Housed in a very sleek cardboard package are seven tiny vials of an AHA exfoliant, in varying strengths. The claim for this at-home peel is that you apply the contents of one vial each night (rather than your regular exfoliant—assuming you have one in your daily routine) and in a week's time you'll see smoother, brighter, younger-looking skin. The convoluted application isn't necessary to get these results from a great AHA or BHA product, and in this case you will end up with more problems than benefits.
The formula in the Day 1 vial is supposedly the weakest, Day 2 through Day 4 vials are somewhat stronger, and the Day 5 through Day 7 vials are the most important – the idea being that this allows your skin to build a tolerance to the formula day by day. Again, this type of application (and the ridiculous cost) isn't necessary, but the main problem is that using this system for a week exposes your skin not only to the irritation that might be caused by the AHA, but also to other irritating ingredients. This product is in no way the equivalent of an AHA peel a dermatologist can provide, and is easily replaced by superior (and less expensive) options on our list of Best AHA Exfoliants.
The chief irritating ingredient in some of these vials is alcohol; it's not present in the Days 2, 3, and 4 formulas, but is present in the Days 1, 6, and 7 formulas. The latter also include the menthol-derived irritant menthyl lactate, which will cause a tingling sensation when you apply it. That tingling isn't a sign these peels are stronger; it's a sign that the menthyl lactate is irritating your skin. This is insane to us! Why anyone would add absolutely useless, nonbeneficial, irritating ingredients to an AHA exfoliant is beyond us. This is bad skin care, from any angle. See More Info to learn why alcohol in skin-care products is a problem.
In terms of exfoliation, each day's formula is within the correct pH range for the AHA glycolic acid (and, in the case of Days 1, 5, 6, and 7, the BHA salicylic acid) to exfoliate. Despite the fact that the formula for Days 5–7 is supposed to be stronger, it has a higher pH (thus making the AHA and BHA less effective). Although the AHA glycolic acid is listed second or third on the ingredient list in each day's vial, the company doesn't reveal how much you're getting, so you're left to guess, something we never encourage with ingredients like this.
It's absolutely true that exfoliating with an AHA or BHA product will lead to smoother, firmer, more even toned, and, yes, brighter-looking skin, but this at-home peel is more gimmicky and potentially more problematic than useful. You can achieve better results from leave-on exfoliants don't include the irritating ingredients!
- Each vial appears to contain an effective amount of the AHA glycolic acid.
- Each vial's formula is at a pH level that allows the AHA ingredient to exfoliate.
- Ridiculously overpriced for what you get.
- Several of the formulas contain a potentially irritating amount of alcohol.
- The formula for Days 5–7 contains the menthol-derived irritant menthyl lactate.
- Not as intensive as, nor are the results equivalent to, those from a professional, in-office AHA peel.
Alcohol in skin-care products causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin's ability to heal. The irritation it causes damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse (Sources: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1,410–1,419; Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, January 2011, pages 83–90; "Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In," Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; 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).
This intensive week-long skincare regimen is specially designed to reveal your best skin ever-brighter, clearer, smoother and more even-toned. Each daily vial addresses the needs of skin and builds on the benefits of the day before to detoxify, reinvigorate and fortify resulting in a revitalized and renewed complexion.
Day 1: Water (Aqua/Eau), Alcohol Denat., Glycolic Acid, Ammonium Hydroxide, Phytic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Soil Minerals, Superoxide Dismutase.
Day 1 pH = 3.5
Day 2-4: Water (Aqua/Eau), Glycolic Acid, Pentylene Glycol, Ammonium Hydroxide, Phytic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Soil Minerals, Superoxide Dismutase, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Chlorphenesin.
Days 2–4 pH = 3.5
Day 5-7: Water (Aqua/Eau), Alcohol Denat., Glycolic Acid, Saccharomyces/Xylinum/Black Tea Ferment, Polyquaternium-10, Ammonium Hydroxide, Glycerin, Phytic Acid, Menthyl Lactate, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Salicylic Acid, Superoxide Dismutase, Disodium EDTA, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Soil Minerals, Hydroxyethylcellulose.
Days 5–7 pH = 3.8
Makeup is what this San Francisco-based cosmetics line is primarily about, and they use the pure and natural marketing angle to entice consumers. The self-proclaimed "healthiest, purest makeup in the world" was founded in 1976 by Diane Ranger, who left the company in the early '90s, and is now run by Leslie Blodgett, who appears regularly on QVC and the company's own infomercials to support and demonstrate her products. Blodgett is largely credited with turning the line she began into a $150 million business—no small feat. The products are sold in most Sephora boutiques and Ulta stores, though the full selection of skin-care products is most often found at the Bare Escentuals freestanding stores scattered throughout the United States.
Supporting the company's portrayal as a leader in purity are the corresponding claims that the bareMinerals makeup does not contain fragrance, oil, binders, preservatives, emulsifiers, or any other harmful chemicals. Although this line does have its advantages for someone with sensitive skin, as it turns out, bismuth oxychloride, a major ingredient in the powder formulations, can cause skin irritation, while the other minerals can be drying (Source: www.sciencelab.com/xMSDS-Bismuth_oxychloride-9923103). Regarding bismuth oxychloride, it is interesting to note that bismuth (a metallic element) seldom occurs in nature. Instead, it is a by-product of copper and lead refining, or is manufactured synthetically. Chemically, it's similar to arsenic, a fact you won't see in any advertising for bareMinerals. However, just as cosmetic-grade mineral oil is not identical to the petroleum from which it originated, neither is bismuth oxychloride identical to bismuth. The bismuth oxychloride used in cosmetics is non-toxic, but this background offers a good example of how skewed a company's definition of "natural" can be.
Aside from the health and purity claims, loose powders are as messy as it gets in terms of your vanity (countertop, not ego) and your makeup bag. The powder just gets all over the place, and the very basic packaging does not do much to minimize the mess. Additionally, while there are softer neutral shades, and some fairly exotic shades as well, most are mildly to extremely shiny and make any amount of crepey skin look more so. The face powder does provide some amount of opaque coverage, but the shine and the thickness can be a bit much. The loose powder eyeshadows and blushes apply in a somewhat lighter way, though they still provide significant coverage. Many women ask me about mineral makeup and whether or not it really is better for skin. The answer to that question is "No."
Although most mineral makeup is innocuous, the texture, appearance, and application have difficulties that make it not comparable to today's best liquid or pressed-powder foundations. We agree with bareMinerals' stance that foundation shouldn't look or feel like a mask, nor should there be a line of demarcation where the application stops. However, their foundations are not the only ones able to achieve this, and there is no inherent benefit to this type of foundation over numerous other options.
There isn't much to say about the skin-care products, but what's worth paying attention to is noted in the At-a-Glance section.
For more information about Bare Escentuals, call 1.888.795.4747 or visit www.bareescentuals.com.