Tested on animals:No
Blemish Vanishing Gel, unfortunately, won’t make anything vanish, except for about $13 from your wallet. While we understand how this product could be appealing for its light, dry finish on the skin and its emphasis on natural ingredients, its base of ethyl alcohol and witch hazel isn’t recommended, especially when you’re battling inflamed blemishes from breakouts. A high amount of alcohol in a skin-care product is a problem for multiple reasons (see More Info for the details).
As if the high amount of alcohol weren’t problematic enough, you’ll find multiple fragrant extracts and oils such as lavender, camphor, and peppermint, each of which has a potent ability to provoke irritation in the skin. See More Info for details on why irritation is such a problem for skin. Irritation is not the way to control breakouts or reduce redness; rather, it can make acne much worse, given that acne is an inflammatory condition (Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 2013).
For products to treat breakouts and soothe redness and irritation from acne, there is no better place to start than with a well-formulated BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant. Bonus: BHA will also help to fade red marks and sun damage, too. See our top picks in the Best BHA Exfoliants section.
One last note: Please totally ignore the claims made about the fruit stem cell ingredients healing the skin (see More Info if you wish to read the considerable details explaining why). The notion that plant stem cells can “renew dormant cells, repair damaged cells, or regenerate healthy cells” may be true for a plant, but it isn’t for human skin. The entire notion is rather silly. A plant stem cell can’t regenerate human skin cells or any other cell in the body. While these ingredients aren’t harmful or irritating to the skin (and can have antioxidant benefit), there is no research to support the claims of regenerating skin or functioning like your skin’s own stem cells, which would push this product from its status as a cosmetic to a drug.
- Includes a beneficial array of antioxidants and anti-irritants.
- Lacks the types of ingredients that research has shown are the gold standard for treating breakouts.
- Contains a high amount of ethyl alcohol and witch hazel, which can increase inflammation in the skin and, therefore, increase the number and severity of breakouts.
- Contains fragrance from multiple sources (lavender, camphor and peppermint), each with research demonstrating skin irritation potential.
- Plant stem cells don't renew or generate human cells of any kind.
Alcohol in Skin Care: There is a significant amount of research showing alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels. Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products use amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren’t bad enough, exposure to alcohol causes skin cells to self-destruct. The research also showed that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer exposure to alcohol occurred two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day and that’s at only a 3% concentration (Sources: Journal of Investigative Dermatology, August 2009, pages 20–24; “Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In,” Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; Alcohol, Volume 26, Issue 3, April 2002, pages 179–190; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, April 2001, pages 109–166; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).
For more on alcohol’s (as in, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and ethyl alcohol) effects on skin, see our article on the topic, Alcohol in Skin Care: The Facts.
Irritation and Your Skin: Irritation, whether you see it on the surface of your skin or not, causes inflammation and as a result impairs healing, damages collagen, and depletes the vital substances your skin needs to stay young. For these reasons, it is best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to known skin irritants, especially when there are brilliant formulas available that do not include these types of problematic ingredients (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
Stem Cells in Skin Care: Stem cells are cells in animals and plants that are capable of becoming any other type of cell in that organism and of producing more of those cells. Despite the fact that stem cell research is in its infancy, many cosmetics companies claim they are successfully using plant-based or human-derived stem cells in their anti-aging products. The claims run the gamut, from reducing wrinkles to elastin repair and cell regeneration, so the temptation for consumers to try these is intense.
The truth is that stem cells in skin-care products do not work as claimed. In fact, they likely have no effect at all because stem cells must be alive to function as stem cells. Once these delicate cells are added to skin-care products, they are long dead and, therefore, useless.
Plant stem cells, such as those derived from apples, melons, flowers, and rice, cannot stimulate stem cells in human skin, but because they are from plants these ingredients likely have antioxidant
properties. Actually, it’s a good thing plant stem cells can’t work as stem cells in skin-care products; after all, you don’t want your skin to absorb cells that can grow into apples or watermelons!
There are also claims that because a plant’s stem cells allow a plant to repair itself or to survive in harsh climates, these benefits can be passed on to human skin. How a plant functions in nature is unrelated to human skin, and these claims are completely without substantiation.
Another twist on the issue is that cosmetics company’s claim they have taken components (such as peptides) out of the plant stem cells and made them stable so they then can work as stem cells. This approach is not valid because stem cells must be complete to function normally. Even if you could isolate substances or extracts from these cells and make them stable, there is no published research showing they can affect stem cells in human skin.