Sunday, June 11, 2017

Analyzing Juice Beauty's Phyto-Pigments Flawless Serum Foundation

On the wonderful Facebook page run by SciBabe there has been a lively discussion about a bottle of Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Flawless Serum Foundation. SciBabe saw the bottle had separated while shopping in a cosmetic store, and a discussion ensued about this brand and its Creative Director of Make-up, Gwyneth Paltrow.

As an aside, this is a foundation I made that you can try making at home if you click here and check out the post! 

Let's take a look at the list of ingredients and what each brings to the mix. If you'd like a more detailed explanation of the ingredient, click on the link in the name to see a post from this blog. I have linked to other references and shops where you can find these ingredients as I find them.

Please note, none of these links are affiliate links. I receive nothing from no one if you click through. I provide them so you can learn more, not to make money. 

Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Juice)*, Carthamnus Tinctorius (Organic Safflower Oil)*, Organic Glycerin*, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Coconut Alkanes, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate (Plant Derived), Gluconolactone (Plant Derived), Cetearyl Olivate (Plant Derived), Sorbitan Olivate (Plant Derived), Sodium Benzoate, Decyl Glucoside (Plant Derived), Silica, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Sodium Bicarbonate, Citrus Limonum Leaf Cell Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower Seed Oil), Vitis Vinifera (Organic Grape Seed Oil)*, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Argania Spinosa (Argan Shell Powder), Rosa Gallica (Rose Flower Powder). May Contan: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

*Certified organic ingredient

Aloe vera: A wonderful hydrator and film former that contains a lot of electrolytes, which can mess with an emulsion or surfactant mix (like shampoo or body wash). It's water soluble and considered to be water in a recipe.

Safflower oil: A light and greasy feeling high linoleic fatty acid oil that contains 3640 to 4140 ppm phytosterols - the unsaponifiable bits that act as anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories - and around 460 ppm tocopherols, like Vitamin E that act as anti-oxidants. I have read it can have a shelf life of up to two years, but I cannot imagine how this could be given it has such large amounts of linoleic fatty acid, so I'd suggest that it has a shelf life of about 6 to 9 months. (I will be writing more about this oil shortly...)

You can get high oleic safflower oil that will have a longer shelf life than the conventional safflower oil with more linoleic acid. (Oleic acid has one double bond, which means it lasts longer than something like linoleic acid with two double bonds.) If you'd like to learn more about this, please read this post on fatty acids.

Safflower oil references:
This chart
This page
This page
This abstract
This paper
This paper

Glycerin: A humectant that draws water from the atmosphere to our skin to restore normal hydration in the stratum corneum, increased skin elasticity, and improved barrier recovery. It's water soluble and generally used at around 3% as it can get sticky at higher levels.

Potassium Cetyl Phosphate: This is an anionic or negatively charged oil-in-water emulsifier used to bring oil and water together. (Click here for more about the process of emulsification.) (Reference,

Sorbitan Sesquioleate: A sorbitan based emulsifier that contans about 70% oleic acid with the rest composed of stearic acid and linoleic acid.(Reference) This emulsifier is emerging as a contact allergen. (Reference)

Coconut Alkanes: An emollient ingredient used as a substitute for silicones, like cyclomethicone or dimethicone. These ingredients generally feel quite light and add slip and glide to a product. It may not help with the soaping effect the way dimethicone does. This ingredient is "obtained from the complete reduction and hydrogenation of a mixture of fatty acids derived from..." coconut oil.  (Reference and another reference.) These ingredients generally feel quite light and add slip and glide to a product.

Coco-Caprylate/Caprate (Plant Derived): This is a medium weight, high spreading ester derived from coconuts. I quite like it as an emollient ingredient as as substitute for any other oil as it has a less greasy feeling. Oil soluble.

Gluconolactone (Plant Derived): Can be found in combination with sodium benzoate, used as a chelating and sequestering ingredient to create a broad spectrum, ECOcert preservative. (See it here at Lotioncrafter). In this combination, it's used at 0.75% to 2%. I've used it in the form of NataPres. (Click to see that link).

