Charcoal Detoxifying Facial Mask

Price:
$34 - 3.4 fl. oz.
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Category:
Skin Care > Facial Masks > Moisturizing/Firming Masks
Last Updated:
2/13/2014
Jar Packaging:
No
Tested On Animals:
No

This hydrating mask claims to purify skin of environmental toxins (whatever those are, as no cosmetics company ever gives specifics about what these alleged toxins are) that get trapped under your skin, but that's not what happens. First, the skin doesn't harbor toxins that need to be removed, whether from the environment or elsewhere. Pollutants (which is likely what Michael Todd means by "environmental toxins") remain on the skin's surface, don't physically absorb into the skin, and are easily washed off. And, contrary to what the company claims, toxins do not clog pores.

What about the charcoal? This absorbent ingredient can be good for oily skin, but the emollients in this formula can actually make matters worse for oily skin and clogged pores.

Although this mask contains some beneficial ingredients, none of them can improve clogged pores or expunge toxins from the skin. Elimination of toxins is done inside the body, by the liver and the kidneys—your skin has nothing to do with it.

Our main concern about this mask is the inclusion of unidentified essential oils. These oils are simply another way to add fragrance to a product; they're hardly "essential" and, in fact, can be irritating. In any case, it's a mystery as to which oils you'd be applying here, so you're left wondering what you are really putting on your skin, and that is never a good thing.

Without the fragrant oils, this would be an OK mask for normal to slightly dry skin, but as is, it's not a mask we can recommend, and there's no way the detoxification claims will come true.

Pros:
  • Contains some beneficial lightweight hydrating ingredients.
  • Easy to apply, easy to rinse.
Cons:
  • Cannot detoxify skin.
  • Cannot improve clogged pores due to the emollient, waxy ingredients.
  • Contains unidentified "essential oils," which means you don't know what you're putting on your skin. They most likely are a source of fragrance, which irritates skin.

When environmental toxins, dirt and debris get under your skin, pores get clogged and skin looks dull and lifeless. This gentle purifying mask especially for dry, mature and sensitive skin types uses mineral rich charcoal to draw out impurities and toxins and clear the skin of excess oil, dirt and other pollutants.

Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Vera) Juice, Aspalathus Lineans (Rooibos Tea) Extract, Vegetable Glycerin, Olea Europaea (Organic Extra Virgin Olive) Oil, Emulsifying Wax, Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Oil, Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), Xanthan Gum (Polysaccharide Gum), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C Ester), DL-Panthenol (Pro Vitamin B5), Euterpe Oleracea (Acai Fruit) Pulp Powder, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Charcoal, Salix Nigra (Black Willowbark) Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Essential Oils.

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 .

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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