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Mary Kay TimeWise Vitamin C Activating Squares
12.00 applications for $ 24.00
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There are easier and more definitive ways to add vitamin C to your routine than attempting to use Mary Kay's Timewise Vitamin C Activating Squares. The concept—which we explain below—is intriguing, but it's a problem that you don't know how much vitamin C you're getting. After all, this is a booster, kind of like a supplement for skin, so the "dose" is important!

Housed in a firm paper case about the size of a business card are twelve individually-wrapped treatments, each the size of a square. You open the pouch, put one square in the palm of your hand, and add a few drops of water to mix and dissolve the square.

Next, you add the usual amount of your regular serum, mix again, and apply to your face as part of your evening skincare routine.

If that sounds more convoluted than needed, it is. But even if you're willing to put in the extra work vs. just applying a regular booster and then your serum, Vitamin C Activating Squares don't have the best feel on skin.

When the thin, plastic-like clear square dissolves in water, it forms a somewhat sticky serum. Adding a serum to this mix (we tested with those from major brands) improves the sticky, starchy feel, allowing the mix to apply smoothly, but in every instance our skin felt oddly tacky once the square/serum combo absorbed.

We also noticed the palm of our hand used to mix the products had a film-y residue that wasn't easily removed; it's almost like having little bits of dried school glue on your hand!

The last issue is that Mary Kay doesn't reveal how much vitamin C (in this case, ascorbyl glucoside) this contains. Given this is a booster meant to "supercharge your serum", we find this omission strange, especially given vitamin C is the only ingredient of note in this product.

Ultimately, this is a novel product you can feel comfortable skipping. The concept might seem intriguing, but the execution is lacking and there are plenty of vitamin C boosters and treatments that are forthcoming about how much C you're getting. You'll find them on our list of Best Vitamin C Products.

Pros:
  • Individually-wrapped squares ensure the vitamin C stays fresh.
  • An interesting way to add vitamin C to any serum or moisturizer.
  • Fragrance free.
Cons:
  • Can feel unusually sticky even when dissolved and mixed with a serum.
  • Only delivers vitamin C to skin, and skin needs more than one great ingredient.
  • Given its booster status, it would be better to know how much C you're getting.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes
As a beauty industry first, TimeWise Vitamin C Activating Square are a breakthrough in technology that can turn your favorite Mary Kay serum into a superpower with pure vitamin C. Its not a serum. Its not a powder. Its a revolutionary skin care innovation that delivers pure vitamin C to your skin in a tiny, dissolvable square. So small, it can sit on your fingertip; so powerful, it can supercharge your serum with a benefits boost. In just two weeks, skin looks more radiant and even-toned, and fine lines and wrinkles look improved. Just activate one square in the palm of your hand, and it dissolves into a pure vitamin C age-fighting powerhouse. Now thats pure genius.
Pullulan, Water, Polysorbate 80, Glycerin, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Sodium Bicarbonate, Potassium Sorbate.

Mary Kay At-A-Glance

Strengths: Most of the products are fragrance-free; packaging that keeps light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use; a handful of well-formulated moisturizers; very good eye-makeup remover; effective wrinkle filler; excellent cream blush and several other impressive makeup products.

Weaknesses: The overall collection is a mixed bag of exciting and disappointing products; several outdated moisturizers and cleansers; no AHA or acceptable BHA products; the CC Cream doesn't provide good enough UVA protection; some lackluster makeup products.

The last few years haven't been glamorous for one of the world's largest direct sellers of cosmetics. Mary Kay lost a lawsuit filed by TriStrata, the company whose founders hold over 100 patents on the use of AHAs in skin-care products. It was revealed that Mary Kay's former AHA products infringed on three of these patents, and, after some back-and-forths in court, Mary Kay ended up paying royalties of over $40 million (interest included) to TriStrata. Perhaps because they're still licking their wounds after this defeat, the company has not launched any new AHA products, and no longer sells the ones that were in question during the legal battle (Source: www.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/2006/04/03/daily26.html).

However, the company's spin on the issue of AHAs is that they no longer use them because skin-care technology has advanced. That's an interesting twist, but the fact of the matter is that AHA products, when well-formulated, are still considered advanced and capable of doing far more for skin than the alternatives Mary Kay has devised (including an at-home microdermabrasion scrub and products with vitamin C derivatives).

Although they're not a company for you if you are looking for exfoliants (though you should be looking for a good exfoliant), Mary Kay has recently developed a surprising number of excellent products. With over 1.6 million Mary Kay consultants selling products in 30 countries, this family-owned company (founder Mary Kay Ash passed away in 2001) has slowly been proving that they intend to remain competitive with the best of the best. A refreshing change of pace is the omission of fragrance from almost all of the products. Now that is what we call progress!

Despite its size and capital (wholesale figures were $3 billion in 2012), Mary Kay still has a lot to learn. For instance, although their guiding philosophy of empowering women is admirable, the assortment of products still leaves much to be desired. Yes, things are looking up, but there are several weak spots that keep Mary Kay from being in the same league as Avon, Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble (Olay), and Johnson & Johnson (Neutrogena, Aveeno, RoC). These include outdated cleansers, toners, and moisturizers, along with letdowns in products designed for oily, blemish-prone skin. The TimeWise product range has expanded considerably, and offers a few state-of-the-art products worthy of its name (although, as with all skin-care products, they're not going to turn back the hands of time and erase all signs of aging).

If improvements like those in Mary Kay's latest products were translated to the entire line, it would be standing much taller, at least as far as what current, substantiated skin-care research indicates is optimum for creating and maintaining healthy skin. As is, this is a line to approach with a keen understanding of what to focus on and what to avoid. One last bit of good news: Mary Kay offers well-packaged samples of selected products, either directly or from your consultant.

Unless mentioned otherwise, all Mary Kay products are fragrance-free.

Note: Mary Kay is categorized as a brand that tests on animals because their products are sold in China. Although Mary Kay does not conduct animal testing for their products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brands state that they dont test on animals unless required by law. Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Beautypedia Research Team.

For more information about Mary Kay, call (800) 627-9529 or visit www.marykay.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.

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