I'm an eyeliner and mascara fanatic. I grew up having to cover my eyes with super-thick glasses, and now that I wear contact lenses I do whatever it takes to accentuate my eyes. But after many years of devoutly applying eye makeup, I keep running into the same problem. Most removers irritate and burn my eyes even if I've taken out my contacts. And when I do find one gentle enough for my sensitive eyes, it inevitably fails to completely remove all my eyeliner. That's why I was so excited to try Seaderm Laboratoire's Eau Demaquillante (Make-up removing water), a product that one of Marta's friends brought over all the way from Belgium.

Seaderm Laboratoires' mission is simple: "The Best of the Sea for Your Skin." The Belgian company, which was developed by pharmacists specializing in dermatology, roots itself in the skincare benefits of marine biology. More specifically, they strive to incorporate "re-energizing algae derivatives from the Atlantic ocean, soothing ingredients from the Dead Sea, and...extracts from the Pacific Ocean" into each one of their products. The Make-up Removing Water, a part of the Sea (Soft) line, is specifically designed for sensitive skin. It's gentle enough to use on the "sensitive areas around the eyes and the lips," and claims to simultaneously moisturize the skin as it cleanses. With all this in mind, coupled with the fact that rinsing is optional, I had really high hopes for Seaderm's product, thinking that it would finally put an end to all my troubles with makeup removers.

When I first tested it out, I was wearing a minimal amount of makeup (bronzer, eyeliner (powder) and mascara). I used a cotton pad to wipe the solution all over my face, opting not to rinse it off with water. I was pleasantly surprised with its lightweight and water-like consistency, a refreshing change from most other oily makeup removers. I don't know if it was its light blue tint, but it truly felt as if I were dousing my skin with European spring water. It managed to remove all my makeup without stripping my skin, and my face was left feeling adequately hydrated. Unfortunately, it only took 45 seconds for a small hive to crop up on my left cheek, at which point I really began to regret not rinsing off the solution. It could very well have been all in my head, but it started to feel like there was a film sitting on my face.

I was wearing a ton more makeup the next chance I got to try out the make-up removing water. While it managed to take off all my foundation and blush, it was not nearly as successful in removing my waterproof eyeliner. I had to resort to voraciously scrubbing my lids with a q-tip, and even then, I still woke up the next morning with remnants of black liner nesting underneath my eyes. I was pleased that it didn't cause any more irritations, but that's probably because I rinsed it off with water this time. I tested it out for the rest of the week with similar results:

For the most part, I liked how it removed my foundation without drying out my skin, but I wished it were better at taking off waterproof eye makeup. I also had to make sure to thoroughly rinse it off to keep my skin from getting irritated. But all in all, I was feeling pretty neutral about Seaderm's Make-up Removing Water--that is--until I took a peek at the ingredient list.

First, you have your standard plant based emollients, emulsifiers and solvents. These ingredients, particularly PEG-6 caprylic/capric glycerides, are responsible for giving the Make-up Removing Water its light, non-greasy texture and good spreadability. A few of them, however, contain PEGs, suspected carcinogens that may enhance the dermal penetration of other toxic ingredients and that can potentially irritate the skin.

It also contains a couple of surfactants (polysorbate-20 & octoxynol-12), which work to clean the makeup off your face. In general, these cleansing ingredients are excellent choices because they're non-ionic, which keeps them from disrupting the properties of all the other ingredients contained in the product. Plus, they're gentle enough to be used in hypoallergenic cosmetics. Unfortunately though, they weren't effective enough to remove my waterproof eyeliner.

But if anything is supposed to set this makeup remover apart from the rest, it's the two ingredients maris aqua (sea water) and algae extract. I have to confess that, with a skincare line that prides itself on making marine based products, I was expecting Seaderm to include more than just two of their so-called "best of the sea" ingredients. Granted, it is just a makeup remover- not an anti-aging serum- and perhaps I'm being a little harsh. Yet when I see an ingredient like maris aqua (sea water), the skeptic in me can't help but question:

Does water as a cosmetic ingredient improve my skin?

Well...we know that "ordinary" water has no proven benefits for the skin. Studies have shown that people with dry skin have just about the same moisture levels as those with oily skin, and that only a 10% concentration of water is required for the skin to feel soft. In actuality, it's the epidermis' lipid structure- not water content- that mostly determines hydration and pliability. Now for the obvious next question:

How is maris aqua (sea water) any different from "ordinary" water?

