The True Cream Aqua Bomb
belif's The True Cream Aqua Bomb is somewhat accurately named… but not because of the moisturizing benefits it's supposed to have.
At first, this gel hydrator seems both lightweight and moisturizing, and has a great texture that sinks into skin almost immediately. The formula also contains emollient and antioxidant ingredients, both great aspects to any moisturizer.
Unfortunately, the problems with this product are apparent as soon as you put it on. It has a faint scent of alcohol, owing to the high amount of alcohol in the formula. While its inclusion helps with the product's aesthetics, alcohol in skincare is a problem, especially for dry skin (see More Info for details on why high amounts of alcohol in skin care is a problem).
The next issue is that this contains fragrance ingredients that can cause irritation. Over time, using irritating products can also contribute to drier skin. On top of that, this is packaged in a jar, meaning the stability of many of the good ingredients this contains won't be protected from light and air.
The truth is that The True Cream Aqua Bomb is just that – a bomb. You'll find far less problematic options on our list of best moisturizers.
- Feels initially hydrating.
- Contains a high amount of drying alcohol.
- Includes fragrance ingredients that can irritate skin.
- Packaged in a jar, meaning its beneficial ingredients won't be stable long.
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Research makes it clear that alcohol, as a main ingredient in any skincare product, especially one you use frequently and 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 most often is listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat., denatured alcohol, or (less often) isopropyl alcohol.
When you see these types of alcohol listed among the first six ingredients on an ingredient label, without question the product will irritate and cause other problems for skin. There's no way around it—these volatile alcohols are simply bad for all skin types.
The reason they're included in products is because they provide a quick-drying finish, immediately degrease skin, and feel weightless, so it's easy to see their appeal, especially for those with oily skin. If only those short-term benefits didn't lead to negative long-term outcomes!
Using products that contain these alcohols will cause dryness, erosion of skin's protective barrier, and a strain on how skin replenishes, renews, and rejuvenates itself. Alcohol just weakens everything about skin.
The irony of using alcohol-based products to control oily skin is that the damage from the alcohol can actually lead to an increase in breakouts and enlarged pores. As we said, the alcohol does have an immediate de-greasing effect on skin, but it causes irritation, which eventually will counteract the de-greasing effect and make your oily skin look even more shiny.
There are people who challenge us on the information we've presented about alcohol's effects. They often base their argument on a study in the British Journal of Dermatology (July 2007, pages 74–81) that concluded "alcohol-based hand rubs cause less irritation than hand washing…." But, the only thing this study showed was that alcohol was not as irritating as an even more irritating hand wash, which contained sodium lauryl sulfate. So, the study is actually just telling you that one irritant, sodium lauryl sulfate, is worse than another irritant, alcohol.
Not all alcohols are bad. For example, there are fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be beneficial for skin. Examples that you'll see on ingredient labels include cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol, all of which are good ingredients for skin. It's important to differentiate between these skin-friendly alcohols and the problematic alcohols.
References for this information:
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, pages 1–16
Dermato-Endocrinology, January 2011, pages 41–49
Experimental Dermatology, June 2008, pages 542–551
Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366
Alcohol Journal, April 2002, pages 179–190
Jar Packaging & Anti-Aging Moisturizers: Beneficial anti-aging ingredients, which include all plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients, are unstable, which means they begin to break down in the presence of air. Once a jar is opened and lets air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate, becoming less and less effective. Routine exposure to daylight also is problematic for these ingredients.
Jar packaging is also unsanitary because you dip your fingers into the jar with each use, contaminating the product. This stresses the preservative system, leading to further deterioration of the beneficial ingredients.
Remember: The ingredients that provide the most benefit in addressing visible signs of aging must be in airtight or air-restrictive packaging to remain effective throughout usage. Buying products in this type of packaging means that the ingredients have the best chance of remaining effective—to the benefit of your skin!
References for this information:
Pharmacology Review, July 2013, pages 97–106
Dermatologic Therapy, May-June 2012, pages 252–259
Current Drug Delivery, November 2011, pages 640–660
Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, May 2011, pages 4676–4683
Journal of Biophotonics, January 2010, pages 82–88
Guidelines of Stability Testing of Cosmetic Products, Colipa-CTFA, March 2004, pages 1–10
Owned by South Korean corporate giant LG (yes, the electronics company), belif is a natural skin care brand whose main selling point is the fusion of the sensibilities of Korean skin care – sheet masks and essences are featured prominently - with the philosophy of an old-fashioned European apothecary.
The result is an offering of skin care products that is best described as hit-or-miss. Most of them contain a mix of herbs based off “Napier’s Formula,” a blend of herbs concocted by Scottish apothecary Duncan Napier in the mid-19th century. Anecdotal stories tell of its miraculous effect on skin, though there’s no hard research showing this specific blend of ingredients is better than any other beneficial skin care ingredients.
There are some good products with a robust blend of antioxidants to be found, but most of belief’s lineup contains fragrance (or additional fragrance ingredients), and the brand usually packages its moisturizers in jars (which puts beneficial air- and light-sensitive skin care ingredients at risk because of exposure to both). Were it not for these two missteps, we’d be much more enthusiastic to recommend this brand as an option.
You can find out more about belif by visiting the brand’s website at https://www.belifusa.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.