Juice Beauty At-A-Glance
Strengths: They provide complete ingredient lists on their Web site; all of their facial sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection.
Weaknesses: Expensive; ingredient lists do not reflect FDA standards (terms such as "organic botanical extracts" and "organic juices of" don't make the regulatory cut); occasional use of jar or clear packaging diminishes the potency of light- and air-sensitive antioxidants; no products to successfully manage acne or skin discolorations; no reliable exfoliants; several products, including the facial sunscreens, contain juices, plant extracts, or fragrant oils that research has shown are skin irritants.
As you may have gathered from this line's name, fruit and vegetable juices are their point of difference. Before we discuss why that's not necessarily a good thing for your skin, we want to provide a little background information on the company.
The women behind this California-based brand have years of experience dealing with cosmetic formulations and various wellness-oriented companies. As the story goes, they felt the cosmetic marketplace was missing a line of products that contained organic ingredients, at least inasmuch as it was possible to create skin-care items that capitalize on the enduring trend for all things natural. Unlike other brands touting the organic label, Juice Beauty decided not to use organic ingredients diluted by water (which, by their reasoning would lower the total actual organic content even though water itself can be considered organic), but instead devised an organic juice blend. This blend (which includes various fruit and vegetable juices) serves as the base for every product they sell. Although it may seem intriguing that they're using juice instead of water, it's important to point out that any fruit or vegetable juice contains a preponderance of...water. For example, juice from fresh oranges, organic or not, can contain up to 85% water, while grape juice is typically 80% water. So much for juice being the solution to diluted ingredients; it's already diluted, naturally!
However, what's even more critical for you to know is that some of the juices Juice Beauty chose can be far too irritating to apply to your skin on a daily basis. The biggest offenders along this line are lemon and orange juices, both of which are extremely acidic and, as such capable of causing irritation. Plus, applying lemon juice to your skin can cause a phototoxic reaction when skin is exposed to sunlight (Sources: Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine, December 2005, pages 318–321; and www.naturaldatabase.com).
One of the naturally occurring chemicals in lemon juice is the fragrance chemical limonene. Pharmaceutical research has shown that limonene applied to skin enhances penetration of other ingredients, which is not good news if you're using a product that contains not only lemon juice but also other irritants as well (Sources: Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, April 2008, pages 656–661; Journal of Occupational Health, May 2006, pages 480–486; and Advances in Colloid and Interface Science, November 2006, pages 123–126 and pages 369–385). If you've ever gotten orange or lemon juice on a minor cut (even a minor cuticle nick) you know how much it stings, and that's really bad for skin! Although it's true that citrus juices do have antioxidant and even anti-inflammatory actions, the effects of their irritating compounds likely surpasses the effects from the beneficial compounds; not to mention that there are plenty of other ingredients (natural and synthetic) that have potent antioxidant properties without any potential for irritation.
In addition to the problematic natural ingredients, Juice Beauty uses raw sugarcane as a natural form of glycolic acid and willow bark as a natural stand-in for salicylic acid. Although there is an association (albeit distant) to be made for both, the fact is that neither of these natural ingredients on their own is an adequate stand-in for authentic (and, yes, synthetic) glycolic or salicylic acids. We wouldn't expect these natural substitutes to exfoliate skin and reduce blemishes any more than we would expect to be able to print a legible novel on tree bark. In fact, some of the Juice Beauty products contain actual glycolic acid rather than a natural-sounding derivative.
Several Juice Beauty products contain an impressive roster of state-of-the-art ingredients, including several antioxidants, peptides, and even some soothing, non-fragrant plant components. Ironically, removing this line's namesake ingredients (namely the juices) from their products would have made the products a much better choice!
Turning to the organic claims, we applaud the company for acknowledging the lack of regulations on the term "organic" as it applies to cosmetics. They are also refreshingly forthcoming about what the current standards stipulate, and offer all the necessary proof that the organic ingredients they've chosen are from USDA-certified organic farms. Juice Beauty simply states that they offer consumers a "meaningful percentage of organic ingredients." Based on the ingredient lists for their products, it's easy to see that juices and other natural ingredients comprise the bulk of each formula.
Consumers looking for skin-care products with organic ingredients can consider some of the options from Juice Beauty—there are a handful of effective, non-irritating products in this line. Yet, as we stated before, although organic is a strong pull for consumers, it does not always (actually, in most instances it absolutely does not) translate into better or safer cosmetics. Considering the range of ingredients Juice Beauty uses: most of them are indeed natural and certified organic—regardless of that certification, however, a natural ingredient that's irritating for skin is still a problem. Being passionate about organic products and an organic lifestyle need not involve your skin taking a turn for the worse via application of potentially damaging ingredients (particularly camphor, designated/disguised as Ho Wood in many Juice Beauty products), and camphor is a strong skin irritant (Sources: British Journal of Dermatology, November 2000, pages 923–929; and Clinical Toxicology, December 1981, pages 1485–1498).
For more information about Juice Beauty, call (415) 457-4600 or visit www.juicebeauty.com.