American Beauty

American Beauty At-A-Glance

Strengths: Many state-of-the-art moisturizers, though they're not without their issues; Lauder's formulary expertise in the moisturizer category at a lower price point than most other Lauder-owned lines; good foundations without sunscreen; good powders; excellent powder blush; several lip-enhancing options, including a remarkable long-wearing lip paint.

Weaknesses: Problematic toners, lackluster scrub, sunscreens whose UVA-protecting ingredients are present but at questionable amounts. No skin-lightening, AHA, BHA, or effective anti-acne products; foundations and lipsticks with sunscreen that lacks sufficient UVA protection; poor concealer.

American Beauty Skin Care aspires to resemble a blend between the Estee Lauder and Clinique makeup and skin-care lines, and-sort of-succeeds. Just one look at the packaging, brochures, and ads and you'll know what we mean. Yet a mix of poor packaging and relatively lackluster formulations doesn't instill much confidence. From all appearances, Lauder was trying to create the concept of department-store quality with mass-market pricing. The number of products in jar packaging is just out of touch with reality, especially when you consider the well-established facts surrounding ingredient instability when formulations are exposed to air or light. These formulas won't deliver for very long in containers that aren't airtight. Yes, the jar packaging does have a Lauderesque look, but that won't keep the antioxidants stable, or the plant extracts or cell-communicating ingredients around for very long after opening, and that's what counts for your skin.

Several different moisturizers, each with varying claims (anti-aging, antiwrinkle, hydrating), are available, but beyond the different names the basic configuration of the specialty ingredients is almost the same from product to product, with only minor variations. Essentially, regardless of the claim and the product, you are applying the same ingredients to your skin.

Then there's this good question: Why do the American Beauty skin-care products contain fragrance and coloring agents, while the Good Skin products don't? (Good Skin is also part of the Lauder family, reviewed elsewhere in this book.) Lauder can't seem to make up its corporate mind about this, because among their different product lines they continually vacillate on this issue. Just to set the record straight, coloring agents and fragrance have no benefit or purpose for skin care, and they can be detrimental by causing skin irritation or sensitization. If they aren't good for the Good Skin products, they shouldn't be good for American Beauty products either.

Speaking of fragrance, one quirky characteristic of this line is that many of the skincare products contain Rosa American Beauty extract, from the American Beauty rose. Clever identification aside, this fragrant additive imparts no benefit for skin. All in all, we suggest you pass by these products and walk a counter over to the Good Skin section, where there are far better options and the prices are noticeably lower.

For more information about American Beauty, owned by Estee Lauder and sold exclusively at Kohl's, call (866) 352-8337 or visit www.americanbeautycosmetics.com.

American Beauty Makeup

You can uncover some gems in the comparably smaller selection of American Beauty Makeup. Surveying the Beauty Bank cosmetics department at Kohls, it's apparent that the Flirt brand of makeup is where the color excitement is. However, what's available under the American Beauty moniker shouldn't be completely glossed over, if you'll pardon the pun.

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