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Fourth Ray Beauty

Keep Clear Clarifying Tonic

4.15 fl. oz. for $ 10.00
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Brand Overview

Fourth Ray Beauty’s Keep Clear Clarifying Tonic is an old-school toner, and we don’t mean that in a good or nostalgic way. In fact, it’s based on outdated ideas of what it takes to get oily skin under control, which research shows could lead to a whole new set of problems.

The very first thing you’ll notice about this liquid toner is the smell. It’s so strong that it almost takes your breath away on the first whiff. That scent comes from a potent mix of witch hazel water, alcohol, lemon and orange extracts, and eucalyptus oil. It might seem innocent, but this is a mix that has strong potential to make oily skin even worse. (See More Info for details)

The drying nature of witch hazel water and alcohol might seem effective at reducing oiliness at first but drying out your skin encourages it to increase oil product, leading to more shine and even an increase in breakouts. Add to that the fact that fragrant extracts can cause irritation that can lead to more oiliness, and you have a potential recipe for disaster.

True, there are soothing ingredient like willow bark extract and allantoin present here, but in this case, they’re fighting an uphill battle. This misguided toner is a hard pass, and not even close to being in the league of modern toners that give skin beneficial ingredients to look and feel better.

Pros:
  • None.
Cons:
  • Contains witch hazel water, which has drying alcohol.
  • Contains a high amount of drying alcohol.
  • Contains fragrance orange extract and eucalyptus oil, which can irritate skin.

Alcohol-Based Skincare 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, without question the product will irritate and cause other problems for skin. 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, erosion of 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 alcoholstearyl 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.

References for this information:

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

Why Fragrance Is a Problem for Skin: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes a chronic sensitizing reaction on skin.

This reaction in turn leads to all kinds of problems, including disrupting skin’s barrier, worsening dryness, increasing or triggering redness, depleting vital substances in skin’s surface, and generally preventing skin from looking healthy, smooth, and hydrated. Fragrance free is always the best way to go for all skin types.

A surprising fact: Even though you can’t always see or feel the negative effects of fragrant ingredients on skin, the damage will still be taking place, even if it’s not evident on the surface. Research has demonstrated that you don’t need to see or feel the effects of irritation for your skin to be suffering. Much like the effects from cumulative sun damage, the negative impact and the visible damage from fragrance may not become apparent for a long time.

References for this information:

Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419

Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175

Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80

Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821–832

Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, pages 191–202
International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement, pages 1–43

Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475

American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

A concentrated, non-drying toner that clarifies and balances the skin. A blend of ingredients provide strong antioxidant and exfoliation properties resulting in a calm, clear complexion.

Water, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Alcohol, Polysorbate 20, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Lactobacillus/Papaya Fruit Ferment Extract, Quartz, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract, Jania Rubens Extract, Allantoin, Sodium Carrageenan, Gluconolactone, Citric Acid, Tartaric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol.

With as much focus on the metaphysical as on the scientific, Fourth Ray Beauty is the brainchild of Seed Beauty, the creator of social-media savvy lines like Kylie Cosmetics and ColourPop. The brand says its focus is on wellness-inspired skin care, and that the name Fourth Ray is derived from the fourth ray of the rainbow, which represents “beauty, harmony, purity, wholeness, and integration.”

Its lineup consists of mainly the basics when it comes to a skin care routine: cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and acne treatment. The formulas are largely unremarkable, with a lack of impressive ingredients, and most of its products contain fragrance. The standout is their cleansing oil which bypasses most of the pitfalls of its competition.

When it comes to its approach to acne and oily skin though, this brand with a New Age philosophy has a decidedly old-school approach by including witch hazel, alcohol, and other irritants that can make acne and oily skin worse.

Fourth Ray infuses each of its products with crystals to, as stated on its website, “cleanse not just your skin but your energy.” This is just marketing, though; there’s no scientific research proving that crystals can do anything for skin.

You can learn more about Fourth Ray Beauty on its website, fourthraybeauty.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.