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Eminence Firm Skin Acai Cleanser- reviewed and rejected

Is a Solution for:
Dull Skin, Oily Skin
March 7, 2012 Reviewed by admin 8 Comments
Éminence Handmade Organic Skin Care of Hungary has a mission “to enhance your well-being naturally” using only healthy ingredients containing organic and biodynamic fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The line is free of parabens, petrolatum, mineral oils, propylene glycol, and sodium lauryl sulfate. Additionally, Éminence does not test on animals and uses environmentally friendly packaging. With rare exception, previously reviewed products from the line have largely received rave reviews. Adding to the allure of Éminence are celebrity endorsements from known vegan actors, such as Olivia Wilde and Alicia Silverstone.

However, despite Éminence’s organic commitment, it was named in a 2010 complaint filed with the USDA by the Organic Consumers Association and various organic brands for falsely promoting products as truly organic. I couldn’t help but notice the amount of digital real estate dedicated to the green factor on the company’s site. Éminence is (now) a member of the North American Organic Trade Association and holds certifications by the USDA National Organic Program (in Oregon) as well as USDA accredited Agricultural Services Certified Organic, LLC. Éminence also holds various international certifications including Biokontroll, the main certification organization in Hungary. It’s important to note that certifications from said agencies do not apply to the entire product line, as evidenced by Éminence’s USDA collection, comprised of a mere three products.

Éminence is sold exclusively in salons and spas because, per its FAQ, “without the assistance of one of our professionals, you could select the wrong products for your skin type and fall short of your desired results.” If this were a medical-grade line, I would agree but I can’t see how it’s necessary to consult a professional for an organic line, many of which are sold en masse.

Nonetheless, the Firm Skin Acai Cleanser ($38), which I was recently given to test, indicates it is made for all skin types (more on that later), especially mature and dehydrated skin. I have mature and dehydrated skin and held high hopes that this cleanser would suit my skin’s needs. Upon dispensing the product from the pump, I noted this is a cream cleanser, which I felt should have been disclosed somewhere on the packaging.

The cleanser contains an abundant amount of fruit juices, including acai berry, raspberry, and blueberry juices as well as blueberry essence, a pure fruit essence recovered from blueberry juice prior to concentration. I’m uncertain as to why both blueberry juice and the essence are needed. The Éminence ingredients glossary simply lists blueberry, so I didn’t get any answers there. There is some debate regarding the effectiveness of using certain antioxidants topically vs. orally, and I’m not convinced that slathering blueberry juice on my face will protect me from free radicals. The ingredients also include Biocomplex, a proprietary antioxidant blend containing vitamins A, ester C, E, coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid, all of which are effective topical antioxidants (ester C in particular). While adding antioxidants to a cleanser can’t hurt, I wouldn’t rely on it as an alternative to a separate topical antioxidant. Well-formulated topical antioxidants are highly concentrated and designed for optimal absorption of the active ingredients.

The cleanser also contains several oils, of which corn germ and sunflower oils are listed as the first two ingredients, thereby having the highest concentration in the cleanser. Corn germ oil, containing essential fatty acids and vitamin E, is a rich emollient used as a primary base for many products that claim to reduce wrinkles for a youthful look. Sea buckthorn oil, another emollient, is derived from a fruit rich in vitamin C. There is also vegetable glycerin, commonly found in facial cleansers and also an excellent emollient. There are small amounts of lactic and salicylic acid which are cosmetically used as skin exfoliants. Interestingly, water is not included in the formulation. But I wouldn’t consider this an anhydrous cleanser because fruit juices contain water. I find the inclusion of hyaluronic acid on the ingredients list a bit deceiving as the ingredient used is actually marshmallow plant extract, which Marta noted isn’t hyaluronic acid and cannot “erase fine lines” as stated on the packaging. Marshmallow plant extract has an inhibitory effect on hyaluronidase, the enzyme that degrades hyaluronic acid in skin tissue. I found it strange that I didn’t see any ingredients that are known (or even unknown) cleansers in the formulation.

The purpose of a cleanser is to remove makeup as well as oil, sweat, dirt and bacteria that accumulates from both internal and external factors. Cleansing creams are generally oil and water emulsions. Oils attract dirt and other oil but require water to be washed away. Water, not listed as an ingredient, isn’t available in a large enough in quantity to effectively cleanse (upon use of the cleanser, I realized the lack of water wasn’t the real problem). In fact, the “cleanser” is largely a concoction of emollients and antioxidants. By definition, emollients are lubricants used to help spread other ingredients (corn germ oil) and guard the skin barrier, lying on top of skin, preventing dehydration. Moreover, both the root and the leaf of the marshmallow plant contain a mucus-like substance known as mucilate, which becomes slippery when wet, and does not dissolve in water. While marshmallow extract can be found in many products, the addition of copious doses of emollients along with minute amounts of exfoliants (lactic/salicylic acids), not cleansers, render this to be an ineffective cleanser.

Every time I used this cleanser, I felt as if a filmy residue remained on my face afterward. I tried to ignore the feeling, telling myself that my face had just been washed with several organic, healthy ingredients. However, my face just didn’t feel clean and actually felt a bit oily after using the cleanser. In fact, I couldn’t resist using a mild physical exfoliator to wash off the filmy residue. Rinsing this product off the face is an uphill battle - I even brought out the Clarisonic Mia, which I would not normally use with a manual exfoliant. I certainly wouldn’t consider this cleanser to be appropriate for all skin types and feel those with very oily skin might just find this cream cleanser to be a product nightmare. I found the cleanser’s formulation to be fundamentally flawed - it just doesn’t serve its purpose, which is to cleanse.

