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TheBalm

Strawberry Nourishing Facial Serum

1.00 fl. oz. for $ 39.50
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This lightweight product has a serum texture, but is first and foremost an AHA exfoliant. It contains an effective concentration (likely 5%) of the AHA glycolic acid and, like other AHA exfoliants from theBalm, is formulated in a pH range that allows exfoliation to occur.

You'll get exfoliation plus light hydration from this product, although as is the case with many products from theBalm's skin-care line, the formula contains a mix of beneficial and potentially problematic plant extracts. In this formula, the problematic plant extracts outweigh the good ones, and when you add several fragrance ingredients to the mix, this AHA exfoliant becomes harder to recommend.

If you decide to try this, it's best for normal to combination skin—but know there are more gentle and less expensive options to be found on our list of Best AHA Exfoliants.

Pros:
  • Lightweight serum texture provides non-greasy hydration.
  • Contains an effective concentration of AHAs at a pH that allows exfoliation.
  • Makes skin smoother and softer.
Cons:
  • Contains several plant extracts that can be problematic, especially for sensitive skin.
  • Fragrance ingredients such as geraniol pose a risk of irritation, which is not the goal when using an AHA exfoliant (or any other skin-care product).
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

Our Strawberry Nourishing Facial Serum provides a boost of Alpha Hydroxy Acids that minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This serum is weightless under your favorite TimeBalm moisturizer.

Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycolic Acid, Glycerin, Methyl Gluceth-10, Sodium Hyaluronate, Propylene Glycol, Ammonium Hydroxide, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium PCA, Phenoxyethanol, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Echinacea Purpurea Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Carica Papaya Fruit Extract, Hydrastis Canadensis (Goldenseal) Extract, Juniperus Communis Fruit Extract, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract , Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Fragaria Vesca (Strawberry) Fruit Extract, Fragrance (Parfum), Linalool, Benzyl Salicylate, Benzyl Alcohol, Geraniol

Today, most cosmetics companies seem to be launched for one of three distinct reasons: they come about as the extension of a high-end fashion house's brand (like Burberry, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, or Armani); they're created by some corporation under the endorsement of a celebrity (Drew Barrymore's Flower Beauty or Kat Von D's line); or, as is the case for theBalm Cosmetics, an entrepreneur saw an "unfilled niche" in the cosmetics market and decided to get to work.

theBalm was founded in San Francisco by Marissa Shipman, who spent years trying to break into the cosmetics industry before forming her own company in 2004. As the story goes, she crafted her own products in her kitchen by consulting makeup books she bought from Amazon.com. Eventually she was able to hire a chemist, get a lab (Bye-bye, kitchen workshop!), and secure distribution through cosmetics retailer Sephora. theBalm's products have (pardon the pun) exploded and are now sold in dozens of countries worldwide.

It's interesting to note that theBalm is quite reminiscent of the Benefit brand; the similarity of the packaging, marketing, colors, product selection, and even the place of origin - San Francisco is blatant. Featuring recyclable cardboard packaging with retro pinup-style artwork and cutesy names, theBalm line includes both makeup and skin care products, and is reasonably priced, although it's definitely more expensive than what you'll find at the drugstore.

The company's makeup is definitely its stronger suit, with some good options, such as a couple eyeshadow palettes, the mascara, and its pressed-powder blushes. It has one true blockbuster product: Balm Shelter tinted moisturizer. This standout product performs amazingly well and is deserving of its many accolades.

Unfortunately, theBalm also has some problematic makeup, in particular, and ironically, their lip products. The inclusion of irritants in two of its lip products is disappointing, and an otherwise excellent lip gloss (with SPF, no less) is marred by a fragrance that's downright overwhelming initially and potentially irritating if used every day.

As far as skin-care, the company's collection, called TimeBalm, is surprisingly larger than you might think. It includes cleansers, toners, moisturizers, AHA exfoliants, masks, eye-area products, and a handful of ancillary items that are questionable in terms of their benefitthough some of them, like the foundation primer, are indeed worth checking out.

Overall, based on the formulas, theres little reason to give the majority of these skin-care products a second thought, as most of them are laced with one or more problematic ingredients or, in the case of most of the moisturizers, suffer due to jar packaging, which compromises the products stability. The prices are good, but theres not much value in saving money on average-to-problematic products, especially when spending just a bit more can get you far better formulas.

theBalm boasts that TimeBalm skin-care products are free of parabens, synthetic dyes, and phthalates, and many consumers seem to be seeking such products. However, parabens are not a problem, and phthalates arent usually included in skin-care productstheyre more often seen in nail polish and in some fragrances. Not including synthetic dyes is helpful, but it would have been even better for your skin if theBalm had avoided fragrant oils and other plant-based irritants. Lots of theBalm products contain great natural ingredients, but theyre often commingled with potentially irritating natural ingredients, and that doesnt add up to great skin careits more of a ticking time bomb than anything else.

For more information, visit www.thebalm.com. And yes, we're aware that "it's thebalm.com" is an expression used to indicate something that's totally cool. Coincidence? We'll let the reviews speak for themselves!

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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