Soothing Toner with Anti-Aging Pycnogenol

by Derma E  
Price:
$15.50 - 6 fl. oz.
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Category:
Skin Care > Toners > Toners
Last Updated:
3/28/2014
Jar Packaging:
No
Tested On Animals:
No

This is a very good, soothing, alcohol-free toner that contains research-proven antioxidants. The fragrance-free formula is suitable for all skin types, and works well to remove last traces of makeup while leaving the skin soft.

This claims to be gentle for sensitive skin, and it is. Finding a truly gentle toner isn't easy (Paula's Choice is the only brand that offers several), but this toner is definitely worth considering. In the mostly disappointing world of toners, this earns its place on our short list of top options.

Note: While pycnogenol is a very good antioxidant, it is not the best one. Trying to find a single "hero ingredient" isn't the wise way to shop for skin-care products, so it's good that DermaE included other antioxidants, too.

Pros:
  • Alcohol- and fragrance-free, which isn't the case for many toners.
  • Contains antioxidants and soothing agents.
  • Suitable for sensitive skin.
Cons:
  • Could benefit skin further if it contained a greater range of skin-repairing ingredients and perhaps a cell-communicating ingredient or two.

This gentle, fragrance-free, alcohol-free toner helps restore skin’s pH balance and prepare skin for moisturizer or treatment.

Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Pinus Pinaster (Pycnogenol®) Bark Extract, Panthenol, Allantoin, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Organic Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin

"Formulated for results" and "We're serious about skin care" are phrases you'll see throughout the Derma E line—that and a heavy accent on all things natural. In business since 1984, this California-based, family-owned skin-care company's products are often seen in health food stores. We suspect the numerous questions we've been asked about the Derma E line are tied not only to their use of natural ingredients, but also to their emphasis on antioxidants, which they include in almost every product. In many cases, there are antioxidants aplenty; however, more often than not, the choice of jar packaging spoils the benefit the antioxidants Derma E chose could provide (air-tight packaging is critical because antioxidants deteriorate in the presence of air).

More so than any other line weve reviewed so far, where packaging is critical to ingredient efficacy and stability, Derma E has seemingly turned a blind eye to this glaring error. Because of that, there are very few products to extol or recommend, even though the line is priced fairly and some of the products have good formulations. But, just as you shouldn't eat food that no longer has any nutritional properties, the same goes for skin care, why bother if your skin isn't getting what it needs to be healthy?

The company's founders talk openly about their commitment to formulating quality products, often using proprietary ingredients (meaning ingredients unique to Derma E). Yet a quick look at the ingredients on the label shows that isn't true. Even if it were true, the notion that you would be getting something better for skin is sheer nonsense. There are lots of brilliant ingredients for skin available in the cosmetics world, and there is no single company that has a secret lurking in its laboratory that is a must for skin. It can be a very compelling story unless you know better, and if you don't already know better, you will after reading the reviews. Product after product either disappoints or comes in below average based on packaging issues or on problematic natural ingredients, the claims for which are based on folklore and anecdotal experience, not on solid science.

It all gets rather muddled where Derma E is concerned because several of their anti-aging products do contain some interesting peptides and impressive amounts of antioxidants. In many respects, the antioxidants chosen have reliable track records when it comes to their skin-care benefits. But again, jar packaging sabotages these performance-based ingredients to the point that it's difficult to take anything else the company does seriously. After all, if they can't get this fundamental right, what's the point of continually talking up their commitment to results-oriented products?

It doesn't seem that sun protection is very high on Derma E's priority list either. You'll find moisturizers and eye creams galore, including many with antiwrinkle and skin-firming claims—but only one sunscreen. One. In the entire line. And, surprise, it doesn’t contain natural sunscreen agents, at least not entirely. It never ceases to amaze me when "natural" product companies choose synthetic sunscreen actives when there are natural alternatives such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Synthetic sunscreens are perfectly fine, but if you're going to shout natural from the rooftops, why are you using synthetic sunscreen actives? Plus, any line that touts their anti-aging, antiwrinkle prowess should have more than one sunscreen. Walking away from the store after buying products only from this line is a guarantee you will be cheating your skin.

A common falsehood, perpetuated by Derma E and by many other cosmetics companies, is that their products are all natural and organic. The "organic" buzzword appears on most of the Derma E containers, but their products are not certified organic by any third party, so you just have to take their word for it. Until organic standards exist, any company can wear that badge (or pay to get an organization's approval) regardless of the amount of organic content in their products. As is, Derma E appears to be capitalizing on the lack of standards associated with organic.

