Beauty Bullshit: LaFace Laboratories PUR Purifying Facial Wash

LaFace Laboratories PUR Purifying Facial Wash is an overwhelmingly expensive face wash that charges $48 a pop. Part of the reason it is so pricey is because of its supposed skincare benefits.

According to Birchbox, “Copper encourages collagen production and skin regeneration, while gluconic acid and eliminates harmful micro-organisms and lemon peel oil
cleanses without stripping skin.” [sic]

My Birchbox sample of the PUR Facial Wash

The LaFace Laboratories website adds, “the Science behind the majical combinations of these wonderful raw materials result in a product that is anti-inflammatory, moisturizing
and healing to blemishes”
[sic]. Science with a capital ‘S’! Sounds legit. And we all know things are extra-sciencey when they are described as “magical” and the word “magical” is spelled with a ‘J’.

For the purposes of this Beauty Bullshit, I am mostly going to focus on the claim about copper. However, I do also want to address the claims about gluconic acid and lemon peel oil.

Gluconic Acid

Gluconic acid is an acidity regulator that is naturally occurring in fruit, honey, and wine. It is commercially used for a variety of things that range from floor cleaners to neutering puppies.

Gluconic acid has been shown to have antimicrobial properties. However, scientific analysis has demonstrated that the only reason it has antimicrobial properties is because of its pH. Indeed, I found several studies that specificallyas a buffer to test the antimicrobial properties of other compounds because it is so well demonstrated that this substance is not inhibitory on its own.

Although that pretty much demonstrates the inefficacy of gluconic acid as an antimicrobial agent in any skincare product (since no skincare product should have such a low pH), it did pique my curiosity about the pH of this facewash. I used some dinky home pH strips and found that this product has a pH of about 4.5. This is slightly acidic, but an acceptable skincare pH. It not acidic enough to do jack shit to any microorganisms chilling out on your pores.

pH of PUR Facial Wash

Lemon Peel Oil

Although some suggest that lemon peel oil may cause photosensitivity, if there are any problems, they are clearly far less hazardous than straight lemon juice. However, I can’t find any empirical evidence that lemon peel oil does anything beneficial except smell pretty.

Copper

The claim about copper is the big “OMGWHATAREYOUEVENDOINGHEADDESK” claim associated with this product. Again, the claim is that “copper encourages collagen production”.

Like most Beauty Bullshit claims, this doesn’t come completely out of nowhere.

Copper is the cofactor for the enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX). This means that, in order for LOX to work, it must have copper bound to it. Despite its similarity in name to something one might eat on a bagel, LOX actually functions in your body by catalyzing aldehydes in collagen precursors. These reactive aldehydes react with each other and with unmodified lysine, forming crosslinks between collagen and elastin.

Thus, it is clear that your body must have copper in order for successful collagen production to occur.


Copper Gluconte

The copper in the LaFace Facial Wash is in the form of copper gluconate. Copper gluconate is a remarkably stable molecule. Indeed, the stability constant for copper gluconate is over 100,000,000,00,000,000. In order to utilize the copper in the copper gluconate, the copper atom needs to pop off so it is able to be used. This incredibly high stability constant means that there is no way in hell that the copper will dissociate sufficiently to be involved in collagen synthesis.

What’s more, it’s highly unlikely that any topical copper substance will affect your collagen production. I can find no evidence that anyone has examined topical copper and collagen, but the studies that do look at topical copper consistently find it doesn’t do much of anything for your skin.

Furthermore, although copper is necessary for proper LOX functioning, the only reason you wouldn’t have sufficient copper is if you have a dietary copper deficiency. Given that copper is in foods ranging from chocolate to nuts to herbs to leafy vegetables, it is unlikely that you will acquire a copper deficiency unless you also have other very severe medical conditions. Thus, copper is not a particularly useful mechanism for increasing collagen.

It is clear that all three LaFace ingredients that have been highlighted here are advertised using demonstrably false claims.

If you have any beauty claims you want researched in future Beauty
Bullshit blogs, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

I just found your blog the other day, and I’m officially in love! As a chemical scientist (and makeup junkie) myself, I really appreciate anyone out there trying to make a dent in all the pseudoscientific twaddle! Keep up the awesome work ^_^

 I just came across this brand in the Sephora email and I feel like the whole line of products is ripe for critiquing.

Oof. I have seen those and they are pretty absurd! I got that email as well and I have a hard time believing that people’s moms are peddling such absurd crap…

2.

I laughed so hard! 😀 Just discovered your blog and I’m already loving it, thanks for the hard work put in here!

3.

On top of all the things you said, it’s worth noting that any product you apply and then immediately rinse off in order to remove surface impurities isn’t going to impregnate the skin with any ingredients, majical or otherwise.

I am responding as one needs the correct information in order to make decisions on their purchases. As the founder of LAFACE Labs, it was brought to my attention this commentary. Where I fully believe in the freedom of the press I also believe more in the truth. I would like to defend my product as the article may have confused us with something else.
1) “Copper encourages collagen production and skin regeneration, while gluconic acid and eliminates harmful micro-organisms and lemon peel oil cleanses without stripping the skin.” RESPONSE; There is no gluconic acid in the formula. Copper gluconate is not gluconic acid!! STOP reading Wikipedia and find more scientific source to get your information from!!
2) Gluconic acid is an acidity regulator that is naturally occurring in fruit, honey, and wine. It is commercially used for a variety of things that range from floor cleaners to neutering puppies. RESPONSE; There is no gluconic acid in the formula. Copper gluconate is not gluconic acid!! STOP reading Wikipedia and find more scientific source to get your information from!!
3) Although that pretty much demonstrates the inefficacy of gluconic acid as an antimicrobial agent in any skincare product (since no skincare product should have such a low pH), it did pique my curiosity about the pH of this facewash. I used some dinky home pH strips and found that this product has a pH of about 4.5. This is slightly acidic, but an acceptable skincare pH. It not acidic enough to do jack shit to any microorganisms chilling out on your pores. RESPONSE; This is not antiseptic/antimicrobial genius!! It is a functional wash.

Please know I am always open to constructive criticism or questions people may have. Contact me personally through our customer service line on our website.

Best,
Lisa C Alexander Founder/CEO LAFACE Laboratories