Cetearyl Olivate (Plant Derived): This is found in Olivem 1000 as an emulsifier combined with sorbitan olivate. It's a liquid crystal emulsifier that offers a lighter feel than something like Polawax. It's generally combined with cetearyl alcohol and glyceryl stearate, carbomer, or xanthan gum for stability. Use at up to 8% in an oil in water lotion.

Sorbitan Olivate (Plant Derived): As noted, this is found in Olivem 1000 with cetearyl olivate.

Quick aside: They didn't include cetearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, carbomer, or xanthan gum in this recipe for stability. A few of those things would fit into this company's belief system, right?

Sodium Benzoate: This is an organic acid used as an anti-fungal and bacteriostatic preservative. (Bacteriostatic ingredients mess with bacteria's metabolism, but they don't kill them.) As mentioned above, it can be combined with gluconolactone. Water soluble.

I'm a bit confused about how this ingredient is considered green and natural these days. Back in the 90s, it was the enemy, a horrible chemical preservative that should be avoided. I'm not sure how it's now considered awesome. I have no problems with it, just weirded out that it's all okay now. 

Decyl Glucoside (Plant Derived): This is a foamy, bubbly, lathery surfactant with an alkaline pH (higher than 8) that we use in things like shampoo, facial cleansers, and bubble baths. I'm a little confused why I'm seeing it here because this isn't a cleanser. Water soluble.

Silica: A powder used in make-up and colour cosmetics because it offers a silky, smooth feeling when applied. There are many variations on it - I've written about Ronaspheres before - and I'm not sure which one this could be. Disperses in oils. (Reference at Making Cosmetics and this one at Cosmetics Info)

Hydroxyethylcellulose: A non-ionic or neutrally charged thickener. Generally used at low levels, like 0.1% to 3%. Water soluble.

Sodium Bicarbonate: Baking soda. It has a pH of over 8, so it's alkaline. I have no idea why it is used in this product. Water soluble.

Citrus Limonum Leaf Cell Extract: This is lemon leaf extract. As with any botanical ingredient, it contins a lot of interesting components, but I can't find a specific cosmetic ingredient that fits this name. (Check out this study on the cool stuff this plant contains!)

Is this the "juice" part of the Juice Beauty product? If so, it's pretty far down the list! 

Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower Seed Oil): A light, greasy feeling oil full of lovely linoleic acid. It has a shelf life of about 3 to 6 months in this form. You can find a high oleic version that will have a longer shelf life. Oil soluble.

Vitis Vinifera (Organic Grape Seed Oil)*: A light, non-greasy feeling oil full of linoleic acid with a short shelf life of about 3 months. Oil soluble.

Tocopherol (Vitamin E): An anti-oxidant that can extend the shelf life of oils in a lotion. Used as low as 0.05% when using something like T-50. Oil soluble.

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C): Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is an oil soluble Vitamin C used to promote a more even skin tone. The suggested usage rate is 0.5% to 2%, but you can go as high as 10%, if you wished.

I used it in this recipe, if you're interested in trying it. You'll see it in many many products in the near future...

Argania Spinosa (Argan Shell Powder): An abrasive powder from the ground shells of the argan nut. (Reference, reference, reference.) I think it might be in here as a colourant because I have no idea why a physical exfoliant would be in a leave on product like.
I have no idea what this is doing in this product, to be honest.

Rosa Gallica (Rose Flower Powder): A fine powder that acts as an exfoliant or colourant.  (Reference, reference that it is used as a colourant).

As an aside, I think these are the PHYTO-PIGMENTS in the name of the product! A-ha! Sorry, just got a little excited there! 

May Contain:
Titanium Dioxide: A very white powder used in cosmetics to make products opaque or white. I used it a lot in my mineral make-up to make eye shadows stay on longer and look more pastel, for sample. I also use it in lipsticks to make the product more of a lipstick with a deeper colour than a lip balm might be. And it can be used as a physical sunscreen blocker.

Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499): These ingredients are used as colourants and come in earthy tones like brown, red, yellow, and so on. I use them as the base of a colour cosmetic - for instance, if I want to make a brown eye shadow, I'd start with a brown iron oxide then add mica for shimmer and to alter the colour slightly - and they're very concentrated. They'd be used in this produt to make it into a coloured foundation.

What kind of product do we have here? We have an oil in water lotion that contains four different emulsifiers - sorbitan olivate, cetearyl olivate, potassium cetyl phosphate, and sorbitan sesquioleate - and two preservatives - sodium benzoate and gluconolactone. It contains some oils with very short shelf lives - sunflower, safflower, and grapeseed - along with a silicone substitute and ester for emolliency. It contains some colours, botanical and iron oxides, which makes it a colour cosmetic.

What's the point of all of this? There were a few things that came up in the discussion - that separation is normal, that having to shake a bottle because the colours have fallen to the bottom is normal, that shaking a serum is normal - and a few things that bugged me while reading more about this product. That's what this next section is about....

In the conversation on the SciBabe Facebook page, people were saying it's normal to have the colours fall to the bottom of a serum that contains colourants, that it's usual to shake them before using.

A few thoughts, if you will indulge me...There isn't a definition for the word serum. It could be an all oil product, an oil and silicone product, a silicone product, a water based product, an oil in water lotion, and so on. We can't say that all sera have problem x or that it's normal for a serum to have problem x because there's not a single definition about what a serum might be. I make an anhydrous or all oil serum that most certainly wouldn't suspend iron oxides and other colourants, but my silicone serum most certainly should.

In this case, it's an oil in water lotion, which we've demonstrated because it contains water, oils, and four emulsifiers. They call it a serum, which is fine as there's no definition for that word.

An ideal colour cosmetic should have the ingredients in it to keep the pigments suspended or the colours won't be properly distributed when applied to your skin. I have never witnessed a foundation in a store for sale that had its pigments on the bottom of the bottle, and I have never had a sales person tell me to shake the bottle for that reason. The only bottles I've seen with pigments on the bottom were old ones that should have been thrown away. I realize that I am only one person and my experiences aren't the same as data, but I'm very confused by the idea that natural, organic, or expensive colour products should be shaken to redistribute the pigmetns based on my experiences, readings, and studies.

Having said this, the hydroxyethylcellulose should help to thicken the product so it can suspend the pigments.

If the pigments aren't suspended in the lotion, then they will fall to the bottom. This isn't separation.

Separation occurs when the oil phase and the water phase of a lotion separate and stop being emulsified. This isn't a good thing as the preservative could partition into one section or another and this leaves the product susceptible to contamination. A well designed product with adequate levels of emulsifiers shouldn't result in separation.

Related post: Why did my lotion fail?

It was suggested many times during the discussion that it's normal for natural or organic lotions to separate. It's not normal for any lotion to separate. If it separates, it's a failure.

I make natural, green, ECOcert lotions with Ritamulse SCGSimulgreen 18-2, and Montanov 68 all the time, and they don't fail because they are made properly. So being "natural" or "organic" doesn't mean the products are poorly formulated or manufactured.

Even if separation of a natural or organic product was normal, this product contains four different emulsifiers, so it wasn't intended to separate.

One of the reasons given by someone was that perhaps it's hard to formulate a product that won't separate when they have a strict brand standard that disallows so many ingredients. I disagree because not only do they have many good emulsifiers at their disposal, they included four of them in this product.

I can't stress this enough: The ingredient list tells the tale of a product that was intended to be a non-separating oil-in-water lotion that included a thickener so the pigments would stay suspended. It isn't safe to use if the product has separated. 

I have to address this "Full Unacceptable List" in the Clean Beauty section of their site. If you can read this tiny picture, you'll notice that "tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate" is on the list of terrible ingredients, but didn't we just review it in this product?

On this same list, they don't allow a lot of esters - very light, generally non-greasy oil type ingredients - like my favourites isopropyl myristate and cetearyl ethylhexanoate, but they're using coco caprylate/caprate in this product. It's another ester. It isn't natural, it didn't come out of the coconut in that form, so why is one allow, but not the other?

