When I looked at Clé De Peau Beauté’s new night cream, Refreshing Nourishing Emulsion, my first reaction was that the ingredients list had been printed back to front. The kinds of things that you’d want to see – botanical extracts – are at the end and the kinds of things that are usually reserved for the end of the roll-call – preservatives, for example – are near the top.  At $132, it makes you wonder what you might be paying for.

The first 25 ingredients are largely a waste of money (with the exception of glycerin and xyliltol, which may help with hydration). There’s three types of alcohol, a couple of silicones, the tongue-twister pentaerythrityl tetraethylhexanoate that imparts a superficial sense of softness, the harsh preservative phenoxyethanol, plus accrylates and polymers. Potassium Hydroxide is corrosive, can degrade the skin barrier and in Europe is classified as a toxin. It’s harmful effects are, however, dose dependent, so one can only hope that the amount in Refreshing Nourishing Emulsion is too small to be of concern.

If you can get through these, there are some decent botanical derivatives, starting with fatty acids from macadamia nuts. More unusually there is crataegus monogyna. This is hawthorn and there are studies showing that it is an antioxidant. Less convincing is the research behind uncaria (commonly called cat’s claw). It is an anti-inflammatory, but claims that it is a skin plumper are based on research carried out by L’Oreal.

Many of the botanical ingredients show up frequently in products by Shiseido, which isn’t a surprise as this is Clé De Peau Beauté’s parent company. Although stalwarts of Chinese medicine, there isn’t much research to back them up or when there is, as in the hypericum erectum extract, it actually disproves the theory that it has antioxidant powers.  Houttuynia cordata (bishop’s weed) does, however, hold its own as an anti-inflammatory. But it comes so far down the ingredient list, that I was left with the wish that I could stand Refreshing Nourishing Emulsion on its head.

Ingredients

Water (Aqua), Alcohol, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Xylitol, Dipropylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Petrolatum, Phenoxyethanol, Diphenylsiloxy Phenyl Trimethicone, Silica, Behenyl Alcohol, Beheneth-20, Acrylates / C10 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, PEG/ PPG 17/4 Dimethyl Ether, Phytosteryl Macadamiate, Carbomer, Batyl Alcohol, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycyl Glycine, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Metaphosphate, Fragrance (Parfum), Butylene Glycol, Crataegus Monogyna Flower Extract, Serine, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tocopherol, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Polyquaternium-51, Saxifraga Sarmentosa Extract, Uncaria Gambir Extract, Paeonia Suffruticosa Root Extract, Rosa Roxburghii Fruit Extract, Hydrolyzed Conchiolin Protein, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Hypericum Erectum Extract, Hydrolyzed Silk, Bupleurum Falcatum Root Extract.