Shea Terra Organics is one of my all-time favorite skin care companies. The company’s founder, Tammie Umbel, has dedicated herself to personally seeking out rare ingredients that are indigenous to remote parts of Africa, and then using those ingredients to create effective, organic skin care products for the masses. In turn, many of the products benefit women-run cooperatives by sustaining businesses that might otherwise be taken over by outside interests. I really love the ethical side of the business, but my love for Shea Terra actually has much more to do with the fact that they make highly effective skin care products. My gateway product was the Authentic Black Soap, which I bought and fell in love with back in 2011. Since then, I’ve probably worked my way through about 70% of the Shea Terra product catalog! Some of my favorites include the Argan Oil, Baobob Oil, Kalahari Ootanga Oil, Rose Hips Seed Oil, Cape Aloe Topical Healing Gel, Rose Hips Black Soap Facial Wash, Tamanu Licorice Facial Wash, just about every face mask they produce, and now, the new Argan, Zafron & Camel’s Milk Brightening Lait Cre’me.
What is it?
The Argan, Zafron & Camel’s Milk Brightening Lait Cre’me ($32) is a facial moisturizer that promises to moisturize as well as even out skin tone. It contains ingredients sourced from Morocco.
Pure aloe vera leaf juice, organic argan oil, vegetable emulsifying wax, camel’s milk, natural based preservative (gluconodeltalactone), sodium benzoate, naturally grown Moroccan saffron threads.
As you can imagine, I was super excited about the lack of fillers in this ingredient lineup – not even water is listed as an ingredient. In general, I find that Shea Terra Organics doesn’t use fillers in their skin care formulas, and the Argan, Zafron & Camel’s Milk Brightening Lait Cre’me is no exception. In addition to the absence of fillers, the ingredients this moisturizer does contain are pretty exciting. Here’s my breakdown:
Aloe Vera Leaf Juice – Aloe is a classic skin care ingredient for very good reason. It contains antioxidant properties with Vitamins A, C, and E, fatty acids, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, as well as naturally occurring salicylic acid. It’s fantastic at treating acne, redness, and dryness, among other things. If you’d like to learn more about this wonder plant, check out this summary from the Indian Journal of Dermatology.
Argan Oil – Argan oil has enjoyed a lot of popularity in recent years. It’s a spectacular skin care ingredient, as it contains antioxidants such as Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as skin-healthy Oleic and Linoleic Omega fatty acids. It’s both nourishing and moisturizing, and does an excellent job plumping the skin to minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
Camel’s Milk – Camel’s milk contains the AHA lactic acid, which has skin softening and exfoliating benefits. It also possesses some anti-bacterial properties, and contains Vitamins C, A, B1, B2, and B12.
Gluconodeltalactone – This is an interesting ingredient – it’s sometimes included in skin care products as a preservative (as it is in this moisturizer), but it’s also often used as an active – I’m guessing the amount of Gluconodeltalactone a product contains determines whether it’s a preservative or an active. Anyway, Gluconodeltalactone is a PHA (poly-hydroxy acid), which is a gentler type of AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid) and is suitable for dry, sensitive skin. It contains antioxidants, and is also an effective anti-inflammatory. In addition to its exfoliating properties, there have been numerous studies done on its anti-aging and UV protection benefits, as well as its efficacy as an acne treatment. If you’re interested in learning more about Gluconodeltalactone, here are a few study abstracts worth taking a look at:
• A comparative study of gluconolactone versus benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne
• A polyhydroxy acid skin care regimen provides antiaging effects comparable to an alpha-hydroxy acid regimen
• The polyhydroxy acid gluconolactone protects against ultraviolet radiation in an in vitro model of cutaneous photoaging
• The use of polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) in photoaged skin
Saffron – Saffron is a rare (and expensive!) spice that possesses outstanding antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory benefits. It also contains a polyphenol called “curcumin,” which is an antioxidant. It’s sometimes used in anti-acne treatments because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects.
There are no red flags in terms of irritants or potential acne triggers in this formula according to COSDNA, although, it’s worth mentioning that COSDNA did not have any data on the camel’s milk or the saffron ingredients.
Shea Terra’s Argan, Zafron & Camel’s Milk Brightening Lait Cre’me comes packaged in a small, amber, glass jar. The jar itself has a nice solid feel, and has a lovely label design featuring the signature Shea Terra stripes.
