The Best and Worst Products from Popular Beauty Brands

Airdate: 9/12/13

Join Bryan and Nathan as they discuss the brands with the most top-rated products on Beautypedia, and those to avoid due to their train-wreck ingredients + formulas. Later in the show, we'll reveal staffer makeup, skin and hair care must haves!

Bryan Barron: Hi everyone. You're listening to "Be Beautifully Informed with the Paula's Choice Research Team." My name is Bryan Barron. I'm a team member. Paula Begoun is sitting this show out. She had some pressing business to attend to. But, fear not, we have one of our top Paula's Choice team members here in her stead. And his name Nathan Rivas. Hi Nathan.
Nathan Rivas: Hi. How's it going?
Bryan Barron: Thanks for joining us.
00:00:27 So, today we're going to be talking about the best and worst products from the most popular brands. All of this information is available at You can check out our individual reviews, but we're going to be going into a bit more detail on which brands we really think are doing it right, which brands consistently get it wrong. And the answer to some of those brands might surprise you. And we've also come up with a list of some of the products that we like, not only myself and Nathan, but other members of the Paula's Choice team.
00:01:04 So, here we go. And I'm going to start by, now of course, I know both Nathan and I use Paula's Choice skincare. Paula started her own line of products in the mid-‘90s. It has grown into a large comprehensive collection of skin care that as someone whose been reviewing products for the past 14 years, I would put up against anything else out there in terms of quality and performance and value.
00:01:32 So, we're not going to go down the long list of Paula's Choice products that we both use. We're going to talk about some of the products that we use from other brands. But I will say I do use a mix of our products and, Nathan, I know you do, too. I think there's a common misconception out there that you have to stick within one subcategory of products. And for some people that works. For example, we have our system set up like Skin Balancing and Skin Recovery.
00:02:00 And if your skin type and your concerns fall squarely into that system, then that's great. But, I think what many of our customers and a lot of the staffers find is that using a mix of products tends to work best. I use a little bit of Moisture Boost. I use some of our Resist. I use a couple of our Skin Balancing products.
Nathan Rivas: I think that's absolutely true. In fact, I think that's one thing with, especially with new customers that we've heard on Facebook and also just from calling in or emailing the company is that there's a mindset where you have to fall in into Moisture Boost, or I have to fall under Resist, or I have to fall in Skin Balancing.
00:02:36 And sometimes a customer finds out that, for example, Skin Balancing isn't moisturizing enough for them. They might find that their skin type is really something more on the combination side and they'll say, "Oh, you know, Skin Balancing dried me out. It didn't work for me," when in fact it really was just that they needed just a little bit more moisture here, or they needed to tweak one little product. And so usually people end up kind of falling between different lines.
00:02:58 I use products from Resist. I use products from Earth Sourced. I use products from Skin Balancing. It's always a mix, I think.
Bryan Barron: And the bottom line is that it is okay to do that. It's not like if you step outside of a certain system that your skin is going to fall apart. Quite the contrary, depending on your needs and preferences and your concerns, you may find that stepping outside of a predetermined line of products can be beneficial.
Nathan Rivas: I think that people are surprised, too, with how they can combine products. The products that they might think that ordinarily they would never at first think of to mix or blend with it.
00:03:31 Some people will find that especially if they have areas of the cheeks that are super dry but their T-zone is very oily, they might be hesitant at first to think about spot treating their dryness with something like the Moisture Boost Hydrating Treatment Cream. But, you know, over time when people talk to our customer service team, they talk to us in email or on Facebook, they're really surprised that the combinations of products that really end up working for them.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. And we're here not only on this radio show, but all the time at to help you find the best products for your skin. That is our goal, whether you use Paula's Choice or products from another brand.
00:04:06 And you can certainly find out what we think about products from lots of other brands if you visit our site and click on the Beautypedia reviews portion. So, real quick, because we have some products from our other team members that I want to tell you about. A personal favorite of mine outside of the Paula's Choice line, SkinCeuticals makes a couple of sunscreens that I really like. One is their Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50.
00:04:31 That has a tint to it. The tint isn't going to work for everyone. It works decently well for me. Sometimes it looks a little too dark. They do also make one that is untinted. But what I love about this formula is that it's a mineral sunscreen, which is great for me to use around the eyes, and I do tend to have more sensitive skin, so I find that the "synthetic or chemical" sunscreen actives like Avobenzone can be a little sensitizing for me, especially around the eyes.
00:05:01 Although, as a quick aside, our new Skin Balancing Ultra Sheer Daily Defense with SPF 30 doesn't give me a problem at all.
Nathan Rivas: It's a great product. It's magic.
Bryan Barron: I put that right up to my lash line, kind of like almost daring it to start stinging. And it didn't.
Nathan Rivas: We have a lot of customers who have said the same thing. And people who said, "Oh, I can't use…" Yeah, exactly.
Bryan Barron: I don't know if it's the anti-irritants that Paula and the product development team opted to put in there, or how the actives were calibrated.
00:05:32 I can't put my finger on it because there's no explanation really as to why I can use that product around my eyes without any stinging but a sunscreen from Estée Lauder or Clinique, keeping an equal playing field here with them all being fragrance-free, will cause a problem. I don't know. But the SkinCeuticals ones are great. They're a little on the pricy side, but for a mineral sunscreen what's particularly nice about these is that they're very thin. The minerals actives themselves can feel heavy and a bit occlusive on skin.
00:06:05 And for someone with normal to oily skin like me, I can't take that feeling. Somebody with dry skin, it probably wouldn't bother them, but I love how fluid and light these are. And just from my own personal experience I think that mineral sunscreens are pretty amazing. Because one of the reasons that I wear a sunscreen every day is not only to stop the wrinkles but also to stop the eventual brown spots.
