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Alba Sea Moss Moisturizer – Do organic ingredients and antioxidants cancel out bad chemicals?

Is a Solution for:
Dry Skin, Oily Skin
July 22, 2009 Reviewed by admin 7 Comments
I recently made a trip to CVS that was fairly typical; I went in for toilet paper and walked out with $30 worth of beauty products that I do not necessarily need but am eager to try, among them is Alba's Sea Moss Moisturizer with Antioxidants and SPF 15.  I've been working at Truth in Aging for just over a month now (I maintain the Twitter and Facebook pages, among other things. Come say hello!) and will confess that prior to TIA, I paid very little attention to the ingredients in my beauty products. Truth in Aging is changing my ways. I read every article published here, and have recently found myself concerned about sulfates, parabens and antioxidants. However, I'm on a strict budget and am unable to buy some of the more high-end products that we review on TIA.

Thus, my CVS run and Alba's Sea Moss Moisturizer with antioxidants and SPF 15 (on sale for $12.99). Like Marta says, oceanic ingredients are the new black in cosmetics. Alba claims to be dedicated to "pure plant proteins, natural botanicals, vitamins, advanced sea enzymes...from the Hawaiian Islands."  Their products contain no synthetic colors, are pH balanced, and use 100% vegetarian ingredients and no animal testing. You can read more on Alba's website.  Alba is owned by Avalon Organics, who we wrote about last year when they were sued by the state of California for failing to disclose the presence of carcinogens in their haircare products.

First impressions: Nice smell and consistency. It absorbs into my face quickly and after a week of use, my skin feels supple and looks good. Not any different than how it looked before I used Alba, but I’ve experienced no irritation or unwanted breakouts.

The Good: SPF 15 and lots of ingredients that contain antioxidants derived from from ocean plants: extracts of spirulina maxima (algae), ulva lactuca (sea lettuce), laminaria digitata (kelp), chondrus crispus (irish moss) and macrocystis pyrifera (kelp), citrus grandis (grapefruit) fruit and camellia sinensis (green tea). Algae is frequently used in cellulite creams for its firming abilities. The amino acids in the other sea herbs act as conditioners. Most of the other ingredients are fairly tame. Purified water, certified organic aloe barbadensis leaf juice, stearic acid (a potential irritant), carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, vegetable glycerin, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter).

The Bad: This is where Alba falls down a bit. The last two ingredients are the preservatives phenoxyethanol and ethyhexylglycerin. We wrote about an FDA warning that included phenoxyethanol in 2008. At its least offensive, it's an irritant. But at higher concentrations it has the potential to cause reproductive damage and other problems.  It is in a lot of products, and shows up towards the bottom of this Alba moisturizer so there isn't much in there, but there's some.  Ethylhexylglycerin is often used instead of parabens (which is nice), but is another potential irritant, albeit with fewer potential side effects than phenoxyethanol.

The verdict: This is a tough call.  I'm not rejecting it because the product is reasonably priced, has a lot of nice ingredients and hasn't caused me any problems. But I'm not giving it a wholehearted recommendation because of the phenoxyethanol.  I think I'll keep on searching for my ideal drugstore facial moisturizer.

Ingredients: Purified water, certified organic aloe barbadensis leaf juice, caprylic/capric triglyceride, dimethicone, stearic acid, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, vegetable glycerin, glyceryl stearate, peg-100 stearate, cetyl alcohol, lecithin, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), extracts of spirulina maxima (algae), ulva lactuca (sea lettuce), laminaria digitata (kelp), chondrus crispus (irish moss) and macrocystis pyrifera (kelp), citrus grandis (grapefruit) fruit and camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extracts, sodium carbomer, allantoin, L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C), glyceryl stearate SE, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, potassium sorbate and fragrance (parfum).
  • November 24, 2010

    by Kristin Stanford

    I bought this "herbal" product and immediately started experience a constant metallic taste in my mouth. I Google'd the symptoms, not imagining it could possibly have been the moisturizer. There are some pretty scary health problems which have metallic taste in your mouth, so I was really getting worried after a week had passed and still was tasting it. I found out that the ingredient Oxybenzone in this product is a toxin. If you are a healthy person who eats well, your body may show clear signs that it is trying to get rid of this toxin. My aunt found moisturizers "Oil of Olay Complete" and "Elta MD Skincare UV Sport", which do not have Oxybenzone. She says that when she stopped using suncreens with Oxybenzone, she stopped tasting metal. I certainly am going to stop using Alba.

