Labeling this product a peel is misleading because it doesn't contain anything that can "peel" (meaning exfoliate) skin. The tiny amount of salicylic acid (also known as BHA) this contains won't prompt exfoliation, but it contains a high amount of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which can be helpful for lightening, but not peeling, dark spots. That's where Garnier's "brighter, more even skin tone" claim comes into play.
Ascorbic acid is pure vitamin C, but as an acid it can be irritating. For this reason, many formulators prefer to use other types of vitamin C, such as ascorbyl glucoside or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. These forms of vitamin C are less irritating as well as more stable, so it's win-win for your skin. It's not that ascorbic acid isn't a great ingredient, because it is, it's just that it's not the most gentle form of vitamin C. However, no question, if you're looking for vitamin C for dark spots, this product delivers.
Other than the vitamin C, there isn't anything else in here that is beneficial for skin, and skin care is never as simple as one ingredient. It's also disappointing that the formula contains a high amount of fragrance ingredients known to be irritating (see More Info for details). As mentioned above, ascorbic acid can be irritating on its own, so adding more potential irritants to the mix doesn't make sense. Despite an attractive price, this skin-lightening product isn't preferred to any we recommend on our list of Best Skin-Lightening products.
- The amount of vitamin C is likely to improve dark spots from sun damage.
- Highly fragrant formula poses a risk of irritation.
- Doesn't contain anything anti-aging other than the vitamin C.
- Form of vitamin C included can be irritating and is tricky to keep stable.
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).
Skin Renew Clinical Dark Spot Overnight Peel fades and reveals smoother, brighter, more even tone skin.
Water, Glycerin, Ascorbic Acid, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Cyclohexasiloxane, Potassium Hydroxide, Dimethicone, Sodium Styrene/MA Copolymer, Acrylates/C10 30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Alcohol, Benzyl Salicylate, Biosaccharide Gum 1, Carbomer, Citral, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Disodium EDTA, Gentiana Lutea Extract, Gentiana Lutea Root Extract, Geraniol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Limonene, Linalool, Nylon 12, PEG/PPG 18/18 Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Methylparaben, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance
Debuting with permanent hair dye and then making the segue to a full line of hair-care products emphasizing carefree, casual styles with can't-miss-it colorful packaging has been Garnier's formula for penetrating the U.S. market. Several well-known actresses have had dual roles as spokesperson for Garnier's hair dyes and skin-care products, with splashy ads appearing in magazines and on television commercials.
Unfortunately, this group of products hasn't got much going for it except the lure celebrity spokespeople provide. The amount of fragrance is perhaps forgivable for a French-owned product line, and in most of the Nutritioniste products it's not too intrusive. What is deplorable is the lack of sufficient UVA protection in the sunscreens. A skin-care line has no right to speak about the anti-aging benefits and "breakthrough approach" of its products when they cannot get this fundamental aspect consistently right.
It's also disappointing that some products contain irritating peppermint, which made us wonder whether the dermatologists who consulted for Garnier had any idea of what's good for skin and what isn't. It seems they didn't, because what they ended up with is a mix of pro and con products that make it impossible for consumers to assemble a sensible skin-care routine, not to mention products that make skin-lifting claims most dermatologists would dismiss as cosmetics puffery.
The hook for this line is the way it is said to bring nutrition and dermatology together. The products are "fortified" with antioxidants such as lycopene and nutritional ingredients such as fatty acids, vitamins (A and C, never present together in the same product!), and minerals. Garnier wants you to think this is a revolutionary idea, but it isn't—did they also overlook that everyone else, from L'Oreal (Garnier is owned by L'Oreal) to Estee Lauder and Clinique, has been using such ingredients in their products for years? And why consult a nutritionist (as Garnier did) when their training and professional expertise has little to do with application of anything to the skin? The whole scenario proves Garnier was more concerned with creating an attention-getting story for this line rather than formulating truly breakthrough products.
Despite our disdain for the way Garnier's marketing takes precedence over making the products as good as they could be formulary-wise, there are some bright spots. Because Garnier is owned by L'Oreal, it's no surprise to find that there are lots of similarities between the better and worse aspects of L'Oreal's skin care as well as with L'Oreal's department-store sister company Lancome. In some ways, Garnier's formulas best those of both companies by including a greater array of antioxidants and intriguing skin-identical ingredients. The occasional jar packaging choice reduces the effectiveness of some of these products, but other than that, Lancome users should take note of the happy face–rated products in this line. You'll be getting a better product for considerably less money here (though, at least for now, no free gift with purchase—but you can buy Lancome foundations or mascaras instead when gift time comes around).
For more information about Garnier Nutritioniste, call (800) 370-1925 or visit www.garnierusa.com.