Product Review: Alpha Skincare Refreshing Face Wash


Today I’m discussing my experience and thoughts on Alpha Skincare’s Refreshing Face Wash.  I have previously reviewed the brand’s Renewal Body Lotion, which was my first product from Alpha Skincare.  The Alpha Skincare line is described, by the company, as such:

At Alpha Skin Care, our passion is creating products featuring naturally powerful ingredients for beauty that you can see and feel.  You’ll find one or more active ingredients, such as AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), retinol, hydroquinone, peptides, antioxidants, and vitamins, in every one of our products.  At the same time, we avoid artificial fragrances, colors, parabens, and preservatives wherever possible.  In short, Alpha Skin Care gives you everything you need for healthy, radiant skin–and nothing you don’t.

NOTE: This cleanser was sent to me, free of charge, by the brand to review.

Company’s claims…

The company bills this as a gentle, pH balanced cleanser.  Below is the crib sheet on the product from the Alpha Skincare website.

Alpha Refreshing Face Wash Info


First impressions…

Feels and smells a bit like Cerave.  Feels gentle, doesn’t foam, cleans fairly well.  As the product does not foam, I find that I have a tendency to use more than I would with a traditional foaming cleanser.  Did find that if I was wearing a good bit of makeup I needed a pre-cleanse with a balm or oil, but this is pretty standard with cleansers like this.

The product is best applied on damp skin, and massaged into the face to remove dirt, bacteria, makeup, etc.  The cleanser comes in a pretty standard and unremarkable plastic bottle–it looks frosted as it is neither completely transparent nor opaque.

The Refreshing Face Wash retails for $7.99 at Ulta, and is a 6 oz size.  This means the product costs is approximately $1.33 per oz.

Test Period…

I have been using this product semi-regularly (maybe once a week?) for about 3 months.  I generally use this cleanser when my skin is sensitized or otherwise angry with me.  I also like this cleanser in the morning as, like I said, it doesn’t remove makeup very well–definitely part two of a double cleanse if makeup and SPF are present.

I didn’t really notice a huge difference when using this cleanser–its actually the cheapest cleanser I own, I’m a bit of a cleanser snob.  That being said, it did not feel drying or stripping and I will keep it around for those days when my skin is irritated.


Alpha Refreshing Face Wash Ingredients

Pretty short ingredient list, which can be a good thing!  So let’s take them one by one.

  1. Water: Yup.
  2. Decyl Glucoside: This is a surfactant–kind of a dirty word in my book.  I don’t love the idea of surfactants as they can be drying/stripping.
  3. Cocamidopropyl Betaine: Cocamidopropyl betaine is part of a class of chemicals called amidopropyl betaines, compounds which consist of favors fatty acids bound to amidopropyl betaine.  The fatty acids in this form are derived from coconut oil.  Cocamidopropyl betaine, and other amidopropyl betaines, are used as antistatic agents, skin-conditioning agents, surfactants, foam-boosters, and viscosity-increasing agents.
  4. PEG-200 Hydrogenated Glyceryl Palmate: Here is another surfactant and solvent.  This ingredient is commonly used in cleansers, and has been proven safe for cosmetic use.
  5. Glycerin: Glycerin is a sugar alcohol that can be synthetic or naturally derived.  After water, glycerin is the most frequently used cosmetic ingredient.  Glycerin acts as a humectant and prevents the premature loss of moisture from cosmetics to ensure they don’t dry out.  Glycerin has also been used as a skin-conditioning agent, a skin protectant, and a viscosity decreasing agent.  Studies have shown that the body handles synthetic glycerin the same way it handles naturally-derived glycerin.
  6. Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate: Sodium cocoyl isethionate is derived from coconut oil and used in cosmetics to clean the skin by helping water to mix with oil and dirt so they can be rinsed away–similar to sulfates.
  7. PEG-3 Distearate: There are several varieties of PEG distearates, all of which are used in cosmetics to help water mix with oil and dirt so that they can be rinsed away–like sulfates.  PEG distearates also help form emulsions by reducing the surface tension of substances to be emulsified and help other ingredients to dissolve in a solvent in which they would not normally dissolve.
  8. Sodium Laureth Sulfate: Sodium laureth sulfate is part of a group of ethoxylated alcohol salts that includes several of the sulfates commonly found in cosmetics.  Ethoxylated alcohol salts, such as sodium laureth sulfate, act as surfactants, cleaning the skin and hair by helping water to mix with oil and dirt to rinse them away.
  9. PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate: PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate is a synthetic polymer made up of polyethylene glycol (PEG) and fatty acids derived from coconut oil.  The ingredient is typically used as a surfactant (not surprising as this is a cleanser) or an emollient.  This ingredient has been determined safe for use in cosmetics.
  10. Citric Acid: Citric acid is an organic acid that is commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products.  Citric acid helps preserve cosmetics and personal care products by chelating (complexing) metals.  Citric acid is also added to cosmetics to help adjust the acid/base balance.  Citric acid is a weak acid, and is typically found in citrus fruits.
  11. Propylene Glycol: Propylene Glycol is a synthetic organic alcohol that attracts and absorbs water.  Propylene glycol functions as a humectant, and is one of the most widely used ingredients in cosmetics and personal care.  It can also be used as a viscosity decreasing agent, a solvent, and a fragrance ingredient.
  12. Diazolidinyl Urea: Diazolidinyl urea is found in many cosmetics preparations as it prevents bacteria growth and protects preparations from spoiling.  Diazolidinyl urea acts as a preservative and helps to protect the product from contamination during use.  This ingredient acts by slowly releasing a small amount of formaldehyde into the formulation.
  13. Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate: Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate is used as a preservative with broad fungicidal activity.
  14. Sodium Chloride: Table salt.  Sodium chloride can be used to increase the thickness of the aqueous phase of a cosmetic.

