This review and ingredient analysis article is a requested one. As you probably know already, I am a chemist by profession and I use my knowledge and skills to “analyse” and review beauty and fitness products and concepts. Someone asked me if I can have a look at their favourite daily moisturiser and here it is!
If you also have products that you would like me to have a look and write about, let me know on my social media, in the comments below or email me the information from the contact me page at the top of this site.
This week’s requested product is: Simple Kind to the Skin Rich Moisturiser.
Simple is a brand that makes products specifically for sensitive skin types. I love that there is a brand dedicated for that and even that their name “Simple” represents what the products should be. Simple. Because if you have sensitive skin you probably want to avoid unnecessarily complicated formulations that have a higher change of causing you irritation.
I don’t have sensitive skin. In fact, I am at the opposite end of the spectrum, on the oily side, so this is not a brand I have considered using. However, I can see the appeal and the market gap they are trying to fill and it is great.
Before we get into the product details, I should clarify that there are actually 3 Simple day moisturiser products. The light one, the rich one and there is also one with SPF15. In this post I will be analysing the light and rich one.
Looks and packaging
Both light and rich look very similar so you really have to pay close attention to that one word at the front of the product, “light” or “rich”. They both come in the same, 125mL plastic bottle but it is fairly thick and sturdy.
I personally like the way the products look. The branding is very simple but it suits the brand. I even like the white and green colour scheme, even if it gives a “false impression” of a natural product.
Practicality of use
These creams don’t have a pump, you have to simply squeeze the product out. They are very easy to use though and those 125mL will last you a while. They are not the smallest item to travel with but they are so cheap, you probably would just buy these moisturisers on your holiday and throw them away when you leave.
The light moisturiser specifically, is very easy to find, it can be found in pretty much any large supermarket in the UK so it is not very hard to imagine that, as the brand labels itself, this is the No1 Skin care brand in the UK. These moisturisers retail anywhere between £2 to £4 depending on the retailer and active offers.
There is no denying it, these moisturisers are super cheap. I got mine for £2 on an offer from Sainsburys, but the maximum you will pay for these is £4 each. Compare that to those high-end moisturisers that easily hit the £30-50 mark and it is a no brainer, these are very attractive options.
For what they offer though, they are not as amazingly cheap as they seem. There is a very good reason why they are so cheap and it is partly because of how simple the formulation is – see ingredient analysis section. Also, because they are made by Unilever, a large, highly respectable, world-wide, chemical giant company that can afford to make things cheap.
These moisturisers have what I call “a typical natural product smell”, if that makes sense to anyone. Fragrance is one of the most common offenders for sensitive skin irritation and so they are usually the first ingredients to go from a sensitive skin formulation. As a result, these products smell a little “off” or “not-cosmetic”. It’s not a bad smell though and you will get used to it quickly.
The skin definitely feels moisturised after using these but nowhere nearly as “deeply moisturised” as other creams in the market. They are indeed and very obviously, kind to the skin but for that they also sacrifice how actually moisturising they are and what they offer.
These creams are absorbed quickly, leave no residues behind and definitely condition the skin. But that is mostly what they will do. They will kindly moisturise and condition your skin for now, but they do not have many “for later” ingredients.
Before you use any moisturiser products you should ask yourself the following questions:
“What are you looking for from your skin care?”
“What is the purpose or objective of your skin care?”
This is very important because it will determine whether these, or other products, are the ones for you.
If all you want from your daily moisturiser is to right now moisturise and condition your skin, then these products are good and cheap candidates, especially if you also have sensitive skin.
On the other hand, if skin care means something more to you, like for example, you want to ensure that your skin is healthy, functions to as best capacity as possible, takes reduced environmental and biological damage (=ageing) etc then these moisturisers fall a little short. If you want to keep stimulating collagen production, replacing hyaluronic acid or lipid levels, or even going a step further and using ingredients such as vitamins and peptides that help reduce for example, the process of ageing, then you really have to look for different products.
