There are so many things about this moisturizer to extol it is hard to know where to begin. Primarily, its strengths are a truly remarkable array of antioxidants, anti-irritants, and skin repairing ingredients, and a particularly impressive blend of ceramides. It also has a beautiful emollient base that would work wonderfully for someone with dry, sensitive skin. So what went wrong?
Unfortunately, all this potential and praise is wasted because Merle Norman, like numerous cosmetic companies can't give up their reliance on jar packaging despite the abundant research showing how problematic it is for any skin-care product. Jar packaging won't keep the wonderful, beneficial ingredients in this formulation stable once it is opened (see More Info for details). Another drawback is the amount of preservative in this formula which is higher up on the ingredients list than the good stuff. It really should be the other way around. So close, yet still so far.
- Beautiful formulation for dry skin.
- Generous blend of antioxidants, skin repairing ingredients, and anti-irritants.
- Jar packaging won't keep the beneficial ingredient stable once it is opened.
- More preservatives than the great ingredients it contains.
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).
This lightweight cream helps extinguish redness while soothing skin. Natural extracts help comfort skin on contact while natural anti-inflammatory ingredients like Sea Whip and a neutralizing light green tint help skin immediately look better. Antioxidants like White and Green Tea Extracts protect skin and help prevent future flare-ups. With daily use, you’ll see a visible improvement in redness after a few weeks. Fragrance-free.Oil-free.
Water, Butylene Glycol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica, PEG-100 Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-8, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Ceramide EOS, Ceramide NP, Ceramide NS, Caprooyl Phytosphingosine, CaprooylSphingosine, Thermus Thermophillus Ferment, Bisabolol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Stem Extract, Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract, Sea Whip Extract, Carbomer, Glyceryl Stearate, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Polyurethane-40, Ceteareth-25, Cetyl Alcohol, Adenosine Triphosphate, Squalane, Linoleic Acid, Acetyl Tyrosine, BHT, Proline, Cholesterol, Dextran, Polyethylene, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Titanium Dioxide (CI77891), Mica (CI77019), Benzyl Alcohol, Tropolone, Behenic Acid, Diazolidinyl Urea
Merle Norman opened her first cosmetics studio in Santa Monica, California, in 1931. She believed strongly that women would love her products, if only she could "get them on their faces," and the company's now-famous try-before-you-buy program was launched. To this day, women who visit any of Merle Norman's 2,000 boutiques spread across the United States, Canada, and Mexico can take advantage of the company's product samples before making a purchase.
The free samples are great, but the question is why anyone would be inclined to try Merle Norman skin-care products. Although there have been some improvements since the Cosmetics Cop Team last reviewed this brand, much of what was problematic back then is still around today, and still problematic - and that's not good news for your skin.
Across the board, the biggest issue is jar packaging. Several of the moisturizers didn't receive better than a neutral face rating because they are poorly packaged. For a company claiming to be cutting edge, they somehow missed, or chose to ignore, the research showing how state-of-the-art ingredients deteriorate when exposed to light and air. In addition, repeatedly sticking your fingers into a product isn't sanitary, and further degrades the ingredients. What good is adding a lot of antioxidants and other plant extracts or vitamins to a product if their efficacy is all but gone within a week or two of opening?
There are other weak spots to watch out for, too, especially in the Luxiva Changing Skin and Luxiva Clear Complexion lines. Merle Norman also sells a group of antiquated products that are little more than cold cream and super-greasy moisturizers. These are as far removed as you can get from what we know about what skin needs to look younger and function in a healthy manner. Using many of Merle Norman's products is like using a typewriter instead of a computer.
As far as what's to like, you'll find several well-formulated cleansers and toners, some reliable AHA and BHA products, and an impressive lip balm, and most of the SPF-rated products provide broad-spectrum protection. Ultimately, it wouldn't be wise to try to assemble a comprehensive skin-care routine from Merle Norman, but if you focus on their better products you'll do okay.
For the record, it is perfectly fine to mix Merle Norman products with those from other brands. We doubt you'll get this advice if you visit any of the Merle Norman Studios, but it's true. In fact, this applies to any skin-care brand—what counts is the individual product and how well it's formulated, not the company's predetermined ideas that their products work best if and only if they're used together.
For more information about Merle Norman, call (310) 641-3000 or visit www.merlenorman.com.
Note: We know that we've stated for quite some time that the team wouldn't be revisiting this line because of Merle Norman's complete disinterest in helping us get the information we need to review their products accurately. Over the years, my staff has been kicked out of several Merle Norman boutiques, both here in the Seattle area and in other states. As soon as we began taking notes or if we asked too many questions, we were eyed with suspicion and then asked to leave. There are two reasons we changed our mind: (1) our Beautypedia subscribers kept asking us to re-review this brand, and (2) a Merle Norman employee agreed to help us obtain the information we need, as long as she remained anonymous. We wish to extend a sincere thanks to the woman who sent us dozens upon dozens of samples and helped us compile all of the accurate information that made these reviews possible.
Please note: These product prices are in U.S. dollars, and for reasons unknown Merle Norman products are substantially more expensive in Canadian boutiques. Please be aware when shopping that these ratings are a reflection of U.S. prices only.