00:06:29 And I think the mineral sunscreens have a leg up in that regard in terms of how they work. Again, that's just from personal experience. There isn't really much research to back that up. And as Paula has said on previous shows, and just in general, layering sunscreens can be an excellent way to go. And there's no reason you couldn't layer a "mineral" sunscreen with a "synthetic or chemical" sunscreen. That's absolutely fine to do.
00:06:58 All right. We have some products from the Paula's Choice team that they picked themselves. And, again, they all use Paula's Choice and love Paula's Choice, and so when I asked them for their list of favorites I said you can keep the Paula's Choice products off the list because we really wanted this show to be about products from other brands that we also recommend, many of which would complement Paula's Choice skincare. So, Erin, who is on our product development team, she's a big fan of the Bare Minerals Well Rested, which is a pale yellow loose powder that the company positions for use around the eyes to kind of brighten the skin.
00:07:38 We didn't necessarily review that highly, and I asked Erin how she used that, and I think she's using it the right way. We kind of dinged it a little bit because of its yellow color and if somebody was going to apply it all over their face it could make them look a little too yellow, but Erin seems to have the right idea.
Nathan Rivas: She always looks well rested.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. She does look well rested!
00:08:00 Urban Decay's Primer Potion, Nathan, you're familiar with that one, right?
Nathan Rivas: Yes. It's one that Erin has talked about actually quite a bit. But also we've heard from customers who like primers. It is kind of one of the ones that seems to pop up pretty often.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. If you're going to use a foundation primer, and they're not mandatory. If you're using a well formulated facial serum or a well formulate moisturizer, that can be plenty to prep your skin for makeup.
00:08:29 There's nothing particularly unique or special about a primer that makes your skin any more ready for makeup than another well formulated moisturizer or serum can be.
Nathan Rivas: Ideally, just to hop on that, we hear from customers a lot who have questions about those. And really as you kind of touched on, your daytime moisturizer should kind of serve as your primer really in a way, especially customers who use mineral sunscreens that have slightly more of a dry finish, you know, a slightly matte finish to them.
00:08:58 They find that with mineral sunscreens, those work out really well as "primers," I guess you would call them.
Bryan Barron: Erin also like the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler. That's a well deserved favorite product for many a member. Years and years ago when I worked at Sephora we carried that line there. And the Eyelash Curler was constantly out of stock. And women who owned one, and they'd either lose it or it got broken, they'd come in and almost be beside themselves when we didn't have it for them to buy. They just loved it that much.
00:09:34 She also likes OPI which is a nail polish line. They have a color called Big Hair Big Nails that's a bold juicy orange that she's quite fond of. She loves Trish McEvoy's Beauty Booster Lip Gloss with SPF 15 in the shade Brightening Pink. And let's move on and go through Theresa's list. She is a big fan of Butter London's Nail Lacquer in Yummy Mummy.
00:09:59 She calls it the perfect nude polish. She loves Rimmel's Scandalize Waterproof Coal Eye Liner. And Theresa has beautiful, beautiful eyes. She's just a gorgeous woman. And you can see her in our video at on the main exfoliants page. She's the woman who's looking at herself in the mirror with that quizzical look that says, "I wonder what an exfoliant can do for me?"
00:10:25 So she loves that eye liner. She says it has the ease and softness of a pencil, but it stays put like a gel eye liner once it sets. And she says it comes in great colors. She likes CoverGirl's Lash Blast Fusion Water Resistant Mascara. It has a drier formula and she likes that the spiky rubber brush makes it easy to wiggle between the lashes. And it's water-resistant. I would agree with that on all counts. The Healthy Deodorant by La Vanilla. She says she knows the healthy claims are totally bogus but the stuff works great.
00:10:58 Again, I should mention that not every single one of these products are reviewed on our site. For example, we don't review nail polish. There really isn't a lot to say about nail polish except that there's a finite number of ingredients that can create a nail polish. And it's really more about how you apply it, how you store the nail polish. Don't put it in the fridge. And then other than that it's personal preference as to the color that you like.
00:11:23 Theresa, rounding out her list, getting to some hair care. She likes the Suave Professional's Dry Hair Shampoo Spray. Got2be's Kinkier Curling Spray Gel. Another mention for Shiseido's, or not Shu Uemura, Shiseido Eye Lash Curler. So, we have two Japanese brand's eye lash curlers. And the Japanese brands, they do know, they are known for eye lash curlers because most Asian women use them without question because their eyelashes tend to grow down, or they grow straight. They don't have that natural curl to them.
00:11:57 So, if they're going to wear mascara they need to curl the lashes. Otherwise putting mascara on those straight lashes is not a very pretty look. Theresa likes Clinique's Almost Lipstick in Black Honey and their Long Last Gloss Wear in Bamboo Pink. Now, Nathan, let's talk about a couple, or as many, list some of the products you like. Because we use a lot of stuff.
Nathan Rivas: Yeah! You know, for the most part the lion share of my routine is Paula's Choice. So, aside from that, I have definitely some hair care favorites that I have been kind of stuck on for some time. I used to use a particular product by Lush, and then they actually discontinued the hair pomade.
00:12:39 So, I was broken up about that for a little while. But, just a bit of background, in terms of the hair style I have, I like to do just a straight on Republican side part.
Bryan Barron: The Alex P. Keaton.
Nathan Rivas: I have a lot of unruly spots on my hair, so it's actually surprisingly difficult to find a product that will actually keep it in line with that side part. But I did after some searching find that.
00:13:04 The combination of Paul Mitchell's Tea Tree Styling Cream and Tea Tree Firm Hold Gel. Those two actually do a fantastic job. And despite their name, the scent of tea tree is exceptionally mild. And it generally just kind of disappears after a period of time. The hair gel, it refuses to flake.
Bryan Barron: Are you wearing those products now?
Nathan Rivas: I am.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. Because we're in a small room together recoding this show.
00:13:29 And Nathan does not smell like a medicine cabinet, so.
Nathan Rivas: You wouldn't even know.
Bryan Barron: I can personally attest that it does not smell like tea tree oil in here.
