Over the past month, my skin has rebelled against my every move - literally. I’ve had to pack up my entire home and uproot, quit my job, adjust to a new city, and get by on little to no sleep while crate-training a puppy. I’m no math pro, but I know that all those life changes plus strained emotions (stress, anxiety, exhaustion) add up to troubled skin. One day my face feels tight and dry, with random flakes sprouting across my forehead and around my nose; the next day, those barren sections have been replaced with a minefield of blemishes. My skin seems to be testing me with every problem in the book - It’s a rebel with many causes.

In the past, I have set inconsistent skin straight by changing up my face cleanser and keeping everything else in my routine the same. Cleansers really can make all the difference. While SenZen’s Perfect Balance Cleanser ($39 in the TIA Shop) sounded like a perfect match for my misbehaving skin, I instead tried out SenZen’s Age Away Cleanser because it promised to deeply moisturize and soothe stressed skin. I desperately needed both powers at work on my confused complexion.

The Age Away and Perfect Balance cleansers share a creamy consistency, a light lather, a muted (zen-like?) color, and a pearly sheen (which - as Marta pointed out - smacks of cheap shampoo). Their gentle cleansing ability comes from several natural coconut-derived surfactants (lauryl glucoside, cocamidopropyl betaine, coco glucoside). Both formulas benefit from the SenZen Energized Liposomal Blend, which makes use of liposomes to effectively deliver vitamins and other nutrients. Beyond antioxidant-charged extracts of green tea, white tea, and red tea, the formulas diverge where their key actives enter the picture.

Age Away’s botanical extracts span from the exotic schisandra chinensis, a fruit native to Asia that has long been used as a tonic for skin disorders, to the more common flax seed extract, valued for its healing effects on acne and other skin conditions. More blemish-healing power stems from job’s tears seed extract, a popular inclusion in Japanese cleansers by Kose and Seikisho. Interesting that there would be so many anti-blemish components in an anti-aging product. How common is adult-onset acne, really?

Fairly high on the ingredients list is the anti-ager Tetrapeptide-17, supposedly endowed with the ability to activate collagen production and stimulate skin cell renewal. I can’t vouch for its power at the cellular level, but I have noticed a fresh-faced glow after washing with Age Away. The formula’s lavender oil and grapefruit oil help to restore hydration after the surfactants do their thing. Yet, my skin does not feel particularly moisturized after Age Away. The level of moisture left behind post-cleanser is probably perfect for normal-oily skin. Mine is, and will likely always remain, on the dry side.

For the most part, formula and performance both get top marks. I appreciate the way it ever-so-subtly froths and removes a day’s worth of makeup. My skin has calmed down and seems to be back on track to Normalsville. However, just as Marta strayed away from the Perfect Balance cleanser, I did not find myself drawn to Age Away every day. Perhaps it’s the thirsty sensation my skin gets immediately after washing. Or maybe it’s the marauders that sneak in at the end and raid the ingredients list: the phenoxyethanol, PEGs, artificial fragrance, and coloring. I can recommend Age Away for cleansing, soothing, and balancing only with these caveats.

Ingredients:
Water, Lauryl Glucoside, Coco Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sucrose Cocoate, Glycerin, Tetrapeptide-17, SENZEN Energized Liposomal Blend, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Extract, Camellia Sinesis Leaf (White Tea) Extract, Aspalathus Linearis (Red Tea) Extract, Rose Laevigata Fruit Extract, Coix Lacryma-jobi (Job’s Tears) Seed Extract, Schisandra Chinesis Fruit Extract, Montmorillonite (Trace Minerals), Linum Usitatissimum (Flax) Seed Extract, Starch Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Oil, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Glycol Distearate, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Citric Acid, Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum), FD&C Blue 1 (CL 42090), D&C Red No. 33 (Cl 17200).