Tag Archives: boscia

Good Skin For All: Sephora Edition


I LOVE Sephora. Even before I was an esthetician or had any interest in skin care, even before I was as obsessed with makeup as I am now, I loved Sephora. And I know that automatically makes a lot of estheticians hate me. Because I know when I was working in the school’s spa and making their product recommendations, a lot of clients would say, “what can I find that’s comparable at Sephora?” And most estheticians argue that for the same price you can buy their products that are professional, have a higher concentration of active ingredients (which is NOT always true), etc. But I have to ask these other estheticians: would you hate Sephora so much if you didn’t retail a skincare line you were recommending? Probably not. Although I am a practicing esthetician, I do not retail any product line, so I can remain a bit more objective. I make non-professional skincare recommendations much like a parent giving their teenager a condom: if you’re gonna do it, do it safely. Once again, I’ve left out Clinique and others whose ingredients are not listed online. So with that, let’s get into it!


Goals for oily skin: to keep everything hydrated and balanced without drying out the skin and causing even more oil.

What to avoid:

  • drying, stripping ingredients
  • heavy, occlusive ingredients that will lead to breakouts

The routine:


Goals for dry skin: to hydrate and treat signs of aging while avoiding drying ingredients.

What to avoid:

  • drying alcohols commonly found in moisturizers
  • anything TOO occlusive, as breakouts and troubled skin are issues

The routine:


Goals for combo skin: to balance and treat the face as needed-dry spots as dry, oily as oily.

What to avoid: 

  • anything drying
  • one size fits all skincare

The routine:


Goals for acneic skin: to clear up breakouts while keeping the skin hydrated and healthy.

What to avoid:

  • drying ingredients
  • harsh ingredients

The routine:


Goals for anti-aging: to keep things hydrated, and utilize collagen.

Things to avoid:

  • drying ingredients
  • miracle-in-a-bottle products
  • anything harsh

The routine:

Eye Cream

Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum ($85); Origins Eye Doctor Moisture Care ($38); Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel ($42); Clarins Extra-Firming Eye Wrinkle Soothing Cream ($63); Tata Harper Restorative Eye Creme ($95); Fresh Lotus Eye Gel ($48); or Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Eye Treatment ($45). That’s just half of the first page. The main thing to look for in a good eye cream is hyaluronic acid, arnica extract, vitamins A, C, E, and K; and collagen. Always avoid alcohols.

What have been your best Sephora scores? Let me know in the comments below!



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Ingredient Education Using Boscia Black


I started this post to be a product review, but as I got down to listing ingredients, I realized how LONG it would be. And that I couldn’t really edit it down, because I’m telling you things you need to know. I’m telling you how to break down an ingredient label. So-here’s what I’ll do. I’ll list whether or not the product is “good” below, based on the ingredient deck and concentration of active ingredients to preservatives and fillers. If you would like to see the full breakdown of each ingredient deck, and find out WHY a product is “good” or “bad”, keep going down to the section titled “The Claims.” I’m going to make this a two-part series because I don’t know how to make it all fit into one post nicely!

Product Review

I had to quit using the set when it dried my already dry skin out. This is because of the activated charcoal, which is what the line is centered around. It’s terrible for dry skin. So, I’m basing these reviews on ingredients, ingredient concentration, and price.

Detoxifying Black Cleanser: The ingredient deck is disappointing. LOTS of beneficial ingredients, but all at the bottom of the deck-meaning you aren’t getting very much of it. It’s also $28. I say skip on this one. It has a neat warming sensation and a nice texture, but that’s a lot of money to spend on something you’re going to wash off your face…especially when it’s mostly fillers.

Luminizing Black Mask: Once again, LOTS of fillers in higher concentration than the beneficial ingredients. It does contain ingredients that meet the claims, but I’m not sure you’d get long-lasting effects from it. It’s $38 and comes recommended by Allure and The Knot. Definitely try a sample of this one before spending the money on it. It has potential though!

In summation: If you’re wanting to stay away from preservatives and fillers, avoid this line. If they don’t bother you, try some samples before deciding if they are worth the purchase. I personally do not think they are worth the money given the fact that the “active ingredients” come in mid-deck.

The Claims

According to Boscia’s website, the Black Pore Perfecting Collection “minimizes pores, removes impurities, and eliminates excess oil with Activated Black Charcoal and Artichoke Leaf Extract.” Those…are some pretty big claims. I could write an entire book on how to refute cosmetic claims, but that’s for later, when I’ve built up some more credibility.