Nathan Rivas: So, those are two of my absolute favorites, hair care faves. I have a favorite cologne which is by Hermes called Orange Verte, which smells a lot like blending up an orange with some kind of random greenness, patchouli like scents. And that's been a long time favorite of mine.
Bryan Barron: I like their Terre d'…I had it for so long, I can't remember.
Nathan Rivas: Something fancy and French.
Bryan Barron: It's great.
00:14:06 And Calvin Klein's Encounter for Men.
Nathan Rivas: I've never tried that.
Bryan Barron: That just came out. That's a nice light one. But, okay, digression.
Nathan Rivas: I think I stopped wearing Calvin Klein fragrances after, I think it was in college when every second person wearing, was it Escape? I think it was.
Bryan Barron: Yeah, you're a few years younger than me. So, for you it was Escape and for me it was eternity.
Nathan Rivas: Oh, okay.
Bryan Barron: Every boy I went to school with wore Eternity.
Nathan Rivas: It was you needed to escape from the Calvin Klein fragrance.
Bryan Barron: Exactly.
Nathan Rivas: So, that's my favorite.
00:14:42 And then, you know, aside from that, really it's pretty much all Paula's Choice for me, although my hands get really dry in the winter time, so I find that Trader Joe's has a Jojoba Oil that is pretty lightweight. And Jojoba Oil has slightly more of a lighter kind of almost drier finish to it. And so they sell a pretty big size container, about 4oz for Jojoba Oil. And it's like $7, which is a great find.
00:15:10 Most places you go to, especially if you stop at Whole Foods, they'll have a 2oz bottle of Jojoba for like twenty bucks. But Trader Joe's is a great spot for those kind of random little products like that.
Bryan Barron: And sometimes it's not consistent there. We've reviewed products from them in the past, and they've had some good cleansers and some good sunscreens and they're affordable.
00:15:30 And then women will write to us and say, "I can't find this!" And then we'll call Trader Joe's, which isn't as easy to do as it sounds.
Nathan Rivas: It's like a bank.
Bryan Barron: Exactly. Press one for this. You kind of get the runaround. And then finally you get someone who says, "Oh, we stopped making that product."
Nathan Rivas: Yeah. But avoid their Tea Tree Shampoo and Conditioner. I can't say enough awful things about those two products. They're really, really bad in terms of the irritants that they have in them.
Bryan Barron: Oh wow.
Nathan Rivas: Yeah. Don't even look at them.
Bryan Barron: Okay. All right.
00:16:00 I'm still at, just hair care wise, I'm still a long time fan of Bumble and Bumble's Sumo Wax, which is the one in the red jar. I've used it since 2004 when we reviewed it for the last edition of Don't Go Shopping for Hair Care Products Without Me. And a little goes a long way. Our team member Mercedes who writes a lot of the makeup reviews that you read on Beautypedia has some makeup and hair care favorites that she wanted to tell you about.
00:16:29 One of them is a favorite of mine as well. It's the Powder Blush from NARS . Not only does this blush come in a gorgeous, gorgeous range of shades, including some colors that will work beautifully for women of color, because the blushes are so pigmented they just show up beautifully on dark skin tones. But, the application is smooth and it really lasts. So, Mercedes basically said the same thing. It's not overly powdery. Great staying powder. She's also a big fan hair care wise of Aveda's Brilliant Emollient Finishing Gloss.
00:17:01 Makes sick, coarse hair look shiny without being goopy or greasy. Mercedes has naturally very, very curly slightly coarse hair that is the perfect hair type for what is essentially a silicon serum. She also likes from the Aussie brand their Three Minute Miracle. She calls it a necessity for fuzzy hair. "My friends are always asking to borrow this for me when their hair is misbehaving."
00:17:28 And Mercedes is a huge fan of M.A.C. lipsticks. I would agree with her on that. You really can't go wrong with M.A.C. lipsticks. I wish they had a good one with sunscreen. I'd like to see more companies besides Paula's Choice come out with a lipstick with sunscreen, but there you have it.
Nathan Rivas: Seems like they get discontinued relatively quickly, lipstick products with sunscreen in them. They never really seem to stick around very long.
Bryan Barron: They don't. Neutrogena had a really good one for awhile. Chanel had one that even though was on the pricier side, it still had that broad spectrum protection. I don't know if it's that they just don't sell well, that women don't care about the sunscreen in lipsticks. That's probably not it, because sunscreen is a big deal and the lips absolutely show signs of aging.
00:18:10 Although, even just putting on an opaque lipstick naturally gives you some amount of protection from the sun. It's one of the reason why statistically speaking the incidence of skin cancer on the lips is much higher for men than it is for women.
Nathan Rivas: That's true.
Bryan Barron: Did you know that?
Nathan Rivas: Yeah. I actually heard you say that before. And then it just made complete sense because of all the titanium dioxide and the different types of pigments that provide color, but also can have that other side of providing some level of sun protection.
Bryan Barron: Well, even the iron oxide pigments that are used in all kinds of color cosmetics.
00:18:44 That provides some level of sun protection. I wouldn't necessary go as far as to slap an SPF on it, but you're getting some amount of protection. So, as far as some of the worst products, let's talk about some brands that just aren't getting it right. And I'm sad to say that a lot of those brands have a natural angle and a lot of those brands are sold in spas or salons. There's a common perception out there that the place you go for your facials, to be pampered, and all of that is going to have wonderful skincare.
00:19:23 And it's very, very difficult to leave a place like that and not have some amount of sales pressure to either buy what was used on you or buy something related to a concern that you express during your treatment. So, Nathan, what is your take on all of that?
Nathan Rivas: It's so interesting. I think that a lot of the spa brands, it seems to me that they're more focused on the aesthetic qualities in terms of scent and in terms of texture for them, because I think that's a big part of the spa process is having something that smells really nice on you.
Bryan Barron: Oh, the fragrance, it's huge. Huge.
