This lightweight, gel-textured moisturizer is housed in an airless jar. The packaging is great because the formula contains some light- and air-sensitive ingredients that would break down in regular jar packaging. The formula itself, however, is a mixed bag of good and bad ingredients that we ultimately cannot recommend.
What's not so great (and definitely not hydrating) about this moisturizer is the inclusion of the menthol-derived irritant menthyl lactate rather high up on the ingredient listing. This ingredient may feel refreshing, but its tingle is your skin alerting you it's being irritated, not soothed (see More Info for details).
Speaking of soothing, the formula also contains some very good anti-irritants and other beneficial ingredients, but these get lost when mixed with irritants like menthyl lactate. This also contains a small amount of rose geranium oil (listed by its Latin name Pelargonum graveolens), which puts skin at risk of further irritation.
Boscia makes claims about the fact that their products are preservative free, but preservatives are not the only culprits that can cause problems for skin. It is also arguable that they do include a preservative system because most of their products include ingredients such as caprylyl glycol or sodium levulinate, which are used as preservatives in cosmetics.
What about the claim of making pores smaller instantly and over time? This moisturizer's silky texture can help reduce the appearance of pores, just like many others, so that's hardly unique. The inclusion of glycolic acid could help reduce the appearance of pores over time, but only if the amount is sufficient and if the formula's pH is in the range for exfoliation to occur. Because that's not the case here, at best the glycolic acid functions as a water-binding agent, which is a shame because an effective exfoliant is essential for most skin types.
One other point: Boscia also claims to be a plant-based product line. Although many of their products do include plant extracts, many of them also include synthetic ingredients. That's not bad for skin, it's just a misleading claim you should be aware of.
- Super-light texture won't make oily skin or oily areas feel greasy.
- Airless jar packaging keeps light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use.
- Contains irritating ingredients such as menthyl lactate and fragrant plant oil.
- Does little to make pores smaller, either instantly or over the long term.
- Contains glycolic acid, but the formula's pH and the small amount prevent it from working as an exfoliant.
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).
Applying irritating ingredients to oily skin stimulates excess oil production at the base of the pores, so skin ends up being more oily and pores become (or stay) enlarged. If you want to see improvements in oily skin, the best approach is to treat your skin gently with effective products designed to absorb excess oil, exfoliate inside the pore, and help normalize pore function (Sources: Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366; and Dermatology, January 2003, pages 17–23).
A cooling gel moisturizer that provides ultralight hydration as it refines skin texture, brightens skin clarity and minimizes the look of pores instantly and over time.
Water, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Glycereth-26, Isononyl Isononanoate, Lactobacillus/Punica Granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Glycolic Acid, Menthyl Lactate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Cynara Scolymus (Artichoke) Leaf Extract, Simmondisa Chinensis (Jojoba) Leaf Extract, Citrus Paradisi Seed Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caprylyl Glycol, Amonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Carbomer, Sodium Polyacrylate, Xanthan Gum, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Silica, Ceteth-25, Oleth-10, Charcoal Powder, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Tropolone, Potassium Hydroxide
Hailing from Japan and distributed through Fancl International in California, Boscia has two unique selling points: first, the entire line of products is preservative-free; second, almost every product contains both the anti-irritant willow herb plus jojoba leaf, which supposedly has superior antioxidant properties. The company's belief is that preservatives do not make skin-care products more effective; rather, they simply extend the product's shelf life, sort of like Tupperware keeps food fresher, longer.
They also believe that preservatives are responsible for skin troubles such as rashes and breakouts, and so our skin is better off without them. This is an interesting philosophy, and, as is true for many marketing ploys, there is some truth and some fabrication in their assertions.
