Intelligence Genius

2.00 fl. oz. for $ 95.00
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Brand Overview

Intelligence Genius is neither intelligent nor a genius (though we can't help but comment that the two terms are oddly redundant), at least not when compared with countless other products that claim to address the same concerns—namely, loss of firmness, dullness, dark spots, and wrinkles.

This specialty skin-care product contains both skin-brightening and exfoliating ingredients, but the formula's alcohol content makes it potentially problematic for all skin types, as alcohol is a potent skin irritant and causes loss of collagen along with other vital components of skin (explained in the More Info section).

Another issue is how this product is packaged. Two products are housed in one box: The Nightly Resurfacing Solution and the Nightly Resurfacing Pads. On first use, you're instructed to pour the entire bottle of the liquid Resurfacing Solution onto the stack of 60 dry pads. This, of course, saturates the pads so they're ready for use. We're curious as to why Arbonne didn't just package the pads pre-soaked with the liquid, as there's really no benefit from waiting to saturate the pads at home—but either way, the fact that the pads are packaged in a jar is a problem.

The liquid solution contains several light- and air-sensitive ingredients, including plant extracts and a form of retinol known as hydroxypinacolone retinoate; so, once poured onto the pads, every time you go to use this product, the formula loses potency (though it does contain a more stable form of vitamin C that's said to withstand exposure to light and air, at least according to the companies that sell the ingredient to cosmetic firms).

To maintain the effectiveness of the Resurfacing Solution, you could skip the step to pour it over all the pads at once, and just dampen one pad at a time per use, as the Solution is packaged in a brown glass bottle with a small opening. But the amount of alcohol remains a concern as does the fragrant bitter orange oil (its neroli-like scent lingers on the skin long after the product dries) which is also a skin irritant compounding the problem of the alcohol.

The Nightly Resurfacing Solution (what you pour onto the pads) contains the seldom-used AHA mandelic acid, and although it's not a bad ingredient, it's not as thoroughly researched as the AHA ingredients glycolic and lactic acids. Also, unlike glycolic acid, mandelic acid is light-sensitive, so once again Arbonne's choice of packaging compromises the effectiveness of the Resurfacing Solution's formula.

Just like other AHA ingredients, mandelic acid requires an acidic pH to exfoliate, but this product's pH is well above the range needed for effectiveness. Plus, the amount of mandelic acid is on the low side.

With some formulary tweaks and better packaging, this product could be a promising, though pricey, option to fade dark spots, smooth skin texture, boost radiance, and firm the skin. As it is, you get a mixed-bag roster of ingredients and usage instructions that aren't likely to keep the formula stable during use.

  • Makes skin look and feel smoother.
  • Easy to use.
  • Contains some intriguing anti-aging ingredients, including forms of vitamin C and retinol.
  • Amount of alcohol is potentially problematic.
  • Bitter orange oil is a fragrant irritant with no anti-aging benefits for skin.
  • The concentration of the AHA mandelic acid is too low for it to exfoliate skin, and the product's pH is too high for effectiveness.
  • Expensive, especially given the formulary and packaging problems.
More Info:Alcohol in skin-care products causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin's ability to heal. The irritation it causes damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse (Sources: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419; Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, January 2011, pages 83–90; "Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In," Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

Outsmart your skin in just 2 weeks. Genius is clinically proven to improve skin moisture, elasticity and firmness. The resurfacing pads work with our proprietary solution to reduce the look of dark spots and fine lines for skin that feels smooth, even-toned and beautiful. 60-day supply of Nightly Resurfacing Pads, 2 fl. oz. Resurfacing Solution.

Dimethicone, Trisiloxane, SD Alcohol 40-B (Alcohol Denat), Diisopropyl Sebacate, 3-0-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Bakuchiol, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Extract, Cichorium Intybus (Chicory) Root Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Oil, Zingiber Officinale, (Ginger) Root Extract, Bisabolol, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Mandelic Acid, Azelaic Acid, Hexylresorcinol, Ethyl Linoleate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Niacinamide, Aqua/Water/Eau, Farnesol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool.

Arbonne At-A-Glance

Strengths:A small selection of basic but effective cleansers and masks; good brush set; lip balm with reliable sun protection.

Weaknesses: Consistent and pervasive use of volatile fragrant oils that are irritating, allergenic, and/or photosensitizing for skin; disappointing toners and masks; no effective AHA or BHA products; no skin-brightening or effective anti-acne products; several sun-care products contain problematic ingredients.

