Balance Light-Weight Moisture is a day and night, general purpose moisturizer for normal/combination skin in Canyon Ranch’s “Your Transformation” line of anti-aging skin care, which includes cleansers, treatments, moisturizers, sunscreen, as well as body products.  I tried Balance at TIA’s request, and with some skepticism.  While I have happily visited the Canyon Ranch wellness resorts a number of times, I’ve never tried their branded treatment products.  In fact – maybe cynically – I assume that slapping a lifestyle brand on a product usually results in something that is distinguished only by an outstanding price tag.

But prepared though I was to dis Canyon Ranch Balance (and I didn’t try other products in the line) I have to give it respect, just based on several weeks’ regular use.  It is, as advertised, lightweight—it goes on very light and absorbs easily, so at first I used it mornings only, assuming that it would not be emollient enough to keep up with older skin in mid-winter.  Over the last couple of weeks, though, I’ve used it morning and night as well, with good results.  It is clearly a hydrating potion that leaves me with smooth, and maybe even softer, skin.  I particularly like its lighter, but somehow still rich, ungreasy feel, and would see it as a particularly appealing summertime solution.  It isn’t the heaviest hitter in the line – there is also an “intensive moisture” product and that might have provided a better comparison to TIA favorites like SenZen Infinity or the LVC Extra-Rich face cream; while it’s a bit more emollient, I’d compare the feel of Balance to YBF’s superb Boost.

And according to what showed up from a quick online search, the pump I tried (1.7 oz or 50 ml) sells for $75, which is within range of those products, very roughly.  So what, then, are its particular claims?  First of all, per the paper insert, “marine algae complex helps sustain ideal moisture”; second, “Alpha Arbutin brightens skin for an even tone.”  And in general, the Your Transformation product literature touts three proprietary formulations:  ProNAD (“patented, penetrating Niacin”); Ceraplex (“a ceramide blend that mirrors…skin’s own lost lipids”); and AntiOx-3 (“our exclusive combination of…natural plant extracts”), and the container is labeled Balance “with ProNAD” – though there’s no information on concentration.

I noticed Niadyne, Inc.’s name on the packaging as well:  I don’t know whether they manufacture or just distribute the line, but I believe that ProNAD is their trademark and is used in their product line, Nia24, which was given a rave review by a TIA reader several years ago.  (I wonder whether anyone has recent experience with that range to share.)

So all that sent me to the ingredients list, which was the only really harrowing part of this trial, simply because the package lists no fewer than 70—in fact, exactly, 70—ingredients, or 69 if you exclude water.  I’d ask the professionals at TIA:  is this some kind of record?  It required setting up a spreadsheet so I could capture whatever I could glean from the TIA Ingredients database and generic online searches.    I’m utterly unqualified to assess the ingredients, but here’s my attempt:

It appears that, of the first two dozen unpronounceables, nearly all are accepted and reasonably uncontroversial emollients/humectants/emulsifiers/hydrators/etc.  Item number 16 is the aforementioned Alpha-Arbutin, a lightener/skin brightener.  Item 23 (not, I think, in TIA’s database) must be their peptide: Palmitoyl Oligopeptide.  I have no idea what items 5 and 6 are (Pentaerythrityl Tetracaprylate/Tetracaprate and Myristyl Nicotinate), and they may be the whole story—I’d love TIA’s take.  Then from 24 on, there is a list of 16 (to me, anyway) tantalizingly exotic plant and fruit extracts and derivatives, with a dash of sodium hyaluronate and sorbitol thrown in.  (This is where the algae extract shows up – item 40.)  The remainder of the list includes more moisturizers, forms of vitamins E and A and the preservative BHT, and finally a number of surfactants/emulsifiers, preservatives, and fragrance components.

One obvious question is whether so vast a cornucopia of ingredients, however benign or even distinctive, can in fact add up to a meaningful result in the real world, but that’s an issue way beyond my pay grade.  I can say that I’ve enjoyed using the product, the ingredients present no obvious red flags to a non-expert, and some of them sound downright good.  My skepticism at least temporarily allayed, I’ll be glad to continue using Balance and to give it another try when summer weather arrives.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua/Eau), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Pentaerythrityl Tetracaprylate/Tetracaprate, Myristyl Nicotinate, Butylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Soybean (Glycine Soja) Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol, Squalane, Ethylene/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Dimethicone, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Alpha-Arbutin, Tribehenin, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Ceramide 2, Ceramide 3, PEG-10 Rapeseed Sterol, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Hexyldecanol, Lycium Chinense Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten, Ceratonia Siliqua (Locust Bean) Gum, Hordeum Distichon (Barley) Extract, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Cola Nitida Seed Extract, Paullinia Cupana Seed Extract, Ilex Paraguariensis Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sorbitol, Algae Extract, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Fucus Vesiculosus Extract, Algin, Panthenol, Bisabolol, Octyldodecanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Lecithin, Arachidyl Propionate, Ethyl Linoleate, Ethyl Linolenate, Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 80, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance (Parfum), BHT, Chlorphenesin, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Linalool, Citronellol, Benzyl Benzoate.