Friday 14 January 2011

Put to the Test: Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic

I have previously admitted on here that I have not always toned. There once was a time long, long ago where I wasn't really into the traditional 3-step of the cleanse, tone and moisturise. I'd obviously take off my make up. This used to be with such damp rags those make up remover wipes (which I now believe cleanse your face about as well as a sneeze from a stranger. Sure it looks clean but is it really... you know, clean?). Prior to that and we're talking a long time ago now, a bit of eye make up remover and rubbishy face wash.

Oh how things have changed...

I have grown to love a good cleanse. And another Liz Earle product, the famous Cleanse and Polish, had a lot to do with that. But we all know about this cleanser. It's in every magazine, it's reviewed on many a beauty website and it deserves to be a cult favourite because it is a dream for your face. And the method of softly buffing it away with a hot muslin cloth, although not unique to Liz Earle, plays an important part of the cleansing process (it's my favourite bit) and a very effective way of gently exfoliating too!

Right. Sorry. So I'm getting to the point. This toner was sent to me as a free sample from the Liz Earle website when I bought the cleanser. And boy! did I feel special receiving unexpected little hand-wrapped presents. I may have fallen for the trick but now I love this toner. It smells like baby powder in a very floral and old fashioned way which is so refreshing!

So after cleanisng, be it with the Liz Earle classique or another (I like to dabble but always return to it in the end) I now always sweep a little of this beautiful toning water across my squeaky but very comfortably clean skin. Morning and night. It freshens the skin and uplifts the spirit! It's contains calendula, chamomile and cucumber and natural vitamin E. All very soothing. Lovely. It also contains essential oils of lavender, rose geranium and sweet orange. And is a heaven-scent!

BUT. I'm afraid there is a but. And it is in bold. Fourth on the ingredients list is a PEG! (Before you despair there is a happy ending to this. Sort of.) A PEG?! Yes! It's PEG - 40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil.

I was a happy user of this product before seeing how some PEGs have caused a sniff of suspicion. This discovery upset me. What could Liz Earle possible want with a PEG? Why would you do that to us Liz? I've been reading up on this... Pay attention.

Castor Oil is a common enough thing and comes from castor beans. It contains triglycerides or fatty acids which are useful in restoring the skin's moisture balance and alleviating dryness. The process of passing hydrogen through it gives it a thicker consistency and makes it more stable at room temperature. It is often included in cosmetics for it's preservative action. It's considered organic because both the oil from the beans and the gas are natural things. Great.

The PEG bit means the hydrogenated castor oil has been mixed with polyethylene glycol. And here lies the question. Is it bad? One of the issues I mentioned when discussing polyethylene glycol was that it can penetrate the skin and therefore allow other (harmful) ingredients in too.

But ...if the source is pure, with no nasty contaminants and the other ingredients in the product are also of trusted sources then it might mean that the polyethylene glycol allows the good, active ingredients to work their way deeper, taking their good properties to those hard to reach layers of your skin. Sound's OK.

The other issue with this ingredient is its use on damaged skin. My research on this hasn't helped dispell this and it remains to be unadvisable with the possibility of it causing kidney damage. Oh dear. Though we are talking about seriously damaged skin here. So, you know not your average face.

It's confusing. But Liz Earle are clear about their philosophy regarding the selection of ingredients and promise to use natural and the highest, purest grade available. So, although this skin tonic is not a true natural wonder, I am still loving it for its fresh feel and revitalising qualities. Let's not forget the anti-inflamatory and healing properties of calendula and chamomile! This is in no way your usual harsh, astringent toner. In fact the majority of the ingredients, after a quick google search are very moisturising and very soothing on the skin. But Liz, listen up! I'm blaming you if my kidneys fail.

So there. I've learnt something in writing this. I will certainly check for the presence of PEG ingredients in products and will avoid using them if my skin is in anyway inflamed or damaged. And if you see those PEGs where there are parabens and other such nasties then be warned, they might be working their way right down in to the darkest realms of your dermis, running amuck!

Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic £11.75 for 200ml
Available at Liz Earle and in store at John Lewis

For a very helpful insight into PEGS see here.

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