Water Fuse BB Beauty Balm SPF 25 PA++
This fragrance-free beauty balm (BB cream) from Dr. Jart+ isn’t as good as the company’s Premium BB Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA+++. Although it provides reliable broad-spectrum sun protection with its in-part titanium dioxide sunscreen, the base formula, while lightweight, contains a potentially problematic amount of alcohol as well as the irritating menthol derivative ethyl menthane carboxamide. See More Info to learn why alcohol and irritationare not good for anyone’s skin.
Also disappointing is that for your money you’re getting very little in the way of beneficial ingredients, such as skin-repairing substances and antioxidants. Those are supposed to be part and parcel of what makes BB creams “better” than tinted moisturizers with sunscreen, but that’s not what you’re getting with this product. In fact, other than sun protection, you’re not getting any treatment benefits. This comes in one shade, a pale ivory color that’s workable only on fair to light skin tones.
Note: See More Info for a discussion of what the “PA+++” that follows the SPF rating means.
- Offers broad-spectrum protection.
- Fragrance-free formula.
- Offered in only one shade, whose ivory-pink coloration isn’t for all skin tones.
- Amount of alcohol is potentially irritating.
- Lacks beneficial extras for the “treatment benefits” mentioned in the claims.
- Not preferred to a well-formulated tinted moisturizer with sunscreen.
Alcohol in Skin-Care Products
Alcohol in skin-care products causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin’s ability to heal. The irritation it causes damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse (Sources: “Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In,”Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).
Why Irritating Ingredients Are a Problem for Everyone’s Skin
Irritation, whether you see it on the surface of your skin or not, causes inflammation and as a result impairs healing, damages collagen, and depletes the vital substances your skin needs to stay young. For these reasons, it is best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to known skin irritants, especially when there are brilliant formulas available that do not include these types of problematic ingredients (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22.)
PA++ Rating Explained
PA followed by plus signs (PA+++, for example) is a designation used in Japan to rate the UVA protection of a sunscreen. The SPF number we see on many sunscreens is about the sun’s UVB rays; there are very few countries that have a UVA rating reference. PA+ indicates “some” UVA protection, whereas PA+++ indicates the highest level of UVA protection.
The PA rating standard is not accepted or used in other countries, but because Dr. Jart+ is sold in Japan, some of their products have begun to include it on the labeling. The concept is interesting, but, ultimately, the SPF rating and the active ingredients matter far more because the method of assessing UVA protection is not widely accepted, primarily because it is difficult to get scientists to agree on what tests to use and what the results mean.
A moisturizer, sunscreen, and treatment serum, this all-in-one product also hides imperfections. Made with 50 percent water, Dr. Jart's Advanced Water Bead Technology helps hydrate and maintain healthy moisture for a dewy, fresh look. Like a drink for your skin, once applied, tiny droplets of water appear before being quickly absorbed, generating an instant soothing and cooling effect.
Dr. Jart+ At-a-Glance
Strengths: The BB creams (Beauty Balms) provide broad-spectrum sun protection and are fragrance-free.
Weaknesses: Expensive; BB creams are little more than tinted moisturizers with sunscreen; the masks are gimmicky and minimally helpful for skin.
Dr. Jart+ is a line of skin-care products based in Korea. Its most popular products are the Beauty Balms, known in the United States as BB creams. Before we discuss this brand's contribution to the BB cream craze, we want to state that at this time we are reviewing only the Dr. Jart+ products that are available at U.S. Sephora stores. If you visit the Korean Dr. Jart+ Web site, you'll see several other skin-care products are offered. We might review those in the future, but it's clear that the questions we've received about this brand have to do with the BB creams.
No information is available about an actual Dr. Jart, and our Korean friends tell us there is no actual Dr. Jart, so it is a made up name to help give the line some credibility. According to the company's English Web site, the brand is supposed to be the brainchild of multiple dermatologists as well as 21 "medical specialists." That's a lot of cooks for one product line, but as we've reported before, and as many of you know from experience, there are plenty of doctors' products that are terribly formulated and that come in bad packaging. All that really counts is whether or not you should give this line a closer look, despite the marketing claims
It didn't take much review to discover that there is nothing particularly medical or dermatologist-oriented about these products. The people behind Dr. Jart+ don't have access to any special ingredients other cosmetic companies can't use, and their products contain no unique ingredients that have any research showing that they improve skin. U.S. Sephora stores sell two BB cream options from Dr. Jart+; one of them is great and the other is lacking in too many areas to make it worth purchasing. But the question remains, should you purchase a BB cream at all? They are not must-have products, and most are far from being the "new idea in skin care" they're made out to be. Essentially, whether they're called BB creams, Blemish Balms, or Beauty Balms, all of these products are little more than tinted moisturizers with sunscreen. Some include a helpful amount of beneficial ingredients like antioxidants or skin-lightening agents (vitamin C, arbutin) to improve brown spots. Such discolorations are considered a blemish in Asian cultures, but that's the only distinguishing feature. Compared with standard tinted moisturizers, BB creams typically provide slightly to moderately more coverage. In that sense, they fall between tinted moisturizers and foundations, but many BB creams go on sheer also; so, ultimately, it comes down to the individual products. If you're happily using a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen, there's no reason to forgo it in favor of a BB cream, but there's no harm in testing them out to see if you prefer their effect. Most won't notice much difference between them and a tinted moisturizer.
For more information about Dr. Jart+, visit http://www.drjart.co.kr/global/eng/.
Note: The company does not publish a phone number on its Web site, which doesn't bode well for building consumer trust or obtaining any help from customer service, so buyer beware.
About the Experts