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TheBalm

Iris Night Face Cream

1.70 fl. oz. for $ 44.50
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Ingredients

Brand Overview

Iris Night Face Cream is primarily an AHA exfoliant formulated in a moisturizing base for normal to dry skin. The amount of glycolic acid and this product's pH of 4.1 (just above the ideal pH range of 3–4) means it will function as an exfoliant, and its emollient ingredients will improve dry skin.

The downside is the jar packaging and its detrimental effect on the antioxidants in this AHA cream. See More Info to learn why such packaging isn't a good match with light- and air-sensitive ingredients like plant extracts.

The other issue is that the orris extract it contains (also known as iris extract) has fragrant components that "…can cause severe skin and mucosal irritation" (Source: www.naturaldatabase.com). Plus, this product contains a mix of fragrant ingredients that also are known to cause irritation (Source: www.naturaldatabase.com).

Because exfoliation via AHAs can cause some amount of irritation on its own (though on balance the irritation is minor, and outweighed by the benefits for the skin), it's not logical to mix such ingredients with strong fragrances. See More Info to learn why daily use of fragrant products isn't likely to get your skin to where you want it to be.

Pros:
  • Contains a good amount of the AHA glycolic acid and is formulated at a pH to ensure it works as an exfoliant (though a slightly lower pH would be better).
Cons:
  • Fragrant formula poses a risk of irritation.
  • Jar packaging won't keep the key ingredients stable during use.
  • Iris (also known as orris) root is a known skin irritant.
More Info:

Use of Highly Fragrant Products: 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).

Jar Packaging: The fact that this product is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and most other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also present a hygiene issue because even if you wash your hands or use a spatula to remove the product, you're introducing bacteria, which cause further breakdown of key ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).

Jar Packaging: Yes
Tested on animals: No

Iris Night Face Cream is a rich moisturizer that contains Glycolic Acid, which helps reduce the appearance of lines and gently exfoliates while you sleep. Restore moisture and soothe skin after a long days exposure to environmental stress.

Water, Glycolic Acid, Squalane, Propanediol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Ammonium Hydroxide, C12-14 Isoparaffin, C13-15 Alkane, C13-16 Isoparaffin, Sorbitan Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, C12-20 Acid PEG-8 Ester, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Dimethicone, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Iris Germanica Root Extract, Xanthan Gum, Hexylene Glycol, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance (Parfum), Carbomer, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, Polysorbate-20, Linalool, Geraniol, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891)

Today, most cosmetics companies seem to be launched for one of three distinct reasons: they come about as the extension of a high-end fashion house's brand (like Burberry, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, or Armani); they're created by some corporation under the endorsement of a celebrity (Drew Barrymore's Flower Beauty or Kat Von D's line); or, as is the case for theBalm Cosmetics, an entrepreneur saw an "unfilled niche" in the cosmetics market and decided to get to work.

theBalm was founded in San Francisco by Marissa Shipman, who spent years trying to break into the cosmetics industry before forming her own company in 2004. As the story goes, she crafted her own products in her kitchen by consulting makeup books she bought from Amazon.com. Eventually she was able to hire a chemist, get a lab (Bye-bye, kitchen workshop!), and secure distribution through cosmetics retailer Sephora. theBalm's products have (pardon the pun) exploded and are now sold in dozens of countries worldwide.

It's interesting to note that theBalm is quite reminiscent of the Benefit brand; the similarity of the packaging, marketing, colors, product selection, and even the place of origin - San Francisco is blatant. Featuring recyclable cardboard packaging with retro pinup-style artwork and cutesy names, theBalm line includes both makeup and skin care products, and is reasonably priced, although it's definitely more expensive than what you'll find at the drugstore.

The company's makeup is definitely its stronger suit, with some good options, such as a couple eyeshadow palettes, the mascara, and its pressed-powder blushes. It has one true blockbuster product: Balm Shelter tinted moisturizer. This standout product performs amazingly well and is deserving of its many accolades.

Unfortunately, theBalm also has some problematic makeup, in particular, and ironically, their lip products. The inclusion of irritants in two of its lip products is disappointing, and an otherwise excellent lip gloss (with SPF, no less) is marred by a fragrance that's downright overwhelming initially and potentially irritating if used every day.

As far as skin-care, the company's collection, called TimeBalm, is surprisingly larger than you might think. It includes cleansers, toners, moisturizers, AHA exfoliants, masks, eye-area products, and a handful of ancillary items that are questionable in terms of their benefitthough some of them, like the foundation primer, are indeed worth checking out.

Overall, based on the formulas, theres little reason to give the majority of these skin-care products a second thought, as most of them are laced with one or more problematic ingredients or, in the case of most of the moisturizers, suffer due to jar packaging, which compromises the products stability. The prices are good, but theres not much value in saving money on average-to-problematic products, especially when spending just a bit more can get you far better formulas.

theBalm boasts that TimeBalm skin-care products are free of parabens, synthetic dyes, and phthalates, and many consumers seem to be seeking such products. However, parabens are not a problem, and phthalates arent usually included in skin-care productstheyre more often seen in nail polish and in some fragrances. Not including synthetic dyes is helpful, but it would have been even better for your skin if theBalm had avoided fragrant oils and other plant-based irritants. Lots of theBalm products contain great natural ingredients, but theyre often commingled with potentially irritating natural ingredients, and that doesnt add up to great skin careits more of a ticking time bomb than anything else.

For more information, visit www.thebalm.com. And yes, we're aware that "it's thebalm.com" is an expression used to indicate something that's totally cool. Coincidence? We'll let the reviews speak for themselves!

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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