Orchid Facial Oil
Herbivore claims that Orchid Facial Oil “defends against free radicals, supports natural elasticity, and contains beneficial vitamins and fatty acids,” and in some ways that’s true. Unfortunately, the perfume-like scent has a negative effect on skin that holds this formula back from earning our recommendation.
Housed in a clear glass bottle and dispensed via dropper, Orchid Facial Oil glides over skin leaving a healthy glow. A handful of beneficial oils are on hand, including coconut oil and jojoba oil, both of which provide fatty acids that hydrate and replenish skin. The formula also contains antioxidants that defend against free radicals as claimed.
The jasmine absolute (absolutes are even more potently aromatic than essential oils) is where this facial oil gets into trouble. Whether or not you like the floral scent, fragrance spells trouble for skin (learn why via the More Info section) and in this case it’s strong enough to linger. The orchid extract contributes to the fragrance as well (although extracts aren’t as volatile as absolutes).
We have to point out that the see-through glass packaging reduces the effectiveness of the light-sensitive ingredients (i.e. antioxidants), so you’d need to store this in a dark place, such as a drawer or cabinet, to limit light exposure and ensure maximum potency. Unfortunately, doing so also preserves the potency of the problematic ingredients, so this is really a product we recommend avoiding.
Considering this could have otherwise been a great facial oil for dry skin, we’re disappointed by the formulary and packaging snafus. For better results, check out the top-rated formulas on our best face oils page.
- Contains some beneficial plant oils that replenish skin.
- Enriched with antioxidants that defend skin from environmental stressors.
- Highly fragrant formula compromises skin.
- See-through packaging limits the effectiveness of the antioxidants if not stored properly.
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
A facial oil that defends against free radicals, supports natural elasticity, and contains beneficial vitamins and fatty acids.
Herbivore Botanicals got its start when Julia Wills and her husband Alex Kummerow started making soap in their kitchen in Seattle in 2011. The couple began selling those soaps at local farmer’s markets, then opened up a shop on arts & crafts site Etsy. As the story goes, national retailers Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters reached out to the pair to sell their products in their stores. That led to beauty giant Sephora taking notice and a couple of years later, Herbivore proper was born.
Herbivore’s core philosophy is on natural skin care, a constantly growing market with a lot of interest. The brand’s site states that its products are chemical-free and non-toxic, though those terms aren’t meaningful (or, in the case of chemicals, accurate) descriptions. Nature is full of chemicals – water, after all, is a chemical! – so none of these products is chemical-free, and no skin care product sold in the U.S. is toxic when used as directed. In short, people aren’t dropping dead from skin care and makeup, despite the occasional dire reports alleging such likelihood.
Specific to Herbivore’s products, they offer moisturizers, toners and face mists, masks, exfoliants, facial oils, and scrubs. In line with many natural-themed brands, a daily sun protection product isn’t part of the mix (yet) even though it’s the most important skin care product you can use.
While most of the products have some positive antioxidant ingredients, all of them have fragrant components known to put skin at risk for irritation. Yes, these fragrances are naturally-derived (often from essential oils or flower extracts), but fragrance, regardless of its origin, is not good for skin.
Another issue is that clear packaging and jars are used for many Herbivore products, yet this type of packaging exposes the beneficial ingredients inside to light and air, reducing their effectiveness with each use.
While we appreciate Herbivore’s desire to bring naturally-derived skin care to the masses, it would be better if the brand skipped the fragrance and focused on the non-fragrant natural ingredients (and there are many of them!) that truly have benefit for skin. Ironically, many of the natural ingredient this brand uses do have some benefit for skin; it’s just that they also present risks. There are plenty of natural ingredients that only offer the good stuff, so our recommendation is not to compromise.
You can find out more about Herbivore at https://www.herbivorebotanicals.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.