Here’s the thing about testing a product’s claims. They may be based on temporary effects as opposed to long-term results. Anyone can claim that a product works judging by appearances. But what it all comes down to is ingredients. Do the ingredients used to create the product produce the results promised? That is the best way to judge a product. If something claims to be anti-aging, and it doesn’t contain anti-aging ingredients, you immediately know it’s no good. So! Let’s look at the claims and match them to the active ingredients to see if they match up. My references are Boscia’s website, the Milady ingredients dictionary, and the ingredients dictionary listed in Paula Begoun’s book, The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here.

Detoxifying Black Cleanser

Here are the skin benefits according to Boscia (all of the following is taken directly from their website):

  • Activated Charcoal: Absorbs excess oil and impurities, detoxifies, and exfoliates to refine the appearance of pores.
  • Artichoke Leaf Extract: Reduces the appearance of pore size by increasing skin elasticity; pore wall is less likely to stretch and retain debris. Inhibits hyperpigmentation and brightens the pore wall, also decreasing pore appearance.
  • Glycolic Acid: Improves the skin’s appearance and texture by accelerating the exfoliation process of the upper layer of the epidermis.
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Glucoside): Helps brighten skintone and minimize fine lines as it defends against free radical damage.
  • Vitamin P (Alpha Glucosyl Hesperidin): The active component in citrus peel, helps enhance blood circulation to provide a warming sensation to the skin.
  • Licorice Root: Antioxidant that helps calm, soothe, and condition. Helps reduce hyperpigmentation and minimizes the appearance of dark spots by helping inhibit melanin synthesis.

Right off the bat, I’m skeptical because all of these beneficial ingredients come after the detergents and preservatives. That means that the beneficial ingredients are in lower concentration than the additives. Artichoke leaf extract, for instance, is the last ingredient in the deck, but the second listed benefit.

Glycereth-26 is a synthetic form of glycerin, which is the ingredient immediately after. Glycerin is a humectant and a generally great ingredient to have, as it’s water-binding and hydrating. Outside of moisturizers, it’s used to improve spreading qualities. The only concern here is that “it may be comedogenic and irritating to the mucous membranes when used in concentrated solutions,” according to Milady. So since it is the first ingredient, and therefore highly concentrated, it could be a problem. Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate is a mild cleansing agent that provides later. It’s derived from coconut fatty acid and glutamic acid (an amino acid). Polysorbate 20 is an emulsifier, solubilizer, and stabilizer often derived from lauric acid. Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate is a surfactant with some moisturizing properties and can be derived from vegetal raw materials, which may be the “natural” in “natural” products. PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate is a cleansing agent. Water is…well…water. Butylene Glycol is a solvent, antimicrobial, preservative enhancer, humectant, odor masker, and “viscosity controller”; it makes things slip.

Here’s where we get to the ingredients that the company is actually promoting. Glycolic acid is an AHA, derived from sugarcane but also produced synthetically, and exfoliates as well as hydrates (this meets the product’s claims). Charcoal powder is a bit tricky, as neither of my cosmetic ingredients dictionaries have it listed. And a quick Google search showed more beauty magazines talking about it than educational posts. But according to the Livestrong website, it is safe to use and matches the claims made by Boscia. Ascorbyl Glucoside is a form of vitamin C combined with glucose-this is NOT the same as ascorbic acid, which is the form of vitamin C that has antioxidant properties. So this is a little misleading and makes me side-eye Boscia. This is not to say that the ingredient isn’t beneficial! It does meet the claims made, it just will not act as the antioxidant that everyone immediately associates with vitamin C. Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil is rose geranium oil and serves as a perfuming and odor masking agent. Glucosyl Hesperidin is another tricky one because it wasn’t actually listed in either of my dictionaries. The closest I could get is hesperidin methyl chalcone which is a citrus bioflavinoid, extracted from the peel of sweet oranges and containing anti-oxidant properties. This must be the vitamin P they’re referencing in their benefits claim. I can’t say whether or not this matches their claim because I had honestly NEVER heard of it before seeing it listed on their website. Cue the side-eye. Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract is a miracle product in my humble opinion. It does everything Boscia boasts and more. I highly recommend finding products with this ingredient whenever possible. Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract is, again, ambiguous. So, I’ll just directly quote the Milady dictionary: “a botanical with potential anti-microbial and anti-irritant properties. This is  member of the evening primrose family and is commonly known as willowherb or fireweed.” Ceteth-25 is honestly beyond my comprehension. I have no fuckin clue what this is or what it does. Oleth-10 is an emollient and stabilizer. Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Leaf Extract is a gorgeous moisturizer and all-around great ingredient, definitely look for it in your products. Xanthan Gum is a texturizer, carrier agent, gelling agent, stabilizer, and thickener. Finally we get to Cynara Scolymus (Artichoke) Leaf Extract. The benefits match the claims, however, since it is the last ingredient added, you aren’t going to get hardly any of these benefits. And that’s a disappointment.

