I know that once upon a time I must have browsed Kerstin Florian’s range of skincare products, but somehow little impact was left. Since that may say more about me than Kerstin Florian, I thought I should take another look, especially as I keep seeing ads that tell me these products are “inspired by nature, refined through science”, which sounds like my kind of thing. Unfortunately, once I got beyond the sound bite, I found that wasn’t much of science or nature.

Browsing Kerstin Florian’s range, I wasn’t very inspired by things like the Multi-Vitamin Day Crème or a hyaluronic serum. Show me something differentiated. And then Ms Florian (a Swedish-born “spa expert”) came up with something that looked promisingly unusual, Essential Skincare Clarifying Raspberry Extract ($80). In its dark blue bottle, Clarifying Raspberry Extract looked unlike the rest of the range and I wondered what it could be.

True to its name, it does have raspberry (leaf) extract. But apart from this antioxidant, there is nothing else positive to say about Essential Skincare Clarifying Raspberry Extract. Not only do the rest of the ingredients cause me to shudder, this toner (?) has a price tag of $80 – for what boils down to water, fragrance and preservatives.

Some consumers will be put off by propylene glycol appearing high up on the ingredients list, as it is classified as an irritant by the National Library of Medicine. The fragrance includes linalool, a potentially carcinogenic component, and the medley of preservatives includes every paraben known to man, as well as sodium hydroxide (a horribly strong irritant that even with solutions as weak as .12% has been shown to destruct healthy skin cells within one hour) and phenoxyethanol, a possible neurotoxin and irritant.

In case you are thinking that I am unfairly picking on just one of Kerstin Florian’s products, then I invite you to take a look at the Kerstin Florian Correcting Serum C+ Infusion ($85). Given the name of this product, I was expecting vitamin C to dominate, but pride of place goes to methylsilanol hydroxyproline aspartate , an amino acid. The vitamin C, which comes after a fair amount of silicone, isn’t a bad one: tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is effective in lower concentrations than traditional Vitamin C, making it less expensive for formulators, as well as gentler for the user. You have to get through more silicone, the preservative chlorphenesin (a possible neurotoxin), polymers and what have you to get to algin (seaweed). Then there’s sodium benzoate, sodium hydroxide and several other preservatives that threaten to drown a drop of sea water (that presumably came with the seaweed).

My credit card stayed in my wallet.

Ingredients in Clarifying Raspberry Extract: Water (aqua), Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Rubus Idaeus (raspberry) Leaf Extract, Ppg-26-buteth-26, Sorbitol, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (parfum) [contains Citronellol, Linalool, And Geraniol], Rose Flower Oil (rosa Spp.), Sodium Hydroxide, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propyl- Paraben, Red 33 (ci 17200).

Ingredients in Correcting Serum C+: Water, Pentylene Glycol, Methylsilanol Hydroxproline Aspartate, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Divinyldimethicone/Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum, Dimethicone Crosspolymer-3, Squalane, Chlorphenesin, PEG-40 Stearate, Caprylyl Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Hydrolyzed Algin, Sodium Benzoate, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Peel Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Dimethiconol, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Sea Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Polysorbate 60, Methylisothiazolinone, Tropolone.