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Garnier Nutritioniste

SkinActive The Gentle Sulfate-Free Cleanser

13.50 fl. oz. for $ 11.99
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Ingredients

Brand Overview

Garnier's SkinActive The Gentle Sulfate-Free Cleanser gets so much right when it comes to providing a mild cleansing experience that it's a shame we can't give it a higher rating—but one ingredient keeps it from being the best it can be.

This gel cleanser comes in a large plastic bottle with a pump-style dispenser and is easy to spread across the face for cleansing. Those who like their cleansers foamy will appreciate the light creamy foam action. It does a good job removing dirt, oil and makeup, rinsing cleanly without leaving skin feeling parched afterward (in fact, skin feels a bit smoother).

Garnier skips any harsh detergent cleansers in this formula, and includes a few skin-replenishing ingredients for good measure. However, just to be clear, most sulfates are not harsh when used as directed in rinse-off products; the alternatives to sulfates may not be labeled "sulfate", but that doesn't necessarily make them better or gentler on skin.

The real issue is that this product's packaging claims that its fragrance free, but it's not. Even though "fragrance" isn't listed on the label, this contains methyldihydrojasmonate, and that is a fragrance ingredient. There is no obvious smell to this cleanser, and methyldihydrojasmonate is low on the ingredient list (and since it is rinsed from skin, poses a lower risk of irritation), but the fact that it's here at all means the fragrance-free claim is misleading.

If this one ingredient were not present, this would earn a better rating. As it stands it's still a good cleanser, just one that isn't labeled accurately.

One more comment: Garnier's "rich in glycerin" claim sounds good, and this cleanser certainly contains a good amount of this skin-replenishing ingredient, but so do lots of other water soluble cleansers.

Pros:
  • Does a good job removing dirt, oil, and makeup.
  • Rinses cleanly without leaving skin feeling dry.
  • Formula consists of gentle cleansing agents.
  • Includes some skin-replenishing ingredients.
Cons:
  • Claims to be fragrance-free, yet contains a fragrance ingredient.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes

This extra-gentle cleanser effectively removes face makeup, impurities and excess oil all while caring for your skin. Rich in glycerin, our sulfate-free foaming lotion softens as it cleanses, so your face is left feeling fresh and clean, never tight or dry.

Aqua/Water, Glycerin, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Coco-Betaine, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-100 Stearate, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Glyceryl Stearate, Coconut Acid, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, PEG-55 Propylene Glycol Oleate, Propylene Glycol, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Salicylic Acid, Chlorphenesin, Methyldihydrojasmonate, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydrogenated Coconut Acid, Polyquaternium-53, Coco-Glucoside, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Isethionate, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Trideceth-6, Benzoic Acid, Citric Acid, BHT.

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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