Noni Night AHA Resurfacing Serum
Kora Organics’ Noni Night AHA Resurfacing Serum is a well-intentioned product but is undone by potent fragrance and a worsening issue with the lotion becoming grainy. Correcting both issues would make this a top-notch leave-on exfoliant for normal to dry skin, but as is, these issues limit its appeal.
Packaged in an attractive opaque purple bottle crowned with a ring of gold and finished with a smooth-dispensing white pump, this exfoliant has a serum-like texture that’s on the thicker side, yet easy to spread.
Regarding the graininess, we didn’t notice this at first; all seemed well. However, subsequent testing revealed the issue, and it became progressively worse, to the point of feeling almost like a granular scrub when massaged into skin. Admittedly, we could’ve gotten a bad batch, but even without this issue, the potent, essential oil-derived fragrance is a problem for skin (see More Into to learn why).
Negatives aside, this appears to contain an effective amount of AHA lactic acid (Kora Organics isn’t sharing the concentration, but we suspect it’s at least 5%) and the pH of 4 permits exfoliation.
The brand claims that the lemon ferment and grape juice are natural sources of AHA and that willow back extract is the source of BHA (salicylic acid), but these ingredients cannot function as well (not even remotely) as pure, lab-synthesized AHAs like glycolic and lactic acid––one more reason we’re glad to see lactic acid leading the pack, while the natural sources of these acids are secondary.
As for willow bark, it contains salicin, an ingredient that can be converted to salicylic acid when consumed orally. This conversion doesn’t happen on skin because skin lacks the specific enzymes needed to change salicin to salicylic acid. Again, the direct ingredient is preferred.
The lactic acid is joined by skin-smoothing avocado oil, many natural antioxidants and some sugar-derived water-binding agents. No question, hydration is in this exfoliant serum’s wheelhouse! But it comes down to the fragrance potentially causing a lot of trouble for your skin and the progressive graininess tells us this formula needs some re-thinking, at which point we sincerely hope they at least tone down the citrus-herbal scent.
See our list of best AHA products for numerous options that get things right.
- Seems to contain an effective amount of AHA lactic acid.
- The pH of 4 permits exfoliation.
- Very good mix of natural antioxidants, emollient oils, and water-binding agents.
- Packaged to keep its light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable.
- Contains several potent fragrance ingredients that can irritate skin.
- Tends to develop a grainy texture that feels slightly abrasive on skin.
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:
Toxicology In Vitro, February 2018, pages 237-245
Toxicological Sciences, January 2018, pages 139-148
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
A powerful organic night treatment serum that uses natural AHAs, BHA and ferments to help resurface your skin leaving you with a smoother and more refined complexion. Thanks to Certified Organic Noni Fruit Extract, Willow Bark Extract, Lemon Peel Ferment, Sicilian White Grapes and Caviar Lime for providing clean, smaller-looking pores, powerful antioxidants and a healthy, radiant glow.
Strengths: No jar containers, which helps preserve the beneficial antioxidants and other light- and air-sensitive natural ingredients.
Weaknesses: Products contain an overwhelming amount of fragrance; nearly all have multiple irritating ingredients; makes unsubstantiated claims about ingredients; no reliable sunscreens; average, dated formulas that are overpriced for what you get.
Our introduction to KORA Organics began with this quote from its founder, Australian Victorias Secret lingerie model Miranda Kerr: All of the water used in our mists has been infused through rose quartz crystals so that the vibration of love associated with rose quartz flows through each product.
Thats one way Kerr describes the science behind how her products have been developed. It also succinctly summarizes why, from our perspective, celebrity status of any kind does not make anyone a skin-care expert. We cant think of a bigger mistake than trusting your skin to a love-infused vat of problematic formulas, at least not when it comes to dealing with concerns like acne and wrinkles.
Kerr created the KORA Organics brand with the belief that only organic ingredients are suitable for skin. The KORA line makes the unsurprising (and unsubstantiated) claims common to many natural brands, which is that natural = good for your skin and everything else is terrible for your skin.
Lets begin by addressing the organic claim. First of all, the term initially was used primarily in reference to food products, where organic referred only to the raw materials (i.e., the vegetable you pull out of the ground) and/or described food produced without the use of pesticides or artificially created or administered hormonesit didnt have any bearing on skin-care products. Nowadays, as were sure youre aware, its commonly used in marketing for cosmetics and their ingredients. BUTand this is a big BUTthere is no legitimate, published research that demonstrates organic ingredients have any special benefit for skin. Theres literally zero researchits all about the emotional pull of the term organic.
Its important to note that any natural ingredient must be processed to make it safe and usable as a cosmetic ingredient, and that processing modifies the ingredient significantly, leaving it about as natural as polyester!
Many natural ingredients have benefits for skin, but many natural ingredients also are irritating and skin damaging as well. The natural pleasant-scented lavender oil is a notable example, as are most citrus extracts, some of which can cause phototoxic reactions when skin is exposed to sunlight. On the other hand, some of the best ingredients in skin-care products are synthetically derived, such as retinol, salicylic acid, peptides, and others. When it comes to evaluating skin-care ingredients, the critical factor is what the published and peer-reviewed research has demonstrated to be true, especially if your goal is to take great care of your skin.
Among the key natural ingredients present in KORA Organics products, those called out most often are rosehip oil and noni juice. Kerr claims she has been applying noni juice topically for years to treat all her skin-care woes. Unfortunately, noni juice has little research demonstrating any special benefit for skin beyond an antioxidant benefit, which is found in hundreds of other plant extracts as well. Kerr claims that the noni plant contains more than 170 vitamins and minerals alone, but thats inaccuratethe noni plant is a fairly simple mix of about 40 chemical compounds, none of which are unique.
Rosehip oil does contain high amounts of vitamin C, but only when freshly extractedwhen rosehip oil is processed and added to the formula of a skin-care product, the majority of its vitamin C content is destroyed. Fortunately, even after the processing, rosehip oil remains a good emollient for dry skin, but it isnt as magical as Kerr makes it out to be. Pure, stabilized vitamin C is a far better ingredient for skin, but thats not what these products contain.
What youre left with in this line is a collection of products that are potently fragrancedthe toners could actually double as perfume in a pinch. Almost every product in the line has a formula thats a blend of ordinary plant-based emollients, such as olive and jojoba oils, aloe, shea butter, and fatty acids (which is nice for dry skin but thats about it), and a mix of irritating essential oils and fragrant flower extracts. Unfortunately, all of the products are quite expensive considering what youre getting in return, which is a mostly just a headache for your skin.
If youre interested in natural products, there are far better options than the disappointing ones from KORA Organics. Check out our reviews of Alba Botanica or Yes To for comparable or superior alternatives for far less money.
For more information about KORA Organics, visit www.koraorganics.com or call +61 2 9979 5672.
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.