Matte Oil-Free Moisturizer

$35 - 2 fl. oz.
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Skin Care > Moisturizers (Daytime and Nighttime) > Oil-Absorbing/Mattifying
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This silicone-based lotion isn't really oil-free as claimed due to the isohexadecane it contains. Despite the way this product is described on the container, it is at best minimally hydrating, and we mean, really, really minimally. Along with the silicones in here, which provide a great deal of slip and a silky texture, are absorbent ingredients including nylon-12 and aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, each of which contributes to this product's matte finish. What this blend of silicones and absorbent powders impart is a layer of oil-absorbing ingredients that work more like a basic primer that can be used under foundation if you have oily skin. How long the oil-absorbing properties last on your skin depends on how oily your skin is and the type of other products you are using with it.

The claim that this contains optical diffusers that can minimize the appearance of pores is a fancy way to say it leaves an opaque layer over the skin that has some coverage. There are no special diffusing ingredients in here of any kind.

There are a couple of ingredient concerns in here. This contains an extract of cinnamon which does have antioxidant properties but it can also be a skin irritant, it is far better for skin to have a great topical antioxidant that doesn’t impart any irritation. This also contains the preservatives methylisothiazolinone which is not the best in a leave on product.

Although this could be an option as an oil absorbing primer, but because it lacks any other beneficial ingredients for skin such as antioxidants or skin repairing ingredients it isn't really worth your time or money.

  • Has a silky soft texture and smooth application.
  • Mattifying formula works to absorb oil.
  • Technically, this isn't oil-free as claimed.
  • Doesn't contain any state-of-the-art ingredients such as antioxidants or skin-repairing ingredients.
  • Cinnamon is a skin irritant.

Welcome matte! This lightweight, hydrating lotion contains advanced microspheres that absorb oil throughout the day. Combined with optical diffusers, it also helps minimize the appearance of pores, leaving skin soft and smooth with a fresh, matte finish. Fragrance-free.Oil-free.Non-comedogenic.

Water, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isohexadecane, Glycerin, Nylon-12, Polysilicone-11, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Glycine, Stearic Acid, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, PEG-8 Stearate, PEG-8 Laurate, PPG-20 Methyl Glucose Ether, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Polysorbate 40, Polyacrylamide, Ammonium PolyacryloyldimethylAurate, C13-14 Isoparaffin, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, C12-14 Pareth-12, Laureth-7, Bisabolol, Propylene Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Triethanolamine, Caprylyl Glycol, Methylisothiazolinone, Aluminum Oxide, Titanium Dioxide (CI77891)

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

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.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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