This cleanser claims to gently exfoliate skin, but it cannot do that, at least not any more than any other cleanser. The amount of glycolic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid [AHA]) may be enough to work in that regard, but not in a product that you quickly rinse from the skin.
This does contain gentle cleansing agents, which is good, but they're not gentle enough to make it OK to leave this cleanser on your skin long enough to allow the AHA to do its work. Cleansing agents in general need to be rinsed from the skin quickly, and leaving a formula like this, which contains so many potentially irritating fragrant plant extracts, on for longer than normal is doubly problematic. See More Info to learn how daily use of highly fragrant products hurts the skin.
What about the claim that this cleanser's gel texture "leaves the pores feeling … tight"? Texture has nothing to do with whether pores feel tight or not, and feeling like you have tight pores is not the same as actually reducing the size of the pores; in fact, that feeling is a sign of overly cleansed skin that can become dry and irritated. In this case, the emollient, heavier ingredients in this cleanser aren't ideal for those looking to reduce pore size.
- Contains gentle cleansing agents.
- Cannot exfoliate better than other cleansers.
- Does contain AHA, but it can't effectively exfoliate because this is rinsed quickly from the skin.
- Contains several fragrant plant extracts known to be irritating.
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).
This cleanser will gently exfoliate your skin with Glycolic and Alpha Hydroxy Acids, while removing makeup and impurities. The gel texture of this cleanser leaves the pores feeling refreshed and tight.
Water (Aqua) Eau), Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycolic Acid, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Glyceryl Stearate, Isopropyl Palmitate, PEG-100 Stearate, Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ammonium Hydroxide, Ceteareth-20, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Hexylene Glycol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract (Saccharum Officinarum), Tilia Cordata Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Rosa Canina Flower Extract, Fragrance (Parfum), Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Althaea Officinalis Root Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Tussilago Farfara (Coltsfoot) Leaf Extract, Taraxacum Officinale (Dandelion) Extract, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Seed Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Extract, Equisetum Hiemale Extract, Hedera Helix (Ivy) Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Sambucus Nigra Flower Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract.
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!