Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil is the brand's take on the emerging skincare category of face and body oils. There are a lot of things Palmer's gets right about this formula, but a couple of missteps in the form of some potentially-irritating ingredients means this earns a subpar rating.
Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil is packaged in a plastic container with a pump-style dispenser, which, while it initially seems convenient, can actually become messy because of its potential to leak. The formula itself is quite greasy, thanks to canola oil coming in first in the ingredients list (this is not a formula that you can apply and then walk out the door!). Canola oil is, however, a good emollient, and it is joined by other excellent emollients like sesame seed oil, cocoa butter, and rose hip extract. The result is that dry, flaky skin will feel softer and smoother thanks to this formula.
The reason this didn't earn a higher rating, though, is because of the inclusion of some potentially problematic ingredients. This contains fragrance, as well as the fragrance ingredients linalool, citronellol, courmarin, and geraniol. All have the potential to irritate skin, especially sensitive skin—and a lot of dry, flaky skin is sensitive. See More Info for details on why fragrance in skincare isn't ideal.
Overall, Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil, because of these potential drawbacks, doesn't earn our enthusiastic recommendation. It actually would be far better for your skin simply to use a plain, non-fragranced plant oil than this fragrant formula. For superior options, even in similar price ranges, see our list of Best Face Oils (which can be used as body oils as well).
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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