There are a few things you all should know about me ahead of time, in case you are wondering why on earth I would be qualified to tell you about what skincare and cosmetic products are good, great, or downright shitty.
I have been in the Denver/Boulder area for about 8 years now. After about 4 of those years, I began to develop the mysterious, yet unmistakable symptoms of eczema; a chronic and incurable skin condition that takes many forms and manifestations for many different people living in dry, high-altitude environments. I had developed small itchy bumps on my elbows, knees, and hands that I would sit and scratch for as long as I could without inflicting damage.
After several visits to a dermatologist, I learned that no one really knows what causes the problem, though stress and weather changes are definitely almost always involved. The best a dermatologist can really do is prescribe a high-potency steroid cream to relieve the itchiness, the only problem with this solution is that these creams can only be used for up to two weeks at a time, as they can ultimately cause thinning of the skin tissue.
So, for the past four years I have been searching for lotions and potions that would help my skin feel less irritated and itchy, especially during the cold winter months. That being said, I have had a modicum of experience testing and trying products that genuinely relieve dry, itchy skin.
My search led me to Boscia’s wares, which are produced by the Fancl Corporation. Founded by Kenji Ikemori and based in Yokohama, Japan, the inspiration behind this line was Ikemori’s wife and her complexion problems, due to adverse reactions she had from preservatives in commercial skincare products.
Boscia is one of the few completely preservative-free, all natural skin care lines that exist right now. Although many companies indeed use organic and/or all natural ingredients, there are actually very few products on the market these days that do not contain chemical preservatives.
These are commonly listed as “parabens” on ingredient labels, and are usually preceded by any of the following: ethyl, methyl, butyl, isobutyl, benzyl, and propyl. These preservatives, in certain studies, have been found to cause estrogenic activity in skin tissues.
There is a great amount of skepticism regarding the actual damage being done by these preservatives, but the fact of the matter is that too much of anything eventually leads to some sort of problem, and parabens exist in almost everything. Trust me, I read every single ingredient label in my bathroom! (Estimates guess that at least 90% of all cosmetic products contain them).
Some products even contain formaldehyde releasers, commonly listed as “DMDM Hydantoin,” or “Quaternium 15.” The purpose of these ingredients is to extend the shelf life of any given item. For those with sensitive skin, these things can cause contact dermatitis, and doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that something containing formaldehyde isn’t good for you; direct exposure to the chemical can cause respiratory irritation, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and more. I found formaldehyde releasers listed on the back of my SoftSoap liquid hand soap and St. Ives skin lotion, which I have since tossed in the garbage can.
With all that knowledge on the books, it is easy to see why this line was instantly appealing. The Purifying Cleansing Gel was perfectly clear and worked up into a gentle, foamy lather with a light botanical scent. All of Boscia’s products have light, gentle scents because there are no added perfumes. The Jujube Rejuvenist Whipped Body Crème wasn’t too light or too heavy, and kept my skin moisturized for the majority of the day. Usually, at night when my body temperature rises, the eczema itchies on my legs get pretty bad, but this lotion definitely seemed to help (though not eliminate) the problem. The Jujube Salve Stick works wonderfully as a lip balm and cuticle softener. The Oil Free Daily Hydration SPF15 is amazing; I have been using SPF15 daily moisturizers since I was 16, and this one is by far the best I have ever tried…micro silica absorbs excess oil and again, the smell is not overpowering.
Boscia goods are not put in fancy, frilly bottles with lots of fancy pictures and/or colors. This line and its packaging is simple, which I think is fantastic. The products themselves are manufactured in Japan, in a Class 100 manufacturing environment, which is the same level used by medical and pharmaceutical companies. The creation of all Boscia products begins in a series of “clean rooms,” where the materials are mixed, sterilized, and packaged without any human contact.
Additionally, each article has its own expiration date as well as a space on the included brochure to write the date that you opened it, so that 6 months to a year down the road, you will know when it expires. Chances are you won’t have it that long though! Products like the Enlivening Amino-AG Eye Treatment are packaged in non-opening (i.e., non-screw top), airless containers that prevent outside air and bacteria from getting inside the tube.
While Boscia’s line is definitely a bit more on the spendy side ($14-$45), I would highly recommend any of these products for repeated, daily use. Especially for a daily SPF15 or lip balm; items that tend to be used either daily or several times a day.