White Objective Pen is a skin-lightening product that contains two sunscreen ingredients—octocrylene and avobenzone (the latter listed by its chemical name butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane)—but they aren't listed as active. Octocrylene provides UVB protection and helps stabilize the avobenzone, which provides UVA protection. Used together, they do provide broad-spectrum sun protection, but without an SPF rating, you don't know how long you'll be protected, and that's important information! Plus, given the spot application of this brush-on lightening product housed in a click pen, you'll need to apply another sunscreen anyway—or you'd use up the contents of this pen with one application (and spot-treating skin discolorations with sunscreen is useless)!
Beyond the sunscreen ingredients, this lightener contains a mix of ingredients that stand a good chance of improving dark spots and uneven skin tone. They include a form of vitamin C known as ascorbyl glucoside, niacinamide, and licorice root extract. The combined amounts of these ingredients may not result in a lot of improvement, but this is a potentially helpful, fragrance-free option that would be rated higher if it didn't contain a potentially problematic amount of alcohol. See More Info to learn why alcohol is a problem in skin-care products.
The formula also contains the AHA ingredient glycolic acid and is formulated at a pH to ensure it functions as an exfoliant, although the AHA, coupled with the alcohol increases the risk of stinging and other signs of irritation, making this an iffy choice.
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: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419; Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, January 2011, pages 83–90; "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).
White Objective Pen, with the patented W.O.® complex, helps to eliminate brown spots and prevents their appearance.
Water (Aqua), Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Octocrylene, Glycolic Acid, Alcohol Denat., Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Dipropylene Glycol, Arachidyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Behenyl Alcohol, Niacinamide, Andrographis Paniculata Leaf Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Lysine Azelate, Hexapeptide-2, Mannitol, Xylitol, Rhamnose, Fructooligosaccharides, Laminaria Ochroleuca Extract, Dimethicone, Arachidyl Glucoside, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Xanthan Gum, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Disodium EDTA.
Strengths: Bioderma provides complete product ingredient lists on their site; some very good, fragrance-free facial cleansers; every sunscreen provides sufficient broad-spectrum protection, and most are fragrance-free; a few good mattifying products for oily skin; great prices.
Weaknesses: The endless array of moisturizers are ordinary; the claims don’t match what the formulas can actually do; repetitive sunscreen formulas; many of the sunscreens contain a potentially problematic amount of denatured alcohol; disappointing lightening products lacking ingredients that can lighten brown spots; the bronzing SPF products encourage tanning.
Bioderma is a European brand based in France and sold in 70 countries around the world, which explains why we get so many requests to review the brand!
According to information on their website, the team at Bioderma has been collaborating with dermatologists and “renowned international research centers” for over 20 years, all to bring you products that are “the most frequently prescribed by French dermatologists.” Sounds impressive, but the proof is in the products, not the posturing!
Because Bioderma sells skin-care products, not pharmaceutical drug products, there’s no “prescribing” involved—anyone can easily obtain Bioderma products, in stores or online, no doctor visit needed. The fact that French dermatologists recommend these products isn’t proof of anything; lots of dermatologists around the world recommend products with problematic ingredients, sometimes because they simply don’t know any better or are just as susceptible to the hype as anyone else, and sometimes because they are paid by the company to promote their products.
The Bioderma range is huge, but also hugely repetitive. Few brands offer as many cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens as Bioderma, yet the onslaught creates a lot of confusion, and the differences between many of these formulas are subtle to indistinguishable. There are some good products, but overall the formulas are lackluster. When shopping this line, you really have to choose carefully and not get too hung up on the various names and claims because often virtually the same product formula comes with different benefits on the label, again and again. And again.
Many people with sensitive skin ask us about Bioderma, perhaps because the company frequently mentions that their products are hypoallergenic. That term—“hypoallergenic”— is misleading, as explained below.
There are no accepted testing methods, ingredient restrictions, regulations, guidelines, rules, or procedures of any kind, anywhere in the world, for determining whether or not a product qualifies as being hypoallergenic. So, any company can label any product “hypoallergenic” because there is no regulation that says they can’t, no matter what so-called evidence they may use to make their point—and what proof can they provide given there is no standard against which to measure?
Given that there are no regulations governing hypoallergenic products, we know there are plenty of products labeled “hypoallergenic” that actually contain problematic ingredients and that can indeed trigger allergic reactions, even for those with no previous history of skin sensitivity—and that’s certainly true for many Bioderma products. We wish that weren’t the case, but the word “hypoallergenic” gives you no reliable understanding of what you are or aren’t putting on your skin (Sources: www.fda.gov; Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, May 2004, pages 325–327; and Ostomy and Wound Management, March 2003, pages 20–21).
That being said, we applaud Bioderma for avoiding the use of known sensitizing ingredients like peppermint, lavender, menthol, and all types of citrus, which unfortunately are rampant in the world of skin care. Many Bioderma products are also fragrance-free and in that sense are absolutely worth a look, whether sensitive skin is an issue or not. (Fragrance-free is best for all skin types.)
Despite the huge number of products, there are some surprising holes in the Bioderma line. For example, this isn’t a line to shop if you’re struggling with breakouts, there are no effective AHA or BHA exfoliants, the skin-lightening products have drawbacks that don’t make them worth considering over better options, and you won’t find advanced anti-aging formulations of any kind. You’re in luck if you want lots of choices in cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens, but as mentioned above, there’s a lot to wade through, and much of it is repetitive. We’re all for brands offering choices for different skin types, concerns, and textures (such as gel versus lotion), but Bioderma’s range simply isn’t as varied as it is large. A large mix of relatively wishy-washy formulations is really not a plus for your skin.
For more information about Bioderma, visit www.bioderma.com.
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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