Nathan Rivas: Exactly. And it seems like there's a lot of focus on kind of gimmicky sounding ingredients and really kind of outlandish claims. But then I think number one is they all have to be extremely fragrant and feel exceptionally silky or something along those lines on skin. But, aside from what's really on the ingredient list, the truth there is very disappointing. Don't.
Bryan Barron: For people listening who may be new to our information, tell us why over-fragrant products are a problem. Because to someone who doesn't know any better, fragrance is a huge draw for skincare. I mean, look at what a lot of women do when they first open up the skincare product and put it on their hand. What do they do?
Nathan Rivas: Absolutely.
00:20:36 They smell it.
Bryan Barron: They smell it. It's natural to want to smell good, to use things that smell nice. But why can that backfire?
Nathan Rivas: It's interesting, just one thing to touch on that is cosmetic brands know that you smell products, just so you know. And that's one thing that they include. That's why they include so many fragrances or they want products to smell like lemons or oranges, because they know the first thing you're going to do, and I even do it, Bryan even does it.
00:21:04 I'm sure we all do it, is smell a product right away.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. You can't help it.
Nathan Rivas: Exactly. And so the reason why it's such a problem for skin, and I mean everyone's skin. I know one misconception that we've heard often is that if you don't see signs of irritation, then, oh, that product works for you. You're not really getting irritated by something that has citrus oil or is 70% alcohol. As long as you don't see signs of irritation, there's that misconception that, oh, it's something that's perfectly fine and healthy for your skin, but maybe not for someone else.
00:21:32 The thing with irritation and skin, and fragrance -- it has a lot of irritating qualities to it. Sometimes it's from the different compounds that break down, especially when it comes to natural fragrances, like essential oils. Essential oils like citrus oil, for example. There's a lot of compounds that kind of break down there that have a variety of irritant impacts on skin.
00:21:58 Some of it is accentuated when you have sun exposure. Or, some of it is accentuated by other products that you're using.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. All of the citrus oils, in particular bergamot and grapefruit, and lime can cause what's called a phototoxic reaction. And that can result in any number of skin issues that you will see such as redness, or even brown discoloration or Melasma like mark on the face. And you may not even realize that it's from the citrus oil because you're thinking, oh, who doesn't love the fresh smell of citrus and it's all natural, so it can't be bad for you.
00:22:33 And yet it is. When you put it on your skin it is. For example, as Paula has said in the past, think how much it hurts when you're slicing a lemon or lime and you get a little bit of juice on a cut, on your finger.
Nathan Rivas: One thing about irritation that people, you know, they don't quite get, and this is one way of explaining it that seems to resonate a lot with fans and customers is that just because you don't see that sign of irritation, you don't necessarily know what's going on beneath the surface.
00:22:59 And irritation is absolutely, it accumulates over time. So, you know, over the long term you might see that discolorations don't fade quite as quickly as they used to, or they would in someone who avoided those types of ingredients. And I kind of liken it to smoking a cigarette in terms of the damage that happens to skin over time. When you smoke one cigarette, you don't see all the damage that's happening to skin cells and to your body internally. But over time, absolutely, you can see that in terms of yellowing of skin, in terms of skin that just doesn't quite heal as quickly as it used to.
Bryan Barron: Right.
Nathan Rivas: And that's a lot of the same ways in terms of irritation and fragrance.
Bryan Barron: And the same example also applies with sun exposure.
00:23:37 Daily unprotected exposure to the sun, you may not see a color change in your skin, and so in other words you're not out there feeling your skin being damaged. And you may not even see a color change. But then years down the road you're going to start seeing the cumulative effects of that damage show up as uneven skin tone, wrinkles, brown marks, sagging.
00:24:01 The list goes on and on.
Nathan Rivas: I'm always interested to hear when people, especially on Facebook, will say that, "Oh, well you know my grandma, or someone in my family or my friends, said they've always used some type of irritating product. You know, they've used an alcohol toner or rubbing alcohol on their face, what have you, their whole life. And they've never developed any sort of negative reactions, so I think I'm going to go ahead and go with it. And I would think of that, if you had someone who said, "Oh, I've been smoking my whole life and I've never gotten cancer," is that an endorsement to smoke a cigarette?
00:24:29 And it's not.
Bryan Barron: Exactly. Because in a sense just with the smoking analogy, you are kind of playing your own version of Russian Roulette. Everyone knows someone who smoked for 80 years, drank themselves silly every day of their life, and they live to be 102. And they just peacefully died in their sleep. But we also know people who smoked for 10 years, and at the age of 45 they get lung cancer and they're dead within a couple of years. You just don't know.
Nathan Rivas: Exactly.
Bryan Barron: So, why play that risky game?
00:25:58 So, in terms of some of the worst products out there, I thought it would be interesting to go down a list. I'm going to read you some brands. And all of these brands have 20, that's 2-0, or more products that we rated poorly. And the products were rated poorly either by virtue of their bad performance or in the case of skincare because they contained one or more problematic ingredients that research has shown are damaging or harmful to skin. So, let's go down this list. And I think some of the brands are going to surprise you.
00:25:35 Number one is Aloette. That has 31 products that we rated poorly. And Anthony Logistics For Men, 23 products. They got off kind of easy in that sense because men's lines in general…
Nathan Rivas: They tend to be pretty fragrant.
Bryan Barron: I feel sorry for those guys out there who are only using the men's skincare, because until something better comes along that is gentle, and effective, and fragrance-free, and guys, buy at your own risk and really consider buying products that you may think, "Well, those are marketed to women," but honestly in many cases those are going to be better for your skin.
Nathan Rivas: I don't even like walking past the men's skincare aisle at Target because it's so fragrant.
00:26:19 It's just like this awful, cheap, spray-on cologne sort of scent.
Bryan Barron: So, remember what I said earlier about the natural lines tending to have some of the worst products.
Nathan Rivas: Yes. Yes.
Bryan Barron: And that's almost always not because the natural ingredients are bad. There are good and bad natural ingredients. So, we're not anti-natural ingredients. We are about using natural ingredients that are proven gentle and effective.
