This skin-lightening product contains far too many problematic ingredients to earn a recommendation. Things start off badly with alcohol as the second ingredient (which causes free-radical damage and other problems), and the only skin-lightening ingredient (ascorbyl glucoside, a form of vitamin C) of note is likely present in an amount too low for it to improve dark spots. Even if the vitamin C content were greater, the alcohol is a deal-breaker (see More Info to find out why).
Adding to the problem with alcohol mentioned above is the inclusion of several fragrance ingredients known to cause irritation; it’s almost a “who’s who” of every problematic fragrance ingredient known! See More Info to learn why daily use of highly fragranced products is bad for all skin types.
The formula contains some mineral pigments (mica and titanium dioxide) for shine and a subtle brightening effect, but this visual trick is strictly cosmetic; it cannot improve dark spots.
Last, the amount of salicylic acid is likely too low for it to function as an exfoliant—and even if it were present at a 1% concentration, this product’s pH is too high for exfoliation to occur.
One more point, Biotherm’s claims and advertised ingredients would lead you to believe their products are all about natural formulations, and that is absolutely not the case. These products are steeped in synthetics, some that are great for skin, but also some that are definitely problematic.
- High amount of alcohol causes irritation that is the opposite of anti-aging.
- Although the form of vitamin C included is good, the amount is likely too low to improve brown spots.
- The amount of salicylic acid is likely too low for it to exfoliate, and the pH is not within range for exfoliation to occur.
- Contains numerous fragrance ingredients known to cause irritation.
Alcohol in Skin-Care Products
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: “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).
Irritation From Fragrance and Fragrant Oils
Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin’s ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (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).
Whatever the cause, dark spots alter skin's uniformity and can make it look older prematurely. Thanks to its clarifying and evening agents, this concentrate works on all dimensions of skin spots: 1. spot surface, 2. number of spots and 3. colour intensity.
Water, Alcohol Denat., Glycerin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Propylene Glycol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Octyldodecanol, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Triethanolamine, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Isohexadecane, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Steareth-100, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Titanium Dioxide, Sodium Citrate, Polysorbate 80, Bisabolol, 2-Olemido-1, 3-Octadecanediol, Mica, Tetrasodium EDTA, Isopropyl Myristate, BHT, Vitreoscilla Ferment, Citric Acid, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Terminalia Sericea Extract, Benzyl Salicylate, Sucrose Dilaurate, Farnesol, Linalool, Limonene, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Palmaria Palmata Extract, Polysorbate 20, Hexylene Glycol, Geraniol, Pisum Sativum Extract, Triticum Vulgare Germ Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Citronellol, p-Anisic Acid, Hamamelis Virginiana Extract, Fragrance, Phenoxyethanol
Biotherm is one of the many companies owned by L'Oreal USA, and has a vast array of products, with many redundancies. It was founded in 1952 by a French biologist who discovered, as the story goes, a mineral-rich element in mountain spring water. Flash-forward to a slick lab where white-coated scientists supposedly figured out a way to capture this element (called vitreoscilla ferment) in its active form, and that's essentially the story behind Biotherm, now sold in 70 countries. The company announced in 2007 that Biotherm would not be sold in any U.S. or Canadian department stores anymore yet would be sold online. But as of 2009, it seems the company changed plans, at least in terms of its Canadian distribution. The brand is sold in most Canadian department stores as well as Shoppers Drug Mart.
Biotherm's claims are wrapped around the effect their special ingredient (vitreoscilla ferment) has on skin, and how it helps skin reactivate its own natural biological processes. We weren't even partway through reviewing these products before noticing the products are far from unique or specially formulated. A major reason for that is the inclusion of problematic ingredients in many products, notably alcohol, lots of fragrance, and menthol derivatives.
But is there anything to Biotherm's fervent belief in and pervasive use of vitreoscilla ferment? This gram-negative bacteria can help cells utilize oxygen better in vitro (Source: Journal of Biotechnology, January 2001, pages 57–66). But whether that effect can be translated to benefit skin cells via a cosmetic formulation is unknown, and there are no studies supporting the use of this ingredient for skin care. Therefore, you're left to take Biotherm's word for it, even though they don't bother to explain why they avoided so many well-researched antioxidants, or use minuscule amounts of intriguing ingredients that in greater amounts can positively affect skin's structure and healthy functioning. Plus you have to wonder, if this is such a great ingredient for skin, why don't the other L'Oreal companies such as Lancome, Kiehl's, La Roche-Posay, or even L'Oreal use it?
Biotherm is also big on minerals, specifically the gluconate forms of magnesium, copper, and zinc. All of these have some research indicating their merit for skin, but mostly in terms of wound healing or being mildly antibacterial. That's not the way they're showcased in Biotherm's products, of course, because anti-wrinkle and anti-aging claims are what sell products. Although they link minerals with anti-aging prowess, a wrinkle is not a wound. Moreover, the tiny amounts of these minerals found throughout the Biotherm lineup only nullifies their already limited effectiveness as part of a comprehensive skin-care routine. There are some gems to be found in this line, but proceed with caution because most of it is downright boring or just plain bad for your skin.
Note: Biotherm is categorized as a brand that tests on animals because its products are sold in China. Although Biotherm does not conduct animal testing for their products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brands state that they don’t test on animals “unless required by law." Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Paula’s Choice Research Team.
For more information about Biotherm, call (888) BIOTHERM or visit www.biotherm-usa.com.