You remember Narcissus, don’t you? That ridiculously good-looking Greek hunter who was lured by Nemesis to a reflective pool, only to fall in love with his beautiful reflection so much that he never left said pool? You know, the guy who stared longingly into his own eyes, not realizing it was a reflection, because he was just that attractive?
Although the “narcissus” label directly on the packaging refers to its main ingredient, Narcissus tazetta, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Amala Brightening Face Polish ($66, amazon.com) would make me as attractive as Narcissus himself. Amala Brightening Face Polish is a cleansing exfoliator that promises to brighten your skin and even your skin tone.
Known as the Paperwhite flower for its delicate petals, Narcissus tazetta is a beautiful flower belonging to the same genus as the daffodil. The extract has been used in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory, anticancer, sedative, and memorigenic effects, although much of these uses have yet to be verified in clinical studies (Molecules).
Its inclusion in the Amala Brightening Face Polish revolves around its ability to inhibit melanin production, although I couldn’t find such data to support this claim. What I could find, however, was evidence to suggest its anti-fungal activity against Candida albicans, as well as its antibacterial activity against both gram postitive and gram negative bacteria, including Salmonella typhimurium (Molecules).
Other studies involving Narcissus tazetta involve those conducted by Tata Harper Skin Care, as seen in within the Tata Harper Skin Care Knowledge Manual. The bulb extract was seen to increase skin’s elasticity (up to 14.3% in 42 days) and firmness (16.1% in 42 days) as well as decrease the appearance of wrinkles (17.5% in 42 days). Unfortunately, these aren’t independent studies, nor are they published publically, so I’m holding out my support for this ingredient until further research is done.
This brown algae, common to the Atlantic Ocean, has moderate antioxidant activity, as shown in the Journal of Applied Phycology. Because of its high vitamin E content, researchers tested the extract to see how it fared as an antioxidant, finding it to synergistically enhance vitamin E’s antioxidant activity. Unfortunately, when you compare the two, it turns out that vitamin E is the clear winner (Journal of Applied Phycology).
But don’t let that get you down! Ascophyllum nodosum is rich in polyphenols and, more importantly, fucoidans (International Dermal Institute). According to Cosmetics & Toiletries, applying a fucoidan-rich cream twice a day for five weeks will give you more supple, more elastic skin. It will also make your skin thinner, but this is actually a good thing; thinning the skin allows it to tighten and repair its connective tissue, which helps in anti-aging efforts (Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics). Fucoidans also allow for enhanced, evenly-distributed collagen absorption (Cosmetics & Toiletries).
Like many other plants, compounds found within Ascophyllum nodosum extracts are entirely variable; different extrinsic factors (like geography and sunlight) can affect its growth, so it’s difficult to say how effective this particular extract is (Marine Ecology Progress Series).
You can’t make a great exfoliator/skin brightener without throwing an alpha-hydroxy acid into the mix; these acids (which includes the ever-popular glycolic acid) exfoliate dead skin cells and moisturize the skin at the same time, allowing for a thinner and smoother stratum corneum with increased flexibility (Skin Therapy Letter).
Lactic acid, more specifically, doesn’t firm your skin the way glycolic acid does because it doesn’t penetrate quite as well; of course, it also doesn’t thin your skin, either, the way glycolic acid does, making it a better choice for those with sensitive skin. Ideally, lactic acid is better in leave-in products because it improves your skin’s texture over time (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology).
Amala Brightening Face Polish has quite a few strides to make before it makes the mark; for instance, the fact that Narcissus tazetta is its main ingredient is worrisome as it doesn’t have much in the way of clinical, peer-reviewed research. Also, given the fact that I’m here at my computer and not staring longingly into my own eyes in front of the mirror, it can’t have improved my complexion that much. But seriously, this is a good exfoliator, but the research and my limited research aren’t enough for me to recommend it above others.
Ingredients: WATER (AQUA), SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS (JOJOBA) SEED WAX, SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS (JOJOBA) SEED OIL*, GLYCERIN, POLYGLYCERYL-3 STEARATE, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, STEARIC ACID, HELIANTHUS ANNUUS (SUNFLOWER) SEED OIL*, SODIUM COCOYL WHEAT AMINO ACIDS, RUBUS IDAEUS (RASPBERRY) SEED POWDER, BEESWAX (CERA ALBA)*, BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII (SHEA BUTTER)*, SESAMUM INDICUM (SESAME) SEED OIL*, NARCISSUS TAZETTA EXTRACT*, NARCISSUS TAZETTA BULB EXTRACT, ASCOPHYLLUM NODOSUM EXTRACT, LACTIC ACID, HYDROLYZED WHEAT FLOUR, BELLIS PERENNIS (DAISY) FLOWER EXTRACT*, SALIX ALBA (WILLOW) BARK EXTRACT, RIBES RUBRUM (CURRANT) JUICE*, MALVA SYLVESTRIS (MALLOW) EXTRACT*, MENTHA PIPERITA (PEPPERMINT) LEAF EXTRACT*, PRIMULA VERIS EXTRACT*, ALCHEMILLA VULGARIS EXTRACT*, VERONICA OFFICINALIS EXTRACT*, MELISSA OFFICINALIS LEAF EXTRACT*, ACHILLEA MILLEFOLIUM EXTRACT*, BUDDLEJA DAVIDII EXTRACT*, THYMUS VULGARIS (THYME) EXTRACT*, OLEA EUROPAEA (OLIVE) FRUIT OIL*, CALENDULA OFFICINALIS FLOWER EXTRACT*, XANTHAN GUM, TOCOPHEROL, LEVULINIC ACID, FRAGRANCE (PARFUM), ROSA DAMASCENA FLOWER OIL*, HELICHRYSUM ITALICUM EXTRACT*, SODIUM LEVULINATE, ALCOHOL*, LIMONENE+