00:26:44 They have to do something for your skin. Who cares if it's an exotic plant extract from the Amazon Rainforest? What does the research say? Your skin needs good ingredients, not good stories.
Nathan Rivas: That's exactly true. One thing I think it's important to state for those who might be getting a little bristled at this point hearing us talk about natural brands, is we base all of our…
Bryan Barron: Don't tune out!
00:27:09 Stick with us!
Nathan Rivas: Exactly. Stick with us! We base all of our reviews and assessments on what Bryan mentioned is what the research says. We don't, and one of the things that approaching it like this, it leaves us free of any bias. No matter how much we might like individually for the way a product smells or the way it feels, that doesn't tell you anything about whether or not it can actually deliver on its claims.
00:27:34 If a product claims to tighten your face and reduce wrinkles but all it has in it is acetone and fragrance, there's nothing about those two ingredients that can actually accomplish what it is that they're claiming.
Bryan Barron: Right. What product were you alluding to?
Nathan Rivas: Skincerity.
Bryan Barron: Oh, the name escaped me for a second. That's dirty.
Nathan Rivas: It's basically $150 or $130 bottle of nail polish remover.
00:28:00 It's just one of those things, and we had actually someone mentioned that, well, if acetone is produced naturally in the body, how can it be harmful when it's in a skincare product? And, Bryan, you had mentioned a great mention o that.
Bryan Barron: The body produces hydrochloric acid…
Nathan Rivas: Exactly.
Bryan Barron: …in the stomach. And I'm certainly not putting that on my face.
Nathan Rivas: So, Skincerity. No hydrochloric acid toners. Don't start on that.
Bryan Barron: Don't do that. So, a couple of other brands that are natural themed that have just a lot of poor products. Again, 20 or more.
00:28:32 In this case, 48, Aubrey Organics. With 32 bad products, Avalon Organics. 23 bad products, Aveda. 46 bad products, and this is a huge line to begin with, so 46 isn't as terrible as it sounds. But, that's Avon. Bare Escentuals, AKA Bare Minerals, has 28 bad products. Beauty Control, which is an Avon/Mary Kay like line. You meet with a salesperson. That has 33. Gosh, and Beauty Control isn't all that huge.
00:29:09 Bioelements has 38 bad products. Bobbi Brown, 24. Most of that would be the makeup and her Extra skincare line, which has a lot of fragrance. Bert's Bees has 47 bad products. Oh my gosh, this is actually getting a little depressing. Clean & Clear has 36 bad products.
00:29:31 CoverGirl, 22. Coppertone, 25. Clinique, probably one of the most popular brands out there, has 42 bad products.
Nathan Rivas: That's a shame about those brands is that, you know, it's really just -- what I've seen in a lot of instances is if they just left out one or two useless ingredients to begin with anyway, their products wouldn't actually be that bad at all. I've seen that a lot, especially in terms of brands that are sold at for example like Target.
00:30:00 Yes to Carrots is one where they would have some pretty good products having just left out one or two products like citrus oil or something that really doesn't have a benefit anyway for skin. It's kind of a shame.
Bryan Barron: There are a lot of products from department store lines in general, like Clinique and Estée Lauder, that they would have a lot more "bests" from us, particularly in the category of moisturizers, if they stopped using jar packaging.
Nathan Rivas: Ugh, jar packaging is the worst.
Bryan Barron: More often than not, now we don't rate a product as poor just because it's in a jar.
00:30:30 It would have to have some other elements that were deficient, but there are a lot of jar packaged products that we rate as average because all of those good ingredients that are in there aren't going to stay stable and potent throughout the life of that product because you're constantly exposing them to light and air. So, it's bad news.
Nathan Rivas: And you have your hands your sticking into it. And it's like even if you were to wash your hands before you actually put your hands in the jar, you can never wash your hands -- they can never be clean enough. And even if you use a utensil, it still -- you're still introducing bacteria, because there's really no bacteria-free substance or surface that's going to be in your bathroom.
Bryan Barron: Mm-hmm. Bathrooms especially. Yeah.
Nathan Rivas: Exactly.
Bryan Barron: So, if you are using products from this next brand, Nathan and I implore you to please reconsider.
00:31:13 It isn't that this brand has no good products, but Dermalogica has 70, 7-0, products that we rate poorly. Again, not a huge line. That's embarrassing. And that line is one of those spa-sold brands that you're going to get a lot of pressure to buy if the place you go offers that.
Nathan Rivas: It's all about the fragrance in that brand. Fragrance and just ground up rocks.
Bryan Barron: Even in their products for sensitive skin, they are just loaded with fragrance. Dr. Hauschka has 39 -- 39 -- bad products. Eminence Organics, 64. Again, it's these natural lines and their overuse of fragrant ingredients.
00:31:56 What are some other well known brands? Garnier Nutrisse has 21 bad products. Garnier is a L'Oreal-owned brand. And L'Oreal does makeup really well. They own Lancôme as well. And they just have never really stepped up to the plate consistently with skincare. Believe it or not, the L'Oreal Company still sells some sunscreens that don't provide sufficient UVA protection even though as a company L'Oreal has patented active ingredients that they have exclusive rights to, such as Mexoryl, that they're not using consistently in all their own products.
00:32:37 That's just always baffled us as to why -- where the logic is there? It's like some of their products provide great anti-wrinkle protection. But other ones, not so much.
Nathan Rivas: I think that a lot of times they're really just selling to consumer perception. They really just start out with an end result like, "Oh, let's make a moisturizer that feels really, really thick and we'll call it Age Perfect something-something- something." And then as far as all the beneficial ingredients, that just kind of, "Well, what do we have or what's cheap? What looks good?"
Bryan Barron: Exactly. So, speaking of L'Oreal, they have 50 bad products on our list, which is a little shocking because, again, most of their -- out of their makeup they're probably the top line at the drug store in terms, and Maybelline as well.