Founded in 1975 with the goal of providing skin-care products with "unparalleled quality and effectiveness," Arbonne International is a direct-sales line many of my readers have an intense curiosity about. There must be lots of assertive Arbonne salespeople out there, because no other line with this type of business structure has generated the amount of email we receive, all asking if Arbonne products are worth it and whether or not many of the company's outlandish claims are true. More than many other lines, Arbonne is big on playing up the alleged evil of many benign cosmetic ingredients. Topping this list is mineral oil, which the company maintains interferes with skin functions and delivery systems. Cosmetics-grade mineral oil is not a problem for skin and is in fact one of the mildest and most effective ingredients for making dry skin look and feel better. It doesn't have the best texture or finish, but its effectiveness is indisputable (Sources: Journal of Burn Care Research, May-June 2006, pages 345351; Contact Dermatitis, June 2003, pages 293299; Cosmetics & Toiletries, January 2001, page 79; Cosmetic Dermatology, September 2000, pages 4446; and Dermatitis, September 2004, pages 109116).

We have also been asked about whether it is true that all mascaras except Arbonne's contain bat excrement. Yes, you read that correctly. It seems many Arbonne salespeople are telling potential customers that all mascaras (except for Arbonne's, of course) contain this substance. We also found that many of the Arbonne representatives we spoke to love sharing the false rumor about lipsticks containing road-kill remnants (except for Arbonne's, of course). We wouldn't mention these tall tales if these were a few isolated incidents, but dozens upon dozens of women have contacted us asking for the truth behind these ludicrous claims. Just to be clear, cosmetic chemists are not venturing into dark caves to collect bat excrement or picking up carcasses of animals on the side of the road all in an effort to save money and create harmful cosmetics. And you have to wonder: If Arbonne products are so wonderfully effective, why do they need to sell themselves using scare tactics about what every other company's products supposedly contain?

Arbonne also advertises the fact that their products don't contain chemical fragrances because of their potential for causing allergic contact dermatitis. We agree with that stance, but it would give Arbonne more credibility if they didn't replace "chemical" fragrances with a slew of irritating plant extracts and volatile oils, several of which are well-known for their potential to cause skin problems. It is their overreliance on such ingredients that makes a disproportionate number of their products impossible to recommend.

we could go on, but to sum it up, despite my reservations, Arbonne has some good products to consider. However, the rather misleading marketing language is not convincing. None of the natural-sounding ingredients in the world can keep you from reacting to an irritating preservative or fragrance, or from breaking out due to cosmetic waxes such as stearic acid or myristyl myristate.

For more information about Arbonne International, call (800) 272-6663 or visit www.arbonne.com.

Arbonne Makeup

Arbonne's makeup is known is divided into two main groups, About Face and Virtual Illusion, and in contrast to its skin-care products, the claims are somewhat tempered. The color palette presented is divided into warms, cools, and neutrals. Although we don't agree with all of Arbonne's classifications, this system can be helpful for making your selection. Regrettably, this collection has seen very little change over the years. Instead, Arbonne focuses heavily on skin care while their latest makeup fails to approach the benchmark standards being set by dozens upon dozens of other companies. The average to poor products are particularly distressing because, for the most part, Arbonne's makeup is overpriced.

Despite this, there is some good news. The makeup categories to focus are blush, eyeshadow, lipstick, gloss, and brushes. You should know that contacting an Arbonne representative to purchase makeup (you cannot purchase it via the company's Web site without having being assigned a representative) will result in more than just a monetary transaction. The Arbonne representatives we encountered were on a mission to recruit anyone who buys (or expresses interest in) their products. Dealing with this company demands patience or a strong resolve. You will need to refute not only the employees' fervent belief that Arbonne products and philosophies are superior to all others, but also the assertion that joining the company is a life-altering experience on par with the most profound spiritual journey you can imagine. Speaking as a consumer, this sort of selling is not appealing, but we are sure there are others looking for just the financial opportunity and lifestyle change Arbonne offers. Those who agree with me should know that the About Face and Virtual Illusion collections include nothing that cant be found elsewhere, from companies that make it much easier to obtain products than Arbonne does. One more point: Returning products to Arbonne is incredibly frustrating. You must contact your consultant to obtain her information, and then call the company to obtain a return merchandise authorization number. If your consultant doesn't step up, you're stuck with the products unless you want to deal with the company directly, which is about as pleasant as a root canal.

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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