Here's another water-soluble gel cleanser infused with charcoal for its claimed ability to detoxify skin. As it turns out, skin cannot be detoxified (we explain why in the More Info section), but this is still an interesting cleanser to consider if you have normal to oily or combination skin.
The first thing you'll notice upon using this is that when mixed with water, the cleanser warms up, a sensation some will find pleasing while others may find it unpleasant. The warming occurs when water reacts with certain ingredients in the cleanser, but this sensation doesn't allow the cleanser to penetrate any "deeper" into skin, nor does it aid in purging toxins.
Detoxifying Black Cleanser doesn't contain as much water as most gel cleansers, so it has a thicker texture than is trickier to lather up with, but with practice it can be done. This cleanser produces a soft lather that feels cushiony and rinse cleanly, leaving skin feeling fresh, not tight or dry.
Although this does a good job of removing makeup, it contains a tiny amount of fragrant geranium oil (listed by its Latin name of Pelargonium graveolens) so isn't a great option to use around the eyes. On the upside, this cleanser's scent is subtle at best, so we don't suspect the geranium oil will be a source of irritation for facial skin.
As for the artichoke being able to make pore walls more elastic or the glycolic acid clarifying skin, neither ingredient can do that—at least not in a rinse-off product. What Detoxifying Black Cleanser does is leave skin feeling clean and refreshed and helps to remove makeup with an overall gentle formula. It does everything most people with normal to oily or combination skin expect of a good cleanser, albeit with some over-the-top claims that cannot come true. Still, when it comes to thorough yet mild cleansing, this handily earns its rating.
Why Beauty Products Can't Detoxify Your Skin: Despite the claims of many a cosmetics company, you cannot "detox" your skin. In fact, brands making this claim never specify which substances their product supposedly banishes—which makes sense, as your skin isn't capable of storing any sort of toxin. An actual toxin is a poison, and we're talking REAL poisons, such as those produced by plants, animals, insects, ¬or reptiles (think snake venom or bee stings) or other organisms.
So-called toxins cannot leave your body through the pores or through your skin, whether via sweat or other means—they're filtered, broken down, and removed by the kidneys and liver. Heavy metal toxicity, for example, can't be "sweated" or otherwise drawn out of skin; this requires medical treatment to remove them from the body.
Regardless of the skin concern you're battling, "toxins" aren't to blame—and if you're serious about wanting results, stick to what the research says really works (and ignore fantasy claims about "detoxifying" cosmetic products).
Strengths: All of the sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection; the packaging not only keeps the plant-based and antioxidant ingredients stable but also helps minimize these preservative-free products' exposure to bacteria and organisms that can cause unhealthy changes; some good cleansers and moisturizers.
Weaknesses: Expensive considering the smaller-than-average sizes; several products are marred by the inclusion of irritating ingredients; no effective options for managing acne; only one poor option for lightening skin discolorations.
Hailing from Japan and distributed through Fancl International in California, Boscia has two unique selling points: first, the entire line of products is preservative-free; second, almost every product contains both the anti-irritant willow herb plus jojoba leaf, which supposedly has superior antioxidant properties. The company's belief is that preservatives do not make skin-care products more effective; rather, they simply extend the product's shelf life, sort of like Tupperware keeps food fresher, longer.
They also believe that preservatives are responsible for skin troubles such as rashes and breakouts, and so our skin is better off without them. This is an interesting philosophy, and, as is true for many marketing ploys, there is some truth and some fabrication in their assertions.
Although preservatives can be sensitizing, they usually are present in such minute amounts that most consumers do not experience any trouble, and their skin barely registers a flicker of recognition. In reality, only a few people ever react to any amount of a preservative. A report that examined preservative sensitization in the United Kingdom tested 10 common preservatives on almost 7,000 subjects. The results? Only 2% of the participants exhibited an allergic reaction, and that was under conditions of patch testing and using a pure concentration of the preservative. That reaction rate is amazingly low, and it’s important to note that the exposure in the study (extremely high given the pure concentration and use of the patch method) is quite different from the exposure you get from the minuscule amounts of preservatives present in cosmetic products, which are there to keep potentially harmful bacteria and organisms under control.
Similar results were seen in a Swiss study that examined preservative sensitization rates among almost 2,300 subjects over a period of one year (Source: Contact Dermatitis, September 2007, pages 165–168, and May 1994, pages 276–279). Clearly, as demonstrated by these studies, preservatives are not the source of skin problems that Boscia makes them out to be.
What Boscia doesn't acknowledge is the research showing that preservatives do make cosmetics better. An effective preservative system absolutely does safeguard the integrity of fragile or inherently unstable ingredients by minimizing the growth of bacteria and microbes, which definitely are detrimental to any cosmetic and to your skin. Cosmetics chemists worldwide consider preservatives an essential element in providing safe, stable products (as do cosmetics regulatory agencies throughout the world).
Surely the chemists behind Boscia's products must know that it is impossible to keep a skin-care product entirely free of bacteria and pathogens, even with preservatives. If they disputed this point, they wouldn't sell their products with a "use by" date or recommend that their customers use the entire product within six months of opening. Instead, they'd assert their superiority and let their customers know that their innovative and specialized practices alone are enough to keep their products free of contaminants.
It's also important to note that, technically, Boscia products are not entirely preservative-free. Some of the plant extracts they include (such as rosemary and lavender) have mild preservative properties due to their volatile chemical components. Even zinc oxide, which appears in a handful of Boscia products, has been shown to inhibit the growth of fungus when used in cosmetics products (Source: Preservatives in Cosmetics, 2nd Edition, Allured Publishing, Steinberg, 2006, page 105). We personally wouldn’t choose one of these ingredients to preserve a water-based skin-care product over tried-and-true synthetic preservatives (including the unfairly and foolishly maligned parabens), but then again, consumers considering Boscia will likely perceive their products as being more natural (and, therefore, safer) than those from other lines—when that isn't at all the truth.
Besides, if Boscia is so concerned about reducing skin reactions and with being a viable option for people with sensitive skin, why do several of their products contain known irritants? Peppermint, menthol, eucalyptus oil, clove oil, and pepper resin are a much greater cause of concern for your skin than any preservative system available. Yet Boscia doesn't bother to explain that. Instead, they position their entire line as soothing for every skin cell, when that absolutely is not true.
Turning to the two ingredients Boscia highlights in their products, willow herb and jojoba leaf, both are viable options with value for skin. Willow herb, while not unique to Boscia (we've been using it in some of my products for years) is indeed a potent anti-irritant (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, October 1999, pages 3954–3962). As for jojoba leaf, there is no published research documenting its antioxidant ability. Like most plant leaves, it likely has some amount of antioxidant potency, but given the number of antioxidants that have been studied for use on skin, why would you hang your hopes on jojoba leaf, with no research behind it? Luckily, Boscia includes other antioxidants, too, and most of them have at least some research proving they are reliable additions.
There are some bright spots in this Japanese line. Each of the sunscreens provides sufficient UVA protection, and they offer a mineral-based version suitable for sensitive skin. They have a couple of good cleansers, and a few of the moisturizers are impressive and worth the splurge. It's also a plus that almost every Boscia product comes in packaging that keeps the contents protected from light and air—not a jar to be found! Given that only a small number of consumers need to avoid products with preservatives, we wish this line offered a more complete range of products to meet the needs of those consumers. As is, you'll have to think of Boscia as a nice pair of shoes with elegant accessories, and shop elsewhere to complete the ensemble.
For more information about Boscia, call (888) 635-8884 or visit www.bosciaskincare.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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