  • November 4, 2010

    by marta

    Hi Leslie

    Thanks for this. Copley is going to try to get a sample for review.

  • November 4, 2010

    by Leslie Wayne

    My sister lives in Berkeley, CA and is constantly trying out organic, holistic and all natural products. She recommended three of them which I've been using lately and would love some serious TIA feedback.

    One is Alba Botanica Advanced Sea Moss Moisturizer with antioxidants and SPF 15. While the ingredients look very rich, it goes on extremely light and non greasy and is perfect for under make-up. It also smells lovely.

    "This complete facial care complex with Irish moss, safflower oil and shea butter provides continuous nutrient-rich moisture with potent antioxidants super-charged daily protection. Aloe vera, green tea and vitamin C provide skin with antioxidant protection as well as nutrients to stimulate collagen and elastin production for skin that is brighter and more vibrant. SPF 15 protects against solar damage. this product is working for me very well.

    The next product is Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion Maximum Dry Skin Formula. This also smells fantastic and all their products are extremely affordable - a big plus for me.

    "certified organic aloe vera, green tea and chamomile extracts with natural plant emollients and vitamin E to soothe, nourish and revitalize dry, sensitive skin. With alpha hydroxy acids to help exfoliate dull surface cells and stimulate circulation for a fresh and healthy appearance. This deeply nourishing lotion provides maximum nourishment and hydration for dry, damaged skin. A blend of green tea, chamomile and lavender, it also delivers a restorative infusion of almond oil and gentle alpha beta hydroxy for healthy skin that glows."

    And finally, I've been using several Bare Ecsentuals facial cosmetic products with some mixed results. The Bare Minerals Original SPF 15 Foundation powder, Bare Minerals Mineral Veil (which is supposed to preserve the Foundation and keep it looking fresh all day), and i.d.Bare Minerals Blush. I bought these because I'm increasingly concerned about what I put on my skin that gets absorbed into my system. So I like the idea of putting simple minerals on my face as opposed to all sorts of chemical concoctions. But I must admit, the Foundation and Mineral Veil leave a kind of - well, just that - a mineral veil that is slightly pearly, like mica. I feel a little like a pouter pigeon with it on! The blush is fine, but I'm not sure about the other two.

  • July 22, 2009

    by Laura

    Thanks, Jess. I haven't ventured into the pure/DIY stuff yet but have a feeling I'll be pushed in that direction if I keep being let down by drugstore products. I'll check out iHerb and Vitacost to see what other lines of products they carry. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • July 22, 2009

    by Jess

    As far as drugstore products go, I actually like Eucerin's Q10... but there are four parabens at the bottom of the list. I've recently switched to ordering pure squalane from Vitacost, can't remember the price but it was definitely under $15 (I'm on a bit of a budget as well). The squalane - just a few drops after vitamin C serum, but before acne treatments (I had a run of acne that wouldn't quit) has literally transformed my skin in a few days. No more dry patches, fine lines aren't as obvious, and the breakouts are fading with no new ones in sight.

    Also I think iHerb and Vitacost carry Alba and natural lines a bit cheaper overall, if you want to shop online without easy returns like at CVS or Ulta.

  • July 22, 2009

    by Laura

    I'll have to try their lip gloss. The face cream wasn't bad but I was disappointed to find nasty chemicals in what was promised to be a "natural" product. I am going to keep up my search!
    In the meantime, Copley wrote an article last week about how to ferret out real organic ingredients vs. "greenwashed" ones.

  • July 22, 2009

    by colinmack

    Except for alba'a lip gloss , which I adore, I have not liked any of their products I've tried. You know I do get aggravated at a lot of these so called "natural" cosmetics ccompanies. You think you sre getting something decent and a lot of times it is as full of junk as anything else.

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