Monday, September 28, 2015

I'm Allergic to Bobbi Brown (and her Marketing)

At least, my eyes are.  Fortunately for me, my favourite highlighter doesn't get applied anywhere near my eyes, so I have never reacted to it.

Not so fortunately, Bobbi's "Smokey Eye Mascara" and her "Intensive Skin Serum Concealer" turned me into a lumpy, itchy, puffy-eyed, whiny mess.

When I first suspected that the mascara was the most likely cause of my problem, I immediately ceased using it, and all went back to normal after a day.  Naturally, I assumed there to be whatever ingredient in that particular formula that was to blame, and figured as long as I didn't use it again I would be fine.

Which made me minutely suspicious of the sample concealer that arrived with my Sephora order months later.  For no good reason, really.  Sometimes you just know, I suppose.  But I tried it anyway, and sure enough, in no time I was in itchy, stinging pain again.

So it appears there is something going on at Bobbi Brown that my eyes do not want to be a part of.  I attempted to glean ingredient lists for both of these products off the internet in order to make a comparison, but was unable to narrow down an obvious culprit.  (For the record, neither of the ingredient lists I found were official and may or may not be accurate.  I could not find an ingredient list for the "Smokey Eye" mascara at all, so I used her "No Smudge" mascara ingredients instead). The only ingredient that was in both of the lists I used and is commonly linked to allergies was Phenoxyethanol (a preservative), except this is also in several other eye products that I use regularly without any issues.


I emailed Bobbi Brown through their site to request accurate and full ingredients for each of these products, because maybe there was something missing or incorrect in the ones I found online.  They have not responded.  From the comments I see on Sephora for this product, it seems others have also been unsuccessful in obtaining ingredient information on these products.

Which kind of pisses me off, enough that I'm going to segue into a slightly critical sidebar about the Intesive Skin "serum" that naturally arose while I was investigating the list of ingredients.  This product claims to "treat as it lightens and brightens" by counteracting dark circles caused by aging.  It apparently does this by use of ingredients such as "skin-boosting... Cordyceps Mushroom, Indian Tree Root, and Bamboo Grass".   (Source: Sephora and Bobbi Brown's own site).

I've done a basic search of scholarly journals and couldn't find much supporting the conclusion that topical application of any of these ingredients actually reduces visible signs of aging.  Most notably, I couldn't find ANY such studies on the bamboo grass (Sasa Veitchii Extract), which doesn't appear to have been tested on skin at all. Commiphora Mukul Resin Extract (more commonly called "Guggul", the Indian tree root referred to) has been studied topically, but most often in the context of a contact allergen.  The science on topical skin benefits is pretty limited, though it is apparently sometimes used to treat acne.  The Cordyceps mushroom has mostly been tested on rats and mice, though none used topical application, and any tests on humans have been done in vitro.  I couldn't find any studies on topical human application of this ingredient.  This mushroom has long been used medicinally but, as far as I can tell, is always ingested for this purpose.  I don't know about you, but (not counting one poorly-thought-out "nude lip" experiment in tenth grade) I don't typically eat my concealer. 

The most promising ingredients in this list is an arabica coffee seed extract, and perhaps a wrinkle-reducing peptide, neither of which are highlighted in the product's anti-aging claims (as quoted above).  However, both of these are included in such small amounts that I can't imagine they'd be especially useful.

Regardless of whatever flimsy scientific basis the use and promotion of these ingredients as "anti-aging" are relying on, I have serious doubts about the likelihood that topical application of any of them in these tiny concentrations is going to be effective.

But sure.  Sell your shit with SCIENTIFIC WORDS.  

Be sure not to tell anyone what the ingredients actually are, though.  Because then you might look like an asshole.  Oh, wait.

Anyway, it's all kind of a damned shame, because if you ignore the totally bullshit anti-aging claims, these products were both pretty satisfactory up until they turned me into the Elephant Man.  I don't have photos of the products in use because I am not brave enough to put them on again even long enough to take a photo of them (and the mascara is long since expired by now anyway), so you get a gif-party instead.  If you happen to not be allergic to Bobbi Brown, as I am, and if you are willing to pay money to someone who sells her crap with pseudoscientific crap, then probably you will like these a lot better than I did.  

I'll just stick to her highlighters, I think.