00:33:28 Maybelline has gotten a lot better since L'Oreal acquired them. But L'Oreal and Maybelline are probably among the safest lines you can shop for makeup at the drugstore in terms of high quality product, good price point, for the most part the makeup is going to do what it says. The visible lift products, don't buy that. I mean, don't believe it in terms of their lifting your skin. That's not going to happen.
Nathan Rivas: One thing with L'Oreal is that because they do own brands, like you mentioned Lancôme and then YSL, I say YSL because I never get the pronunciation right. Yves Saint Laurent.
Bryan Barron: Yves Saint Laurent. Oui, oui!
Nathan Rivas: Because they do own those brands, you'll see a lot of drugstore doubles turn up in L'Oreal's line that would be virtually indistinguishable.
Bryan Barron: Good aside. Yes.
00:34:11 Yes. Speaking of drugstore doubles, on the Paula's Choice Facebook page and also on our Pinterest page you will find our ongoing updated list of drugstore doubles where you can look at two products, inexpensive and expensive, and they're about as close as you can get. So, the question is why pay more?
Nathan Rivas: Exactly.
Bryan Barron: If you're using that expensive product you really should think about giving its drugstore double a try.
00:34:38 Your skin is not going to know the difference. Or, if it's a hair care product, your hair is not going to know the difference. We won't tell your hair stylist.
Nathan Rivas: I should mention real quick -- NYX is a line, NYX Cosmetics is a line that's carried at Ulta and now at Super Targets I've seen. Their brand is excellent for drugstore double. Almost the whole cosmetic brand is almost one big drugstore double of big brands like NARS or M.A.C. or other things.
00:35:05 And that's one definitely that is another worthy mention of drugstore doubles.
Bryan Barron: Absolutely. Not everything from them is wonderful, but they have far more good products than bad products. This is a brand that I think is going to surprise a lot of people because it gets mentioned in fashion magazines so much as just being the best of the best, but La Mer. La Mer is not a huge skincare line, but 22 of their products got rated poorly, including the original Crème de la Mer, which is not only a dated formula.
00:35:34 I think that formula was first developed in the last sixties/early seventies. The whole story about the NASA Aerospace scientist who got a bad chemical burn and he wasn't going to stop until he found the perfect product to cure it. This, that,, and the other thing.
Nathan Rivas: Which ended up just being like petrolatum and water.
Bryan Barron: Well, with eucalyptus and lime and a bunch of other fragrant ingredient.
Nathan Rivas: Oh, yes, of course.
Bryan Barron: And what we've always asked is if the original Crème de la Mer, which is still sold, if that's so wonderful and such a miracle, why did La Mer have to have so many other products?
00:36:07 Okay, even if you want to use the argument, which is a valid one, that they could have used more moisturizers with different textures -- lighter, maybe a little bit in between the light and the heavy, lotion versus cream, that type of thing, that's fine, because that's all about choice and skin type. But then they came out with all of these other products that you have to use with the original Crème de la Mer, but for years that was supposed to be its own little miracle all by itself. I don't know why people aren't questioning that at the counters.
00:36:34 Maybe they are.
Nathan Rivas: I think they just want to believe. We just want to believe those nice stories.
Bryan Barron: And the industry makes it very easy to believe. Hope springs eternal. La Prairie has 40 bad products. Wow. And that's an expensive line. That's a line that you don't want to just buy without knowing what you're getting.
00:36:59 Oh, let me just name a couple more here. Another natural themed line you'll find at health food stores, MyChelle Dermaceuticals. Have you seen that one?
Nathan Rivas: I have seen that one.
Bryan Barron: That was one that we reviewed it because we got a lot of requests for it. And then, you know, it gets up on the site and people just now, no one is really saying anything about it anymore. Kind of wondering how long we should keep it up on the site.
Nathan Rivas: I tend to think that something gets featured in a couple of magazines and then people get curious about it and they ask us. But then I think once they actually see the ingredients, you know, once we discuss the ingredients on the site, then after that they kind of realize it's another variation on the same thing.
Bryan Barron: So, Physician's Formula, which is a drugstore line of skincare and makeup, mostly makeup though. They have 44 bad products on our list. They're a rather large line, but they're definitely, in terms of color, they're a line that you want to shop carefully because their makeup tends to be very gimmicky. And it's not always even close to high quality. But they tend to be on the pricier side for the drugstore.
00:38:00 Serious Skincare, 58 bad products.
Nathan Rivas: A serious disappointment. Ha!
Bryan Barron: That is a serious disappointment. Although Serious Skincare is also seriously out of control in terms of the number of products they offer. It's just redonkulous. Tarte Cosmetics has 22 bad products, which is really kind of sad because there's a lot from Tarte that we like. And let's just close out this list by mentioning The Body Shop with 44 bad products.
00:38:30 All right. This review is one that we've been asked about quite a bit. It's finally up on our site. I'm going to let Nathan tell you a little bit about it. It is a naturally themed line that's gotten some press in fashion magazines. And Nathan gave it a thorough look and…take it away.
Nathan Rivas: Ah, Tata Harper is the name of this brand and it's hyped in a lot of, I think it's Elle Magazine and Vogue and W. It pops up a lot, especially on more of the kind of spendy/luxury brands, which is absolutely how it's positioned.
00:39:09 Tata Harper, just a brief background, is a brand that was developed by its namesake. Tata Harper is actually a real person. The appeal of this line is predominately all the ingredients are all grown on this big farm in Vermont. And then they are processed in this farm laboratory.
00:39:29 And then absolutely free of anything, of all the poisons that are killing you slowly by products that you're using. They are not by the Tata Harper brand. And supposedly free of chemicals. We'll get more to that in a second. But essentially the whole appeal of this is that it's a completely natural brand, has no poisons in it, and they use only the purest, most active naturals, and have a lot of very lofty claims that stop just short of promising a cosmetic surgery-like result from using very, very plain ingredients like aloe and Shea butter and olive oil and jojoba and rosewater.
