Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Product Review: Dr. Spiller Pure Skincare Solutions February 20, 2013

Alpenrausch Organic

Months and months ago I was contacted by Melissa from Dr. Spiller skincare products asking me if I would be interested in trying some of the products from their organic line.  Even though I was in the process of moving back to Israel Melissa still graciously mailed all the products to my new home.  Not only that I also received full size products and an entire product brochure with ingredient breakdown.  I was impressed!  (Truth be told though I have been writing this blog for a little over three years I have very rarely received free products to try.  If I am contacted about receiving free products I always let the person know that I can’t guarantee that I will review their product, and if I do review the product I can’t guarantee it will be a positive review)

Before I get to my product review let me be very upfront about a few things – I see no reason to purchase organic skincare or beauty products as opposed to “conventional” products, I have no problem with parabens in skincare products (truth be told the Dr. Spiller line doesn’t talk about parabens, but I thought I would just throw that out there anyhow since the topic of organic skincare and parabens usually go hand in hand), and I don’t buy into the organic or natural skincare products are better for you nonsense.  (You can read more here and here for my opinions about these topics)  I am more interested in the feel, smell, and above all efficiency of a skincare product.  Does the product do what it says it will?  Yet in regards to the organic claim I was happy to see that Dr. Spiller did not just slap that label on their products without being able to back it up.  It turns out that their products meet strict standards for organic skincare products.  The fact that the products are full of natural ingredients is heavily promoted by the company, but in my view the proof is in the pudding.  If the product doesn’t feel good or make your skin look good then who cares what it has in it.

Here are the products that Melissa sent me to try:

First off take a look at the product information on the website.  Very thorough!  Not only is there a detailed explanation given for each of the main ingredients the product’s pH is stated along with the amount of lipids in the product and the base ingredient are listed as well.  I am all for as much consumer transparency as possible in skincare products so I was happy to see how much information was provided on the website.

After receiving the products I realized that some of them were not ideal for my very oily, acne prone skin, but I tried everything anyhow for the sake of this review.  After trying everything at least once I held onto the cleanser and passed the rest of the products along to my friend Vanessa.  I chose Vanessa as my tester because she has sensitive skin and has had numerous reactions to skincare products in the past.  Since this line is supposed to be good for sensitive skin I thought Vanessa would be the ideal candidate to try out the products.  So what was the verdict in regards to Vanessa’s sensitive skin and these products?  Vanessa experienced no irritation or side effects from using these products so indeed it seems that they really are ideal for those with sensitive or sensitized skin.

As I wrote above I kept the foaming cleanser for myself since I use a mild cleanser daily.  I liked that the cleanser came out as a foam (that was fun), it has lasted me a good four months with twice daily use, and was indeed gentle though a little drying in the winter.

Vanessa actually hasn’t gotten around to trying the toner.  From my use of it I really don’t have much to say.  It was a pleasant toner, and my skin felt fine after using it.  I didn’t notice anything either good or bad after using it.

The soft peeling for me was pleasant, but I am a fan (and my skin needs) of a much stronger exfoliant.  Vanessa, on the other hand, was very happy with this mild exfoliant.  She found it gentle with a good consistency and nice fragrance.  Thumbs up from her on this product.

Both Vanessa and I found the protecting care cream way to thick.  The consistency was almost like an ointment and not a cream.  We both thought it was much too dense and hard to spread on our skin.  This definitely was not the right cream for my oily skin even though my skin is really dehydrated.  Despite my skin dehydration this product was too thick for my skin.  Vanessa did not like the smell of the cream, and she felt it didn’t make her skin soft enough.  If this cream was not as thick I think it would appeal to more people.

The reviving eye care cream was gentle around the eye area and did not cause irritation.  Neither Vanessa or I saw a difference in how our eye area looked after using this cream, but we both found it pleasant and nice.

The last product we both tried was the cooling mineral mask which is really meant more for my skin type than Vanessa’s.  Needless to say we both found the mask strange because after applying the mask it dries and becomes EXTREMELY tight on your face.  So tight it is uncomfortable.  I left it on for the full 15 minutes as instructed, but I did not enjoy those 15 minutes.  My skin did feel soft afterwards but what I had to go through to get to temporarily softer skin wasn’t really worth it.  Vanessa did not like the mask at all.

Bottom Line:  If you have sensitive skin and/or are looking for an organic skincare line with natural ingredients than Dr. Spiller is for you.  I particularly appreciate the fact that these product meet high standards for organic products instead of just slapping a label on the product and that the website shares a plethora of information with the consumer about the products.  Though the products are not cheap they last a long time so you definitely get your money’s worth.