As for "all-natural," rest assured that that's about as probable as sandy, warm beaches in Antarctica (or a snowball in Hades). Derma E products contain many natural ingredients, but plenty of synthetic ingredients have been cast in major or supporting formulary roles. For example, Linda Miles, one of Derma E's founders, has stated that the company won't use the natural version of alpha lipoic acid because it is "a butcher house by-product," meaning it's derived from animals. She admits the company uses synthetic alpha lipoic acid, however, and she must be unaware that alpha lipoic acid need not be derived from meat; it also can be derived from spinach, carrots, broccoli, potatoes, yams, and yeast, all of which are very natural and, of course, not derived from animal flesh (Sources: www.naturaldatabase.com; and The Rose Sheet, May 26, 2008, page 4).

Miles also admitted that Derma E has struggled to find a good preservative system to replace the synthetic ones they currently use. That's not surprising, as it's an issue that any line that wants to go natural must deal with; the reality is that there are no natural preservatives that work as well in low amounts as the synthetic options.

We could go on about Derma E's claims in terms of what they do and don't use and will and won't do, but you've heard it all before from other natural lines. As is usually the case, there are some standout products to consider from Derma E. If the company overhauled its packaging to improve antioxidant stability, the handful of products would become a basket's worth, but there is no word on whether such a change is happening or even in the works.

For more information about Derma E, call (800) 521-3342 or visit www.dermae.com.

Member Comments

Summary of Member Comments

  1. How would you rate the results? (4 = Best)

    2 / 4 Average
  2. Was this product a good value? (4 = Best)

    2 / 4 Average
  3. Would you recommend this product? (4 = Best)

    2 / 4 Average
Page of 1
  1. georgia
    Reviewed on Friday, August 08, 2014
    • Value
      2 / 4
    • Results
      1 / 4
    • Recommend
      1 / 4
    Drying
    • My skin is dry. This liquid toner has a brown color. I used it on a cotton pad after I removed my makeup. The brown color made it difficult to determine if all my makeup had been removed. It left my skin feeling and looking dry. Not a good choice for drier skins.

  2. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Tuesday, June 24, 2014
    • Value
      3 / 4
    • Recommend
      3 / 4
    • Results
      3 / 4
    great
    • this makes my skin feel really clean; it does not dry my skin; it does not irritate my skin; thank you Paula for this positive review on a toner

  3. JMKE
    Reviewed on Friday, June 20, 2014
    • Value
      2 / 4
    • Results
      1 / 4
    • Recommend
      1 / 4
    Stings!
    • Since the member reviews here were mostly favorable and the toner was recommended by Paula as a "Best", I decided to try it. Unfortunately, it did sting my skin quite uncomfortably! I took a break from it and tried it a few months later, but .... same result! I can't even say if my skin felt toned or cleaner after using it. I do alternate retinols and alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) in my skincare so maybe I'm extra sensitive. Since irritation is bad for the skin, I tossed the rest of toner.

  4. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Friday, February 14, 2014
    • Value
      2 / 4
    • Recommend
      1 / 4
    • Results
      1 / 4
    Allergic reaction...
    • Initially, it worked really nice for me but after a couple of days I got a bad allergic reaction - itching, dryness - the whole thing. Will be looking for another toner...

  5. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Thursday, November 14, 2013
    • Value
      2 / 4
    • Results
      2 / 4
    • Recommend
      2 / 4
    Yeah...no
    • Impossible to find in stores in Canada. Ordered it off iHerb.com on a coupon, but frankly I don't think it's helped my skin at all. It's definitely not good enough for my greaseball skin, and yet it has also made my chin super dried out. Ironically I think that one of the "poor" toners on this site did a better job cleaning my skin - so yeah, guess who thinks these reviews are kind of bunk now! A+ excellent job guys.

  6. CAROL M.
    Reviewed on Saturday, June 01, 2013
    • Value
      4 / 4
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    • Results
      4 / 4
    A NICE toner!
    • I have been on a search for a toner for my skin for years. I do believe in gentle yet effective products for skin care. As it is practically a brand motto for Paula Begoun and her products, you think I would be able to use her toners. Nope- only one I have not tried is the Earth Sourced. ALL redden my skin. I found this toner by Derma E. Redness is minimal and it does not make my skin tight like so many PC toners. Pycnogenol is an GREAT antioxidant much better (10-100x) than Vit E. or Vit. C

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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