Birchbox Breakdown: July 2012: boscia B.B. Cream

I changed the theme.  The large font size was annoying me.


Here is an ingredient breakdown of another product I received in my July 2012 Birchbox, boscia B.B. Cream.  B.B. Creams, by the way, are supposed to be an alternative to foundation.  They generally claim to even out your skintone and cover blemishes.  Most make a host of skin improvement claims such as brightening, anti-aging, firming, reduce redness, smoothing etc.  This particular product claims “This B.B. Cream creates a lustrous, flawless finish as it hydrates, firms and soothes the skin.  Helps diminish the appearance of fine lines and uneven skintone while providing long-wearing, natural coverage that conceals imperfections.”


Silicones—the following ingredients in this product are silicones: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Phenyl Trimethicone, Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer, PEG-10 Dimethicone, PEG/PPG-20/15 Dimethicone, Triethoxycaprylylsilane.  I have been searching for information on silicone safety in cosmetics with little luck. Most of what I found was published by companies that sell products containing silicones.  You can guess what those said.  “Silicones are so great for you!  Never worry about aging again.  Our silicone based lotion will instantly turn you into Taylor Swift!  Everyone who says they are bad is just jerking your chain, don’t listen to those whackos.”

So what are they?  Chemical compounds containing the element silicon.  They are most commonly used as sealants.  For example, did you have an aquarium when you were a kid?  It is very likely that silicone was used to join the glass panels together with a watertight seal.  In cosmetics silicones make a product feel smooth.  In theory the size of the silicone molecules in personal care products are too large to penetrate the skin.  However, I am not 100% sure that silicones never penetrate the skin.  I think it is possible that they could react with other compounds on your skin in a way that allows them to penetrate.  Some skin care products contain ingredients that facilitate penetration of the skin.  They are generally considered to be safe, as in low toxicity, relatively inert, not going to react with your tissues in a dramatic fashion.  There is evidence that certain silicones, cyclopentasiloxane in particular, bioaccumulate.  Canada has taken measures to regulate this silicone.  It should also be noted that some people have negative reactions to silicones including irritation.  Many people are concerned that silicones clog pores, but the silicone slingers say “No way! That’s impossible!  They don’t penetrate the skin, so they can’t get in your pores.  Instant Taylor Swift!”  Seems to me that the feeling of clogged up skin may come from putting a sealant on your skin.  Kind of feels like a barrier between your skin and the air.  Silicones are in fact used to create airtight barriers.  I just don’t know about silicones.  Just don’t know.

Glycerin—a natural byproduct of soap making.  It’s a lubricant.

Sodium PCA—the salt form of pyroglutamic acid, an amino acid that occurs naturally in your skin.

Glycereth-26—very little information about this one, but no evidence that it is harmful.

Arbutin—this is an interesting one.  It comes from the bearberry plant, which is a cute little Arctic and Subarctic shrub.  It is a skin lightener, because it disrupts the production of melanin.

Beta-glucan—this a special little carbohydrate.  It occurs in the cell walls of grains, yeasts, fungi and bacteria.  The crazy part is that it boosts the immune system.  It prevents infection, reduces tumors and can help the body recover from chemotherapy.

Methylsilanol Hydroxyproline Aspartate—sounds scary, but it’s an amino acid that’s found in collagen and elastin.  Probably supposed to have anti-aging properties.

Panthenol—a form of vitamin B5.  Moisturizing.

Alteromonas Ferment Extract—extract from the fermentation process of an oceanic bacteria.  This is an anti-inflammatory thought to speed skin repair.

Sodium Hyaluronate—I don’t know why this would be used in anything topical.  Sodium Hyaluronate was first found in eyeballs.  Pretty sure it’s not extracted from eyeballs.  Injections of this ingredient are used in plastic surgery to reduce wrinkles by filling out the skin.  It is also injected into joints to replace synovial fluid.

