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Are natural products as good as drug store brands? Episode 102

Is this natural product as good as a drug store brand?11761595485_57dd9dcdaa

Gemma asks (in the Beauty Brains Forum)…It seems as though you guys aren’t the biggest fans of “natural” and “organic” cosmetics, but there seems to be a wider offering of lines at places like Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Erewhon. Lines like Andalou Naturals, Avalon Organics, MyChelle, and Dr. Hauschka. These are quite a bit more expensive than their drugstore counterparts and I’ve barely tried any of them. My question is, is there anything in these products that are as effective as the ones at the drugstore? They are chock-full of oils and extracts of plants and herbs, but can any of these moisturize, cleanse, and tone as well as traditional chemical-based ingredients? Do they justify the higher price tag, and will they have the same (or better) effect on my skin?

We do stand by two generalizations: 1.) you shouldn’t waste your money on expensive beauty products and 2.) with natural/organic products you may be sacrificing efficacy to satisfy someone’s definition of “natural.”
 However, that doesn’t mean you can make specific product recommendations based solely on whether a product is sold in the drug store or the department store or whether a product is “natural” or not. You have to consider what the product claims to do, how well the formula will deliver against those claims, and how much the product costs.

You ask “is there anything in these [natural] products that are as effective as the ones at the drugstore?” The answer MAY BE yes if the product contains the right kind of active ingredient but there’s no way to answer that as an abstract question – we can only give a definitive answer if we know the claims and the formulas involved.

So, Gemma came back with two examples: Olay Age Defying Classic Daily Renewal Cream and Andalou Naturals Beta Hydroxy Complex Recovery Cream.
We’ll put the complete ingredient lists in the show notes but I’ll summarize the differences here.

The Olay product is $12.99 for 2.0 oz. which makes the cost about $6.50/oz. The Andalou is $24.99 for 1.7 oz which is $14.70/oz. That’s a pretty substantial price difference.

Both products focus on salicylic acid but the Andalou product has it listed pretty far down so I doubt there’s as much in the formula as there is in the Olay product. Finally, the Andalou also brags about its fruit stem cells. Unfortunately, that technology has not been proven to be effective as far as we has seen.

The bottom line is that if you like this product and can afford it, then go ahead and use it. But I don’t see anything that suggests it’s worth the extra money just based on the ingredients.

Olay Age Defying Classic Daily Renewal Cream
Water, PPG-15 Stearyl Ether, Glycerin, Stearyl Alcohol, Salicylic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Dimethicone, Steareth-21, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Cyclopentasiloxane, Laureth-7, Dimethiconol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Steareth-2, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance

Andalou Naturals Beta Hydroxy Complex Recovery Cream
Aloe Barbadensis Juice*, Vegetable Glycerin, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel)*, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Fruit Stem Cells (Malus Domestsica, Solar Vitis) and BioActive 8 Berry Complex*, Stearic Acid, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch*, Epilobium Angustifolium (Willow Herb) Extract, Salicylic Acid, Salix Alba (Willow Bark) and Spiraea Ulmaria (Meadowsweet) Extracts*, Zinc Gluconate, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Allantoin, Cyamopsis Tetragonolobus (Guar) Gum*, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter*, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) and Sabdariffa Extracts*^, Tocopherol, Phenethyl Alcohol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Oil*

Does heat ruin sunscreens?

Random Walker asks…So, here is my concern. I recently moved to southern Spain and bought several bottles of Anthelios Ultra Fluide for everyday use and Bioderma spf 50 with Tinosorbs.
I used to store them in a car dashboard and temperature here rises to +35C or 40C it is about 105F. Just now I’ve read an article that states that sunscreen should be stored at comfortable 25C or 77F as higher temperatures break down its filters particularly avobenzone making it less effective towards UV rays.. For safer side I’d definitely replace them all because I plan to start chem peeling season but since I’ve purchased many bottles it is a bit of pain to watch expensive things to be thrown away. Also sunscreens are mainly used in hot summer time and people recklessly leave them in a beach under baking sun. From this perspective chemists in L’oreal should keep that in mind and design proper formulae but I dont know for sure since I am far from spf/ppd chemistry.
How do you think can I still use both my opened and unopened sunscreens bottles (kept it for 2 weeks in my car) or buy new ones and store them properly?

