Orlane Paris is one of the few skincare brands that nearly every skin-savvy mom recognizes no matter how current she is with the latest cosmetic trends or technology. That's because Orlane has been around for several generations, having grown up around the same time as today's new grandmothers. After launching its first fragrance in 1946, Orlane moved into skin care a year later, formulating one of the first creams to contain active ingredients. While testing some items from the B21 Bio-Energic line, including the Absolute Skin Recovery Care Eye Contour and the Vivifying Lotion, I came to understand why Orlane has been many women's luxury line of choice. But, at the same time, I began to mistrust this reason.

While I can't say I am enamored with their ingredients, I love the way these products remind me of being pampered at a spa. With prices ranging from $50 (Vivifying Lotion) to $115 (Eye Contour), Orlane's B21 line is a real indulgence, as are most things French. The smell is subtle, and the texture luxurious. Feeding off its impression of richness and superiority, mothers of all ages have enjoyed this line for decades.

Orlane's Vivifying Lotion is an alcohol-free toner that refreshes, balances, and softens the skin while at the same time enhancing benefits from active ingredients in other products. It is ideal for removing a face mask or preparing the delicate skin around the eye for the Absolute Skin Recovery Care Eye Contour, which is a milky hybrid treatment. Not quite a serum but also not a rich cream, the Eye Contour visibly reduces puffiness, sending bags under the eyes to start packing and lifting the eyelid area. White lily extracts decongest and smooth the area, while hydrolyzed wheat protein delivers a tightening effect. Although I liked the feel of both items right from the start, I was disheartened to see a mother's favorite flop so spectacularly when I flipped over the box to read the ingredients label.

Artificial fragrances and colors abound. Neither of these products is a stranger to parabens or phenoxyethanol, which crop up much higher on the ingredients list than other cases which might be dismissed. The eye cream is guilty of potentially pore-clogging mineral oil, and the astringent has to own up to dubious propylene glycol, though both of these ingredients tend to be spared blame when they are included at cosmetic grade. Then there are a number of possible irritants and/or carcinogens, from geraniol and chlorphenesin to triethanolamine and tetrasodium EDTA.

As a counterbalance to these undesirables, the Eye Contour boasts methylsilanol, which has been shown to keep damaged tissue from losing its elasticity, and allantoin, which is known to promote healthy tissue formation. Though I am used to heavier treatments around my eyes, I enjoyed the change of pace of the Eye Contour's lightweight consistency. It let my eye skin breathe and actually appeared to drain the area of excess fluid and eliminate toxins.

The Vivifying Lotion seems to forego not just alcohol, but also just about all other active ingredients that would have long-lasting benefits. Nonetheless, it has been a source of comfort in times of stress and hormonal fluctuations, softening and re-balancing my skin without the stinging or drying side-effects common to toners. All in all, as much as I like the outward results of both products, they don't hold much to write home about. Favoring actual quality over the perception of quality, I certainly will not be bringing them home as a gift this Mother's Day.

 

Ingredients in Absolute Skin Recovery Care Eye Contour:

Water, PEG-75, Glycerin, Mineral Oil, Butylene Glycol, Petrolatum, Hydrogenated Coconut Oil, Soybean Extract, Methylsilanol, Mannuronate, Distarch Phosphate, Phenyl Trimethicone, Coconut Oil, Octyl Isononanoate, White Lily Extract, Glucose, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Methylparaben, Corn Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Triethanolamine, Acrylates / C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Caprylic / Capric Triglyceride, Propylparaben, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Allantoin, O-Cymen-5-Ol, Ethylparaben, Lecithin, Butylparaben, Glycogen, Sodium Hyaluronate, BHA, Eicosapentaenoic Acid


Ingredients in Vivifying Lotion:

Water/Aqua, Propylene Glycol, Urea, Oleth-20, Sodium PCA, Phenoxyethanol, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Argnine Glutamate, Parfum (Fragrance), Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Chlorphenesin, CI 42090 (Blue 1), CI 60730 (Ext Violet 2), CI 17200 (Red 33), Linalool, Coumarin, Limonene, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Amyl Cinnamal, Hydroxyisohexyl-3 Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Geraniol, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Isoeugenol, Citronellol