If you've read our reviews for the other products in the Burt's Bees Brightening line, this one will sound like a broken record. Although there are some beneficial ingredients in this toner, they are simply overshadowed by extracts that will serve to hurt skin (and this one is really loaded with the latter), not help it!
Brightening Refining Tonic's "star" ingredient is daisy flower extract, which is supposed to fade dark spots. While there is some research showing this extract does have wound-healing properties, when tested on animals (Source: (Source: Pharmaceutical Biology, August 2012, pages 1031 - 1037), there is little independent research pointing to its effectiveness in treating hyperpigmentation. We do know that this plant extract can cause an allergic reaction in people sensitive to ragweed and marigold (Source: naturaldatabase.com).
When looking for a brightening product, you should be checking for proven lightening ingredients, such as forms of vitamin C, niacinamide, arbutin, licorice extract, and hydroquinone - none of which are present here.
The ingredients you really should be keeping an eye out for in this toner are the ones that will harm your skin. Check out the back of the container and you'll see a number of fragrant plant extracts listed, including peppermint, mint balm, lemon, and orange! These can cause inflammation, and the citrus extracts can also be phototoxic, meaning they cause a negative reaction when skin is exposed to sunlight. See More Info for details on why irritating ingredients and fragrant plant extracts are harmful and aging - especially in a leave-on product!
Absolutely walk away from this toner. Instead, take a look at those on our list of Best Toners. Your skin will thank you!
- Daisy flower extract has been shown to have some wound-healing properties.
- There is little research showing that daisy flower extract is effective in treating hyperpigmentation.
- Contains high amounts of irritating fragrant plant extracts, which can impair skin's ability to heal and can cause collagen breakdown.
Fragrance in Skin Care: 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).
Our tonic is infused with Daisy Extract and effectively removes lingering traces of dirt oil and makeup.
Aqua (Water, Eau), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Bellis Perennis (Daisy) Flower Extract, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Leaf Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Veronica Officinalis Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane, Extrait De Canne Á Sucre) Extract, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Quillaja Saponaria Bark Extract, Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Caprylyl/Capryl Wheat Bran/Straw Glycosides, Fusel Wheat Bran/Straw Glycosides, Maltodextrin, Arginine, Alcohol Denat., Alcohol, Phenethyl Alcohol, Parfum (Fragrance), Polyglyceryl-5 Oleate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Citral, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool
Almost all the skin-care lines in the world prefer to identify themselves as originating from companies established to create elegant, scientific formulations conceived with an in-depth understanding of the skin’s functions and needs. We say almost, because Burt's Bees makes no such claim. Quite the contrary; this line is about as unglamorous and as unscientific as it gets (the picture of Burt on the label made me think we were buying fishing gear, and press materials for the brand mention he used to live in a turkey coop). Talk about being an iconoclast!
This is how the company's founder Roxanne Quimby describes its history on its Web site: "I guess you could say it all started because there weren't many jobs up there north of Bangor. Though we found, grew, or traded for most of what we needed, I figure a person's got to have at least 3000 dollars a year in actual greenbacks to survive in this old world, especially if you've got kids. I'd been let go from my last three part-time waitressing jobs and had been buying low and selling high at yard sales and flea markets, which brought in about $150 a week during good weather. How we got started making lip balm and ended up in North Carolina is another story, and a long one at that, so I’ll save it for some other time." This is a skin-care line?
Aside from its humble, amorphous beginning, Burt's Bees is about natural, earth-friendly skin-care products, as well as overly fragranced products. Its philosophy in this respect is sincere: "To us, the word 'natural' means only one thing. It means, 'harvested from nature.' And we adhere to that definition like the strictest of school teachers."
For those seeking a line of skin-care products with truly natural ingredients, this is one of the few that steadfastly adheres to its commitment: there is no hypocrisy here. If the ingredient lists are accurate, and there is no reason to assume otherwise, then you will not find preservatives or synthetically derived ingredients of any kind. Just from the all-natural point of view, there will definitely be people who will be excited about these products, but I'm not one of them. Many of the plant extracts and oils used in these products, including orange oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, lemon oil, eucalyptus oil, pine tar, alcohol, lime oil, and balsam peru, are problematic for skin and present a significant risk of irritation or a sensitizing reaction. Both the intriguing philosophy and inexpensive products are attractive, but it takes more than that to establish reliable products that are good for skin.
We know that most people are attracted by fragrance, and in this regard these products excel. They are also notable for the lack of preservatives, which can be beneficial for those who can’t tolerate preservatives. (That lack may be an issue for product stability, although we did not have these products tested for contamination.) But for any other skin-care need, we suggest you use your wisdom and recognize that while Mother Nature is assuredly wise about the Earth, She does not have everything the skin needs. In fact, Mother Nature offers up many problematic things for skin, including the sun and poison ivy.
For more information about Burt's Bees, call 1-800-849-7112 or visit www.burtsbees.com.