Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Product Review:
Annemarie Börlind
Rose Dew Hydro Stimulant
Cleansing Milk & Facial Toner

If you've read my last post, you now know a little about German brand Annemarie Börlind. The company graciously sent me an assortment of their skincare products to try, and rather than try to jam them all into one monster overview (and you know how I am, it would have been HUGE!) I'm going to be highlighting a few of them throughout this week. Today we start at the beginning, as you might expect: with cleanser and toner.

This non-foaming lotion cleanser is full of sugar-based emollients and cleansers, along with the wound healing amino acid Arginine, powerful antioxidants in the form of Vitamins C and E, Sage and Gingko Biloba Leaf Extract, and natural moisturizing factors (ingredients that mimic the structure and function of healthy skin) like avocado oil and coconut oil derived triglyceride. The Rose Water and Panthenol that the package lists as key ingredients for moisturizing have less scientific backing than most of the non-advertised ingredients in this formula.

When applied, the cleansing milk feels very soothing on my skin. I can definitely feel the oils in the formula, but we're not talking granny cleansing cream greasy here, just a nice slippery lotion that my skin likes a lot. Like everything in the Rose Dew series, the Cleansing Milk smells pretty strongly of rose (shocking!) Rose is not my favorite scent ever, but this particular formula was not so overbearing or lingering as to be bothersome. I have used rose scented products in the past that were so strong that the smell forced me to stop using them- this was far from that category.

The directions state that the cleansing milk should be applied and left to work for 30 seconds before removing with cosmetic sponges and rinsed with warm water, which is exactly how I use it. I'd never used this type of sponge before to remove makeup (they basically looks like plain cellulose kitchen sponges) and when I first saw them in the package I immediately thought "gimmick." Big surprise for me when I found I actually like using the sponge. Though it does feel slightly harsh and scratchy on my skin, the mild exfoliation leaves my skin smooth, with no redness or irritation- something I can't say for most scrubs, brushes, and exfoliating pads that I've used. For those of you who might worry about bacterial build-up on the sponge, don't fret- you can nuke a wet sponge for 2 minutes in your micro & it'll kill everything (works for kitchen sponges too!)

This cleanser did an excellent job removing all of my makeup- the only thing it didn't remove 100% was waterproof mascara, and I'd never fault it for that. The cleanser rinsed away clean, with or without the sponge, and didn't leave any greasy residue. I've had no complaints about my Purity cleanser, and always thought it cleansed well without being overly drying, but I have to admit that since I've run out of my Rose Dew Cleansing Milk and gone back to Purity, I've noticed my skin has become a lot dryer.

I would definitely purchase this cleanser again, and would recommend it for people with normal to dry skin who prefer a non-foaming cleanser to remove makeup and hydrate the skin. I give it a 9 out of 10. I can't give it a perfect score because I do think $30 for a couple months supply of cleanser is pretty pricey. I should also mention that the heavy glass bottle could be worrisome for people that travel (or drop things) often. I took my bottle on several road trips with no problem- the pump twists shut and I had no trouble with leaking or the nozzle twisting itself open, but for travel where you're not loading your own luggage, you may want to transfer your Cleansing Milk into a more travel friendly container.

Now, onto our toner. I'm going to make this as brief as I can, because you all know my view on facial toners. If you don't, read this real quick so we're all on the same page...OK, great. Knowing that I'm not a big fan of toners in general, you may wonder "why mention it?" Well, because in testing this product, I learned some information that's pertinent to much of the Rose Dew line. Those of you who aren't label readers may never notice, but for those of us that are, read on!

Rose Dew Hydro Stimulant Facial Toner $37.99 for 150ml/5.07 oz

Rose Dew toner is a liquid-gel toner that claims to "intensively moisturize the skin and stimulate it's own moisturizing and moisture binding abilities." It does indeed contain a high concentration of the humectant Sorbitol, as well as amino acids Glycine and Sodium PCA, which help to bind water into the skin. I also noticed exfoliating ingredients like urea and lactic acid, as well as anti-irritant Allantoin. Unfortunately, I couldn't help but notice another ingredient: Alcohol. Lots of it, since it's the second ingredient on the list.

After looking at several other Börlind products, I became pretty alarmed by the fairly prevalent use of a known drying ingredient in skincare that's designed for dry skin. There are certain alcohols that are actually moisturizing, but this is not one of them- listed as simply "alcohol", this ingredient refers to ethyl alcohol, which is not only drying but can cause irritation and possibly generate free-radical damage. Before taking another step, I contacted company president, Linda K. Upton, to ask "what's the deal?" here's what she told me:

"Generally alcohol is only used in products that are liquids or gels. It is used as an astringent and an an antibacterial agent/preservative...It is not drying when used in a product in a concentration below 10%, which is the case with these products."

Now, if you know me, you know I rarely believe something just because someone told me it's so. Einstein himself could explain the theory of relativity to me and I'd still research it. Multiply that by 1000 when someone is a paid representative of a brand. So I did some research, including speaking to a cosmetic chemist that I happen to know. My main question: if alcohol is the second most concentrated ingredient in this product, and it's less than 10%, then are the other ingredients (the good ones) even concentrated enough to do anything? The answer, in short, is: sure. Essential oils and extracts are often very potent, and can be effective in very low concentrations (some under 1%). My fears assuaged for the moment, I decided to try the toner.

Rose Dew is not your typical toner- it's actually a liquid/gel consistency and it's meant to be patted onto the skin with your fingertips (not wiped on with cotton). One gripe I have is the bottle- it's a typical toner type mouth, with about a dime sized opening. This means when you tip the toner into your hand, the product pours out- it's impossible to control! Your main options at this point are to dump the product back into the bottle (not terribly sanitary) or waste it. A pump or even a shaker top (like what you'd see on men's aftershave) would be much more convenient.

Aside from that, I'd say that if you're devoted to the idea of a toner, this one isn't a bad way to go- it's lightly moisturizing, soothing and mildly exfoliating. Despite my misgivings, I noticed none of the dryness or irritation I'd have expected from the alcohol in the product- though I'd never purchased it myself after seeing that on the ingredient list. Having said that, I don't think the benefits are unique enough to the toner for me to bother adding another step to my routine- especially one that costs almost $40. I give this a 6 out of 10- it's better than the average toner. But then, you know what I think about toners...

The products featured in this post were submitted for review consideration by a representative of the company. What does this mean? I didn't pay for it. My commitment is to you, my readers, and myself (it's called integrity, I like to have it). I can assure you that the opinions expressed in my product reviews are my own, based on my own research and experience; I am not paid in any way nor is the final outcome of the review influenced by the featured company.

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