This creamy, lotion-like cleanser for normal to dry skin has some strong points, but, ultimately, it's a problem due to the inclusion of citrus extracts and fragrant plant oils. These ingredients pose a strong risk of sensitizing skin, especially if you use your cleanser around your eyes, as most of us do. Irritation is definitely not a "Skin Defender!"
In terms of AHA ingredients, they are present, and include lactic and glycolic acids and the lesser-known malic acid, which is derived from apples. Although each of these ingredients can exfoliate for smoother skin, when used in a well formulated leave-on product. However, AHA ingredients are far less effective for exfoliation, if at all, in a cleanser. That’s because they are rinsed off before they can begin to work. If you are hoping for this cleanser to provide exfoliating benefits, think again. Some companies recommend leaving these types of cleansers on skin for a longer period of time so the AHA can absorb, but that means the cleansing agents would also be left on too and that can cause dryness and irritation.
True to their claim, this cleanser rinses without leaving a residue, but the irritating ingredients are too potentially problematic to ignore, and you certainly don't want to get AHA ingredients splashed into the eye, either. See our list of Best Cleansers for superior and more gentle options with minimal to no fragrance.
Skin-Sensitizing Ingredients: We cannot stress this enough: Sensitizing, harsh, abrasive, or fragrant ingredients are bad for all skin types. Daily application of skincare products that contain these types of skin-aggravating ingredients is a major way we unknowingly do our skin a disservice!
Sensitizing ingredients are a problem because they can lead to visible problems that include redness, rough skin, dull skin, dryness, increases in oil production, clogged pores, and contribute to making signs of aging worse.
Switching to non-irritating, gentle skincare products can make all the difference in the world. Non-irritating skincare products are those packed with beneficial ingredients that also replenish and soothe skin without any volatility, including those present in natural fragrant ingredients.
A surprising fact: Even though you might not see the negative influence of using products that contain sensitizing ingredients, skin the damage will still be taking place. It doesn’t need to be evident on the surface! Research has demonstrated that you don’t always need to see or feel the effects on your skin for your skin to be suffering the impact and the visible damage may not become apparent for a long time.
For this reason, it’s best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to ingredients that can be sensitizing on skin. There are many products that contain effective ingredients that are also completely non-irritating so there’s no reason to put your skin at risk with products that include ingredients research has shown can be a problem.
References for this information
Journal of Dermatological Sciences, January 2015, issue 1, pages 28-36.
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2014, issue 4, pages 379-385
Journal of Clinical Dermatology, November 2014, issue 5, online access
Clinical Dermatology, May-June 2012, issue 3, pages 257-262
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446—475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, issue 11, pages 789-798
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, issue 4, pages 191-202
Aging, March 2012, pages 166-175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77-80
You know how sometimes when you wash your face, it feels like the soap will never come off? Not so with Skin Defender AHA Creme Facial Cleanser. It feels like whipped meringue and rinses completely without residue leaving the skin clean, fresh and hydrated, not like it still has product on it.
Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Leaf Juice, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Coco Glucoside, Stearic Acid, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Malic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, Organic Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract, Organic Centella Asiatica(Gotu Kola) Extract, Organic Arnica Montana (Arnica) Flower Extract, Organic Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugarcane) Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Organic Extra Virgin Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Allantoin, Panthenol (Vitamin B-5), Xanthan Gum, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Dehydroacetic Acid, 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 .
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.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!