Bear in mind that you don’t necessarily need to use “anti-ageing” products to be “future-proofing” your skin. And also, don’t forget that, no matter how young or old you are, it is never too early to look after your skin. It is the largest organ in your body and when it comes to some destructive processes, such as ageing for example, it is better to prevent than to start after they have happened. You cannot erase those wrinkles but you can help slow them down.
These moisturisers will keep your skin hydrated and conditioned for the day or a few days after you used them. Other moisturisers with more complex, active and expensive ingredients will help replenish your skin’s lost ingredients, preserve and produce the “young” molecules (such as hyaluronic acid, collagen etc) and condition your skin on a deeper level.
So, what would you like? Is your skin care a solution for now, where you can save a lot of money and have a lot of options, like these nice Simple moisturisers, or is it also for later where perhaps you have to spend that little extra cash and find the right ingredient combinations for your skin’s needs?
For more science infused information check out the articles under Bonds of Beauty (all articles here).
Some example articles:
With that being said, the Simple creams do have two vitamins, pro-vitamin B5 and vitamin E (which can also cause irritation by the way) but the rest of the ingredients are just standard and simple skin moisturisers and conditioners found in many moisturiser products.
Let’s have a detailed look in all ingredients contained in the Simple Rich moisturiser.
- Water based formulation – the main ingredient is water.
- Glycerin – skin conditioning agent, can improve the skin’s appearance, smoothness and moisture content. One of the most popular cosmetic ingredients found in almost…everything. It also has a naturally cooling effect on the skin.
- Coco-caprylate/caprate – a mixture of compounds that act as skin conditioners.
- Polyglyceryl-3 methylglucose distearate – sometimes used as a sunscreen ingredient because of its water resistance. Note though that it does not offer SPF.
- Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate – UV-absorber
- Butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane – UV-A absorber.
- Panthenol – moisturiser, sometimes used as part of acne treatments. Form of Vitamin B5.
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor – UV-filter and absorber.
- Bisabol – skin conditioning agent, enhances the appearance of dry or damaged skin by reducing flaking and restoring suppleness to the skin, skin soother. Some believe it has healing properties, is anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial. Can enhance the absorption of other molecules – can sometimes increase the benefits from other ingredients.
- Pentylene glycol – skin conditioner, anti-microbial properties.
- Sodium hydroxymethyl glucinate – inert salt preservative derived from the amino acid, glycine.
- Tetrasodium EDTA – can weaken the skin’s natural barrier to allow deeper penetration by other ingredients.
- Lactic acid – helps retain moisture, skin conditioner, can help brighten uneven skin tone.
- Sodium lactate – naturally produced by our skin, skin conditioner, helps retain moisture, anti-microbial action.
- Serine – skin conditioner, naturally occurring proteinogenic amino acid = can help in collagen production.
- Sorbitol – skin conditioner.
- Urea – naturally occurring compound and normally found in metabolic processes as a by-product of protein metabolism. Also, a skin conditioner.
- Citric acid – natural preservative, can be used to even out skin tone.
- BHT – anti-oxidant, does not penetrate the skin far enough to be absorbed into the blood stream.
- Allantoin – skin conditioner, soothes the skin.
- Pantolactone – skin conditioner, can enhance the appearance of skin.
- Tocopheryl acetate – form of vitamin E, a hero anti-oxidant molecule, see my post on “Vitamins C & E – Do they work in skin care?”
- Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate – the European Commission on Endocrine Disruption has claimed there is strong evidence against this compound having hormone mimicking effects. Bear in mind nothing is proven yet.
- Stearyl alcohol – some have reported irritation when using this product around the eyes.
- Methylparaben – love them or hate them, there is still not enough scientific proof to prove that these are harmful. However, some people prefer to avoid them for “peace of mind” so if you are looking for paraben free products, these are not for you.
- 4-methylbenzylidene camphor – some health concerns by European researchers on thyroid toxicity and hormone disruption. Nothing proven yet.
- Bisabol – can enhance the absorption of other molecules – this can also be bad sometimes for molecules that are not meant to be absorbed but rather just sit on the skin. Can enhance hair growth – maybe not so nice on the face?!