What about using polyglycerol-4-laurate - which is allowed and found in this product - and polyglycerol-4-isostearate? Why is one okay and the other not?

Why do I care so much? Because I get really annoyed by companies who use fear mongering to market their products. (Plus, it's interesting to analyze products to learn more about how we can formulate at home.)

On their site, they claim "our skin can absorb up to 60% of what is placed on it..." This is a ridiculous claim and has been disputed time and time again - one example here - but the myth persists because fearmongering is a great way to get you to buy something.

As an aside, I guess this could be interpreted that maybe 0% or 10% or 20% is absorbed because they use "up to 60%" in that quote, so it could be accurate. 
Consider this quote from the Simpsons...
"To protect Mother Earth, each copy contains a percentage of recycled material." 
"And what percent is that?"
"Zero. Zero's a percent."
I say this an awful lot every day...

If this statistic is true, then I'd be 60% composed of twill, cotton, body wash, lotion, chocolate, and a lot of chips. Our skin is designed to keep things out, and healthy skin does this very well.

If you wish to discuss this point, please don't use the example of patches containing nicotine, estrogen, or other medications as those things took years to figure out and perfect. It's not as simple as rubbing a cigarette on your arm to get your nic fix. 

Here's my final thought, for now: If you like this product and want to use it, that's great! My goal isn't to slag this company or its products. And my goal isn't to make you feel stupid about liking the company or buying something from them. My goal for this blog and for this post is always to share information with people who love making bath & body products as much as I do. I hope this blog is a safe space where we can discuss things, learn more, and make mistakes together.

Okay, I'm done for a bit. I'd love to hear your thoughts below! (Remember to keep the discourse at a level you'd be proud for your parents, grandparents, or children to read.)


Charlette said...

Hello Susan,
Sometimes we learn just as much from faulty products and the why's and wherefore's teach us what NOT to do. I like the learning experience. My thought is WHY BOTHER buying an inferior product like this when so many excellent products are out there? It's annoying to me that a celebrity puts her name on something--and then the price is pumped up. It doesn't seem like any of the ingredients deserve the higher price tag. As consumers, maybe we need to look for good quality vs the hype.

firegirl said...

Thanks, Susan, that's a really great article. I love reading ingredient lists. I suppose I feel a little bit of Schadenfreude - I am still traumatised by spending a lot of money as a teenager on a fancy, hypoallergenic care line that put my skin on fire like nothing else. I was using drugstore skincare afterwards and now make my own. Ingredient lists can give you great ideas (or laughs at times). I recently bought some gluconodeltalactone. It sounds great as it seems to have a care and a preservation aspect. It was pretty cheap too!

Eve Wilson said...

Hi Susan.
I manufacture a range of body/skin/hair care products which I sell from my little shop, to B&Bs, Spas and also through agents. I've been formulating my products for over 8 years and I still look forward to my work every day. I've been lurking around your website and reading everything you write for ages, because I'm a big fan of your no-nonsense, straight and easy writing style and your passion for this wonderful subject. Mixing science with creativity is not a very common ability but you do it so
effortlessly! My products contain a high percentage of natural ingredients which is how I market them but at no time have I ever tried to pass them off as "100% natural" or "organic". In my opinion, my products are just as beneficial to the skin of my customer as any so called 100% organic product, because it contains non-controversial, proper preservatives which ensure they are safe to use for long periods of time. I would far rather my customer is kept safe from bacterial or fungal infections than risk using a "natural preservative" (contradiction in terms) which at some stage may fail or expire. I have tried every one that I can get my hands on but none have yet been completely satisfactory in my tests. I'm still looking!

Natalie Maltais said...

Hi Susan,
Thank you for taking the time to put the information out there. It's nuts how many sites and blogs copy and paste crap they've read elsewhere, without questioning validity (this seems to be rampant on SO many subjects). Thank you for sharing your knowledge and for clarifying some of the misinformation.