Tested on animals:Yes
Bienfait Pure Focus is a moisturizer that, as the name states is meant to mattify oily skin as it moisturizes. Can it do that? Well, some products can set to a matte finish while still hydrating skin, but this particular formula never feels too matte, and does a poor job of keeping oily shine at bay. This does feel exceptionally light, yet we’re concerned that the inclusion of denatured alcohol (it’s the fourth ingredient) may trigger irritation.
Also concerning is that this moisturizer’s refreshing, cooling feel comes courtesy of the potent menthol derivative, menthoxypropanediol. Despite the nice feeling, this ingredient could trigger irritation that makes oily skin worse, as we explain in the More Info section.
It’s also disappointing that this pricey product (this wouldn’t be considered that expensive if it was a powerhouse formula, but it’s not) contains more coloring agents than state of the art ingredients to improve oily skin and refine pore size. In fact, this is highly fragrant, which poses further risk of irritation. Between the alcohol, menthol derivative, and numerous sources of fragrance, this lotion’s only “pure focus” seems to be on taking skin down a path of daily irritation that won’t help reduce excess oil or tighten pores.
- Feels super light and refreshing.
- Packaged to keep the light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use.
- Amount of alcohol poses a risk of irritation.
- Menthoxypropanediol is a likely skin irritant that could make oily skin worse.
- Highly fragrant formula, but fragrance isn’t skin care.
- Contains more coloring agents than state of the art ingredients to make this worth the cost.
Alcohol in skin care: There is a significant amount of research showing alcohol causes free-radical damage in skin even at low levels. Small amounts of alcohol on skin cells in lab settings (about 3%, but keep in mind skin-care products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or greater) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals—this process actually causes more free-radical damage. If this weren't bad enough, exposure to alcohol causes skin cells to self-destruct.
The research also showed that these destructive, aging effects on skin cells increased the longer their exposure to alcohol; for example, two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day, and that's at only a 3% concentration. (Sources: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1,410–1,419; Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, January 2011, pages 83–90; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, August 2009, pages 20–24; "Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In," Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; Alcohol, Volume 26, Issue 3, April 2002, pages 179–190; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, April 2001, pages 109–166; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).
For more on alcohol's (as in, ethanol, denatured alcohol, and ethyl alcohol) effects on skin, see our article on the topic, Alcohol in Skin Care: The Facts.
Irritation and oily skin: Inflammation in skin is usually related to external factors such as irritation that damages the skin’s barrier in numerous ways, whether you can see the reaction or not. When irritation on the surface of skin happens it activates specific chemicals called neuropeptides in the brain (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 2007). Those substances are specifically the kind that regulates the hormonal system of the body.
When this happens, it then causes inflammatory chemicals targeted directly in the oil gland. Then, these inflammatory chemicals trigger an increase in oil production, which can increase the size of the pore, and the likelihood of acne—the more inflammation that occurs, the worse the risk (European Journal of Dermatology, 2002 & Dermatology, 2003).
Bottom line: Inflammation and its resulting irritation, whether internal or external (for this discussion externally it would be due to the use of irritating ingredients, hot water, overusing scrubs, etc.), is practically a guarantee you will see excess production of oil, larger pores and acne breakouts (Experimental Dermatology, 2009 & Dermato-Endocrinology, 2011).
That’s reason enough to avoid products with irritating ingredients, which often come in the form of fragrance including the misnamed “essential” oils.