00:40:09 Nothing really unique about this brand. One thing that I have found that was so interesting, number one starting with the claims of it, and I see this so often with natural brands and I never quite understand is that a common element is that they have to use some type of fear to sell their products. It's not that their products necessarily maybe might not stand on their own merits, but they have to make you, in a way, afraid of the products that you're using now.
00:40:36 And a common one is being afraid of chemicals, which is sort of silly because everything is a chemical. Everything from asphalt to daisies. Everything is a chemical. Water is a chemical. Plants are actually made up of hundreds of different types of compounds in them. So, if anything, plants are absolutely loaded with chemicals. But, an aside from that.
00:40:59 So, the other one is that Free of Toxins. And that's just something that Tata Harper says quite a bit is that her products are "free of toxins" that are killing us from our normal daily personal care products. And toxins here is a word that's used completely improper. Toxin actually refers to a poison. Something you think like snake venom for example. That's a toxin. That's a real toxins. But toxins, there are no toxins in personal care products because no one is putting snake venom in personal care products.
Bryan Barron: Well, and the whole notion that the cosmetics industry is out to get us, that fear mongering that goes along the line of, you know, they're like, "Well, we're just going to use the cheapest ingredients and we don't care if there's any safety data on them." From all of the research I've done, from personal experience, from talking with chemists, with toxicologists, with regulatory people, the cosmetics industry does a pretty darn good job of self-policing.
00:42:02 Now, the claims are still over the top in many respects for a lot of different products and brands. But in terms -- they want to create products that are safe that you will want to use and continue to buy. And they want you to see results from them. It's just that the results aren't always going to be what they say on the label, but they want you to like it enough to buy it again. And as another, an adjunct to what Nathan was just saying about the whole issue of toxins in products, and toxins being a poison, which is absolutely correct.
00:42:33 I think there is a misconception out there that anything that we put on our skin gets into the body. It isn't true. Most of what we put on our skin doesn't get anywhere close to getting inside the body. The skin is an excellent barrier. It's job as our body's largest organ is not only to keep everything inside that's supposed to say inside, but it protects us from the outside world. And it couldn't do that, at least not well, if everything that came into contact with it sailed right through.
00:43:04 And think about it this way, if everything you put on your skin just went inside the body, sunscreens wouldn't work, anti-acne products wouldn't work, moisturizers wouldn't make dry skin a thing of the past. Everything would end up inside of you.
Nathan Rivas: Every time you took a bath you'd just swell up like a sponge, or you'd drown.
Bryan Barron: Exactly. You jump into a swimming pool and you'd be so gorged with water that you'd have to kind of roll yourself out. Now, are there ingredients that can penetrate and get into the body?
00:43:32 Yes. It all comes down to its molecular size and weight. But even when ingredients are, for example, nano-sized, they can be formulated in such a way that you're getting the benefit of the smaller particle size, but it's in a vehicle like an emulsion that doesn't allow it to penetrate into the skin. And a classic example of that is titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
00:43:57 Those are heavy duty whitening type ingredients. They can look white and thick on the skin. But when they're used micronized or even as nano-particle size, which is very, very tiny, they are coated with other ingredients that are too large to penetrate the skin. The advantage to you is that those active ingredients aren't getting inside your body the way a lot of companies would like you to think that they are. And you're still getting the aesthetic benefit of that ingredient without it looking all white and pasty.
Nathan Rivas: Absolutely.
00:44:28 And there's a mountain of research that demonstrates that nanotechnology in sunscreens is completely safe. So, it was one of those fears that I think is probably for the most part kind of fallen off, because even groups like the EWG had to admit that nanotechnology is safe. And you know when you have the EWG saying that something is not toxic anymore, I mean, that's pretty much the end of it. Because groups like that can oftentimes have this perception that everything is toxic.
00:44:59 But back to Tata Harper. So, aside from all of those claims, which we know are not true, one of the common running themes with her is that plants, they load their products up with active natural ingredients and that all of them are perfectly engineered for a variety of different skin concerns. But when you actually look at the ingredients of Tata Harper's products, I was really surprised that very few of them had any sort of differentiation whatsoever from one another.
00:45:30 Like the two cleansers they had, one is the Reinvention Cleanser, or Reincarnating Cleanser, along those lines. Ha! But they had one cleanser that was positioned as a dry skin cleanser, and one skin cleanser that was positioned as a more of an oily skin product. The only difference between the two formulas is one had ground up apricot seeds. And the other cleanser just did not have ground up apricot seeds. And that was really the only difference between these two products.
Bryan Barron: So, the oily skin gets the apricot seeds?
Nathan Rivas: No.
00:46:05 Surprisingly no. The dry skin got the apricot seed. They got that. And it's an awful, awful little product in terms of how rough this is on your skin. But, it's so funny that the cleansers themselves is just this super thick mix of waxes and oils. So, if you had oily skin and blemishes, this is the last thing that you would want on your face, because it just really would not come off that well.
00:46:31 But that is essentially the only difference between these two cleansers that are marketed for two completely different groups. And then there was their eye cream.
Bryan Barron: Let's let people go to Beautypedia and check out the individual reviews.
Nathan Rivas: Absolutely.
Bryan Barron: But go ahead and finish telling us about why Tata Harper's claim of using active natural ingredients is bogus. Because that's a great hook for that line. If you're going to use natural ingredients, well yes, of course I want them to be active. That could only be good, right? Ha!
Nathan Rivas: Absolutely.
00:47:02 And if you talk to a representative from Tata Harper, they'll say the term "active naturals" over and over and over again to you.
Bryan Barron: You mention that the spa where your mother goes to.
Nathan Rivas: Yes.
Bryan Barron: Sells these products and that the salesperson or whoever she was talking to kept repeating that to her.
Nathan Rivas: Active naturals. Active naturals. And they'll number then. They'll say this product has 29 active natural ingredients in it. The thing with active naturals and skincare is that actives refer only to ingredients that are monitored as drugs by the FDA.
