10.31.2014
2
4
Soothing Oil-Free Moisturizer with Anti-Aging Pycnogenol
Rating
2 fl. oz. for $29.95
Category:Skin Care > Moisturizers (Daytime and Nighttime)
Last Updated:10.31.2014
Jar Packaging:Yes
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

This simply formulated fragrance-free gel moisturizer for oily skin contains mostly water, glycerin, witch hazel, and a gel-based thickener. The witch hazel extract is a potential irritant, not an ingredient you want to see in any product, especially one labeled "soothing."

Although this moisturizer contains several antioxidants, including pycnogenol, the jar packaging won't keep them stable during use (see More Info for details). In the end, you're left with a minimally hydrating moisturizer whose star ingredients won't help your skin as much as they could have if they were in better packaging. In addition, the formula is missing key skin-repairing and cell-communicating ingredients, so labeling this "anti-aging" is misleading.

Note: While pycnogenol is a very good antioxidant, it is not the best one. Trying to find a single "hero ingredient" isn't the wise way to shop for skin-care products, so it's good that DermaE included other antioxidants, too.

Pros:
  • Fragrance-free.
Cons:
  • Jar packaging won't keep the antioxidants stable.
  • Basic formula lacks a range of proven anti-aging ingredients.
  • Witch hazel extract is astringent, not soothing.
More Info:

The fact that it's packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria, which further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).

Claims

Diminish signs of aging and sensitivity with this oil-free, fragrance free gel hydrator. Helps reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles for soft, smooth skin without irritation. With anti-aging Pycnogenol®, a gentle yet potent antioxidant that is 50 times more powerful than Vitamin E in neutralizing free radicals, this formula helps quench signs of aging while delivering soothing properties to help calm red, irritated or sensitive skin.

Ingredients

Purified Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Ascorbyl Palmitate (C-Ester), Pinus Pinaster (Pycnogenol®) Bark Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract* (.1%), Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.

Brand Overview

Derma E At-a-Glance

Strengths: Inexpensive considering the formulas; company provides complete ingredient lists on their Web site; an effective AHA product; tea tree oil–based disinfectants for acne; some good cleansers and a good toner; well-formulated mask.

Weaknesses: Jar packaging is rampant for many of the antioxidant-rich products; several boring moisturizers; abrasive scrubs; one skin-lightening product with questionable efficacy; products that contain the controversial ingredient DMAE; several products contain natural ingredients that have not been proven effective for their intended purpose; the anti-aging products with peptides make over-the-top claims not supported by what they contain.

"Formulated for results" and "We're serious about skin care" are phrases you'll see throughout the Derma E line—that and a heavy accent on all things natural. In business since 1984, this California-based, family-owned skin-care company's products are often seen in health food stores. We suspect the numerous questions we've been asked about the Derma E line are tied not only to their use of natural ingredients, but also to their emphasis on antioxidants, which they include in almost every product. In many cases, there are antioxidants aplenty; however, more often than not, the choice of jar packaging spoils the benefit the antioxidants Derma E chose could provide (air-tight packaging is critical because antioxidants deteriorate in the presence of air).

More so than any other line weve reviewed so far, where packaging is critical to ingredient efficacy and stability, Derma E has seemingly turned a blind eye to this glaring error. Because of that, there are very few products to extol or recommend, even though the line is priced fairly and some of the products have good formulations. But, just as you shouldn't eat food that no longer has any nutritional properties, the same goes for skin care, why bother if your skin isn't getting what it needs to be healthy?

The company's founders talk openly about their commitment to formulating quality products, often using proprietary ingredients (meaning ingredients unique to Derma E). Yet a quick look at the ingredients on the label shows that isn't true. Even if it were true, the notion that you would be getting something better for skin is sheer nonsense. There are lots of brilliant ingredients for skin available in the cosmetics world, and there is no single company that has a secret lurking in its laboratory that is a must for skin. It can be a very compelling story unless you know better, and if you don't already know better, you will after reading the reviews. Product after product either disappoints or comes in below average based on packaging issues or on problematic natural ingredients, the claims for which are based on folklore and anecdotal experience, not on solid science.

It all gets rather muddled where Derma E is concerned because several of their anti-aging products do contain some interesting peptides and impressive amounts of antioxidants. In many respects, the antioxidants chosen have reliable track records when it comes to their skin-care benefits. But again, jar packaging sabotages these performance-based ingredients to the point that it's difficult to take anything else the company does seriously. After all, if they can't get this fundamental right, what's the point of continually talking up their commitment to results-oriented products?

It doesn't seem that sun protection is very high on Derma E's priority list either. You'll find moisturizers and eye creams galore, including many with antiwrinkle and skin-firming claims—but only one sunscreen. One. In the entire line. And, surprise, it doesn’t contain natural sunscreen agents, at least not entirely. It never ceases to amaze me when "natural" product companies choose synthetic sunscreen actives when there are natural alternatives such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Synthetic sunscreens are perfectly fine, but if you're going to shout natural from the rooftops, why are you using synthetic sunscreen actives? Plus, any line that touts their anti-aging, antiwrinkle prowess should have more than one sunscreen. Walking away from the store after buying products only from this line is a guarantee you will be cheating your skin.

A common falsehood, perpetuated by Derma E and by many other cosmetics companies, is that their products are "natural" (whatever that truly means). Rest assured that that's about as probable as sandy, warm beaches in Antarctica (or a snowball in Hades). Derma E products contain many natural ingredients, but plenty of synthetic ingredients have been cast in major or supporting formulary roles. For example, Linda Miles, one of Derma E's founders, has stated that the company won't use the natural version of alpha lipoic acid because it is "a butcher house by-product," meaning it's derived from animals. She admits the company uses synthetic alpha lipoic acid, however, and she must be unaware that alpha lipoic acid need not be derived from meat; it also can be derived from spinach, carrots, broccoli, potatoes, yams, and yeast, all of which are very natural and, of course, not derived from animal flesh (Sources: www.naturaldatabase.com; and The Rose Sheet, May 26, 2008, page 4).

Miles also admitted that Derma E has struggled to find a good preservative system to replace the synthetic ones they currently use. That's not surprising, as it's an issue that any line that wants to go natural must deal with; the reality is that there are no natural preservatives that work as well in low amounts as the synthetic options.

We could go on about Derma E's claims in terms of what they do and don't use and will and won't do, but you've heard it all before from other natural lines. As is usually the case, there are some standout products to consider from Derma E. If the company overhauled its packaging to improve antioxidant stability, the handful of products would become a basket's worth, but there is no word on whether such a change is happening or even in the works.

For more information about Derma E, call (800) 521-3342 or visit www.dermae.com.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!


The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

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04.14.2015
Not rated highly but worth a try!

I love this product! Moisture without breakouts!

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Reviewed by
Deb.E.
03.04.2015
Product ingredients have changed

The ingredients for this product are listed in a different order on the Derma E website.

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Anonymous
03.09.2015
Beautypedia Team Response

Hi there!  Thanks for the heads up - we've gotten them updated :)

-Beautypedia Team

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