Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Lotion for Dry, Ashy Skin is another of its products offering exfoliation benefits in addition to being moisturizing. Though there are some definite good qualities to like about this lotion, unfortunately it contains some components that are potentially irritating, which is why it earns our lowest rating.
Starting with the good, Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Lotion for Dry, Ashy Skin comes in packaging that will keep its beneficial ingredients stable. It's in an opaque plastic bottle with a pump-style dispenser that protects its ingredients from light and air. The lotion itself has a thin, silky texture that absorbs easily into skin, and a likely effective amount of the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) lactic acid. Even better, the formula's pH of 4 allows the lactic acid to function as an exfoliant. In addition, it contains good emollients like mineral oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter, along with some antioxidants to help fight free radical damage.
Now for the not-so-good: We suspect the amount of salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid/BHA) is too low to exfoliate skin, not to mention some of the citrus extracts (lemon and orange fruit extracts) that precede it are sources of potential irritation for skin. This also contains fragrance, in an amount higher than many of its beneficial ingredients. It's apparent from the first pump that this has a strong scent, and the scent lingers for a while. Even if a strong fragrance isn't a consideration for some, there is the fact that fragrance can be a source of irritation (see More Info for details on the impact daily use of highly fragrant products can have on skin).
Although Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Lotion for Dry, Ashy Skin can exfoliate and sports a beauty steal of a price, the high amount of fragrance poses a considerable risk of irritation, especially since this product has a lower pH, making this an option we don't recommend. You'll find superior options on our list of Best Exfoliants.
Irritation from High Amounts of Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way for all skin types to go for all skin types (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003).
The sneaky part about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don't always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage may remain hidden for a long time (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
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 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
Strengths: Inexpensive; cocoa butter is a good emollient and antioxidant for skin (and Palmer’s typically combines it with other tried-and-true emollients).
Weaknesses: Many formulas are highly fragranced; the products claiming to improve or prevent stretch marks are, well, stretching the truth; most of the body products lack a sophisticated mix of repairing and antioxidant ingredients compared to leading brands sold at the drugstore.
Created by the E.T. Browne Drug Company in New Jersey, Palmer’s is a familiar sight in drugstores across the country, primarily because of its Cocoa Butter Formula Swivel Stick. The brand’s made a name for itself because of its wide variety of cocoa butter-based skincare products, but it’s expanded far beyond its original range to include more than a hundred products in its line!
Now offering products for numerous categories—from hair care to hair removal—the items The Beautypedia Research Team are asked about most often are those claiming to treat and repair stretch marks and scars (Palmer’s has no shortage of them). Unfortunately, there is little topical treatments can do to fix either of these skin concerns, which we detail in the More Info sections of the applicable individual product reviews.
As far as Palmer’s moisturizing formulas go, cocoa butter is a great foundation upon which to build them, as it has rich antioxidant properties in addition to being a great emollient. Palmer’s typically pairs it with other good emollients, which is always a plus—and all of the brand’s products are reasonable priced!
It’s worth noting though that over the course of our reviews, we saw that many of Palmer’s formulas relied almost entirely on cocoa butter for its benefits, omitting some of the additional beneficial ingredients (like more skin repairing and skin-identical ingredients, as well as other antioxidants) that many of its drugstore competitors do.
While some may prefer simpler skincare formulas depending on their skin concerns, for Palmer’s this results in many formulas being near carbon copies of one another, just with different claims. Another concern is that many of their formulas include potentially-irritating fragrances , along with the preservative methylthizolinone, which can be sensitizing to the point where it’s generally recommended only for use in rinse-off products.
Overall, while Palmer’s does have some good products to offer, with just a few additions (and some subtractions) those products could be great!
For more information about Palmer’s, call 877-725-6377 or visit www.palmers.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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