This serum's first ingredient is a type of fragrant rose extract that extensive research has shown has mixed benefits. In the pro column, inhaling this flower's scent seems to have relaxing, blood pressure–lowering benefits and the plant's petals contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that can benefit the skin. On the flipside, the numerous chemicals that create this rose's distinctive fragrance pose a risk of irritation and allergic contact dermatitis (Source: Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, July 2011, pages 295–307; note that this single source is a compendium of the research on this plant dating back to 1972; it summarizes decades of individual published research rather than just presenting the results of a single study).
Despite the positive benefits from rose, it's clearly not a plant to use daily, not when so many other non-fragrant plants have proven antioxidant ability.
Otherwise, the pluses and minuses for this serum (which really has more of a lightweight lotion texture) keep coming. It contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, which is great, but it also contains a higher-than-usual amount of the controversial ingredient DMAE.
Research on DMAE (also known as dimethylaminoethanol) has shown conflicting results in terms of its anti-aging effectiveness and subsequent risk to the skin. It seems to offer an initial benefit that improves the skin, but these results are short-lived and eventually give way to destruction of the substances in skin that help build healthy collagen (Sources: Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, November-December 2007, pages 711–718; and American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, volume 6, 2005, pages 39–47).
After adding up all the pros and cons of this serum, it just doesn't rate a recommendation from us. It's yet another Michael Todd product beset by too many problematic ingredients surrounded by beneficial ingredients you can find in other, better-formulated products, such as those on our list of Best Serums.
- Contains some good antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients.
- Sensibly priced.
- Highly fragrant formula poses a daily risk of irritation.
- Contains the controversial ingredient DMAE.
- The citrus extracts pose an additional risk of irritation (and, just to be clear, these ingredients are not a good natural alternative to AHAs such as glycolic acid).
Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
A special broad spectrum antioxidant facial serum using extracts of bilberry, orange, lemon and cranberry fortified with antioxidant vitamins A, B complex, C, E and CoQ-10 and “universal antioxidant” Alpha Lipoic Acid. Works to fortify skin against environmental stressors and reverse UV induced sun damage and signs of premature skin aging. Also contains DMAE and hyaluronic acid to attract and hold moisture in the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Rosa Damascena (Rose) Distillate, Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Vera) Juice, Vegetable Glycerin, Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), Emulsifying Wax, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam Seed) Oil, Vaccinium Myrtillus (Organic Bilberry) Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Organic Sugar Cane) Extract, Acer Saccharinum (Organic Sugar Maple) Extract, Citrus Auranium Dulcis (Organic Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Organic Lemon) Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Organic Cranberry) Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Phenoxyethanol, CoQ10, Beta Carotene (Pro Vitamin A), Retinol Palmitate (Vitamin A), Alpha Lipoic Acid (DL- Thioctic Acid), Dl-Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Daucus Carota (Carrot) Oil, Lecithin, Xanthan Gum (Polysaccharide Gum), Rosa Damascena (Rose) Absolute, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai Fruit) Pulp Powder, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Ascorbyl Palmitate, Sodium Benzoate, Glucolactone, Citric Acid.
What do the popular hair accessory line called SCUNCI (aka "scrunchy") and the natural-themed skin-care brand Michael Todd True Organics have in common? Both are associated with a man named Lewis Hendler. Hendler founded SCUNCI in the early '90s and sold the company to Conair in 2005. Then, in 2008, Hendler acquired the little-known Michael Todd True Organics skin-care brand.
As we understand it, there really was someone named Michael Todd who played a role in the brand's history, but there's no mention of the real Michael Todd to be found on the company's website. We did find a press release explaining that he is or was a model and actor, but that's about it. Hendler is the brand's public face, along with a few lesser known celebrities.
This Florida-based company has captured the attention of many consumers due to its claims of using natural and organic ingredients coupled with active anti-aging and anti-acne ingredients (all of which, by the way, are synthetic, which is just fine for skin, just not as "all natural" as the company wants you to believe).
Like many natural-themed lines, Michael Todd True Organics promotes some of the most absurd and misleading information imaginable about skin and skin care. A big one—directly from the owner himself—is that everything we put on our skin is absorbed into the body … cosmetic ingredients go right past the skin and into the bloodstream. If that were true (it isn't, thank goodness, but we'll get to that shortly), then moisturizers couldn't moisturize, exfoliants couldn't remove the top layers of dead, dried skin, and sunscreens would not prevent sunburns or tanning. Most skin-care ingredients do their job by staying on top (or at least in the top layers) of the skin, not by being absorbed into the body.
In essence, if absorption into the body were true, then even Hendler would have to admit that his own products (many of which contain problematic ingredients like neem oil and/or lavender oil, which are toxic when ingested) would do little for the skin because as soon as you apply them—poof! They're in the body, just like as soon as you swallow food it's on its way to your digestive system.
The truth is that skin is a very good barrier, and that it's difficult to get cosmetic ingredients to penetrate much past the uppermost layers, much less into the bloodstream, as almost all cosmetics chemists will tell you. The good news is that keeping skin-care ingredients, such as moisturizing agents, skin-repairing ingredients, sunscreen actives, and antioxidants, in the skin's outermost layers is really helpful—it means that the skin's surface (its first line of defense) has a better chance of remaining healthy, smooth, and better able to protect itself against environmental damage. But assuming everything we put on our skin did get into the body, thinking that natural ingredients are safer is wrong; there are hundreds of problematic natural ingredients that could cause serious health problems if they routinely got into the body.
Michael Todd True Organics is big on promoting what their products don't contain, including water, which is bizarre given that water is one of the most natural ingredients on earth. But, more to the point, these products absolutely do contain water in the form of aloe juice; aloe is 99.5% water (Sources: Indian Journal of Dermatology, volume 53, issue 4, 2008, pages 163–166; and http://apps.who.int/medicinedocs/en/d/Js2200e/6.html#Js2200e.6). You're not really getting a more concentrated product simply because it's based on aloe rather than pure water.
What's important to know is that there are good and bad natural ingredients, as well as good and bad synthetic ingredients. Seeing a preponderance of natural ingredients on a skin-care label is no guarantee the product you're considering is better or safer than one that contains natural and synthetic ingredients.
The Michael Todd brand also avoids the usual group of ingredients that have been given an undeserved bad rap, such as parabens, sulfates, triclosan, mineral oil, and synthetic fragrances, all of which we discuss elsewhere on our website (A quick summary: None of the aforementioned ingredients are dangerous for skin. If you still are concerned, don't think for a minute that this is the only line that leaves them out!)
What Michael Todd's product information doesn't tell you about is the extensive amount of research that shows how problematic the fragrant oils and plant extracts that they include in their products are. The irony is that the ingredients they brag about not using are comparably better and, yes, safer for your skin! That's not to say that this brand's products are unsafe; rather, it's to illustrate the point that synthetic ingredients aren't automatically evil, and that all-natural ingredients are not angelic.
The company definitely ups the beneficial ante with ingredients like retinol, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and vitamins (all synthetic by the way), but these great ingredients are surrounded by not-so-great ingredients, many of which are overly fragrant—and the research is clear: Fragrance isn't skin-caring in the least.
Sadly, what you get with almost the entire Michael Todd line is a mixed bag. Product after product contains a frustrating mix of beneficial and problematic ingredients—and many of the products pose a strong risk of irritation, especially those with numerous citrus oils, and irritation is always bad for skin, whether the source is synthetic or natural.
For more information on Michael Todd True Organics, call 772-343-0222 or visit www.michaeltoddtrueorganics.com .