B. Kamins, Chemist At-A-Glance
Strengths: Several very good, water-soluble cleansers; some fragrance-free products; all sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection; an excellent skin-lightening option; and moisturizer for sensitive skin.
Weaknesses: Expensive for mostly mediocre to good formulas, making this line an overall tough sell compared to competitors such as Jan Marini, Skinceuticals, or Peter Thomas Roth; mint, menthol, or a menthol derivative show up in several formulations; boring or problematic masks with an embarrassing price-to-performance ratio; has the right idea about including antioxidants but relies too heavily on jar packaging; disappointing anti-acne products containing a preponderance of irritating ingredients.
Formerly sold with the targeted tagline "Baby Boomer Skin Care," B. Kamins is now known as The Gentle Cosmeceutical. The new presentation is designed to communicate the impression that their products provide significant benefits without being harsh, while also appealing to a wider demographic (not just baby boomers) concerned with aging skin. Considering that the definition of cosmeceutical (a term the FDA does not regulate) is "a cosmetic that has or is purported to have medicinal properties," B. Kamins is stretching things a bit, because most of the products in this line are nothing more than standard, often overpriced cosmetics.
B. Kamins is Ben Kaminsky, a Canadian cosmetics chemist. While on a winter fishing trip in Northern Canada, he observed that certain Canadian maple trees (Acer saccharum) could survive and thrive in spite of being rooted in a cold, unforgiving climate. After 30 years of research, Kamins developed a trademarked method of extracting and purifying a biological compound from these maple trees. The result of this extraction is Bio-Maple™ Compound, and every product in his line contains this ingredient.
The company claims Bio-Maple™ Compound not only moisturizes skin and improves its smoothness but also enhances skin-cell turnover, while diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The natural sugars, which help bind moisture to skin, and antioxidant components that occur in maple likely have benefit for skin, but there is no substantiated research proving the Bio-Maple™ Compound is better than countless other antioxidants. Further, you'd think after 30 years of research Kamins would have published or had at least one of his studies peer-reviewed for validation—but he didn't.
The practice of extracting a substance from a plant (be it root, flower, or tree) is often detailed and laborious, not to mention subject to climate and soil conditions. But it must be stressed that the factors that enable plants to thrive in sunlight and the elements while our skin and body functions can't take such abuse for very long are now the essence of antioxidant research. We still don't know which antioxidant is the most effective one. Moreover, what many researchers believe is true is that a cocktail of antioxidants, each with varying functions, may prove most beneficial for skin. Ongoing research continues to back up the connection between topically applied antioxidants and improvements in the creation of healthier skin that has a better ability to defend itself from the elements. Although the role of antioxidants in skin care is exciting and evolving, one major element Kamins' theory ignores is the fact that the biological processes of humans and plants are completely different. And if sugar maple (that's the garden name for the Acer saccharum tree) has such tremendous benefit as an antioxidant that it deserves standing on its own in skin-care products, only B. Kamins seems to know about it.
In contrast to the last time we reviewed this line, we are pleased to report that Kamins' has done away with all of his inferior sunscreens. None of them now lack sufficient UVA protection, and all are rated SPF 15 or greater, and that's good news.
You may have heard that this is a good line to shop if you have rosacea. However, the Kamins products meant to address this skin disorder fall short on most counts, either by containing irritants or using other ingredients that are not ideal for calming the symptoms of rosacea.
For more information about B. Kamins, Chemist, call (888) 252-6467 or visit www.bkamins.com.