Here's a little-known fact: Skin doesn't perform or have any detoxification functions or ability. None! Even when we sweat, it's about regulating body temperature or the nervous system's response to a stimulus, not expelling toxins. Detoxification in the body occurs in the liver and kidneys. Despite these facts, the notion of detox-ing the skin via skin-care products persists.
Charcoal is an absorbent ingredient, but it doesn't have any cleansing abilities. Its reputation for detox comes from its medical use, where activated charcoal is taken orally as a means to absorb an excess of drugs (prescribed or illicit) before they cause harm—but that has absolutely nothing to do with skin care.
Although charcoal isn't a wonder ingredient for the skin, its absorbent nature can be useful for oily skin in a leave-on product, but not in a cleanser where it is just rinsed away. (Actually, one of the more amazing things about charcoal is that it can absorb a huge amount relative to its molecular weight, so a teeny bit goes a long way!)
The poor rating for this cleanser isn't about the inaccurate detox claims or the tiny amount of charcoal it contains; rather it's due to the inclusion of several fragrant plant extracts and lavender oil. All of these plants smell great, but fragrance isn't skin care; it can cause irritation that can make every skin type and every skin concern more difficult to deal with (see More Info for details).
Without the problematic ingredients, this would be a very good, water-soluble cleanser for normal to oily skin, with some useless charcoal added in for a good story.
Irritation, whether you see it on the surface of your skin or not, causes inflammation and as a result impairs healing, damages collagen, and depletes the vital substances your skin needs to stay young. For these reasons, it is best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to known skin irritants, especially when there are brilliant formulas available that do not include these types of problematic ingredients (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
This detoxifying facial cleanser is particularly effective in caring for blemished and oily skin types as well as combination and normal skin. The creamy vegan cleanser is infused with Activated Charcoal to deeply clean pores of toxins and bacteria for smoother clearer skin.
Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Leaf Juice, Coco Glucoside (Palm Kernel), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Gaultheria Procumbens (Wintergreen) Extract, Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry) Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C) , Beta-Carotene (Pro Vitamin A), Panthenol (Vitamin B-5), Activated Charcoal, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Phospholipids, Dehydroacetic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Hydroxide.
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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