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Dr Spiller Hydro-Marin Cleansing Foam

Is a Solution for:
Dull Skin, Oily Skin
March 10, 2009 Reviewed by Marta 3 Comments
Its not often that I fail to really come down one way or another after I've reviewed a product. But Dr Spiller Biocosmetic Hydro-Marin Cleansing Foam ($59) has me perched uncomfortably on the fence.

The philosophy behind Dr Spiller, a German company, is to create an amalgam of ingredients that mimic the biological functions of young skin. Hydro-Marin Cleansing Foam is basically a formulation of marine and plant extracts that are within a clear liquid in the bottle, but miraculously become a creamy foam when pumped on to the hand.

The marine element in this facial wash is provided by laminaria digitata extract. This is an alga that has been demonstrated to boost cell energy (for this reason, it often shows up in cellulite creams) and have a positive impact on tired and dull skin.

There are also a couple of noteworthy plant extracts. Juniperus virginiana oil is cederwood oil and it is an astringent that can be helpful for skin that is excessively oil. It is used in folk medicine to soothe skin disorders although, in high concentrations, it can irritate the skin. Pogostemon cablin oil is patchouli and you'd be forgiven for dismissing this a cloying perfume favored by hippies. Turns out that it stimulates the growth of new skin cells and is great against acne.

So what is it that has me unwilling to to take a strong stance on Dr Spiller's cleanser. While I can't work myself up into a lather of indignation, there are some ingredients that raise enough questions to prevent me from recommending it to you.

The first thing that raised my eyebrows was CI 42090. This is blue coloring agent. If you do a Google search on it, the first thing you come across is some alarming references to it being a known carginogen that is banned in Germany. What! Could Dr Spiller be fobbing things off on unsuspecting and poorly regulated Americans while they are not even permitted in the fatherland? If CI 42090 was ever banned in Germany and other EU countries, it certainly seems to be permitted now. According to the Encyclopedia of Clinical Toxicology, CI 42090 is considered carcinogenic "by some" and it cites a test on rats. The only other tests I found date back to the 1960s.

Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate is very gentle and causes low irritation to skin and eyes. However, many sources claim that MES is carcinogenic because it contains surfactants, which can be contaminated with nitrosamines. It is true that MES is used in car washes, engine degreasers, and other products used on an industrial level, but is generally considered gentle when used in low concentrations such as in health care products. Propylene Glycol is another ingredient that is safe at low concentrations, even if injested orally. Ocular contact can result in irritation, but anything more severe (vomiting and even coma) - although documented are dependent on large doses (source). However, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says propylene glycol is less toxic than ethylene glycol, but toxic it most certainly is.

This cleanser's foam is produced by sodium lauryl sulfoacetate. This is much gentler than lauryl sulfate. But it has been shown to be a mild irritant of skin and eyes. The real problem is posed for fish. If enough of it gets into their environment, tests on fresh water algae have shown that it is very toxic.

When I used this cleanser, I found that it did a good job of cleaning and tightening pores. It didn't leave behind any residue when I did the toner/cotton pad test. I must admit that it left my skin feeling a bit tight and dry. In the end, I'd have to say I didn't love it. And fish probably hate it. All in all, a wash.

Ingredients in Dr Spiller Hydro-Marin Cleansing Foam

Water, alcohol denat, propylene glycol, disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, pentylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfoacetate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium cocoyl glutamate, sodium lauroyl sarcosinate, laminaria digitata extract, juniperus virginiana oil, pogostemon cablin oil, coriander seed oil, mandarin oil, lemon oil, grapefruit oil, orange flower oil, bergamot oil, lavander oil, polysorbate 20, lactic acid, sodium chloride, sea salt, limonene, linalool, CI 42090.
  • October 2, 2009

    by Chloe Johnson

    I use this cleanser and I have to say it's amazing... i'm a big fan of Dr. Spiller products, having been converted after finding out how different they are to everything else.

    I don't really agree with a lot of the comments made by the reviewer, particularly about her skin feeling 'tight and dry' - mine feels anything but this after using the cleanser.

    Overall the review sounds really biased, as if the reviewer made up her mind before she started. Anyone can put a negative spin on things.

    For instance:

    Did you know Dihydrogen Monoxide kills? It has killed countless thousands of people, and harmed even more.

    Cosmetics manufacturers often use it. Drug companies also use it in some pharmaceuticals. In fact it's just about everywhere: in the air you breathe, the food you eat (even so-called 'natural' foods) and liquids you drink.

    Withdrawal symptoms, for those who have become dependent, include dizziness, fainting, delirium and death. Amazingly, government authorities consistently refuse to ban it because it's deemed too important for the economy.

    Oh, by the way, another name for Dihydrogen Monoxide is H20, or water. Yes, water kills in a large enough dose.

    Just teaches you to take everything said to you with a grain of salt.

  • April 13, 2009

    by Melissa Pfaffenbichler

    As the U.S. distributor for Dr. Spiller Biocosmetic, I wanted to comment on the review for this product. Most importantly, I wanted to clarify that the "mysterious" CI 42090 colorant is nothing more than FD&C Blue No 1 as we know it here in the U.S. It is an extremely common additive in foods and cosmetics. While it is true that it was at one point banned in some European countries, it is now legal and certified as a safe food additive world wide, including the European Union and even countries with very strict food and drug regulations such as Japan. That being said, I would like to point out that Dr. Spiller Biocosmetic had already decided to remove the colorant from the product completely after the first batch of cleanser was produced, and therefore the Hydro-Marin Cleansing Foam no longer contains CI 42090/FD&C Blue No 1 anyway.

    Also, regarding the above comment about the price of $59, it should be noted that while the price of our products may vary depending on the individual market, the suggested retail price for the Hydro-Marin Cleansing Foam is $34, well in line with comparable professional skin care cleansers.

    If there are any additional questions or comments regarding this product or Dr. Spiller Biocosmetics in general, we welcome the opportunity to address them with you and can be reached at 1-800-355-4485 or

    Melissa Pfaffenbichler
    Vice President
    Spiller U.S.

  • March 10, 2009

    by Niall

    There's no way this cleanser is worth the price. You can get much more sophisticated stuff for half the price or less. Why is it throwing a few drops of seaweed into a product allows you to charge a king's ransom for it?

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