Although preservatives can be sensitizing, they usually are present in such minute amounts that most consumers do not experience any trouble, and their skin barely registers a flicker of recognition. In reality, only a few people ever react to any amount of a preservative. A report that examined preservative sensitization in the United Kingdom tested 10 common preservatives on almost 7,000 subjects. The results? Only 2% of the participants exhibited an allergic reaction, and that was under conditions of patch testing and using a pure concentration of the preservative. That reaction rate is amazingly low, and it’s important to note that the exposure in the study (extremely high given the pure concentration and use of the patch method) is quite different from the exposure you get from the minuscule amounts of preservatives present in cosmetic products, which are there to keep potentially harmful bacteria and organisms under control.
Similar results were seen in a Swiss study that examined preservative sensitization rates among almost 2,300 subjects over a period of one year (Source: Contact Dermatitis, September 2007, pages 165–168, and May 1994, pages 276–279). Clearly, as demonstrated by these studies, preservatives are not the source of skin problems that Boscia makes them out to be.
What Boscia doesn't acknowledge is the research showing that preservatives do make cosmetics better. An effective preservative system absolutely does safeguard the integrity of fragile or inherently unstable ingredients by minimizing the growth of bacteria and microbes, which definitely are detrimental to any cosmetic and to your skin. Cosmetics chemists worldwide consider preservatives an essential element in providing safe, stable products (as do cosmetics regulatory agencies throughout the world).
Surely the chemists behind Boscia's products must know that it is impossible to keep a skin-care product entirely free of bacteria and pathogens, even with preservatives. If they disputed this point, they wouldn't sell their products with a "use by" date or recommend that their customers use the entire product within six months of opening. Instead, they'd assert their superiority and let their customers know that their innovative and specialized practices alone are enough to keep their products free of contaminants.
It's also important to note that, technically, Boscia products are not entirely preservative-free. Some of the plant extracts they include (such as rosemary and lavender) have mild preservative properties due to their volatile chemical components. Even zinc oxide, which appears in a handful of Boscia products, has been shown to inhibit the growth of fungus when used in cosmetics products (Source: Preservatives in Cosmetics, 2nd Edition, Allured Publishing, Steinberg, 2006, page 105). We personally wouldn’t choose one of these ingredients to preserve a water-based skin-care product over tried-and-true synthetic preservatives (including the unfairly and foolishly maligned parabens), but then again, consumers considering Boscia will likely perceive their products as being more natural (and, therefore, safer) than those from other lines—when that isn't at all the truth.
Besides, if Boscia is so concerned about reducing skin reactions and with being a viable option for people with sensitive skin, why do several of their products contain known irritants? Peppermint, menthol, eucalyptus oil, clove oil, and pepper resin are a much greater cause of concern for your skin than any preservative system available. Yet Boscia doesn't bother to explain that. Instead, they position their entire line as soothing for every skin cell, when that absolutely is not true.
Turning to the two ingredients Boscia highlights in their products, willow herb and jojoba leaf, both are viable options with value for skin. Willow herb, while not unique to Boscia (we've been using it in some of my products for years) is indeed a potent anti-irritant (Source: Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, October 1999, pages 3954–3962). As for jojoba leaf, there is no published research documenting its antioxidant ability. Like most plant leaves, it likely has some amount of antioxidant potency, but given the number of antioxidants that have been studied for use on skin, why would you hang your hopes on jojoba leaf, with no research behind it? Luckily, Boscia includes other antioxidants, too, and most of them have at least some research proving they are reliable additions.
There are some bright spots in this Japanese line. Each of the sunscreens provides sufficient UVA protection, and they offer a mineral-based version suitable for sensitive skin. They have a couple of good cleansers, and a few of the moisturizers are impressive and worth the splurge. It's also a plus that almost every Boscia product comes in packaging that keeps the contents protected from light and air—not a jar to be found! Given that only a small number of consumers need to avoid products with preservatives, we wish this line offered a more complete range of products to meet the needs of those consumers. As is, you'll have to think of Boscia as a nice pair of shoes with elegant accessories, and shop elsewhere to complete the ensemble.
For more information about Boscia, call (888) 635-8884 or visit www.bosciaskincare.com.