Strengths: Some good cleansers and makeup removers; an excellent, value-size hand cream; foot cream that exfoliates; some good shampoos and conditioners.
Weaknesses: Overly expensive; seaweed, algae, and other marine extracts do not have nearly the research behind them as do countless other beneficial ingredients; too many products packaged in jars, thus allowing the good, and unstable, ingredients to degrade; the Face Oasis moisturizers are ordinary and overhyped; uses blue synthetic coloring agents to create the "from the sea" impression; most of the products contain more fragrance than state-of-the-art ingredients; for a line this size, the number of SPF-rated products is paltry, offering minimal options for different skin types and concerns; irritating anti-acne products that will make oily skin worse; no skin-lightening options; irritating clay masks that can make oily skin worse; overly fragrant body washes.
H2O+ is a boutique line that's been on the scene since 1989. The brand has had its ups and downs over the years, and, like many natural-themed boutique brands, has lost much of its retail distribution and cachet due to their own overzealous expansion and the boom in other natural product lines. Now H2O+ is back, but not with the same widespread availability they enjoyed during their heyday. Previously, there were lots of H2O+ stores in malls throughout the United States; today the brand has only a handful of stores in only a few states. Other than the stores, the line is haphazardly distributed in various department stores and retail locations, such as Ulta. The trouble is that these other locations do not stock the complete H2O+ line, so it's hit-or-miss that you'll find the specific H2O+ product you're looking for. This was not an easy line for the Cosmetics Cop Team to compile.
As you might have guessed from the name, H2O+ is all about water. Specifically, they want you to think that seawater contains essential elements that your skin must have to get rid of everything, from wrinkles to acne. As a result, the majority of H2O+ products contain various types of seaweed, algae, and a mishmash of other marine plants. What H2O+ fails to provide is proof (meaning research) showing that these marine plants and marine creatures are the answer to your skin-care concerns.
What is known is that most plant extracts, from the sea or the land, provide antioxidant properties, and that's great. But, the plants that live in water hold no special advantage in a skin-care product.
As an aside, certain types of algae such as Corallina pilulifera have properties that can help collagen from breaking down in the presence of sunlight. To that end, certain types of algae could be described as anti-aging, but this is true for lots of plant extracts, not only for the marine variety. By the way, despite this research, H2O+ products do not contain Coralline piluifera (Sources: Marine Drugs, March 2010, pages 1189–1202; Experimental Dermatology, September 2008, pages 771–779; and Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, February 2002, pages 840–845).
Keep in mind that the exotic identities and seaworthy origins do not make algae and other marine extracts better or more significant for skin than other ingredients from other sources that can provide the same, or, in many cases, more significant, benefits.
What you'll find is that H2O+ skin-care products are far more about fragrance and spa allure than about the beneficial ingredients skin needs to defend itself against environmental damage and be able to resist signs of aging. Sea plants may indeed hold some exciting advances for skin, but the manner in which H2O+ uses them isn't likely to net you great results. Instead, they use the same cosmetic ingredients most other brands do to create silky, elegant textures. These ingredients definitely count toward a product's appeal and performance, but they're best for your skin when they're interwoven with other essentials—and that's where H2O+ often falls short. This line's biggest obstacle is its love of fragrance over ingredients such as antioxidants, skin-identical substances, and ingredients that help damaged cells make healthier cells (the kind that act younger so you'll look younger).
The high points include the cleansers and makeup removers along with a smattering of odds and ends that are worth considering if you happen to come across them in the store; otherwise, there is nothing here you must seek out. The most important thing to keep in mind is that H2O+ doesn't have a range of products to address various skin types and concerns. Fragrance isn't skin care, yet this is the very thing H2O+ uses more than anything else.
For more information about H2O+, call (800) 242-2284 or visit www.h2oplus.com.