Power Essential Skin Toner Combination/Oily is an old-school toner … but not in a cool way. The second ingredient is alcohol, which means its concentration is high enough to cause free-radical damage, destroy collagen, impair skin’s ability to heal, and increase inflammation, all of which adds up to disaster for your skin (see More Info).
This toner also contains potentially irritating fragrance. Add that on top of this alcohol-based formula and you have a product that can actually make oily skin much worse—see More Info for additional details.
Sure, this toner also contains a few beneficial ingredients for skin, but the clear packaging allows those beneficial light-sensitive ingredients, such as the antioxidants, to break down.
What about the claim of "Optimal Mineral Water"? Even if the water were loaded with minerals, such ingredients typically have little benefit for skin because their molecular size is too large for it to penetrate. Besides, if you're curious about minerals as skincare, you can find them in plenty of products that don't risk irritation and dryness from alcohol.
Given this toner's probability of creating more problems than it fixes, there's really no reason to try it. For options that replenish rather than ravage skin, see our Best Toners list!
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: A significant amount of research shows alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012). Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol actually causes skin cells to self-destruct (Alcohol, 2002).
Research also shows that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer skin was exposed to alcohol; for example, two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day, and that's at only a 3% concentration (Alcohol, 2002). In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012; and Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
Irritation's Connection to Oily Skin & Breakouts: Inflammation in skin is usually related to external factors such as irritation that damages the skin's barrier in numerous ways, whether you can see the reaction or not. When irritation on the surface of skin happens it activates specific chemicals called neuropeptides in the brain (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2007). Those substances are specifically the kind that regulates the hormonal system of the body.
When this happens, it leads to the formation of inflammatory chemicals directly in the oil gland. These inflammatory chemicals trigger an increase in oil production, which can increase the size of the pore, and the likelihood of acne—the more inflammation that occurs, the worse the risk (European Journal of Dermatology, 2002; and Dermatology, 2003).
Bottom line: Inflammation and its resulting irritation, whether internal or external (for this discussion externally it would be due to the use of irritating ingredients, hot water, overusing scrubs, etc.), is practically a guarantee you will see excess production of oil, larger pores and more acne breakouts (Experimental Dermatology, 2009; and Dermato-Endocrinology, 2011).
That's reason enough to avoid products with irritating ingredients.
Exfoliating and purifying skin revitalizer. Optimal Mineral Water. Supplies and retains ideal moisture level. Whisks away dead skin cells. Protects and promotes clear, transparent skin.
Water, Alcohol, Glycereth-26, Dipropylene Glycol, Beta-Glucan, Algae Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Lactobacillus/Water Hyacinth Ferment, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Niacinamide, Gossypium Herbaceum (Cotton) Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Manganese Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Magnesium Sulfate, PEG-60, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Butylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Glycerin, Mannitol, Arginine Sucrose, Serine, PCA, Propanediol, Citrulline, Glycogen, Histidine HCl, Glutamic Acid, Lysine HCl, Alanine, Threonine, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance.
Strengths: SPF-rated products provide broad-spectrum sun protection; utilization of some intriguing melanin-inhibiting ingredients.
Weaknesses: Highly fragranced formulas put skin at risk of irritation; use of see-through bottles and jar packaging weakens the potency of the beneficial ingredients; claims for “mineral water” don’t stand up to the research; despite a higher-than-average drugstore price point, Laneige products aren’t superior to their competitors.
Laneige is a South Korean brand owned by high-end cosmetics company, AmorePacific. Launched in 1994, the story behind this brand centers around mineral water—which they tend to label “Optimal Mineral Water”—harvested from the snow-clad peaks of the Himalayas. They allegedly spent 20 years perfecting its scientifically engineered properties for skin and, according to Laneige, this “superior water” is the secret to hydrating, protecting, and revitalizing skin.
Here’s what we really know: All water that’s included in cosmetics, regardless of the source, must go through a rigorous purification process, and there isn’t any research showing that water from any one source is better for skin than water from any other source. More to the point, repairing and hydrating skin is not as simple as adding water. Even Laneige’s highly touted mineral water won’t retain moisture in skin unless the outer barrier is reinforced with ingredients like antioxidants, emollients, and skin-repairing ingredients—all of which are required or the water just evaporates. So, does Laneige deliver in that regard? Yes and no.
The problem is that their products tend to include beneficial ingredients right alongside potentially irritating ingredients (including fragrance), which detracts from what the good ingredients would otherwise be able to do for skin. In some cases, the jar or clear bottle packaging further impedes the potency and stability of the formula because many of the superstar ingredients break down in the presence of air and/or light.
As far as Laneige makeup goes, at the time of this review they sell only a BB cream in the United States, but it is also plagued by the inclusion of potentially irritating ingredients.
In the end, despite their highly touted Korean brand prestige and steeper-than-average mass-market price point (the line is sold at Target stores in the United States), Laneige ends up being more about marketing fluff than what’s actually good for skin. Beyond the mineral water, Laneige products would have merit for their anti-aging prowess, but their inclusion of potential irritants and the use of packaging that compromises the stability of the beneficial ingredients renders the products generally unworthy of consideration.
For more information about Laneige, visit www.us.laneige.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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