Algae Brightening Mask

by Algenist  
Price:
$59 - 2 fl. oz.
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Category:
Skin Care > Facial Masks > Moisturizing/Firming Masks
Last Updated:
7/18/2014
Jar Packaging:
Yes
Tested On Animals:
No

This mask is supposed to detoxify facial skin by using algae. The problem? Well, it's twofold: Skin isn't harboring toxins needing to be expunged, and even if it were, no species of algae has detoxifying ability. Stretching things a bit, perhaps the company is referring to algae's antioxidant action being effective against "toxic" free radicals. That has some merit (though free radicals don't fit the textbook definition of toxin) but the jar this mask is packaged in means the algae ingredients won't hold up for long once you open the top. See More Info to find out why jar packaging is a problem for products like this.

As for exfoliating, this contains the AHA ingredient lactic acid and the BHA ingredient salicylic acid. Despite their inclusion, neither can function as an exfoliant owing to the low amounts used and the fact that the clays in this mask keep it from maintaining precise pH range these ingredients need to work as exfoliants.

At best, this is an overpriced clay mask for normal to oily skin. It's relatively easy to apply, absorbs excess oil well, and leaves skin feeling smooth—but so do many other clay masks that cost a lot less.

Pros:
  • Absorbs excess oil without over-drying skin.
  • Leaves skin looking matte and feeling smooth.
Cons:
  • Expensive given it's essentially just a clay mask.
  • Algae has no special brightening effect, nor can it detox skin.
  • Jar packaging won't keep the light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use (and will likely cause this mask to dry out).
More Info:

The fact that this product is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and most other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also present a hygiene issue because even if you wash your hands or use a spatula to remove the product, you're introducing bacteria that causes further breakdown of key ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818-829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271-288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314-321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197-203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1-32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).

Wrap your face in the detoxifying and nourishing power of algae. This luxurious mask harnesses a rich composition of both micro and macro algae. It gently exlfoliates with real leaves of sea kelp and a freshly scented blue-green algae silt base creating a visibly more radiant and even toned complexion. Its expert formulation is designed to visibly brighten, smooth and hydrate while pampering your skin.

Water (Aqua), Kaolin, Bentonite, Ilite, Macrocystis Pyrifera Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Isostearate, Silt, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Butylene Glycol, Sorbitan Stearate, Algae Exopolysaccharides, Algae Extract, Alaria Esculenta Extract, Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract, Sea Water, Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid, Glucosamine HCl, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium (Orange) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Hexylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Urea, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), Chromium Oxide Greens.

Algenist is a small, rather expensive range of skin-care products sold at Sephora with a focus on anti-aging. Like several other cosmetics companies, Algenist has based their brand on a single ingredient, an ingredient they claim has superior benefits for skin and that, therefore, is worth the steep price tag. In this case, it was the "accidental" discovery of a substance found in algae. As the story goes, a group of biotechnology scientists were looking for ways to use something called microalgae as a renewable source of energy when they stumbled upon a compound known as alguronic acid. Their research revealed that alguronic acid is one of the compounds responsible for regenerating and protecting algae cells.

Figuring they were on to something, the company did further in vitro testing (although the details of their tests are not available, so you only have a science-fiction style story, not facts) and, of course, found that alguronic acid had anti-aging benefits on skin, too. Aside from having no idea what their studies did or didn't really show, in vitro means this ingredient was examined in a petri dish, not directly on human skin. They did limited testing on human skin, but many key details of these "studies" are not available. Instead, we're asked to accept that their ingredient made a remarkable difference. At the time of this writing, there isn't a single published study attesting to the claims Algenist makes for alguronic acid—so you're taking an expensive leap of faith in buying these products!

Before you get seduced by Algenist's claims and their explanation about how algae reproduces, let us tell you—it has no relation to how human skin works. Algae is about as related to human skin as a 747 jetliner is to roller skates.

Whether the story about alguronic acid being the answer for your skin is true or not, it is critical to keep in mind that skin, and skin care, is far more complex than one allegedly miraculous ingredient. Think of it like your diet: As healthy as green tea is, if that's all you consumed, you'd soon be malnourished. Just like your diet should contain a healthy mix of nutritious foods, your skin (which is your body's largest organ) needs a wide array of helpful ingredients to become and remain smooth, healthy, and, yes, able to look and act younger.

To Algenist's credit, their products contain more than just alguronic acid. Most of them have a good blend of skin-repairing and antioxidant ingredients, although the ones they call out as key ingredients (such as apple stem cells) have no real published research proving their efficacy. Despite the fact that their products contain some tried-and-true anti-aging ingredients, Algenist makes the same mistakes as many other lines, such as using jar packaging (which won't keep any of the beneficial ingredients stable during use) and including fragrance or fragrant plant extracts to give the products an appealing scent. Fragrance isn't skin care and, in fact, more often than not, will cause irritation that hurts your skin's ability to look and act younger!

In the end, Algenist is not a must-have line, and it certainly isn't worth expanding your beauty budget to afford. There are some acceptable to impressive options for those who don't mind spending more than they need to for effective products, but you'll find a wider, often better range of options on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products.

For more information about Algenist, call (877) 650-1837 or visit www.algenist.com.

Note: Algenist lists the alguronic acid in their products as algae exopolysaccharides, which is the accepted cosmetic labeling name for alguronic acid.

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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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