00:47:32 Things like acne products, like benzoyl peroxide, that's considered an active. And they're regulated in a completely different fashion in terms of package labeling and percentage…
Bryan Barron: They're considered over-the-counter drugs.
Nathan Rivas: Exactly. They're enacting some sort of change to your skin. And that's the only way to use that term actives. Outside of that reference, the term active has absolutely no meaning to it whatsoever. There's no type of standard for measurement of it. No type of percentage you need to have. No type of application. It's really just a meaningless marketing term.
00:48:03 The other one that they mention a lot is 100% Clinical Grade Essential Oils, which is also completely meaningless because there is no such thing as a clinical essential oil. No doctor will give you a prescription for an antibiotic and then give you a prescription for citrus oil. It's just not going to happen. There's no clinical grade any type of essential oil whatsoever. And so that's completely meaningless as well.
Bryan Barron: It's like going to a department store, because essential oils are just another way of describing fragrance.
Nathan Rivas: Correct.
Bryan Barron: So, it's like going to Macys and saying, "I'd like some clinical grade Chanel No. 5."
Nathan Rivas: Exactly.
00:48:35 Exactly.
Bryan Barron: And then expecting that, you know, spraying that on my face and expecting to wake up looking younger.
Nathan Rivas: Exactly.
Bryan Barron: So, go to, Beautypedia reviews. You can check out the specific details on Tata Harper and her barnyard of products.
Nathan Rivas: Expensive products, too.
Bryan Barron: Of course. It's always expensive.
Nathan Rivas: They Tata out at $200.
Bryan Barron: When it's all made in small batches by hand at a 12,000 acre farm in Upstate Vermont with the cute little cows looking on, I mean, yeah, of course.
00:49:05 That's not going to be $5.99. No sir. So, really quick just to close out our best and worst topic, best and worst products, best and worst brands. I'm going to give you a quick little rundown of some of the brands that we review that have quite a few good products. Now, some of these brands are also on our list of product lines with the most bad products.
00:49:32 I'd like to think that that reinforces why you need our information. And one of the things that makes our information so unique is that the reviews that we provide are genuinely designed to help you find the best products based on published research, based on what we know works, not what the company tells you. Not based on what I personally thought of using a certain skincare product and how it worked just for me.
00:49:59 We don't review products that way. There's lots of other sites that do. We are different and unique in the world in that sense.
Nathan Rivas: It's an important point, because using a product yourself and then reviewing it creates an instant bias, because how I feel about a moisturizer as someone with oily skin and who is prone to breakouts would be completely different to how someone who has oily skin who never gets a breakout. I mean, that would be two completely different experiences.
00:50:26 So, me telling you how I liked a product in terms of a research-based website doesn't do anything to help you. And that's why this site doesn't do that.
Bryan Barron: Right. Actually a great example, because Nathan and I have similar skin types. I'm a bit more combination, but you use BHA 9 from Paula's Choice how many times a week?
Nathan Rivas: I use it every night.
Bryan Barron: Every night.
Nathan Rivas: Every single night.
Bryan Barron: If I use BHA 9 every night I wouldn't have any skin left, more than likely. I mean, I'm being dramatic, but I can use that two or three times a week at most. And then generally just as a spot treatment.
00:50:57 I don't use it all over. I don't want to know what would happen if I did. I just don't have that kind of response to this product. So, that's a great example of two people who have very similar skin types talking about using the same product and getting different results and then needing a different frequency of usage in order to get the best. So, Clinique, we have a love/hate relationship with Clinique. They have a lot of good products. 51 of their products made our best list.
00:51:27 Clinique's parent company, Estée Lauder, has 35 products on our best list. That's pretty impressive. And most of what we really like from them is their moisturizers and sunscreens that don't come in jars. They've got quite a few interesting well formulated makeup products. Some great foundation shades. Another, we're kind of closing out here with the Lauder-owned lines, folks. Because M.A.C. is next on the list with 45 best products. Everyone who wears makeup or has heard of makeup is likely familiar with M.A.C. and they're all over the world now.
00:52:05 I think they just opened up a store in Zambia.
Nathan Rivas: Oh my gosh, it's like Starbucks.
Bryan Barron: Yeah. I probably just massacred that African country's name. All right, I'll go ahead and mention it just because we're very proud of these products, but Paula's Choice has 91 best products. Full disclosure, we do rate all of our products as best because it would be strange if we didn't. Our products are formulated to our exacting standards.
00:52:30 They're formulated based on the same criteria we use to evaluate products from other brands. Occasionally we are asked, "Well how come all of your products are rated the best? Don't you not like any of them?" Well, on an individual basis, yeah, there are some Paula's Choice products I don't care for as much as some others. And our customers would feel the same way, too. You're not supposed to use the whole line. But, of course our products, we would be remiss for not rating them the best.
Nathan Rivas: It always seems strange to me to get that question, "Why don't you have more products or any products rated on your worst list at all?"
00:53:05 Why would we make a product -- this company above any others -- why would we make a product that had bad ingredients to it? Or, ingredients that would irritate skin, that sort of thing. It's always, if anything, I think that when someone mentions the term aren't you biased I'd say, "Gosh, yes, we're biased. Can you imagine any cosmetic company in the world recommending other people's products? "
Bryan Barron: And we do. And at the drugstore, let me just get in one drugstore brand. Olay has 26 best products. Not a huge number of bests, but we were given the Lauder Companies a lot of love there.
00:53:40 So, let's go ahead and wrap up. This has been our show about the best and worst products that we personally like. We've gone over some of our favorites. You can find all of our reviews at, so come visit us there any time. The Beautypedia reviews section is updated every month with a ton of new reviews. I feel sorry about the batch that Paula is going to get in a couple of days, but she will get through them as always. Every single thing that we write gets Paula's seal of approval, which is why we are the Paula's Choice Research Team. Thanks very much for listening…
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