This is a basic moisturizer for normal to combination skin that comes packaged in a jar. (Will the cosmetics industry ever stop doing this disservice to their customers?) The price is more than fair, but for a bit more money you can get a superior formula that doesn't put the light- and air-sensitive ingredients at risk of breaking down once opened—precisely what happens when moisturizers are packaged in jars, as we explain in the More Info section.
One ingredient worth pointing out is ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate. The second ingredient listed, it's more often included as an active sunscreen ingredient, where it's listed as octinoxate. We felt this was worth mentioning because this moisturizer does not have an SPF rating, which is the primary reason to include ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate. The other reason we want you to be aware of this is that high amounts of this ingredient can be sensitizing for some people, especially if applied around the eyes.
As claimed, this moisturizer does contain several humectants, ingredients that draw and hold moisture to the skin (an example is sodium PCA). There are quite a few of them in this product, but only tiny amounts, so they're unlikely to have much benefit. Plus, some of them likely won't hold up very well with the constant exposure to light and air, a result of the traditional jar packaging.
Last, the juniper this contains isn't a great ingredient for skin; if anything, its fragrant components can be irritating. So, in that respect, it's good there's only a teeny-tiny amount present; likely it's there just to reinforce the natural theme this product's name conjures up.
- Contains some good humectants (water-binding agents).
- An overall lackluster formula.
- Jar packaging won't keep this moisturizer's best ingredients stable once opened.
- Amount of ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate poses a risk of irritation for those with sensitive skin or when applied around the eyes.
The fact that this product is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and most 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 present a hygiene issue because even if you wash your hands or use a spatula to remove the product, you're introducing bacteria, which cause further breakdown of key 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; and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).
Juniper Oil-Free Face Moisturizer has a wonderful lightweight texture, perfect for anyone who prefers to live an oil-free lifestyle! A mixture of humectants ensure that your skin is perfectly hydrated throughout the day.
Water, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 60, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Hexyl Laurate, Sorbitan Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Palmitic Acid, Stearyl Alcohol, Sodium PCA, Squalane, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl Linoleate, Caprylyl Glycol, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Juniperus Communis Fruit Extract, Alanine, Aspartic Acid, Dextrin, Fructose, Glucose, Glutamic Acid, Hexyl Nicotinate, Sucrose, Urea.
Today, most cosmetics companies seem to be launched for one of three distinct reasons: they come about as the extension of a high-end fashion house's brand (like Burberry, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, or Armani); they're created by some corporation under the endorsement of a celebrity (Drew Barrymore's Flower Beauty or Kat Von D's line); or, as is the case for theBalm Cosmetics, an entrepreneur saw an "unfilled niche" in the cosmetics market and decided to get to work.
theBalm was founded in San Francisco by Marissa Shipman, who spent years trying to break into the cosmetics industry before forming her own company in 2004. As the story goes, she crafted her own products in her kitchen by consulting makeup books she bought from Amazon.com. (We hoped that one of them was Paula's Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, but given many of the formulations, we don't think so.) Eventually she was able to hire a chemist, get a lab (Bye-bye, kitchen workshop!), and secure distribution through cosmetics retailer Sephora. theBalm's products have (pardon the pun) exploded and are now sold in dozens of countries worldwide.
It's interesting to note that theBalm is quite reminiscent of the Benefit brand; the similarity of the packaging, marketing, colors, product selection, and even the place of origin - San Francisco – is blatant. Featuring recyclable cardboard packaging with retro pinup-style artwork and cutesy names, theBalm line includes both makeup and skin care products, and is reasonably priced, although it's definitely more expensive than what you'll find at the drugstore.
The company's makeup is definitely its stronger suit, with some good options, such as a couple eyeshadow palettes, the mascara, and its pressed-powder blushes. It has one true blockbuster product: Balm Shelter tinted moisturizer. This standout product performs amazingly well and is deserving of its many accolades.
Unfortunately, theBalm also has some problematic makeup, in particular, and ironically, their lip products. The inclusion of irritants in two of its lip products is disappointing, and an otherwise excellent lip gloss (with SPF, no less) is marred by a fragrance that's downright overwhelming initially and potentially irritating if used every day.
As far as skin-care, the company's collection, called TimeBalm, is surprisingly larger than you might think. It includes cleansers, toners, moisturizers, AHA exfoliants, masks, eye-area products, and a handful of ancillary items that are questionable in terms of their benefit—though some of them, like the foundation primer, are indeed worth checking out.
Overall, based on the formulas, there’s little reason to give the majority of these skin-care products a second thought, as most of them are laced with one or more problematic ingredients or, in the case of most of the moisturizers, suffer due to jar packaging, which compromises the product’s stability. The prices are good, but there’s not much value in saving money on average-to-problematic products, especially when spending just a bit more can get you far better formulas.
theBalm boasts that TimeBalm skin-care products are free of parabens, synthetic dyes, and phthalates, and many consumers seem to be seeking such products. However, parabens are not a problem, and phthalates aren’t usually included in skin-care products—they’re more often seen in nail polish and in some fragrances. Not including synthetic dyes is helpful, but it would have been even better for your skin if theBalm had avoided fragrant oils and other plant-based irritants. Lots of theBalm products contain great natural ingredients, but they’re often commingled with potentially irritating natural ingredients, and that doesn’t add up to great skin care—it’s more of a ticking time bomb than anything else.
For more information, call 510-522-3610, or visit www.thebalm.com. And yes, we're aware that "it's thebalm.com" is an expression used to indicate something that's totally cool. Coincidence? We'll let the reviews speak for themselves!