formulate their products to be free from ingredients “that have been questioned over recent years.” As they put it, “we at Indie Lee believe in taking a more cautious approach.”
Some of the ingredients they avoid align with published research attesting to the problems they can cause for skin, but regrettably, others are mislabeled as bad despite current scientific literature proving them to be safe as used in cosmetics. We can agree to disagree on that point—what really matters is whether Indie’s products are effective and non-irritating for skin. Unfortunately, the formulas turn out to be hit-or-miss.
While many of the products feature beneficial ingredients, they are often paired with potently fragrant extracts and essential oils proven to sensitize skin. Even though these ingredients are plant-based, this is a classic example of why natural ingredients aren’t always better for your skin, and how many brands touting “clean beauty” keep missing the research showing that some natural ingredients are actually problematic for skin. Other irritants, such as high amounts of skin-drying alcohol, appear in select Indie products. We’re all for safe, effective products that contain natural ingredients (there are tons of good ones) but to our way of thinking, clean beauty shouldn’t mean risking irritated skin.
It’s not all doom and gloom. Indie Lee has some good products too—you’ll just have to sort through the skin-irritating ones to find them. Luckily, we’ve done the detective work for you. Learn more about this brand at www.indielee.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.