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Aesop

Perfect Facial Hydrating Cream

2.00 fl. oz. for $ 120.00
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Brand Overview

Perfect Facial Hydrating Cream has a price that is out of line for what you get, especially because you can easily find superior moisturizers for less than $50. Plus, despite containing some great ingredients for dry skin not prone to breakouts, the formula has enough party-crasher ingredients to make it an unwelcome guest on your bathroom counter.

On the upside, the formula contains a great blend of fatty acids and rich emollients, and the amount of vitamin C (in the form of sodium ascorbyl phosphate) is also excellent.

On the downside (and it's a steep slope), we begin with the jar packaging. This type of packaging won't keep the light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable once opened, which means you'll lose out on the benefits of vitamin C and the antioxidants. See More Info for other reasons jar packaging for moisturizers is a bad idea.

Next, the formula, like so many from Aesop, gets its scent from fragrant oils known to be irritating. This also contains fragrance ingredients like limonene that can cause further irritation, all of which is compounded by the inclusion of the sensitizing preservative methylisothiazolinone, which can be a problem at concentrations above 0.01% in leave-on products. Given that you can't be certain how much is present, it's best to avoid this product in favor of formulas with more skin-friendly ingredients (Sources: Contact Dermatitis, December 2012, pages 334–341, and November 2011, pages 276–82).

In short, much of this moisturizer is an irritation waiting to happen. Despite the promise of Aesop's Perfect Facial Hydrating Cream, the name ends up being more fable than fact. You'd be better off checking out our list of Best Moisturizers (Daytime and Nighttime) for superior, less pricey options.

Pros:
  • Contains an excellent array of moisturizing and skin-repairing ingredients for dry skin.
  • Includes a beneficial amount of vitamin C (as sodium ascorbyl phosphate).
Cons:
  • Jar packaging significantly reduces the benefits of the key ingredients in this product.
  • Drastically overpriced for what you get.
  • Contains plant-based fragrant ingredients that pose a strong risk of irritation.
  • The preservative methylisothiazolinone is a known sensitizer when used in leave-on products.
More Info:

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 that cause further breakdown (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; Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).

Jar Packaging: Yes
Tested on animals: No

Contains potent doses of Vitamin C for skin requiring intense hydration. Perfect delivers unparalleled amounts of rejuvenating vitamins from a base of superlative hydrating oils. Ideal for normal, mature or dehydrated skin.

Water (Aqua), Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Ceteareth-20, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Tocopherol, Sorbitan Stearate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Boswellia Carterii Oil, Citric Acid, Fusanus Spicatus Wood Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Disodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, PEG-4 Laurate, Benzalkonium Chloride, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot ) Root Extract, Methylisothiazolinone, Beta-Carotene, d-Limonene, Farnesol, Linalool.

Strengths: Some products are packaged to keep their light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable.

Weaknesses:Multiple fragrant ingredients are present in each product reviewed, and this poses a strong risk of irritation; no effective options for treating concerns like acne, brown spots, or rosacea; jar packaging for some of the moisturizers wont keep the beneficial ingredients stable; overpriced.

Australian brand Aesop bears the same name as the famous Greek storyteller, and their skin-care products certainly emulate the art of storytelling with their formulas and marketing. The question is whether or not you can believe Aesop and their natural-themed skin-care stories, or if its mostly fable.

From Aesops stripped-down, utilitarian packaging, earthy product descriptions, and overall design aesthetic, its easy to see why those interested in natural-oriented products are attracted to the Aesop brand. How could skin-care products that seem to be so pure and natural be bad, right? We certainly understand the emotional pull natural products have on many people, but the truth is there are good and bad natural ingredients (snake venom and poison ivy are both natural ingredients, but you wouldnt want them on your face), just as there are good and bad synthetic ingredients. Going natural without knowing the details of what youre buying is a recipe for skin problems, not a guarantee of better products.

Refreshingly, compared to many natural-themed lines, Aesop doesnt rely on scare tactics or outlandish claims. Therefore, you wont read anything about toxins or about made-up claims that all chemicals are bad (because everything is composed of chemicals). Instead, Aesop prefers to rest on the quality of their formulas and oeuvre to do the real selling. Judging by the number of requests weve had to review this brand, their less sensationalized approach is working!

With that promising start, its disappointing that Aesop chose to include such a generous amount of fragrance and plant-based irritants in many of their products. In fact, there wasnt a single fragrance-free option in any of the products that we reviewed. (In fact, the box they were shipped in was saturated with fragrance just from the shipping process.) There were a few products with lower amounts of added fragrancethese instances are noted (where applicable)but there usually were other compelling reasons to avoid any given product in this brand, or at least to consider it cautiously.

Also noteworthy: You will find that much of Aesops line, from their cleansers, toners, and moisturizers to their masks and eye treatments, have high-end price tags. While we tend to leave it up to the reader to determine what is or isnt expensive, there were a few instances where the formulas were so basic that we had to mention the disconnect with the costthese were truly simple blends of ingredients that in no way justified their cost.

All of the above is a prelude to the most critical downfall of the Aesop products: There are no options that can successfully (and without potential irritation) address the needs of various skin types or skin concerns of many people. Whether youre struggling with acne, wrinkles, both, or numerous other concerns, from sensitive skin to conditions like rosacea or eczema, you wont find brilliant products to treat them here. Overall, that means assembling a great skin-care routine with Aesop products just isnt possible.

Aesop is sold primarily in department stores like Barneys New York, online, as well as freestanding Aesop stores throughout the United States. Despite their growing distribution, we cannot stress enough how much this lines products disappoint. Aesop has natural ingredients aplentybut what good is that when so many of the natural ingredients they chose are of little to no benefit for skin, or are potentially problematic?

For more information about Aesop, visit http://www.aesop.com/usa/

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.