It is true that prolonged exposure to high temperature can reduce the efficacy of sunscreen formulas. Part of it has to due with the stability of the UV absorber itself but more problematic is the stability of the emulsion which suspends the UV absorber. Emulsions, which are oil and water mixtures, are inherently unstable, especially after exposure to high temperature.  So the safest thing to do is throw out all the old bottles and buy new ones. But, I THINK the old ones MAY be okay, here’s why:

Cosmetic companies, like L’Oreal, test products like this at elevated temperatures to ensure they are stable. Typically this testing includes storing products in ovens equilibrated to 37C and 45C for a few weeks to a few months. Therefore, there’s a reasonable chance that the products may be fine. (You might even be able to check with L’Oreal and ask their opinion.)

You could also do a little test to get a sense of how well the old product works. You could buy one new bottle of sunscreen and use that on half your face. On the other half of your face use one of your “old” bottles. If you don’t see a big difference then that’s one more data point to suggest the old bottles may be fine.
 Just be careful – you don’t want to take any chances, especially since you’re starting a chemical peel process!

Is “glacial water” good for cosmetics?

Celeste asks in Facebook: I have a fan on my cosmetic page trying to tell me the “glacier water” in a face cream is somehow superior to water, when it is actually the brand is now watering down their cream- they added water as ingredient for the first time! Please, help me out?

Water quality does matter but it’s more about protecting the product than it is providing additional benefits for skin or hair. For example, if tap water is used to make a cosmetic product rather than distilled or deionized water, the preservative system has to work harder to prevent bacterial growth. Likewise, if all the minerals are not removed from water in an aerosol product the metal can may corrode from the inside out.

It’s also true that, in some cases, high mineral content in water can benefit skin. (Epsom salts can relief psoriasis symptoms for example.) But you literally have to soak in the stuff.

So, does special water (like glacial water) make a difference in cosmetics? Not that I’ve never seen. In fact, products that I’ve seen that claim to use special water use mostly regular de-ionized water and then add just a touch of the special stuff. That’s because water is heavy and it’s very costly to ship it. I’d challenge your reader to provide evidence that any specific cosmetic product gives you additional cosmetic benefits due to glacial (or any other kind of special) water.

Is deodorant good for setting makeup?

Emily asks in FB: I read somewhere something about using deodorant as an anti-shine/make up setting option…I wish I could remember where so I could include the link but I can’t! I thought that sounded crazy but this is my favorite anti-shine/setting product and I guess it is a little deodorant-like…Are there any similarities between the two products?

Interesting question but not a good idea. Here’s why:  
The makeup setting/anti-shine product you asked about is formulated with a few different silicones that are designed to provide a dry-feel, water-proof, matte coating.  
Antiperspirants and deodorants do contains some silicones but they also contain things like propylene glycol and fatty alcohol which will make your face feel either wet and sticky or waxy and gross, depending on which kind of product you use.

Your question reminds me of the one we received a few years ago about using Monostat anti-chafing gel as a make up primer. 
Considering the similarity in ingredients, it’s not surprising that some women say Monistat performs well as a primer. It’s got the right kind of silicone goodies so if you like the way it works on your skin with your make up, there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong with using it on your face. Especially if it’s cheaper!

Evercolor Poreless Face Defender Ingredients
Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Dimethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, PCA Dimethicone, Silica.

Secret APD Clear Stick Ingredients
Active Ingredients: Aluminum Zirconium Octachlorohydrex Gly – 16 %
Inactive Ingredients: water, Alcohol Denat., propylene glycol, CyclopentaSiloxane, dimethicone, Trisiloxane, Calcium Chloride, Dimethicone, PEG, PEG/PPG 18/18, fragrance
Speed stick
Active Ingredients: Aluminum Zirconium Tetrachlorohydrex Gly – 16 % (Antiperspirant)
Inactive Ingredients: Elaeis Guineensis Kernel Oil (Palm), Stearyl Alcohol, Cyclomethicone, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, PPG-14 Butyl Ether, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, PEG-8 Distearate, Fragrance, Behenyl Alcohol

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Improbable Products

This is the game where Randy finds two beauty products that are just too odd to be real and then makes up a third choice and challenges me to guess which is the fake. In the past I’ve had to play against my imaginary friend Chance. Today, for the first time ever, I play against a real life person, Linda.