Luminizing Black Mask

  • Boscia Peel-Off Mask Innovation: Provides “gap-free” delivery into the skin, giving immediate benefits and long-term results. Peel off removal provides extra refinement of skin texture.
  • Calcium Montmorillonite Clay: Absorbs excess oil, impurities, and toxins, gently exfoliates dead skin cells, and minimizes the appearance of pores instantly and over time.
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Glucoside): Helps brighten skintone and minimize fine lines as it defends against free radical damage.
  • Maritime Pine Bark Extract: Improves skin elasticity and hydration, helping to prevent the first signs of aging. Provides antioxidant and soothing benefits.
  • Rosemary Leaf Extract: An effective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that helps to firm skin and visibly reduce the appearance of pores. Has natural anti-bacterial benefits and aids in circulation.
  • Eucalyptus Extract: Provides antiseptic and antibacterial benefits, calms inflammation, and leaves skin invigorated.

One again, the awesome ingredients are in lower concentrations than I like to see them. This will be sitting on your face for about ten minutes, so you want to make it worth it, you know? Since I already broke down the cleanser ingredient deck, and a lot of the ingredients are the same, I’m only going to detail the ingredients I haven’t gone over yet. Those will be in bold!

Water/Aqua/Eau as the first ingredient is common, so even though I personally don’t like the practice, I won’t hold it against them. Polyvinyl Alcohol is a binder and film former, and increases viscosity. You know that vinyl feel your nail polish has? This is what gives it that. I’m going to assume it’s what’s responsible for the mask’s texture. Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water is diluted witch hazel. I LOVE witch hazel because it is anti-inflammatory, astringent, and anti-free radical. It is anti-aging as well as regenerative. I imagine it’s included in the mask because of the tightening effect. Glycereth-26, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin. Acrylates/Palmeth-25 Acrylate Copolymer, in short, absorbs skin secretions. This removes shine and is the “excess oil removing” aspect of this product. It is also a time-released preservative. It can cause skin sensitivities in higher concentrations, so with it being in the middle of this deck, I don’t imagine it would be an issue for anyone but those with sensitive skin. Iron Oxides (Cl77499) are used to provide color; I’m guessing this is what gives the mask the black color, since it does not contain charcoal like the cleanser does. According to Paula Begoun, these are “closely regulated by the US FDA.” Quite simply, iron oxides are rust. This does not serve your skin at all and only acts as a colorant.  Pentylene Glycol is an alcohol with humectant and anti-bacterial properties. Montmorillonite is essentially bentonite clay. It’s an abrasive so it serves as the “scrubby” part of the mask. It stabilizes and increases viscosity. Acrylates Copolymer was already listed, so I’m not quite sure why it’s listed again-there must be two or more different copolymers used in this mask. Polysorbate 20. Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract is healing, soothing, and anti-inflammatory. There are over 100 “strains” of honeysuckle used in cosmetics. Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract. Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Extract has potential to be an allergen. But it’s also antiseptic, disinfectant, and anti-fungal, and increases blood circulation. It’s often used as a fragrance, and for its skin tightening properties. It’s important to remember that that tight skin effect is not permanent. Cosmetic companies use eucalyptus, witch hazel, etc. to temporarily tighten the skin so you feel like it’s working. Pinus Pinaster Bark Extract is pine oil. It was originally used as a solvent and a disinfectant, but it is also deodorizing, anti-bacterial, and anti-septic. Think PineSol. It may be irritating to the skin an mucous membranes, so definitely keep it away from your mouth, nose, eyes, etc. This particular ingredient makes me wary. Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil is wound-healing, astringent (there’s that skin-tightening effect again), toning, tonic, refreshing, stimulating, deodorant, anti-septic, reactivating, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, softening, and invigorating. For something that does so much, shouldn’t it be in a higher concentration? I’m very disappointed that it’s so low on the list. Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Leaf Extract. Diglycerin is a synthetic skin conditioner and humectant. Xanthan Gum, Ascorbyl Glucoside. Sodium Hydroxide adjusts a products pH to make it more acceptable for the skin. It can be severely irritating to the skin if you aren’t careful with concentration. As the last ingredient in the deck, I think it’s safe.

Image source: Amazon


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