Review: Eminence Birch Water Purifying Essence
I began using Eminence Birch Water Purifying Essence ($54 USD / $64 CAD) in the fall of 2019. I received it as gratis for participating in a day of training with the brand. It is part of their Pure Forest Collection, based on shinrin-yoku – or forest bathing – a Japanese concept that reconnects the mind, body, and soul to the peaceful tranquility of nature. It rose to popularity beginning in the 1980s in response to the tech boom. It’s known to have therapeutic psychological and physical benefits. I predict forest bathing will become a popular marketing tactic in skin and body care in the coming years.
Eminence claims this essence combats free radical damage, restores elasticity, and improves barrier function. I had great results when I began using this product and thought I would continue to use it for years to come. In early 2021, I nearly emptied it, then gave the rest to my mom so I could start using a new toner. I was ready to move on.
Look and Feel
Very watery. There truly isn’t any other possible way to describe it. It doesn’t have the juiciness or satisfying skin quenching aspect that other essences have. That may work for some but my skin requires more substance.
Like most essences, this product comes packaged in a glass bottle, with a hole at the top that enables you to pour the liquid. I prefer to pour it directly into my hands and press it onto my skin, usually 2-3 layers. I find that using cotton pads to apply liquid products is wasteful, as well as not very cost effective in the long run, considering most of the liquid is absorbed by the cotton.
Initially, applying this essence made my skin soft and supple. As the product aged, the scent became more prominent. Even though this is loaded with plant-based humectants, my skin became sensitive to it. I was unable to use this after exfoliating with Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant, or before using azelaic acid, because it caused a reaction. My skin flared with redness and irritation. The product seemed to become ineffective once I had used about half of the bottle.
Brand and Product Overview
Eminence Organics is a “clean beauty” brand that omits water from the majority of their products. Their version of “clean” involves excluding preservatives from their waterless products. You must add water to some of their products prior to application. This essence is an obvious exception, as it is a water-based product. As you can see, the ingredients list is quite exhaustive. Strangely, the brand omits full lists of ingredients for all of their products from their website. There are a few preservatives, but their reliability is questionable, given the change in efficacy and fragrance of the product. I have never seen such a lengthy ingredients list on an essence or toner, before or since. As addressed in my previous post, most essences tout a high concentration of a singular ingredient.
It’s comprised of mostly humectants and some antioxidants. The first ingredient listed is Eminence’s proprietary Organic Phytonutrient Blend, which is featured in most of the products they offer. Listed after that is birch water, so it’s not the main ingredient, like the product name implies.
Advertised Key Ingredients and Their Benefits (based on what we were told in training)
Eminence opts out of displaying ingredients decks on their website. In lieu of typing out the full list, I’ve uploaded the above photo.
Snow Mushroom – Barrier repairing qualities; brightening; holds 500 times its weight in water (the mushroom itself expands when it absorbs water); and contains vitamin D. It has a small molecular structure which means it is capable penetrating deep into the skin’s layers, thus enhancing hydrating abilities.
Birch Water – “Nature’s detoxifier;” rich in nutrients and skin soothing; contains electrolytes, amino acids, proteins, enzymes, and vitamins; enhances skin’s elasticity.
Reishi Mushroom – Adaptogenic; boosts immunity and cell regeneration; high in antioxidants and polysaccharides; anti-inflammatory.
Paracress Extract – Increases fibroblast function; results in tightening effect.
“Botanical Peptides” (from Quinoa Seed) – “An immediately active peptide.” This is listed on the provided pamphlet and it was discussed in training. However, I don’t see it listed among the ingredients. I have no idea if it was omitted intentionally or by accident.
“Botanical Collagen” (from Yeast Extract) – Also firms, plumps, and hydrates.
I would recommend their Stone Crop Hydrating Mist or Neroli Age Corrective Hydrating Mist (both currently $39 USD) over this essence. Both are more cost effective, seemingly more satisfying in terms of results, and come in a higher volume. (It seems all of their products have seen a price jump since the period that I was actively using them.)
Plant-derived ingredients have many benefits but why is it that there is often a trade-off in terms of an efficacious preservative system? Eminence intentionally projects an image that is, in my opinion, somehow simultaneously greenwashed and science-washed. I would love to hear from chemists and sustainability experts on their thoughts about this brand’s formulations and practices. I rarely see anyone discuss Eminence, so I look forward to reading or viewing other perspectives.
Other Eminence Products That I’ve Tried and Did Not Like
Mangosteen Daily Resurfacing Concentrate – This is a favorite of many. Much to my chagrin, it caused my skin to break out with the most atrocious narwhal horn of a pimple, smack dab in the center of my forehead. I was dismayed. I hadn’t had a bad breakout in years, but I lucked out in the sense that this occurred mid-lockdown. No one saw me, except my family and Doordash delivery people. My acne-prone sister had the opposite experience. Her skin was more clear and hydrated than ever before.
Marine Peptide Flower Concentrate – This felt like less of a serum to me and more like an astringent. Plant-derived peptides do not seem to deliver results in the same manner of synthetic peptides. In my case, there were no results.
All of their sunscreens – Extremely thick texture; totally waterless, so you have to add a drop, but that likely affects the efficacy in some way; the palest of all white casts. Do not recommend.
Eminence Products That I Do Recommend
Entire Clear Skin Probiotic line – Ideal for individuals that have combination skin with minor breakouts that seek balanced skin. (This is not a cure for acne.)
Firm Skin Acai Cleanser – A hydrating and firming cleanser. Great for dry/dehydrated types. I suggest using this as a second cleanse.
Linden Calendula Treatment – For sensitive skin types; provides a lot of relief, whether it’s used for a short time (10 minutes) or as an overnight mask.