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).