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Garnier Nutritioniste

SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Mattifying

13.50 fl. oz. for $ 8.99
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Micellar cleansing waters are still getting attention, and the good ones deserve it—but Garnier's SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Mattifying isn't among them, largely due to the presence of one ingredient, denatured alcohol.

Before we discuss this formula, let's address what a "micellar cleanser" is. Simply put, "micellar" involves using micelles in a formula, which are a type of electrically charged particle. Micelle technology is one way of explaining how any surfactant cleansing agent (which this product contains as does most every cleanser on the planet) combines with water and then can wash away the oil on our skin or any surface, for that matter. Micelle technology is one of many methods to formulate a cleanser; it's not an advanced method or something special your cleanser must have, but there's nothing wrong with it, either.

Back to this formula: Its fluid nature is mostly water and slip agent, but then the alcohol comes into play. Alcohol can remove surface oils plus leave skin feeling clean and refreshed, but at the risk of sensitizing along with free radical damage and other unhappy problems for skin.

See More Info for details on the issues alcohol presents for skin.

What a shame, because this cleanser is inexpensive, easy to use, and generously sized. Garnier even left the fragrance out—a nice change of pace from a brand that often overdoes the fragrance, which can be to your skin's detriment.

In the end, if you're looking to experience a micellar cleansing water for yourself, no matter your skin type, check out the better options from brands like Simple, Boots, or the other offerings from Garnier before putting your skin at risk with this ultimately flawed option.

Pros:
  • Leaves skin feeling clean and refreshed.
  • Removes all types of makeup (even, with some effort, waterproof mascara).
  • Inexpensive and generously sized.
  • Fragrance free.
Cons:
  • The amount of alcohol poses a risk of sensitizing and drying skin.
  • Alcohol isn't good for skin anywhere on your body but definitely not the eye area.
More Info:Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Alcohol's effect on your skin is similar to its effect on the rest of your body: it steals the good (hydration) and leaves the bad (dryness, redness, and discomfort). Research has made it clear that alcohol as a main ingredient in any skincare product you use repeatedly is a problem.

When we express concern about the presence of alcohol in skincare or makeup products, we're referring to denatured ethanol, which you'll most often see listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat, denatured alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol on the ingredient label.

When you see these names of this type of alcohol listed among the first six ingredients on an ingredient label, without question they will aggravate and be cruel to skin. No way around that, it's simply bad for all skin types.

These types of volatile alcohols give products a quick-drying finish, immediately degrease skin, and feel weightless, so it's easy to see their appeal, especially for those with oily skin. But those short term benefits lead to negative long term outcomes!

Consequences include dryness, erosion of skin's surface (that's really bad for skin), and a strain on how skin replenishes, renews, and rejuvenates itself. Alcohol just weakens everything about skin.

We are often challenged on this information based on a study in the British Journal of Dermatology, July 2007, issue 1, pages 74-81 that concluded "alcohol-based hand rubs cause less irritation than hand washing…" The only thing this study showed is that alcohol was not as irritating as an even more irritating hand wash containing sodium lauryl sulfate. Think about it this way, if you test to see whether or not you'll get burnt by a flame or slowly boiling hot water, you will quickly get damaged by the fire. You will eventually be damaged by the slowly boiling hot water, it will just take longer, but burned you will be.

There are other types of "alcohols", known as fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be exceptionally beneficial for skin. Examples you'll see on ingredient labels include cetyl, stearyl, and cetearyl alcohol. All of these are good ingredients for skin. It's important to discern these skin-friendly forms of alcohol from the problematic types of alcohol.

The irony of using alcohol-based products to control oily skin is that the damage from alcohol can lead to an increase in bumps and enlarged pores. Alcohol can actually increase oiliness because of the irritating feeling it creates, so the immediate de-greasing effect is eventually counteracted, prompting your oily skin to look even shinier.

References for this information:

Dermato-Endocrinology, January 2011, issue 1, pages 41-49

Experimental Dermatology, June 2008, issue 6, pages 542-551

Alcohol Journal, April 2002, issue 3, pages 179-190

Aging, March 2012, issue 3, pages 166-175

Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77-80

Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, issue 3

Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, issue 5, pages 360-366.

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes

This all-in-1 mattifying cleanser with Micellar technology effectively removes makeup, cleanses and helps purify pores. Like a magnet, micelles capture and lift away dirt, oil and makeup without harsh rubbing, leaving skin perfectly clean and refreshed without a greasy residue left behind.

Aqua/Water, Hexylene Glycol, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Poloxamer 184, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Disodium EDTA

Garnier Nutritioniste At-A-Glance

Strengths: Interesting and potentially helpful cleansing oil and foundation primer.

Weaknesses: Insufficient UVA protection from some of the sunscreens; average to below average moisturizers and eye creams; mostly irritating cleansers; no effective products for blemish-prone skin; jar packaging.

Debuting with permanent hair dye and then making the segue to a full line of hair-care products emphasizing carefree, casual styles with can't-miss-it colorful packaging has been Garnier's formula for penetrating the U.S. market. Several well-known actresses have had dual roles as spokesperson for Garnier's hair dyes and skin-care products, with splashy ads appearing in magazines and on television commercials.

Unfortunately, this group of products hasn't got much going for it except the lure celebrity spokespeople provide. The amount of fragrance is perhaps forgivable for a French-owned product line, and in most of the Nutritioniste products it's not too intrusive. What is deplorable is the lack of sufficient UVA protection in the sunscreens. A skin-care line has no right to speak about the anti-aging benefits and "breakthrough approach" of its products when they cannot get this fundamental aspect consistently right.

It's also disappointing that some products contain irritating peppermint, which made us wonder whether the dermatologists who consulted for Garnier had any idea of what's good for skin and what isn't. It seems they didn't, because what they ended up with is a mix of pro and con products that make it impossible for consumers to assemble a sensible skin-care routine, not to mention products that make skin-lifting claims most dermatologists would dismiss as cosmetics puffery.

The hook for this line is the way it is said to bring nutrition and dermatology together. The products are "fortified" with antioxidants such as lycopene and nutritional ingredients such as fatty acids, vitamins (A and C, never present together in the same product!), and minerals. Garnier wants you to think this is a revolutionary idea, but it isn'tdid they also overlook that everyone else, from L'Oreal (Garnier is owned by L'Oreal) to Estee Lauder and Clinique, has been using such ingredients in their products for years? And why consult a nutritionist (as Garnier did) when their training and professional expertise has little to do with application of anything to the skin? The whole scenario proves Garnier was more concerned with creating an attention-getting story for this line rather than formulating truly breakthrough products.

Despite our disdain for the way Garnier's marketing takes precedence over making the products as good as they could be formulary-wise, there are some bright spots. Because Garnier is owned by L'Oreal, it's no surprise to find that there are lots of similarities between the better and worse aspects of L'Oreal's skin care as well as with L'Oreal's department-store sister company Lancome. In some ways, Garnier's formulas best those of both companies by including a greater array of antioxidants and intriguing skin-identical ingredients. The occasional jar packaging choice reduces the effectiveness of some of these products, but other than that, Lancome users should take note of the happy facerated products in this line. You'll be getting a better product for considerably less money here (though, at least for now, no free gift with purchasebut you can buy Lancome foundations or mascaras instead when gift time comes around).

For more information about Garnier Nutritioniste, call (800) 370-1925 or visit www.garnierusa.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.

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