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Luzern Laboratories Pure Cosmeceuticals is a spa line you may not be familiar with. Its origins are in medi-spas and dermatologists’ offices but the line is unique in that it’s not what it may appear to be. At first glance of the product packaging, Luzern appears to be a European line. While many of the ingredients are sourced in Switzerland, the company is proud to say its products are made in the USA. I also would have guessed that a spa line using the word “cosmeceuticals” in the name would be teeming with cutting-edge ingredients that some may consider harmful. Luzern’s definition of cosmeceutical embodies highly active ingredients used at concentrated levels. Moreover, the company considers its line to be “natural skin care,” and is vegetarian and cruelty free.
New Beauty magazine has noted, “for those who live a ‘green lifestyle,’ there is the organic and preservative-free Luzern line of skincare.” Interestingly, while Luzern considers its products environmentally sustainable, the company admits to eschewing organic certification, which would require omitting what it considers safe and effective ingredients. Rather, its approach is to avoid obviously egregious ingredients, including formaldehydes, petrochemicals, parabens, and sulfates, while incorporating Ecocert (European Community Certified) and Bio-Swiss Certified Organic ingredients whenever possible. Luzern’s approach to formulations is to combine high quantities of safe pharmaceutical-grade ingredients along with natural ingredients. Canyon Ranch spa added the line to its offerings last year.
Luzern had sent me the Pure Cleansing Crème ($38), and I admit I had my doubts. I’m very results oriented and I’ve found many “natural” cleansers to be heavy in oils and generally ineffective. I’m also not a fan of cream cleansers and my recent experience with an organic cleansing cream had been less than favorable. In addition, Luzern specializes in sensitive skincare, and the cleanser is known as the celebrity go-to for sensitive skin (Emma Watson is a fan). My skin is not particularly sensitive, so I wondered if the mild cleanser would deliver.
The formulation contains soothing aloe, jojoba, cucumber and hyssop extract, a medicinal plant known for its antiseptic properties. The formulation is free of sulfates and parabens, employing sodium cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein, a mild natural soap derived from soy and potassium sorbate, a mild preservative used as a paraben alternative. The crème has glucose oxidase, which contains three important amino acids, and lactoperoxidase, an antioxidant enzyme from milk that is known to have antimicrobial properties. Overall, I found the product to be a mild formulation with two possible exceptions. There is some debate about the adverse effects of ceteareth-20 when used on damaged skin; however, both the FDA and EU allow its use in personal care as long as certain guidelines are followed. The EU allows cetyl-alcohol, a skin softener, to be used in cosmetics as long as it’s derived from plants. However, it is viewed as a potential irritant by some dermatologists who recommend that individuals with sensitive skin or rosacea avoid it.
The cleansing crème is actually milky in consistency and has only the slightest fragrance. Although I don’t wear makeup, I actually have a lot on my face. I wear two antioxidants and two sunscreens, so my skin still requires a good cleanser. Big-city living sometimes makes me feel like I have a grimy film on my face by the end of the day. The first time I used the cleanser, I applied one pump onto my Clarisonic Mia, which I quickly ran under a stream of water. I was disappointed - my face didn’t seem to be particularly clean. I tried using the cleanser without the Clarisonic and two pumps of the crème, which yielded better results. Nevertheless, my face just doesn’t feel as clean without the Mia’s sonic oscillation that literally shakes all the product and dirt out of my pores.
Upon reading the directions on Luzern’s website (I didn’t think I needed directions for a cleanser), it appears the crème is water activated and should be applied to moistened skin. I normally avoid this as I find most cleansers become too foamy. The cleanser barely foams due to the lack of sulfates (or soap), which can strip skin of its natural moisture. Once I broke out of my habitual cleansing routine and used two pumps of the cleanser as directed, I found it to be very effective! The light crème doesn’t leave behind a greasy residue when rinsed off. It left my skin feeling clean and soft. My face also felt very hydrated, which is especially ideal for use in colder months. I usually switch to a mild cleanser a week prior to any professional treatment, and I will certainly use this cleanser for that purpose. Overall, I would imagine this gentle cleanser would be ideal for pre/post professional treatments as well as for sensitive skin types.