A friend in England recently sent me a pack of skincare products from holistic beauty guru Bharti Vyas’ The Ultimate Therapy Range (there is also a mass market line available at Tesco supermarkets). In an interview a couple of years ago, Bharti Vyas said that the “the best way to maintain younger looking skin is to help the dead cell removal process”. It seemed fair to assume then that one of the most important products in The Ultimate Therapy Range would be the Face & Neck Polisher (about $39).

Unfortunately, I was to be disappointed. The overall texture – somewhere between a gel and a cream – prompted me to look at the ingredients to see if silicone was listed (it was) and the jojobo (responsible for the polishing) felt uncharacteristically grainy. While nothing about using it made me eager to try it again, a deeper dive into the ingredients left me wishing I hadn’t tried it in the first place.

For a relatively concise formulation, there are a surprising number of controversial ingredients. Sodium laureth sulfate (while gentler than its sister, sodium lauryl sulfate) is a known irritant. Propylene glycol is generally safe at low doses, but it is toxic at high concentrations and I was surprised to see it as the third most dominant ingredient. Triethanolamine is considered toxic even at low doses and is generally only regarded as safe in rinse off products, which mercifully this is. Just behind it, is titanium dioxide, an ingredient that some manufacturers go out of their way to boast about not using it because of increasing evidence that it causes DNA damage.

Although I am not a complete paraben-phobe, it’s hard to overlook that there are no less than four of them here and they are shoulder-to-shoulder with the irritants, phenoxyethanol and imidazolidinyl-urea. A stone’s throw from the central London Bharti Vyas flagship is the University of Westminster where research has been conducted on the carcinogenic properties of linalool.

Hoping that Face & Neck Polisher wasn’t representative of the entire Bharti Vyas range, I moved on to the Moisturizing Cream (about $46). Although I wouldn’t call it a standout formulation and it also has propylene glycol and the same line up of preservatives, it does have some good things going for it. Most notable is tripeptide-1, which when combined soy and wheat proteins and xanthan gum (as it is here), it is called aldenine. It is a radical scavenger and specifically goes after the reactive carbonyl species. Aldenine acts, therefore, as a cellular detoxifier and it is supposed to be more powerful than carnosine. As well as boosting collagen III production, it protects cells from sunlight.

Bharti Vyas describes its moisturizer as a subtle blend of vitamin E and neroli. Given that neroli is the last ingredient on the list, it is subtle indeed. We have other Bharti Vyas products out with our regular reviewers and, hopefully, seen holistically the range will look better than by the two products I tried.

Ingredients in polisher

Aqua, sodium laureth sulfate, propylene glycol, cocamidopropyl betain, buxus chinensis, d-panthenol, carbomer, triethanolamine, titanium dioxide, olea europeaea, silicon/magnesium/copper/iron/zinc ferments, cyclomethicone, phenoxyethanol and methyl, ethyl, butyl and propyl paraben, imidazolidinyl urea, citrus aurantium, farnesol, limonene, linalool.

Ingredients in moisturizing cream

Aqua, isopropyl palmitate, vetyl alcohol, aloe, glycerin, prunus dulcis, propylene glycol, centella asiatica, carbomer, royal jelly, pseudocollagen, tocopherol acetate, daucus carrota, lactic acid, cyclomethicone, hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed soy protein, xanthan gum, tripeptide-1, algae extract, pullulan, phenoxyethanol and methyl, ethyl, butyl and propyl paraben, imidazolidinyl urea, citrus aurantium