Ingredients: Corn germ oil, Sunflower oil, Acai Berry Juice, Blueberry Juice, Rasberry Juice, Vegetable Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid (derived from marshmallow plant), Lactic Acid, Sea buckhthorn Oil, Sodium Benzoate, Xanthum Gum, BiocomplexTM (Vitamin A, Vitamin C Ester, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10, Alpha Lipoic Acid) Salicylic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Blueberry Essence, Lemon Oil
  • September 17, 2016

    by Tobias

    On the upside, I am a 56 yo female that has oily, dry, normal skin but not in the extremes and live in a relatively clean climate of -30 to 110 F. Upon recommendations from the spa I use the Acai series of cleanser, masque, serum and moisturizer which I have found wonderful for my face and hands. Once a week I use the Arctic Berry Enzyme Exfoliant, Activator and Peptide Cream. Infrequently, I use the Strawb./Rhubarb foliant. Obviously, there are some products that I appreciate more than others but my skin is soft, blemish free, smaller pores, a bit more snug and all most radiant as I have not used the products for that long. Isn't that what I was promised.
    Neutral, perhaps the attitude of customer service is an extension of the pride to be part of a young, up and coming industry where they now have world notoriety.
    Or, maybe, for some reason they just felt defensive.
    On the downside, I do not believe that any item that is handled frequently in the bathroom should be made of glass.

  • June 5, 2015

    by Victoria

    Thank you for your thoughts! Exactly why I switched to NYR Organic. They provide a muslin cloth with their Frankincense Refining Cleanser! My face has never looked better!!!

  • June 12, 2014

    by Leeanne

    I have been using Eminence products (including Coconut Cram Cleanser) and my face has never felt better. I am getting so many compliments on my complexion (57 year old female) and am so happy with everything I have purchased. I have never felt residue after washing, just a smooth, soft feel.

  • March 31, 2014

    by Raeven

    I agree that Eminence has some serious disclosure issues. I've had fine results with their probiotic cleanser, as far as the cleaning part goes, but have often wondered what exactly made it 'clean'. I've had a chat with them before about ingredient issues, when I considered their Stonecrop cleanser (do NOT recommend) and I found them curtly unhelpful. When I'm too busy to make my own glucoside cleanser, I still get the probiotic stuff, but in general their products aren't quite worth the $.

    The corn germ oil is likely the base of their castile soap, and the sunflower is added to take the edge off it (or v.v.). If the ratio is wrong, that would result in the film you feel. Both corn and wheat germ are comedogenic, despite their nutritive qualities. Just too heavy.

  • July 2, 2012

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Hi Jason,
    Your question regarding use of toner here is valid. According to the esthetics & cosmetology textbook (Milady's chapter on "Basic Classification & Chemistry of Skin Care Products) cream cleansers are oil based and must be removed with a cloth & followed by a toner/astringent to remove any residue left behind. The instructions for the Eminence cleanser are to "massage onto damp skin & rinse thoroughly." I took a few minutes to call customer service at Eminence to verify this and was told that the instructions were correct. I asked if I was supposed yo use a toner after the cleanser to remove any residue and was told that absolutely everyone should use a toner, but that it has nothing to do with cleansing; it's used to prep the skin for something else -then I was told I should really visit one of their spas to get all the steps & products right etc.,

    As a licensed esthetician, I disagree that toner is a necessary step for everyone - I personally don't use a separate toner, however I would have used one with this cleanser but the labeling on the product type was unclear & I feel the instructions could have been better.

    The French are indeed keen are certain things (I'm keen on their wine & food) but my recommendation for the best cleanser for you depends on your skin type. Conventional soaps are essentially made of salts of fatty acids which are highly alkaline & drying to skin which isn't great for dry, sensitive or mature skin, hence they are not popular. The oil in cleansing creams is gentler than fatty acids and adds moisture to skin but also leaves behind a layer of moisture - not ideal for everyone either.

    There are several cleanser options to consider based on your skin type:

  • June 29, 2012

    by Nisha Buckingham

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment!
    You make an excellent point regarding anhydrous formulations & I shall certainly keep your feedback in mind for future product reviews. Thanks again!

  • June 29, 2012

    by jason

    I've noticed many online reviewers have this problem with cream cleanses; especially the Eminence line. I've heard also that cream cleansers are better than conventional soap-based ones. Supposedly, the French are very keen on using them. The one question I never see addressed in reviews of cream cleansers, such as this one, is whether the tester uses a toner or astringent afterwards.

  • June 28, 2012

    by Adama44

    Very thoughtful review, I would just like to note that I'd disagree that "most cleansing creams are water in oil emulsions". Many are but arguably just as many have no water at all. Abolene, Jergens's, Aubrey, Avene, even classic cold cream are all anhydrous and won't dissolve in water. Theoretically they are wiped off taking makeup, oil, dirt and debris with them.
    I guess my point is I think your rejection of the product is based on the kind of product it is rather than the product itself. Many, many, people including those with oily skin use cleansing creams like this and cold cream. In fact I'd say more than any other. Therefore your statement "I found the cleanser’s formulation to be fundamentally flawed - it just doesn’t serve its purpose, which is to cleanse " isn't fair or accurate.
    On the other hand I do agree the label should be a little more descriptive.

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