Allantoin—this chemical compound is found in many cosmetic products.  It’s also found in mammalian urine and comfrey.  Let’s hope the allantoin in this BB cream is extracted from comfrey, huh?  Anyway it is non-toxic and is known to make skin smoother.  It also protects your skin by binding to irritants.

Adenosine—remember learning about the process of energy transfer in cells?  Well, adenosine is the A in ATP.  Used topically it may be an anti-inflammatory.

Dipotassium glycyrrhizate—what a crazy looking word!  This is licorice extract and it’s supposed to be some kind of skin miracle.  It makes dry, flakey skin smooth and supple, reduces redness and brightens by inhibiting melanin production.

Butylene glycol—this one sounds shady.  It’s a preservative usually derived from petroleum.  The FDA approves it for use in food (yep, food) and cosmetics in small amounts.  It seems that healthy skin care purists try to avoid this one, because there is some concern that with repeated exposure it could build up in your body.  I wonder why the FDA would approve something like this for food.  Do you think it has anything to do with Big Oil wanting to make more money by selling their byproducts?  Hmm.  Don’t government regulations make you feel so safe?

Stearic acid—a saturated fatty acid naturally found in plant and animal fat.  Probably included for texture.

Caprylyl Glycol—a chemical compound that can be plant derived or synthetic.  It is moisturizing and increases the effect of preservatives.  Not suspected of being toxic.

Alumina—aluminum oxide.  An abrasive thickening agent.  Hmm, seems odd to put something abrasive in this product.  Supposedly, it doesn’t penetrate the skin.  Just know that aluminum is definitely a neurotoxin.

Mica—a group of silicate minerals.  Mica is a controversial ingredient.  It is used in natural and mineral makeup.  However, it is known to damage the respiratory system if inhaled (not a risk with this products, because it’s not a powder).  It is also suspected of being a skin irritant.

Citric Acid—we all know what this is.  It’s probably added to this product for its preservative effect.

Sodium Chloride—salt.

Sodium Leluvinate—another salt.  Used a preservative.  Suspected of being an irritant, but there is very little data on it.  It is also used to preserve meats.

Sodium Anisate—yet another salt used as a preservative.  Not suspected of being harmful.

Iron oxides—pigment.  Not considered a safety concern.  Probably better for you than the tin oxide found in the Stila Lip Glaze.  Just a guess, though.

Final thoughts:  There are a lot of interesting ingredients in this B.B. Cream.  Many of them are natural and even seem to have a reasonable chance of actually improving your skin.  Again, I don’t know how to feel about the silicones.  I will say this, I am weirded out by the “brightening” ingredients.  In skincare brightening is synonymous with lightening.  The lightening ingredients actually disrupt the production of melanin, which would indeed make your skin lighter.  This gives me the creeps for the same reason that tanning products give me the creeps.  I am uncomfortable with the idea that a person could become more beautiful by either lightening or darkening their skin.  Yes, that may seem hypocritical coming from a person who has been known to apply a rainbow array of eye shadow/lipstick.  I do think it would be fun to look more like a peacock.  However, I am invested in the idea that everyone’s natural skin color is lovely and that no one needs to modify the color of their skin to be more attractive.  Unless they have jaundice.

Oh, almost forgot to mention that this product comes in only one shade that “self-adjusts” to your skintone.  Huh?  I don’t understand this.  Are we using cuttlefish technology in foundations now?  I am not an expert in color shifting technology, but my interpretation of this claim is that the product is actually so sheer that it wont show up strange looking on anyone’s skin.  Which is true for this product at least.  I tried it and it did nothing for me.  Concealed no redness.  B.B. creams became popular in Korea and I have a Korean B.B. Cream that actually does work as a substitute for traditional foundation.  This boscia version does not.  I think the B.B. creams available in the U.S. are going to improve with time.  Until they do, if you are in the D.C. area you can try them out at Hmart.  You can also order them online.