This serum's unique formula is positioned for those concerned with acne breakouts as well as signs of aging. Because a great many people have both concerns at the same time, products designed to treat both (without making either issue worse) are a welcome change of pace. Unfortunately, this serum isn't the ideal answer for those fighting both breakouts and wrinkles.
On the plus side, the aloe- and glycerin-based formula contains an impressive amount of the cell-communicating ingredient niacinamide, which has research showing it can reduce the inflammation that leads to acne and help pores function in a normal manner.
Also on hand is the exfoliating ingredient salicylic acid, which also has anti-inflammatory properties, and this serum's pH allows it to function as an exfoliant. As for the amount of salicylic acid, the company doesn't say how much, but we suspect it's at least 1%, which is sufficient for improving skin texture and reducing breakouts.
Now for the bad news: Like most Michael Todd True Organics products, this contains its share of fragrant plant extracts as well as lavender oil. All of these pose a risk of irritation that can make oily, breakout-prone skin worse, not better, and the irritation also has a pro-aging effect that works against the anti-aging ingredients in this serum. See More Info to find out why lavender oil is a problem for all skin types.
Research indicates that components of lavender, specifically linalool, can be cytotoxic, which means that topical application causes skin-cell death (Source: Cell Proliferation, June 2004, pages 221–229). Lavender leaves contain camphor, which is a known skin irritant. Because the fragrance constituents in lavender oil oxidize when exposed to air, lavender oil is a pro-oxidant, and this enhanced oxidation increases its irritancy on skin (Source: Contact Dermatitis, September 2008, pages 143–150). Lavender oil is the most potent form, and even small amounts of it (0.25% or less) are problematic. Although it's fine as an aromatherapy agent for inhalation or relaxation, it is a must to avoid in skin-care products (Sources: Psychiatry Research, February 2007, pages 89–96; and www.naturaldatabase.com).
A powerful anti-oxidant facial serum which is designed to balance all skin types and help it regenerate in a healthful fashion. Utilizes ingredients like organic aloe, green tea and vitamin B3 to minimize redness associated with acne and soothe the skin.
Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Leaf Juice, Isopentyldiol, Glycerine, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Salicylic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Crithmum Maritimum (Sea Fennel) Extract, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Mugwort (Artemesia Vulgaris) Extract, Algae Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Citrus Medica Limonium (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Aromatic Extract, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Sorbitol, Xanthan Gum, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Sodium Benzoate, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Citric Acid.
Several products contain a good range of anti-aging ingredients; products are packaged to keep the light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use; good moisturizing mask.
Many of the products are highly fragrant and/or contain fragrant plant extracts or oils known to be irritating; several of the serums contain the exact same ingredients, just listed in a different order, which makes things needlessly confusing; in a line full of anti-aging lotions and potions; no options with reliable amounts of ingredients proven to treat dark spots, red marks from acne, or breakouts; the claim of aloe being special for skin is overinflated.
What do the popular hair accessory line called SCUNCI (aka "scrunchy") and the natural-themed skin-care brand Michael Todd True Organics have in common? Both are associated with a man named Lewis Hendler. Hendler founded SCUNCI in the early '90s and sold the company to Conair in 2005. Then, in 2008, Hendler acquired the little-known Michael Todd True Organics skin-care brand.
As we understand it, there really was someone named Michael Todd who played a role in the brand's history, but there's no mention of the real Michael Todd to be found on the company's website. We did find a press release explaining that he is or was a model and actor, but that's about it. Hendler is the brand's public face, along with a few lesser known celebrities.
This Florida-based company has captured the attention of many consumers due to its claims of using natural and organic ingredients coupled with active anti-aging and anti-acne ingredients (all of which, by the way, are synthetic, which is just fine for skin, just not as "all natural" as the company wants you to believe).
Like many natural-themed lines, Michael Todd True Organics promotes some of the most absurd and misleading information imaginable about skin and skin care. A big one—directly from the owner himself—is that everything we put on our skin is absorbed into the body … cosmetic ingredients go right past the skin and into the bloodstream. If that were true (it isn't, thank goodness, but we'll get to that shortly), then moisturizers couldn't moisturize, exfoliants couldn't remove the top layers of dead, dried skin, and sunscreens would not prevent sunburns or tanning. Most skin-care ingredients do their job by staying on top (or at least in the top layers) of the skin, not by being absorbed into the body.
In essence, if absorption into the body were true, then even Hendler would have to admit that his own products (many of which contain problematic ingredients like neem oil and/or lavender oil, which are toxic when ingested) would do little for the skin because as soon as you apply them—poof! They're in the body, just like as soon as you swallow food it's on its way to your digestive system.
The truth is that skin is a very good barrier, and that it's difficult to get cosmetic ingredients to penetrate much past the uppermost layers, much less into the bloodstream, as almost all cosmetics chemists will tell you. The good news is that keeping skin-care ingredients, such as moisturizing agents, skin-repairing ingredients, sunscreen actives, and antioxidants, in the skin's outermost layers is really helpful—it means that the skin's surface (its first line of defense) has a better chance of remaining healthy, smooth, and better able to protect itself against environmental damage. But assuming everything we put on our skin did get into the body, thinking that natural ingredients are safer is wrong; there are hundreds of problematic natural ingredients that could cause serious health problems if they routinely got into the body.
Michael Todd True Organics is big on promoting what their products don't contain, including water, which is bizarre given that water is one of the most natural ingredients on earth. But, more to the point, these products absolutely do contain water in the form of aloe juice; aloe is 99.5% water (Sources: Indian Journal of Dermatology, volume 53, issue 4, 2008, pages 163–166; and http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js2200e/6.html#Js2200e.6). You're not really getting a more concentrated product simply because it's based on aloe rather than pure water.
What's important to know is that there are good and bad natural ingredients, as well as good and bad synthetic ingredients. Seeing a preponderance of natural ingredients on a skin-care label is no guarantee the product you're considering is better or safer than one that contains natural and synthetic ingredients.
The Michael Todd brand also avoids the usual group of ingredients that have been given an undeserved bad rap, such as parabens, sulfates, triclosan, mineral oil, and synthetic fragrances, all of which we discuss elsewhere on our website (A quick summary: None of the aforementioned ingredients are dangerous for skin. If you still are concerned, don't think for a minute that this is the only line that leaves them out!)
What Michael Todd's product information doesn't tell you about is the extensive amount of research that shows how problematic the fragrant oils and plant extracts that they include in their products are. The irony is that the ingredients they brag about not using are comparably better and, yes, safer for your skin! That's not to say that this brand's products are unsafe; rather, it's to illustrate the point that synthetic ingredients aren't automatically evil, and that all-natural ingredients are not angelic.
The company definitely ups the beneficial ante with ingredients like retinol, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and vitamins (all synthetic by the way), but these great ingredients are surrounded by not-so-great ingredients, many of which are overly fragrant—and the research is clear: Fragrance isn't skin-caring in the least.
Sadly, what you get with almost the entire Michael Todd line is a mixed bag. Product after product contains a frustrating mix of beneficial and problematic ingredients—and many of the products pose a strong risk of irritation, especially those with numerous citrus oils, and irritation is always bad for skin, whether the source is synthetic or natural.
For more information on Michael Todd True Organics, call 772-343-0222 or visit www.michaeltoddtrueorganics.com .
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