miracle worker anti-aging for blemish prone skin

1.60 fl. oz. for $ 60.00
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Brand Overview

A product promising to treat signs of aging and breakouts is what many people are looking for (it's just not fair when you're dealing with both at the same time!), and although there are some great options out there, this isn't one of them.

We'll begin with some good news: This contains 1% salicylic acid as its active ingredient, and it's formulated at a pH that ensures it will work to exfoliate skin—a key step for improving clogged pores, breakouts, and signs of aging. Also known as BHA or beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid is definitely the #1 ingredient to use when dealing with breakouts and wrinkles at the same time!

This exfoliant has a lightweight, matte-finish texture that's partly due to the amount of alcohol it contains, which is potentially enough to cause irritation (the pro-aging kind of alcohol), especially given the amount of film-forming agent along with ingredients that are penetration enhancers. It all adds up to the alcohol being potentially more of a problem for skin, not to mention it's disappointing there's more alcohol than state of the art ingredients in this product.

Along with the salicylic acid for anti-aging, philosophy added a form of retinol known as hydroxypinacolone retinoate. The company maintains that this form of retinol boosts surface cell turnover rate without irritation. The lack of irritation is the big sell here; lots of consumers concerned with mitigating signs of aging know that retinoids such as the topical prescription drug Renova or in the cosmetic form of retinol, are better options but that tolerance is an issue for many, and for some it means that retinoids are best avoided.

Does philosophy have the answer for those whose skin cannot tolerate traditional retinoids? Possibly, but you'll have to take their word for it because there is no substantiated research proving that hydroxypinacolone retinoate is a viable option for treating wrinkled, sun-damaged skin without the problem of irritation. However, there is research demonstrating that other forms of retinoate, such as retinyl retinoate (which is not what this product contains) and retinyl gallate 6, improve wrinkles and enhance healthy collagen production without notable irritation (Sources: Skin Research and Technology, February 2012, pages 70–76; The British Journal of Dermatology, August 2009, Epublication; and Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, June 2008, pages 6387–6393). Of course, there are volumes of research attesting to retinol's ability to improve aging skin in numerous ways, but we suppose simply touting "plain" retinol in this product wouldn't make it seem like such a miracle worker.

Anti-irritant ingredients are present, too, which is always a welcome sign in any retinol product—if only the alcohol this contains didn't present the concerns it does, this would be recommended. As is, most will be better off using a separate BHA exfoliant and retinol product, and you can find great options for less than the cost of this single product. See our list of Best BHA Exfoliants and Best Retinol Products for the latest picks.

This product contains fragrance in the form of fragrance ingredient farnesol.

  • Contains an effective amount of salicylic acid formulate at a pH to ensure it exfoliates.
  • The form of retinol is likely effective for reducing signs of aging, though there isn't published research supporting the claim.
  • Addition of anti-irritants is a nice touch.
  • Expensive given the problematic formula.
  • The amount of alcohol is potentially irritating.
  • Contains more alcohol that state of the art ingredients.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes

A miraculous thing happens when two wishes are granted upon by one star. you can now say good-bye to wrinkles and blemishes, and say hello to clearer, more youthful skin that looks and feels miraculous.

Active Ingredients: Salicylic Acid (1.0%). Inactive Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Propanediol, Isohexadecane, Alcohol Denat., Dimethicone, Isopropyl Isostearate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Ethoxydiglycol, Sorbitan Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Squalane, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Allantoin, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extact, Mucor Miehei Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Zinc PCA, Salicylic Acid, Glycerin, Stearyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Gluconolactone, Sucrose Cocoate, Calcium Gluconate, Polysorbate 60, Potassium Sorbate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Maltodextrin, Beta-Glucan, Glyceryl Stearate, Bisabolol, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Xanthan Gum, Farnesol, Chlorphenesin, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol.

philosophy At-A-Glance

Strengths: Relatively inexpensive;some of the best products are fragrance-free; very good retinol products; selection of state-of-the-art moisturizers; innovative skin-brightening product.

Weaknesses: Irritating and/or drying cleansers; average to problematic scrubs; at-home peel kits far more gimmicky than helpful; several products contain lavender oil; several products include irritating essential oils;the majority of makeup items do not rise above average status.

Believe in miracles. That's the "lifestyle" branding statement philosophy makes, which is an approach that is decidedly different from their former positioning, which encompassed family values and spirituality along with a dash of department-store lan and endearingly clever quips. The miracle angle may grab your attention, but the company is also quick to point out that its history is steeped in providing products to dermatologists and plastic surgeons worldwide (so, in addition to miracles, philosophy has a serious side, too). Although its heritage may have included providing clinically oriented products to doctors,we have yet to see or hear of any medical professional retailing philosophy products. And that's a good thing because, by and large, most of philosophy products are resounding disappointments. Moreover, several products, including almost all of their sunscreens, contain one or more known skin irritants. We would be extremely suspicious of a dermatologist or plastic surgeon who recommended such products to their patients, and even more so if they actually believed some of the more farfetched claims philosophy makes.

Interestingly, when you shop this line at department stores or at the cosmetics boutique Sephora, what you'll notice is the preponderance of food- and drink-scented bath products, all in vivid colors or cutely boxed for gift-giving. It seems that somewhere along the way, the company decided to promote these nose-appeal products while downplaying their more serious-minded, simply packaged skin care. Perhaps the body lotions and bubble baths have become philosophy's bread and butter. Given the hit-or-miss nature of their facial-care products, that's not surprising. Then again, they've also heavily promoted their anti-aging-themed Miracle Worker products...

So what's to like if you're into the vibe philosophy puts out? Well, this is still a line with some well-formulated staples, including an AHA product, some retinol options, and a handful of state-of-the-art moisturizers. The products that get the most promotion at the counter are the ones you should avoid, such as the at-home peels, scrubs, pads, and anti-acne products. However, the somewhat confusing, conflicting image philosophy presents shouldn't keep you from considering their best products, but it's not a lifestyle brand in the sense that using the entire line will somehow bring you a more joyful existence, or significantly improved skin. The philosophy line is now owned by Coty, a cosmetics brand primarily known for their fragrances. Their acquisition of philosophy is their first major foray into a widely-distributed skin care brand.

For more information about philosophy, call (800) 568-3151 or visit www.philosophy.com.

Note: philosophy opts to use lowercase letters for every product they sell, so the listings below are simply following suit.

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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