The Body Shop touts their Pomegranate line as anti-aging collection, and in particular this toner is supposed to "prime skin for moisture" while removing last traces of makeup/impurities. Unfortunately, however, Pomegranate Invigorating Toner primes skin in all the wrong ways, including with irritating ingredients that pro-age skin!
Chief on the naughty list is alcohol, listed as the second ingredient meaning it's in a high enough concentration to cause free radical damage, destroy collagen, impair skin's ability to heal, and increase inflammation, all of which are anything but moisturizing or anti-aging for skin (see More Info for the full scoop).
Adding to the irritancy factor, Pomegranate Invigorating Toner contains a problematic blend of fragrant ingredients that can irritate skin and leave it worse for the wear (see More Info for the list of detrimental effects fragrance has on skin). Making matters worse, this combination alcohol and fragrance can actually trigger an inflammation response that makes oily even oilier (see More Info)– eek!
What about the highly touted pomegranate? While it's a beneficial antioxidant for skin, Pomegranate Invigorating Toner contains a higher concentration of irritating ingredients than pomegranate. More to the point, skin would benefit from a more robust blend of repairing ingredients, antioxidants, and cell-communicating ingredients rather than just focusing on one "superstar" ingredient.
Suffice it to say, even if this product didn't include alcohol and fragrance, there are better anti-aging toners to consider. Find those options on our Best Toners list.
- High concentration of alcohol wreaks pro-aging havoc on skin.
- Contains a problematic amount of fragrance that further irritates skin.
- Lacks a range of beneficial antioxidants and repairing ingredients.
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: A significant amount of research shows alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012). Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol actually causes skin cells to self-destruct (Alcohol, 2002).
Research also shows that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer skin was exposed to alcohol; for example, two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day, and that's at only a 3% concentration (Alcohol, 2002). In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
Irritation from High Amounts of Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way for all skin types to go for all skin types (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003).
The sneaky part about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don't always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage may remain hidden for a long time (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
Irritation's Connection to Oily Skin & Breakouts: Inflammation in skin is usually related to external factors such as irritation that damages the skin's barrier in numerous ways, whether you can see the reaction or not. When irritation on the surface of skin happens it activates specific chemicals called neuropeptides in the brain (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2007). Those substances are specifically the kind that regulates the hormonal system of the body.
When this happens, it leads to the formation of inflammatory chemicals directly in the oil gland. These inflammatory chemicals trigger an increase in oil production, which can increase the size of the pore, and the likelihood of acne—the more inflammation that occurs, the worse the risk (European Journal of Dermatology, 2002 & Dermatology, 2003).
Bottom line: Inflammation and its resulting irritation, whether internal or external (for this discussion externally it would be due to the use of irritating ingredients, hot water, overusing scrubs, etc.), is practically a guarantee you will see excess production of oil, larger pores and more acne breakouts (Experimental Dermatology, 2009 & Dermato-Endocrinology, 2011).
That's reason enough to avoid products with irritating ingredients, which often come in the form of fragrance including the misnamed "essential" oils.
The Pomegranate range addresses the signs of ageing. This clarifying toner removes the last traces of cleanser and residual impurities.
The Body Shop At-A-Glance
This England-based company was one of the first to offer "natural" products in freestanding stores. Founder Anita Roddick opened her first shop in 1976, and the store's success spurred her husband to turn the business into a franchise opportunity, thus spawning the opening of several more stores across England and, by the end of the 1980s, the United States. As Roddick has commented, the timing of her stores and their merchandise occurred just as Europe was "going green." It is not unrealistic to speculate that were it not for the success of The Body Shop, companies such as Aveda, Origins, and numerous others may not have started on such sure footing. Most consumers are drawn to products with natural ingredients, even though those from The Body Shop, like many other companies claiming natural, use the same standard cosmetic ingredients seen throughout the industry. If anything, The Body Shop's worldwide expansion has caused them to rely less on natural ingredients and more on robust, effective, synthetic ingredients. Can you imagine the smell of millions of bottles of Banana Shampoo rotting in a warehouse?
A somewhat controversial business transaction occurred in 2006 when L'Oreal purchased The Body Shop. Fans of the brand and its stance on animal testing protested that this corporate marriage made for strange bedfellows given L'Oreal's dodgy history with animal testing. The acquisition had many consumer groups focused on ethical and organic business practices calling the sale a cop-out and accusing Roddick of selling out to "the enemy." Roddick commented that the sale had more to do with L'Oreal wanting to learn more about community trade, which could prove a financial windfall for the developing nations and tribes The Body Shop has conducted business with for years. (Sources: www.cosmeticsdesign.com/news/ng.asp?n=66584-l-oreal-the-body-shop-takeover-ethical; and http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4894854.stm). Regardless of motivation or ethical issues, what's certain is that L'Oreal's financial and developmental clout will allow the continued expansion of The Body Shop, although in terms of product improvements, you'll find more signs of that with the makeup than the skin-care products because that is L'Oreal's strength.
An attractive point of difference for this line is their ongoing commitment to environmental and social causes as well as fair trade and animal rights advocacy. For those efforts, the company (fueled by Roddick's personal passion for such issues) deserves high marks. If only the products were as sensible as the company's Mission Statement! It's not that there aren't good products to be found in The Body Shop's familiar green-trimmed stores, but far too many of them are ordinary formulations whose natural ingredients make little impact aside from looking good on the label. And many products contain irritating natural ingredients or fragrance components that place them a notch below the competition. This is not a company that has kept up with the latest research in what skin needs to look and feel its best. Instead, most of their products take a one-note approach to skin care, forcing customers to choose whether they want the benefits of vitamin C or E, seaweed, aloe, or a host of othersseveral of which have so-so benefit for skin, or less so in the amounts included in The Body Shop's products. Still, the line has remained affordable and is readily available, and so as long as you pay attention to the products that are worth your time and money, The Body Shop has some effective products in store for you.
Postscript: The Body Shop's founder, Anita Roddick, passed away in September 2007 at the age of 64. Although through the years we have had my issues with several of her company's products, it must be said that her business acumen and worldwide humanitarian efforts deserve accolades. She was a unique, passionate businesswoman, and we have no doubt her input will be sorely missed.
For more information about The Body Shop, owned by L'Oreal, call (800) 263-9746 or visit www.thebodyshop.com.
The Body Shop Makeup
Makeup isn't the main attraction at The Body Shop, at least if you survey the store and notice the small display compared to shelf after shelf of body lotions, butters, scrubs, and shower gels. Yet if you're drawn to the makeup display you will find it is nicely organized, with product labels and prices in plain view, plenty of testers and mirrors, and even a bit of counter space for your purse. It's an inviting setup, and the sales staff is low key and willing to let you play, which is always a plus. As it turns out, L'Oreal's acquisition of The Body Shop has paid off handsomely for the makeup, which received a much-needed spiffing-up in October 2006. Several products were reformulated, new products (mostly improvements) debuted, and the packaging improved both functionally and visually. Due to the extra attention paid to the makeup you will find some outstanding options for foundation, powder, liquid eyeliner, makeup brushes, and creamy lipsticks. The prices are reasonable too, but they're no bargain if you don't shop this line carefully. Still, L'Oreal has infused some panache into a makeup collection whose core products were becoming ho-hum, and the changes are welcome!
About the Experts
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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