- Pentylene glycol – some people with sensitive skin have reported sensitisation.
- Sodium hydroxymethyl – some believe it can break down into formaldehyde (=human carcinogen) but this does not mean it will. Also reported to cause sensitisation to some.
- Tetrasodium EDTA – can weaken the skin’s natural barrier to allow deeper penetration by other ingredients. Some believe that long term usage can lead to cancer, but even if that is true, remember how small the quantity in a cosmetic product is. Unless this ingredient is proven to be highly aggressive, you will most likely need to be using this for more years that you are alive in order for it to truly contribute to a disease like cancer.
- Propyl paraben – again, parabens are still not proven “guilty” for sure, but if you prefer to avoid them, then bear in mind that this product is not paraben free. Interestingly, Denmark has proposed a paraben ban on products for children.
- Urea – some studies suggest this might release formaldehyde (=human carcinogen) but more studies are needed. It has been reported to cause irritation to some and prolonged exposure might cause reproductive effects. Again, we don’t know the amounts that a human will need to be exposed for this effect to take place – it might be a large amount. Has the tendency to cause allergic reactions to sensitive skin sufferers.
- Citric acid – some people with sensitive skin have reported irritation.
- Pantolactone – can enhance the appearance of hair, not great when on the face.
- Tocopheryl acetate – some have reported irritation to this form of vitamin E. Last ingredient on the list also usually means the least amount of. Would be great if there was more of this vitamin in the formulation but this would also increase the chances of sensitisation.
The remaining ingredients I did not mention are: stearic acid, polyacrylamide, C13-14 isoparaffin, laureth-7 and sodium chloride. These are all safe and standard ingredients that make up the rest of the formulation. There is no special, for your skin, role to them, they are the part of the workforce that keep the formulation together.
Ingredients that can cause irritation to some:
This is actually really case specific, as different people have different sensitivities and allergies. Just because a compound has been reported by some to cause sensitivity, it doesn’t mean you will have an issue. “Sensitizer” compounds being present is not a negative in my opinion, as this is the case with pretty much everything out there and funnily enough, I’ve seen products that are targeted specifically for sensitive skin (LIKE THIS ONE), containing some compounds that have been reported by some, or are known to be, sensitizers.
If you have sensitive skin or you are prone to skin sensitisation and unwanted reactions, try a little bit of this at the back of your hand first and consult a medical doctor if you are concerned.
The following compounds present in this cream have been either proven or claimed by some to be sensitizers, irritants, allergens etc: Pentylene glycol, Sodium hydroxymethyl glucinate, Urea, Tocopheryl acetate.
If you do suffer from sensitive skin with often irritations from beauty products, this brand is definitely a must try for you. I love that they cater for a specific cause and that there is an option out there for those who struggle with this issue.
It is a double-edged knife though. Because these products have to use standard and simple ingredients or ingredients that are less active or are not known to cause irritation, the product’s function is also naturally limited. These moisturisers offer you a quick, easy and cheap solution “for now”. Additionally, just because they are sensitive skin products that does not mean that there is no chance they will cause you irritation.
I would still recommend you slowly try other, more nourishing moisturizers and in that process, by power of deduction, also try to find out which compounds are the ones that cause you the irritation, so that you can find the right moisturiser for you that will also offer you “future” benefits.
I hope Simple extends their product line in the future, to also provide more nourishing products and cater also for those, with sensitive skin, that are interested in “future proofing” their skin.
All and all though, these Simple moisturisers are nice and kind to the skin, and they do what they claim. They do not claim to be anti-ageing or deeply conditioning or skin replenishing etc, so we cannot judge them for that. They do what they claim and they are a great affordable option, especially for those with sensitive skin.
I am not affiliated with any company or brand. These are my views and experiences.
Beauty is a very personal thing, we all have different skin, requirements and biological build which can influence things. What worked for me might not work for you and vice versa. Have you ever tried these products? Did they work for you? Let me know your experiences below!
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