Purely Bright Radiance Serum
This water-based serum is said to lighten dark spots while hydrating skin. The formula contains satsuma (listed by its Latin name of Citrus unshiu) and a form of vitamin C known as ascorbyl glucoside. Of these two, more research has been done on ascorbyl glucoside, but it's a shame there's more alcohol than vitamin C in this serum (see More Info to learn why alcohol in this amount is a likely problem).
The satsuma has limited in-vitro and animal research demonstrating that it has melanin-inhibiting (skin lightening) properties. Whether or not that benefit can be parlayed to human skin is unknown, so this citrus fruit isn't one to bank on for improving discolorations (Source: Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry, February 2007 pages 91-98).
Otherwise, this lightweight serum contains a mix of helpful and potentially problematic plant extracts. For the money, it may work OK for dark spots, but you're likely to get better results from hydroquinone (widely considered the gold standard) or products with niacinamide and acetyl glucosamine (both of which are natural, if that's what you prefer).
Ultimately, despite the potential for some efficacy, this serum is one we cannot recommend due to the aforementioned amount of alcohol and also because of the fragrant plants and several fragrance ingredients known to be irritating. Among them, eugenol and Isoeugenol are strong irritants. Eugenol is often part of the fragrance in cosmetic products, and is known to cause irritation that may include redness, dryness, scaling, and swelling (Sources: Toxicological Sciences, October 2011, pages 501-510; Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology, July 2011, Epublication; Collegium Antropologicum, March 2011, pages 83-87; Toxicology In Vitro, August 2009, pages 789-796; and Toxicologic Pathology, August 2007, pages 693-701). It is a major component of clove oil, and research has shown the eugenol content of clove causes skin cell death, even when low concentrations of clove (0.33%) were applied to cultured skin cells (Source: Cell Proliferation, August 2006, pages 241–248). It is best to avoid products that contain eugenol, and it's definitely a fragrance ingredient to check on before buying cosmetics.
- Contains enough vitamin C to potentially improve brown spots.
- Little research lies behind the citrus plant said to help lighten discolorations.
- Amount of alcohol puts skin at risk of irritation.
- Numerous fragrant ingredients promote further irritation.
- Eugenol is a problem for all skin types.
Alcohol in skin-care products causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin's ability to heal. The irritation it causes damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse (Sources: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1,410–1,419; Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, January 2011, pages 83–90; "Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In," Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).
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 to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
This powerful concentrate formulated with VitaBrightKx helps to reduce the appearance of dark spots and discolorations and improve skin radiance. Clinical results show that 80% of women noticed improvements in hydration, skin radiance and 67% of women said their age spots appeared lightened after 12 weeks of use.
Jurlique International At-A-Glance
Strengths: A handful of good moisturizers whose plant extracts have established benefit for skin; no jar packaging.
Weaknesses: Expensive; only one sunscreen, which does not list active ingredients and contains potent irritants; all of the toners contain alcohol; minimal to no preservatives means the water-based products have a reduced shelf life; irritating lip balm; no products to successfully address the needs of those with acne or blackheads; most of the facial mask formulas will leave skin confused.
Australian-bred Jurlique is supposed to be all about creating beauty from beauty, based on their view that life begets life and energy comes from energy. It's this New-Age-meets-back-to-basics school of thought that forms the core of Jurlique's claims for their expanded selection of products. The husband and wife founders claim to use a unique three-step extraction process said to capture the "life-force" of the plants they use, 95% of which are grown on their own farmland. Of course, if Jurlique's claims of preserving a plant's vital energy are true, it just makes many of the problematic ingredients they include in their products that much more irritating. What they don't mention is that although they can pay the utmost attention to farming in an eco-friendly manner that's in tune with nature's cycles, it doesn't change the fact that a plant's "life energy" is damaged the moment it is pulled, plucked, or cut from the soil that nurtures it. After all a dead plant is a dead plant, the same way in which any other living thing that has its source of life support cut off will die. And that's even before the plant material is processed to go into a product. We grant you that there are nutrients and antioxidants from which you can benefit, but the life energy is long gone by the time you get it on your face.
Along with all their talk of plant potency is the company's statement that they make the "purest" products on earth. (Well, there are a lot of other product lines out there making similar claims, and given that the exact formulas aren't available to the public, it's hard to know how to challenge this assertion.) Nonetheless, despite Jurlique's commitment to organic farming and specialized extraction techniques, which is praiseworthy, it doesn't excuse their overuse of natural ingredients that are nothing more than naturally irritating to skin.
We know that several of the plants in Jurlique products will attract those seeking natural ingredients, and indeed some of those ingredients have strong evidence of their potent antioxidant or anti-irritant properties (such as turmeric, grape, green tea, evening primrose oil, and rose hips oil). The flipside is that just as many of their ingredients also have a large amount of research showing that they are either skin irritants or are seriously problematic for skin. And despite their claims to the contrary, Jurlique products absolutely do contain fragrance. What do the owners of Jurlique think lavender oil and geranium oil are for? You can attribute any miracle to these ingredients you like, but they are skin irritants (largely due to their volatile fragrance chemicals), and there is no research showing them to have any balancing benefit for skin, regardless of the farming or extraction methods employed.
Furthermore, their formulas are astonishingly similar. Product after product contains the same oils and plant combinations, yet the claims and skin type recommendations vary widely. Many of the products are sold in tiny containers, so you may very well use them up in one or two weeks, before they have a chance to become contaminated; of course, that makes your yearly expenditure on skin care rather steep.
There is only one sunscreen in the line, and it contains synthetic sunscreen agents, rather than one of the two natural inorganic options, zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which is surprising considering Jurlique's "natural" angle. Setting all that aside, if you are looking for natural, and you have a sizable budget to boot, Jurlique offers enough natural products to satisfy, but the options are extremely limited if you're at all concerned about preserving the health of your skin and not inducing an irritant response without a benefit (at least a proven benefit, as opposed to the folklore, alchemy-laden claims made for most Jurlique products).
For more information about Jurlique International, call (212) 752-1912 or visit www.jurlique.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.