Herbivore Botanicals Blue Tansy Resurfacing Mask Review

I recently found this company online, Herbivore Botanicals, and bought four different face masks. Herbivore Botanicals is a company that focuses on using all natural, therapeutic and food grade ingredients. According to their website, their products are made without synthetic ingredients, chemicals, mineral oils, petroleum and SLS.

blue tansy

The Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask from Herbivore Botanicals is an AHA/BHA mask using aloe, fruit enzymes, willow bark and blue tansy oil to gently resurface, decongest and sooth skin.

The directions that came with the mask state to use the mask every day for 3 or 4 days and then a few times a week to maintain results. It should be left on for 15 to 20 minutes (5 minutes if you have sensitive skin). It is suggested to be followed with their Rose Hibiscus Face mist and Lapis Facial Oil. I don’t have these two products, so follow this mask with Your Best Face Skincare’s Uplift Toner Mist and  facial oil, Slumber Blend Private Reserve.

I bought this mask in hopes that it would help clarify and clear my oily breakout prone skin (hormonal breakouts I believe). I used this for 5 nights in a row and am currently using twice a week.

Ingredients as per the website when I checked on November 21, 2015: Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Leaf Juice, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose (plant derived), Papaya/Pineapple Base (Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Carica Papaya (Organic Papaya) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (Organic Papaya) Leaf Extract, Ananas Comosus (Organic Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Tanacetum annuum (Blue Tansy) Leaf Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Extract. 

Ingredients on the packaging: Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Leaf Juice, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose (plant derived), Glycerin, Tanacetum annuum (Blue Tansy) Leaf Oil, Jasminum Sambac (Jasmine Grandiflorum) Flower Oil, Natural Raspberry Melange, Carica Papaya (Organic Papaya) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (Organic Papaya) Leaf Extract, Carica Papaya (Organic Papaya) Leaf Extract, Ananas Comosus (Organic Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Leucidal (radish root ferment).

I emailed Herbivore Botanicals to ask which set of ingredients were correct. They responded to my email the next day (I am always impressed when companies are so quick to respond and willing to answer questions). The website shows the correct ingredients and they are working on updating the ingredients on the packaging. Two things that stood out when comparing the updated ingredients; the natural preservative leucidal was changed to phenoxyethanol and the blue tansy went from near the top of the ingredient list to the bottom. I emailed to ask why the preservative was changed especially given the fact that this is advertised as an all natural company. The response was that the phenoxyethanol was chosen as an alternative to parabens and makes up about 1% of the formula. The leucidal was found not to work well enough to preserve the mask (this makes me wonder how effective leucidal actually is; I see it in more skin care products). They also shared that phenoxyethanol is included in the Handbook of Green Chemicals and is Whole Foods Premium Body Care approved. According to the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, in high concentrations it can be everything from an allergen, skin irritant, damaging to the brain and nervous system and a carcinogen. The CIR Expert Review Panel confirmed that phenoxyethanol is “safe as a cosmetic ingredient in the present practices of use and concentration.” In skincare this is generally used at 0.5-1% concentration. While I am surprised to see phenoxyethanol used in a product from an as-advertised all natural and chemical-free skincare company, it is obviously important to use an effective preservative.

As for why the blue tansy is near the bottom of the ingredients, it was explained by the company that it is a very concentrated ingredient, so does not take much to be an active ingredient in the product.

Let’s take a look at the other ingredients; this mask is in a base of aloe leaf juice. Hydroxyethyl Cellulose is a plant derived amino acid that can be used as a preservative, emuslifier, thickener and binder in skincare products. The fruit extracts come from papaya and pineapple. In the description for this product, it says that this mask has fruit enzymes. Are extracts the same as enzymes? According to Beautypedia, extracts are not the same as enzymes. The papaya enzyme is called papain and for pineapple is called bromelain. Beautypedia also says that enzymes are unstable. In looking for more information, some websites mention that enzymes are in the extracts. In any case, the pineapple and papaya enzymes break down the keratin in the skin resulting in smoother skin. Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract is a source of natural salicylic acid-like ingredients and can promote exfoliation and has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Tanacetum annuum (Blue Tansy) Leaf Oil is high in azulene which has anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant properties to calm the skin. Jasmine extract is an antiseptic and antibacterial.

This mask comes in a heavy clear glass jar. The packaging is simple and nice; however, I think  an amber glass bottle would be better. Amber glass protects skin care ingredients and essential oils from UV light, thus extending the shelf life and effectiveness of the ingredients.

I love the smell of the mask. It’s herby and sweet. The blue color is natural and comes from the blue tansy. I put a thin layer on my face with a brush and let it dry on my skin for 20 minutes. Unlike other AHA masks I’ve used, the Blue Tansy mask had a warm sensation on the skin, not a harsh stinging. It rinsed nicely with just warm water.

The 5-day results:

hb blue tansy

I get these cyclical breakouts on the right side of my face with large pimples and inflamed, irritated and red skin. For some reason old acne scars seem to get redder during these breakouts. My skin takes a while to heal from this, about 10-14 days, and then breakouts start again 3 or 4 weeks later. I used this mask for 5 days in a row and was surprised by the effectiveness of this mask. So many products take weeks or months to see results, so it’s really nice when a product produces visible results so quickly. The mask took down the redness and inflammation of my skin and the pimples healed much faster than they would have without the mask. I’m using the mask about 2 times a week to keep inflammation down and hopefully reduce the size and redness of the breakouts, and so far it has worked wonderfully. I did get two pimples the usual 4 weeks later, but they were smaller and my skin was less red.

This has quickly become a favorite mask and I plan to keep it in my routine rotation.

Update December 27, 2015: It has been brought to my attention (via the comment below) that the ingredients have changed on the website and there are different ingredients on packaging dependent of when it was printed I assume. Ingredients on the website when I checked December 27, 2015: Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Leaf Juice, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose (plant derived), Papaya/Pineapple Base (Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Carica Papaya (Organic Papaya) Fruit Extract, Carica Papaya (Organic Papaya) Leaf Extract, Ananas Comosus (Organic Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Tanacetum annuum (Blue Tansy) Leaf Oil, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Extract.

I am assuming the ingredients on the website are correct and packaging will be updated. It looks like Herbivore Botanicals went from Leucidal to phenoxyethanol to Leuconostoc as the preservative. I was told by the company that Leucidal did not preserve the product well enough and they therefore went to phenoxyethanol. Are Leucidal and Leuconostoc the same thing? Leucidal is derived from radishes fermented with Leuconostoc kimchii, a lactic acid bacteria, so it seems to be the same thing to me, but I’m no expert.

I still love the blue tansy mask and don’t need to my skin care to necessarily be all natural and chemical-free, but Herbivore Botanicals seems to have made a number of changes to the ingredients (using the chemical phenoxyethanol) in the Blue Tansy mask in such a short time (this mask is still relatively new and I’m guessing they are doing reformulations). However, this causes confusion (and perhaps some feeling of being deceived) to customers looking for chemical-free skin care.

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