Inside the jar, the product is very light beige in color.
This product definitely has a smell. It’s not overwhelming, but the first time I caught the scent, my actual thought in that very moment was, “Whoa, that’s a little funky.” I would describe the smell as slightly sour, in the same manner that a plain yogurt smells sour. The smell isn’t identical to yogurt, but they’re certainly cousins. Surprisingly, I’ve grown really fond of it. I no longer find it “a little funky.” I now think it just smells like beauty.
I apply a chickpea sized amount as the last step in my skin care routine at night, just after applying my face oil. In the morning, it goes on just after my sunscreen if I’m wearing a chemical sunscreen, and just before my sunscreen if I’m wearing mineral-based sun protection.
I find that the chickpea size amount easily covers not only my face, but also my neck and décolleté area. It spreads very easily – in spite of its thick texture in the jar, it has a very satisfying amount of slip when gliding it over my face. There were a few days when my skin was sensitive as a result of over-exfoliating – I found that on those days, the Argan, Zafron & Camel’s Milk Brightening Lait Cre’me caused a bit of a tingling sensation when applied. It was not unbearable, and it subsided very quickly, but it’s worth noting.
This moisturizer sets rather quickly, and dries matte. I love the way foundation glides over this product – it works exceptionally well under makeup.
My current skin type has changed a little in recent months. A few months ago I would have characterized it as very dry, but it has normalized quite a bit since I switched from the cream version of prescription Tretinoin to the micro-gel version. These days I would describe my skin type as normal to dry.
I began using Shea Terra Organics Argan, Zafron & Camel’s Milk Brightening Lait Cre’me in the beginning of November, and used it every morning and evening for the first 6 weeks. I’m on my second jar now, though for past couple of weeks I have been alternating it with my Benton Snail Bee High Content Steam Cream and another Shea Terra moisturizer (the Argan & Desert Date Ultra Moisturizing Face Cream).
In terms of immediate results, the Argan, Zafron & Camel’s Milk Brightening Lait Cre’me moisturized my skin without leaving me greasy, and that moisture lasted through the day.
After the first two weeks, my skin looked noticeably brighter. After four weeks, I noticed that some of my PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) marks were lighter. The lightening of my PIH was definitely visible, but not as dramatic as I’ve seen with products such as the O.S.T. Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum. This isn’t a complaint – I wouldn’t want a moisturizer that has the same intensity as the AHA in a serum like that – I’d be peeling and dry all the time! But for those who are specifically interested purchasing the Argan, Zafron & Camel’s Milk Brightening Lait Cre’me as a lightener for hyperpigmentation, I thought it would be helpful to make the comparison.
I did not have any breakouts as a result of using this moisturizer, and in fact, it really helped reduce the inflammation and redness in the active acne I did have.
Overall, I absolutely love this Argan, Zafron & Camel’s Milk Brightening Lait Cre’me! It’s become a favorite, and has earned a place right alongside my beloved Benton Snail Bee Steam Cream on my skin care shelf. Between the two, I think the Benton Steam Cream is gentler for very sensitive or broken skin. Comparing the brightening/PIH lightening effects, I think the Benton Steam Cream produces more dramatic immediate brightening results, but the Argan, Zafron & Camel’s Milk Brightening Lait Cre’me is more effective at lightening my PIH over the long term.
Lightens PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) marks
Contains no fillers
Wears well under makeup
Smells slightly sour – similar to yogurt (though this isn’t actually a con for myself – I’ve grown rather fond of the smell)
Skin & Tonics Rating:
Performance: 5/5 – Moisturizes, brightens, lightens PIH, great texture.
Quality: 5/5 – Stellar ingredient list with no fillers and lots of great actives.
Value: 5/5 – This is one of the best moisturizers I’ve tried at any price, so $32 is a bargain. However, I only pay around $22 because Shea Terra sends out a 30% off coupon every month.
Where to Buy
I bought my Argan, Zafron & Camel’s Milk Brightening Lait Cre’me from the Shea Terra Organics website, where it retails for $32. However, Shea Terra sends out a monthly coupon for 30% off your entire purchase to its email subscribers. With the coupon, this moisturizer is $22. This month’s coupon code is JAN2014.