L'Oreal makes a big deal in its marketing that this makeup-setting spray is "oil-free" and "non-comedogenic." This might make it sound like it's an ideal choice for acne-prone skin, but it absolutely is not. Alcohol is the second ingredient on the list (right after water), and not only can it dry out skin, it also causes irritation, making skin produce more oil. See More Info for details on alcohol's damaging effects on skin.
The brand also recommends using this to set eye makeup—Ouch!
The rest of the formula is a mix of silicones, preservatives, some emollients, and fragrance ingredients. Because it is water-based, it isn't likely to make your makeup last longer; in fact, spraying water on your face can make your makeup last less time than you want. If you do want to make your makeup last longer, check out one of the vastly superior options on our list of Best Foundation Primers—and save your face in the process!
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: A significant amount of research shows alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels (Source: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 2012). Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skincare 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 that weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol actually causes skin cells to self-destruct (Source: Alcohol, 2002).
Research also shows that alcohol's 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 (Source: 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 (Sources: 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, which damages the skin's barrier in numerous ways, whether you can see and feel the reaction or not. When irritation on the surface of skin occurs, it activates specific chemicals called neuropeptides in the brain (Source: 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 in turn 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 higher the risk (Sources: 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 (Sources: Experimental Dermatology, 2009; and Dermato-Endocrinology, 2011).
Aqua/Water/Eau, Alcohol Denat., PVP Dimethicone, PEG-7 Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Isononyl Isononanoate, PPG-3 Benzyl Ether, Myristate Poloxamer 407, Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride, Phosphate, Potassium Sorbate, Aloe Barbadensis/Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Limonene, Linalool, Parfum/Fragrance.
L'Oreal Paris At-A-Glance
Strengths: Budget-friendly prices; good makeup removers; wide assortment of self-tanning options; one of the best, most comprehensive makeup collections at the drugstore, with superb options in almost every category; the mascaras are a tough act to follow.
Weaknesses: Jar packaging hinders some of the skincare formulas; many of their skincare formulas contain problematic amounts of fragrance and/or other irritants; exaggerated anti-aging claims.
L'Oreal's extensive makeup collection retains its stature as one of the better selections at the drugstore, though they have stiff competition from Revlon and, in some cases, sister company Maybelline New York. In recent years L'Oreal has made significant strides with foundation shades, powder textures, concealers, and, of course, superlative mascaras that rarely fail to impress. Their lipsticks are excellent and you will find many L'Oreal makeup products have a Lancome counterpart, and that the differences are minor—if there are any at all.
L'Oreal's displays in many drugstores reflect better-organized products and shade categories (though testers are still scarce). Given the number of lipsticks they sell, it only makes sense to put them in color families so consumers have a better shopping experience. Their True Match products are also sensibly laid out, but the rest of the foundations aren't as organized, likely due to the smaller selection of shades. Speaking of foundations, L'Oreal has made further strides by offering more that provide sufficient UVA protection. Revlon still has the edge for consistently launching impressive foundations with sunscreen, but at least L'Oreal is (finally) catching up.
The bottom line is that every category of L'Oreal’s makeup has some winning (and in some cases, benchmark-setting) products.
Unfortunately, despite the brands’ enormous presence in the beauty industry, L'Oreal's moisturizers and treatment products are a nearly all unremarkable and repetitive. When it comes to moisturizers or serums, just about anything from Dove, Olay, Neutrogena, or Aveeno is preferred. L'Oreal does well with most of their cleansers, along with scrubs and self-tanning products, but given the widespread availability and financial resources of this line, they could be doing so much more. The good news is their makeup has made major strides and now ranks as the best overall color collection at the drugstore—imagine the results if their skin care followed suit.
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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