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Decleor At-A-Glance

Strengths: None of note.

Weaknesses: Expensive; pervasive use of volatile essential oils that have limited to no benefit for skin and are known irritants; almost all the sunscreens lack the right UVA-protecting ingredients; no product to address acne or skin discolorations; inappropriate jar packaging.

What can you say about a skin-care line where almost 85% of the products contain volatile, fragrant plant oils that have research showing they are irritating to skin? Few lines in this book received so many unhappy faces for this reason alone—yet those very oils are Decleor's claim to fame. This spa-oriented company was begun in 1975 by a massage therapist and is now owned in part by Japan-based Shiseido (whose sunscreens trounce Decleor's by leaps and bounds).

Decleor is all about aromatherapy for skin. They speak freely of the purity of the essential oils they use and the distillation processes that keep them active, but that's precisely the cause for concern. Yes, lavender, bitter orange, rose, geranium, neroli, and other "essential" oils smell wonderful, but the very ingredients that create those intoxicating scents are what is responsible for causing skin irritation, inflammation, and, in some cases, phototoxic reactions. These essential oils have active constituents but, because they are not regulated as such, any company can use whichever ones they like in any concentration. Moreover, companies don't have to indicate the quantities that were used, leaving the consumer to guess. The concept of aromatherapy has well-established benefits concerning inhalation of scents and the effects they have on one's mood and, sometimes, physiological function. But enjoying these oils via inhalation (where they really can be beneficial) is different from applying them to skin, where hypersensitivity is well-documented and topical usage is cautioned (Sources: Current Pharmaceutical Design, December 2006, pages 3393–3399; Phytotherapy Research, September 2006, pages 758–763; European Journal of Oncology Nursing, April 2006, pages 140–149; The Journal of Nursing, August 2005, pages 11–15; and

Not only are most of Decleor's products a giant step backward for your skin, they're also a real misfortune when you consider Decleor's terrible sunscreens and lack of truly state-of-the-art ingredients. In short, experiencing these products in a relaxing spa environment may make you feel refreshed or invigorated—but if your goal is establishing a sensible, effective skin-care routine, you’ll need to keep shopping.

For more information about Decleor, call (888) 414-4471 or

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