Get this: Origins wants you to believe that this skin-lightening product is the inexpensive alternative to chemical peels and laser resurfacing. They even use the phrase “no scarring or scorching skin” to make you think that such procedures are disfiguring women left and right, when, in fact, these are extremely rare to nonexistent side effects of peels or lasers. The irony is that this product is supposed to fade sun-induced skin discolorations and prevent their recurrence, yet it contains several fragrant citrus oils that can cause discolorations in the presence of sunlight, a well-documented process referred to as a phototoxic reaction (Sources: www.naturaldatabase.com; and Acta Dermato-Venereologica, April 2007, pages 312–316). As if that weren’t bad enough, this contains several other fragrant oils that irritate skin, inciting inflammation that won’t help skin discolorations fade. Brighter By Nature is proof that nature doesn’t have the best answers for skin discolorations, and is in no way a worthwhile replacement for cosmetic corrective procedures.
Considering costly laser resurfacing or chemical peels? Nature has an effective, yet gentle alternative. This clinically proven plant serum with Japanese Basil Leaf, Cucumber and naturally-derived Vitamin C helps create more even skin tone and zap the appearance of dark spots. Helps prevent future spotting. There’s no scarring or scorching skin. No downtime, no hefty price tag. It’s true brightness with no regrets.
Water, Chamomile Flower Water, Squalane, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric/Myristic/Stearic Triglyceride, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ascorbyl Glucoside, PEG-8 Dimethicone, Olive Fruit Oil, Yeast Extract, Lime Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Spearmint Leaf Oil, Clary Sage Oil, Chamomile Oil, Geranium Flower Oil, Lavender Oil, Thyme Oil, Coriander Fruit Oil, Citral, Geraniol, Linalool, Citronellol, Limonene, Gentian Root Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract Barely Extract, Peony Root Extract, Burnet Root Extract, Cucumber Fruit Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Apple Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Bran Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Sunflower Seedcake, Caffeine, Arginine, Phospholipids, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Salicylic Acid, Chamomile, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Xanthan Gum, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Sorbic Acid, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol
Started in 1990, Origins was Estee Lauder's contribution to the (still going strong) demand for natural products. Their approach and claims all hinge on the wonder of plants and the allegedly miraculous properties they offer for skin, whether it be dry, sensitive, oily, or simply showing the effects of time. Here's the issue: Just as there are good and bad synthetic ingredients, there are good and bad natural ones. Ironically, Origins isn't all that "natural" because it uses its share of synthetic ingredients, and the plant extracts they do use include some that are bad for skin.
We have never been opposed to using natural ingredients. However, it lacks integrity when a company throws in any plant ingredient with no proven benefit for skin beyond anecdotal information, and then boasts about all sorts of improbable results. It becomes a far more serious issue when the natural ingredients in question have published research showing that they are in fact irritating or damaging to skin. That's the predicament of reviewing Origins' skin care products: almost every product they sell contains several volatile oils (another term for essential oils), all of which have their share of negative qualities when used on skin. In their attempt to appear more natural, Origins uses quite a bit of these offending ingredients, and they're often listed before the much more beneficial additives, such as antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-identical ingredients.
You might be wondering why, if Origins has had such continued success, their products can be such a problem for skin? Can't women just use what they like? The answer is two-fold: yes women can use what they like, but often women like what isn't good for them. For example, smoking is bad for skin (and for your lungs), but lots of people smoke; getting a tan from the sun is bad for your skin, but lots of people spend time outdoors getting a tan; and using products that contain irritating ingredients is bad for your skin, and lots of products come to the table with these inconsistencies.
As we have explained in the introduction to the book, there is a litany of problems that take place when skin is irritated or inflamed, but fundamentally this results in the skin's immune system becoming impaired, collagenase (the breakdown of collagen) occurs, and the skin is stripped of its outer protective barrier. What is perhaps most shocking is that all of these damaging responses can be taking place underneath the skin and you won't even notice it on the surface. The clearest example of this is the significant and carcinogenic effect of the sun's "silent" UVA rays. You don't feel the penetration of these mutagenic rays, but they are taking a toll on your skin nonetheless (Sources: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2006, pages 30–38; International Journal of Toxicology, May-June 2006, pages 183–193;Skin Research and Technology; November 2001, pages 227–237; Dermatologic Therapy, January 2004, pages 16–25; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, May 2004, pages 327–337; Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, November 2003, pages 663–669; Drugs, 2003 volume 63, issue 15, pages 1579–1596; Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, March 2002, pages 138–146; Cosmetics & Toiletries, November 2003, page 63; Global Cosmetics, February 2000, pages 46–49; and Contact Dermatitis, February 1995, pages 83–87).
Most of the Lauder companies really have their acts together when it comes to formulating state-of-the-art moisturizers, serums, and sunscreens that leave out the problematic plant extracts (and that represents a lot of products given the almost two dozen cosmetics companies under the Lauder corporate banner). Origins is the exception, and we encourage my readers who prefer to shop for skin care at the department store to explore the truly far better options from Clinique, Estee Lauder, Prescriptives, M.A.C., Bobbi Brown, or even La Mer. Even salon-styled Aveda, also owned by Lauder, with a natural theme similar to Origins, has less problematic formulas.
For more information about Origins, owned by Estee Lauder, call (800) 674-4467 or visit www.origins.com.
Compared to the makeup offered by almost all of the other Estee Lauder–owned lines, Origins falls short by virtue of including ingredients that align with its marketing image of offering natural ingredients that have the blessing of Mother Nature regardless of the risks they pose for skin. As omnipotent as Mom may be, this force of nature is a disaster waiting to happen. A secondary reason Origins isn't competing as well with its sister companies is that for many products (particularly the lipsticks, blush, and cleverly named but non-essential specialty products) the technology isn't as advanced. That lack of technological creativity combined with significant amounts of hostile essential oils will help you understand why we recommend exploring similar, but superior (and irritant-free), options from any of the other Lauder companies from Clinique to M.A.C.
If you're prone to being swayed by the promises of natural products (though Origins is not any more natural than many other lines, it just uses the most problematic plant extracts possible), there are a few outstanding gems to unearth here, and at prices that aren't unrealistic. Additionally, Origins' latest tester units, especially in their freestanding stores, are accessible and user-friendly. They include pull-out counters for added space and feature large mirrors. Combine this with a low-key yet helpful sales staff and knowing what to zero in on and you'll find shopping the best of Origins is a pleasure.