Final verdict…

Skin Types: All.  I think even the most sensitive skin types would be safe with this cleanser.

Uses: A cleanser.

Step in Routine: First step–unless you are wearing makeup/SPF in which case I would recommend using as the second step in your double cleanse.

Pros: A good quality, low cost, gentle cleanser.  Unscented.  Not tested on animals (NONE OF THE LINE’S PRODUCTS ARE!)

Cons: Nothing stands out.

Repurchase: Probably not.  It’s a good basic cleanser, but I like something with a little more oomph.  Also, I’m a bit of a cleanser snob.


Milady Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary

Product Review: Soap & Glory The Ultimelt

Repurchase? Yes.

The Ultimelt

Recently I noticed an IGer I follow, who has GORGEOUS skin btw (find her here), had been posting about Soap & Glory’s The Ultimelt Deep Purifying Hot Cloth Cleanser fairly regularly.  Given this endorsement, and the very reasonable price point of $14, I had to give it a try!

First impressions…

The cleanser has a delightful scent–natural and almost medicinal (for the Bobbi Brown fans out there, it’s reminiscent of some of her products).  It feels creamy, and is a non-foaming cleanser.

The Ultimelt Product Image

It comes in a 100 mL tube, with a cloth included.  There is a slight cooling/tingling sensation during the cleanse.  I would recommend using a makeup remover prior to using this cleanser as it will not remove more stubborn waterproof formulas easily.


You all know I’m a fiend for ingredients, so let’s work our way down the list:

The Ultimelt Ingredients

  1. Water: Pretty self-explanatory here.
  2. Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride: This is an emollient which aids in the spreading of formulations.  It has also been shown to promote penetration without leaving an oily feeling on the skin.  A skin-conditioning agent.  Made from coconut oil.
  3. Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter: This is the scientific name for cocoa butter–one of the most widely used natural ingredients in skincare formulations.  This ingredient softens and lubricates skin, as well as offering temporary protection.  Cocoa butter also slows the loss of moisture by forming a protective barrier on the surface of the skin.  The caveat–this ingredient is considered comedogenic and can cause allergic reactions.  Fortunately, in this preparation, the ingredient isn’t left on the skin so I wouldn’t anticipate any issues (it hasn’t caused any for my reactive, somewhat sensitive skin).
  4. Glycerin: This humectant is used in moisturizers and other skincare preparations.  In fact, it is the second most used skincare ingredient, after water.  One benefit of glycerin is that it is water-binding and pulls moisture from he air, so it aids skin in moisture retention.  Glycerin also prevents the loss of moisture from skincare and cosmetic products so they do not dry out.  There is no evidence that glycerin can cause allergies, but it may be irritating in heavy concentrations–the concentration in this product and the fact that it does not remain on the skin make it harmless.
  5. Cetearyl Alcohol: This was is emulsifying and stabilizing, and can be used as an emollient.  Keep a formulation from separating into its oil and liquid components.  There is no evidence of potential irritation.
  6. Cetyl Esters: These are thickening agents to give body to emulsions and stabilize them.  Act as a lubricating ingredient on the skin.  There is no potential for irritation.
  7. Sorbitan Stearate: An emulsifier for water-in-oil creams and options, and a solubilized of essential oils in water.  No potential for irritation.
  8. Polysorbate 60: An emulsifier, wetting agent, and detergent emulsifier.  Widely used in cosmetic preparations.
  9. Synthetic Beeswax: This is a synthetic ingredient meant to be indistinguishable from the natural counterpart and is used in preparations to keep them from separating into their oil and liquid components.  Used in many types of cosmetics.
  10. Phenoxyethanol: A preservative with fungicidal, bactericidal, insecticidal, and germicidal properties.  Has a low sensitizing factor in leave-on preparations, so it should not pose any threat in this rinse-off formula.
  11. Caprylyl Glycol: Works in concert with phenoxyethanol as an anti-microbial.  An emollient with moisturizing and stabilizing properties.
  12. Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil: An emollient with soothing properties.
  13. Panthenol: A penetrating moisturizer that appears to stimulate cellular proliferation and aid in tissue repair.  Imparts a non-irritant, non-sensitizing, moisturizing, and conditioning feel and promotes normal keratinization and wound-healing.Enhances skin suppleness.  Non-comodegenic.
  14. Disodium EDTA: A preservative.
  15. Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil: A fragrance.  Considered an all-purpose oil (anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-spasmodic, balancing, energizing, soothing, and toning).  Works well on all skin types.  Effective when used for oily skin and in the treatment of acne, burns, dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis.  Claims to help relieve stress.  Considered non-toxic, non-irritating, and non-sensitizing.
  16. Linalool: A fragrant component of lavender and coriander.  Serves to perfume, deodorize, and mask scents.
  17. Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Leaf/Twig Oil: Botanical.  Credited with soothing properties.  Has a more delicate fragrance than sweet orange for those sensitive to fragrance.
  18. Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil: Also known as rose geranium oil.  A volatile oil.  Masks odors.
  19. Pantolactone: A humectant.  Not known to cause irritation.
  20. Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil: Has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.  Used to refresh the skin.  May have aromatherapeutic properties such as promoting cell regeneration for normal, dry, and sensitive skin.

Final verdict…

No big red flags in the ingredient department.  Again, may require a pre-cleanse or the use of a remover for waterproof formulas.  For those with severe sensitivity, I might recommend a spot-test prior to all over use.

At $14, I would definitely recommend this cleanser to anyone looking for a relaxing, aromatherapeutic cleanse.