Image from Dr. Spiller website


Organic Skincare: Is There A Game Changer On the Horizon? July 15, 2010

I’ve devoted a previous post to the issue of organic, natural, and green skincare  in which I highlighted the fact that the terms “organic”, “natural”, and “green” on skincare labels are unregulated by any government agency so if you want to buy such products the issue really comes down to buyer beware.  Basically you can slap the words “organic”, “natural”, and “green” on the label of your skincare product even if there is next to no organic ingredients in your product.  And using the term “green” is just a joke.  (See my earlier post The Natural, Green, Organic Skincare Fallacy for more details about this issue.)

I was super interested when I saw this article online – Well, Is It Organic or Not? –  in The New York Times this morning about the organic skincare issue and Whole Foods .  It turns out that Whole Foods is going change its policy on which skincare and beauty products they stock vis-a-via the whole organic issue.  Since Whole Foods is such a big player in the field of organic food and products, organic skincare advocates are hoping that this change in policy will have a positive affect on the whole murky issue as a whole.  

Let me point out a few important issues.  In regards to organic skincare products the article points out:

… when it comes to personal care items like toothpaste and body lotion, claims like “made with organic ingredients” or “authentically organic” can flummox even the greenest consumer. No federal agency polices organic claims for personal care items — at least not yet — so manufacturers have been able to use these customer-pleasing terms loosely and liberally. …  

The Agriculture Department has been enforcing organic claims on food sold in the United States since 2002, but does not do the same for other items. The agency does invite manufacturers of personal care products to apply for its National Organic Program label, but it does not go after them if they make unsubstantiated claims.

Just who should be in charge of enforcing those claims has been the topic of some debate and at least one lawsuit. A spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration said that her agency and the Agriculture Department were working together to develop labeling standards, but that there was no projected due date.

So what would Whole Foods new policy look like?

As of next June, the retailer will require all health and beauty products making organic claims to be certified by one of two sources: either the Agriculture Department’s National Organic Program, which sets standards for food; or NSF International, a nonprofit based in Ann Arbor, Mich., that issues its own certification mark.As of June 1, 2011, any products that make organic claims and don’t get the certification will be removed from the shelves of Whole Foods stores. (The company will continue to carry nonorganic products as long as they don’t make organic claims.)

“We’re trying to make it so that our customers don’t have to switch standards and expectations when they cross from grocery into the body care aisle,” said Joe Dickson, the Whole Foods quality standards coordinator.

I have to say that I was excited to read about Whole Foods new policy.  I am glad that a company with real national influence is taking on this issue, and I hope it makes a significant impact in the way that companies label and formulate their organic skincare products.   It is extremely frustrating as a consumer to realize that you’ve been basically duped when it comes to an issue that is important to you.  In my opinion it is also good to see the private sector taking a stand on this issue.  I hope skincare companies will take notice and really do the right thing when it comes to this issue.  No more greenwashing please!


The Natural, Green, Organic Skincare Fallacy March 3, 2010

Nowadays a lot of people think that “natural” or “green” or “organic” skincare products are better for them than “regular” skincare products.  But these terms are pretty meaningless.  “Natural” and “green” are label terms that are not regulated by any government or non-government body.  The only label term that has any real meaning is “organic”. In an earlier post I already addressed the issue of parabens in skincare and cosmetic products, but I’ve also been thinking for quite some time about how I wanted to address the issue of organic, natural, and green skincare products in my blog since it is very common to see the issue brought up in all sorts of media (magazines, TV, etc.) and you hear people discussing the terms as well. 

Lucky for me Skin Inc. published a two-part article series about just these issues.  The first article in the series addresses many important issues when it comes to “natural”, “organic”, and “green” products.  For example the article points out that there is no global definition for the term “green” in skincare and cosmetic products.  In addition, the article points out that marketing professionals are savvy enough to know how to play on people’s fears of parabens even if there is little real evidence to suggest that parabens cause cancer.  Another important point the article makes is to explain the idea of “greenwashing”.  This is when words such as “organic”, “natural”, or “botanical” are used in an effort to make the product you are buying seem better for you and the enviroment.  In reality you are probably buying a product that as a very low concentration, too low of a concentration to do anything, of these “green” ingredients.  Furthermore, while a product may have some organic ingredients it also has chemical ingredients in its composition, but this information is purposely left off the advertising and label claims.

The second article in the series goes into greater detail about just what “organic” means on a skincare or cosmetic product label.  Things are not as straight forward as you would imagine.  Companies still have a lot of room to legally play around with the term “organic” so while a consumer may think they are buying a product that is both better for them and the environment that is not really the case.

The bottom line is you can’t believe the hype and you need to educate yourself about ingredients before buying products.

Click on the links below to read the articles mentioned in this post:

Even more reading:  Are Organic Products Better for Your Skin?  – blog post by Dr. Leslie Baumann


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