12.17.2014
5
17
Clear Improvement, Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores
Rating
3.4 fl. oz. for $25
Category:Skin Care > Facial Masks > Oil-Absorbent Masks
Last Updated:12.17.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

Clear Improvement, Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores is a clay and charcoal mask that would have been a good option for oily to very oily skin if it did not contain so much horsetail extract, which can constrict skin and cause irritation.

Claims

Activated Charcoal acts like a magnet to draw out deep-dwelling pore-cloggers, White China Clay absorbs environmental toxins, Lecithin dissolves impurities. Without all that “stuff” down there, skin “breathes a sigh of relief.”

Ingredients

Water, Melilotus Officinalis (Melilot) Extract, Equisetum Arvense Leaf Extract, Kaolin, Bentonite, Butylene Glycol, Montmorillonite, Polysorbate 20, PEG-100 Stearate, Activated Charcoal, Xanthan Gum, Lecithin, PEG-150 Distearate, Propylene Glycol Stearate, Sorbitan Laurate, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol Laurate, Simethicone, Trisodium EDTA, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Iron Oxides

Brand Overview

Origins At-A-Glance

Strengths: The makeup products fare best including liquid concealer, blush, brow enhancer, and lip liner; very good makeup brushes composed of synthetic hair.

Weaknesses: Almost every skincare product contains potent irritating ingredients; no products to effectively address needs of those with acne or skin discolorations; some of the makeup products contain irritating ingredients.

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.

Origins Makeup

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.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!


The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments
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02.26.2015
Update

I wrote the new ingrediens list to you before. It was a mistake that I gave the product 3 stars. The formula now contains a high dose of myrtle extract which I think is an irritant, right?

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Reviewed by
Diana
02.26.2015
Beautypedia Team Response

Thanks for the heads up -- we will look into updating the ingredients and our review.

—Admin
01.09.2015
Amazing mask!

Awesome mask, I love it to clean everything deeply once a week and works miracles. Definitely a holy grail product hands down.

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Reviewed by
Anonymous
11.02.2014
Gabii

I ALWAYS look at Paula's Choice prior to purchasing any skin products, however, after much nagging from my friend, I purchased Origin's Charcoal Mask despite the rating from Paula's Choice. To my surprise, it worked quite nicely. It removed many open comedones after one application. I, too, wish Paula's Choice would re-rate this product as the ingredients have changed and there is no longer any horsetail extract. I still prefer Aztec Healing clay, but this is a close second.

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Reviewed by
B
08.31.2014
Clear Improvement, Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores

I really like this mask because I feel like it really draws out the impurities. So if you have acne, or even just the occational break out and black-/ whiteheads, you could give this a try. It is very stripping, though, so if you have dry skin, don't put it all over your face, just on the areas where you need it.

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Reviewed by
Julia H
07.08.2014
Love this Mask!

Great for combo/normal to oily skin! Leaves skin feeling soft, comfortable and not tight or dry at all. I like to use it as a detox of sorts to suck out all the impurities if I had a night where I (GASP!) slept in my makeup. Or just use it once a week on my "bad" skin days.Lovely mask! Paula's team- it might be time to research this one again as I've noticed a lot of ingredients are changed and the horsetail extract is gone? Which is why it didn't get a higher rating! Please check!

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Reviewed by
joanne m.
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