There’s a Korean company that specializes in candy-inspired cosmetics and since Hallween is only about a month away. So here are three candy inspired cosmetics – 2 are real you have to pick the fake. Listen to the show for the answer.

  1. Chocolate Bar eyeshadow made with real cocoa powder
Salt Water Taffy Pore Cleansing Mask
  3. Marshmallow flavored Lick-able Body Dust
Image credit: https://c2.staticflickr.com/6/5474/11761595485_57dd9dcdaa.jpg

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Linda September 29, 2015, 8:16 pm

    It turned out really well actually-you guys did a good job with the voice editing 🙂
    I was actually really scared to listen to the episode, but I overcame my irrationality.

    But I will add on the natural products: They are VERY hard to formulate in terms of being effective, stable, and antimicrobial. They just don’t work as well as drug store products from an overall standpoint. You can’t ‘hone’ natural products or tweak them as much as you can with other products because of the chemical limitations, so essentially you are limiting other wonderful and effective ingredients to stay ‘natural’.

  • Debbie Spaniak September 30, 2015, 10:18 am

    I’ve seen numerous commercials for the Wen shampoo and hair care products, with Angie Harmon gushing over her hair now that she’s using the products – what do you think? Are they that good? With your vast knowledge, I’m sure you’ll come up with comments and alternatives!!!! Thanks.

  • Frances October 4, 2015, 1:37 pm

    Hi Beauty Brains!

    I’d love to record an audio question for you guys if you have the time to answer. 🙂 Either asking for your thoughts on the recent Asian beauty trend of lots of steps to a skin routine or whether benzoyl peroxide ages the skin. Let me know what you think!

    PS – I would have posted on the forums but the ‘Start a new discussion’ button doesn’t pop up for me. 🙁 Hope this is okay for me to bug you here!

  • Erica C October 8, 2015, 6:46 pm

    Hi Randy and Perry!

    I’m new listener and I must say as a beauty junkie it’s nice to see things from the other side!

    In this episode in improbable products you talked about an eyeshadow made with cocoa powder and replied that it can’t be possible because cocoa powder isn’t a “safe” colorint in the U.S. (You can correct me though) my question is there is a brand out there that claims to use cocoa powder in bronzer powders as well as two eye shadow palettes! When you open up the compacts it even smells like chocolate! does this make the products unsafe ? Or are they really using cocoa powder or something else? Maybe you can give me some inside!!!

    Thank you! 🙂

    • Randy Schueller October 9, 2015, 7:03 am

      Welcome, Erica, to the ranks of the Beauty Brainiacs! You asked a great question – do you have the name of the bronzer/eyeshadow pallets so I can take a look at the ingredient list? I think I know what’s going on but I want to make sure before I answer. Thanks!

      • Esme November 9, 2015, 7:00 am

        Its the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Collection, Too Faced Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar and Too Faced Soleil Bronzer. Thanks!

  • sophie December 26, 2015, 3:51 pm

    Regarding the natural vs “tradditional” cosmetics, things are indeed much more complex than that and randy is right, it may be effective but when we take the example above, we need to analyse things more carefully.

    I would also add that even if we ( speaking of my little team of friends I work with ) usually prefer products which are based on more “natural” ingredients, it is important to remind that natural cosmetics don’t mean they are absolutely “safe”.
    If you have sensitive skin, you will “often” end up with irritation because of the many essential oils used or even some preservatives that were used to replace the dreaded parabens ( I am thinking of the widely used cosguard from lonza : Benzyl alcool, dehydroacetic acid, aqua that got us many skin rashes lol).
    So the question is not natural vs tradditional but more about asking the client about her/his skin, what is he/she looking for? and then from these answers, narrow the choices and find the products ( organic, natural or not) that will suit their needs 🙂

  • Jackie October 12, 2016, 6:38 pm

    I think that many people have a sheep mentality and the current obsession is natural skin care products, organic beauty products, even “gluten free” or whatever the latest fad is on IG. Like you said in your post it really depends on the product in question and its really is a case by case issue. Some people just have money to burn and rather pay $30 extra because the brand or “natural labelling” (very common in LA)

  • Lisa December 27, 2018, 2:20 am

    Very informative! I like the info provided by you. Thanks and keep sharing.