Though it's never specified, I'm assuming that this particular brand of sea water comes from the Dead Sea (tSeaderm provides a whole page of info about it on their website). The company claims that because of the Dead Sea's high mineral content, as well as its surrounding geographical conditions (i.e. higher atmospheric pressure, elevated oxygen levels, decrease in UV rays), the sea's contents can provide anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and purifying benefits for the skin. On one hand, it's true that the Dead Sea's water contains  a 32 % concentration of salts (i.e. magnesium, sulphur), compared to the 3% salt content of  ordinary water. On the other hand though, there's very little research to support the effects of topically applied "sea water." Granted, there have been several studies showing Dead Sea mud to be an effective treatment for various conditions like eczema and psoriasis, but its water has only been proven to be effective as a bath or soak for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis.

Even if one were to assume that maris aqua is as extraordinary as Seaderm purports it to be, then why is aqua (ordinary water) still at the top of the ingredient list, making up for the highest concentrated substance in the makeup remover? Why not replace aqua with maris aqua all together?  In my opinion, it seems like maris aqua works better as a marketing ploy than a significant skin care ingredient.

The second marine based ingredient, algae extract, has more supporting scientific data on its side. This ingredient, which is often referred to as chlorella vulgaris extract, is loaded with many of the same amino acids that constitute our lipid barrier and effect our skin's hydration (far more than water). It's also rich in carotenoids (which have been proven to help protect against UV rays) and poryphirins (which have been proven to help detoxify the body). Several studies have shown algae extract to lessen the appearance of scars & stretch marks, stimulate collagen production, prevent the breakdown of elasticity and increase the skin's density and firmness. Though more tests are needed to substantiate these findings, current research seems promising.

Nevertheless, algae's potential benefits are completely negated by the remaining ingredients contained in the product, mostly a collection of harmful stabilizers, preservatives and fragrance additives. Disodium EDTA- a chelating agent, stabilizer and preservative- has been shown to be cytotoxic and genotoxic to animals, and poses a significant threat to marine life through contaminated waters. It's seems ironic that a skincare line who prides itself on providing "The Best of the Sea for Your Skin," would make use of ingredients that harm the very thing that's "helping" them in the first place. Phenoxyethanol is another potentially toxic preservative, insomuch that the FDA recently released a warning stating that it may "depress the central nervous system and may cause
vomiting and diarrhea." Among the preservatives, you'll also find methylparaben, ethylparaben and propylparaben- all of which have been shown to penetrate the skin, cause irritations and possibly disrupt the endocrin system. Some research also links these parabens to cancerous tumors, though no one known for sure whether it's actually a carcinogen.

Unfortunately, it gets even worse with the fragrance ingredients citronellol, limonene, and linalool. They've all been proven to cause irritations and allergic reactions, which is why the European Union (and FDA) requires it to be labeled in the first place. Both the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission and the EU list limonene as an allergen, and some studies suggest that it may be toxic.

It racks my brain to even try to understand why a product- that is specifically designed for sensitive skin-would include such irritating ingredients. Dr. Daniel Yarosh, author of The New Science of Perfect Skin and founder of AGI Dermatics, advises everyone to avoid fragrance ingredients, especially when they're contained in a cleansing product. He explains how often, with irritating fragrance additives, cosmetic manufacturers try to trick the consumer by telling them that if they feel a "tingle," the product is working. In truth, however, the "tingle" results from fragrance additives (and other sensitising ingredients) drying out the skin and creating unneccesary irritations.

Come to think of it...I did feel some tingling with the make-up remover. And while my skin did feel moisturized afterwards (probably the glycerin), my skin definitey had a negative reaction, most probably due to the fragrance additives. It seems a little counterproductive coming from a product that claims to be suitable for sensitive skin. If you ask me, I'd rather use a product that doesn't smell nice over one that causes me to break out in hives any day!

Ingredients in Seaderm's Make-up Removing Water:

Aqua (water), PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Polysorbate-20, Maris Aqua (Sea Water), Algae Extract, Soluble Collagen, Glycerin, Octoxynol-12, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Disodium Edta, Parfum (fragrance), Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Cl 42090 (Blue 1), Cl 19140 (Yellow 5), Benzyl Salicylate, Butylpenyl Methylpropional, Citronellol, Limonene, Linalool