EM COSMETICS: COLOR DROPS SERUM BLUSH
The founder of this brand, Michelle Phan, needs no introduction. If you’ve been following the progression of YouTube beauty influencers, you’ve most definitely made your way to her channel with millions of other subscribers. She was one of the original YouTubers that provided makeup tutorials and product recommendations. Her recent resurgence not only to YouTube (after two years) but the commercial beauty industry (read: EM Cosmetics) has certainly brought a heavy dose of life back to a community that has seen many struggles in the last two (2) years. In over ten (10) years, her public presence has gone from makeup tutorials (on YouTube) to a business entrepreneur (with L’Oreal collaboration of em by Michelle Phan and subscription box service Ipsy). Due to business differences and poor sales, L’Oreal eventually sold em by Michelle Phan to Ipsy in 2015. Phan then sold her stake in Ipsy and bought back em by Michelle Phan/Em Cosmetics line in 2017. Phan rebranded, rehauled, and relaunched (or “rebirthed) the cosmetic line to EM Cosmetics in 2017. Since her “rebirth”, she has since launched products for eyes + brows, lips, and most recently blushes. With its melding of both color cosmetics and skincare claims, how could we NOT provide a science-based EM Cosmetics Color Drops Serum Blush review?
Specifically, we were fascinated that Color Drops Serum Blushes were said to be formulated with rich botanicals and active ingredients:
Sacha Inchi Oil, Squalane, Hyaluronic Acid, and Vitamin E.
With its “rebirth”, EM Cosmetics not only looks different from its first L’Oreal iteration but it certainly appeals to a Millennial Instagram set.
In fact, the brand’s new logo is supposedly inspired by the golden ratio of beauty and contains the letters “E” and “M” hidden within. Much of the aesthetic, packaging and logo design are grounded in Phan’s artistic skills with the use of sacred geometry. It’s quite apparent that this new “rebirth” of EM Cosmetics is ALL Michelle.
Currently, there are four (4) Color Drops Serum Blushes: Pink Nectar, Soft Amethyst, Sunset Sky, and Rose Milk.
One thing we quickly noticed was that all four (4) Color Drops Serum Blushes were formulated with the same set base followed by its color combinations.
Alright then, let’s look at the ingredients!
May Contain: (+/-):
The claims as detailed on the website for the EM Cosmetics Color Drops Serum Blushes and an internal blog post.
“Get ready to glow! No shimmer or glitter, just skin-loving ingredients and sheer buildable color to amplify your natural radiance. This lightweight, yet luxurious serum formula provides a youthful and dewy glow with each and every drop.
FEATURES + BENEFITS
- Formulated with Sacha Inchi Oil, Squalane, Hyaluronic Acid & Vitamin E
- Gives cheeks a youthful, healthy, plump and bouncy appearance
- Imparts a healthy enduring sheen to the skin
- Vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free”
The claims as detailed on the EM Cosmetics internal blog post.
“Sacha Inchi Oil
- Category: Antioxidant
- What it is: This fast-absorbing oil hailing from a plant in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, is one of the richest natural sources of omega fatty acids in the world. Traditionally, it was used to treat things like insect bites, small cuts, and even burns, which are at increased risk of infection in tropical climates – due to its naturally occurring antibacterial properties.
- What is does: Sacha Inchi’s high omega 3 content help moisturize, smooth, and protect the skin. And for those who consider ‘oil’ a 3-letter word, here’s a 14-letter word to put you at ease: non-comedogenic.
- Category: Emollient
- What it is: A hydrogenated version of squalene, which is a compound produced naturally by our sebaceous glands (mostly in our teens, sadly). Emollients are occlusive agents that coat your skin with a thin film, sealing in water and retaining moisture. Unlike some other emollients though, squalane has a super small molecule structure which makes it easier for the skin to absorb, without any thick residue feeling.
- What is does: This ingredient creates a protective coating on the skin, which helps improve moisture balance and elasticity, so you can take back your teen years, minus all the awkward stuff.
- Category: Humectant
- What it is: A water-attracting molecule that retains 1,000 times its weight in water. Hyaluronic acid was originally sourced for medical purposes from rooster combs (yep, those little squiggly red things firmly attached the rooster heads), but of course we use a cruelty-free alternative created through a vegan fermentation process (thanks science!)
- What it does: The gold standard in hydration – this miracle worker rehydrates skin, reduces fine lines, and makes your skin feel crazy soft. If you haven’t heard of hyaluronic acid before, just wait a week and google “Baader-Meinhof phenomenon” – it’s literally everywhere.
- Category: Antioxidant
- What it is: A fat-soluble antioxidant that is naturally extracted from plants. If you remember your mother using this – you’re lucky – your mother is a smart woman.
- What it does: Vitamin E is the go-to antioxidant moisturizer used to protect against free-radical damage. While we love it for it’s anti-aging benefits, Vitamin E is also used as a safe treatment for eczema, psoriasis, and myriad other skin conditions.”
Ok, let’s parse this baby to its bare bones based on its ingredients:
|Substantiated||Claims||What's the Problem?|
Formulated with Sacha Inchi Oil, Squalane, Hyaluronic Acid & Vitamin E.
Gives cheeks a youthful, healthy, plump and bouncy appearance.
|No product-specific data to substantiate claim.|
Imparts a healthy enduring sheen to the skin.
|This is more subjective and relative to individual results. |
Vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free.
Sacha Inchi Oil: Antioxidant.
Sacha Inchi Oil: High omega 3 content help moisturize, smooth, and protect the skin.
Sacha Inchi Oil: Fast-absorbing oil hailing from a plant in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, is one of the richest natural sources of omega fatty acids in the world. Used to treat things like insect bites, small cuts, and even burns, which are at increased risk of infection in tropical climates - due to its naturally occurring antibacterial properties.
Sacha Inchi Oil: Non-comedogenic.
|No ingredient-specific data to substantiate claim.|
Squalane: Hydrogenated version of squalene, which is a compound produced naturally by our sebaceous glands. Squalane has a super small molecule structure which makes it easier for the skin to absorb, without any thick residue feeling.
Squalane: Creates a protective coating on the skin, which helps improve moisture balance and elasticity.
Hyaluronic Acid: Humectant.
Hyaluronic Acid: The gold standard in hydration - this miracle worker rehydrates skin, reduces fine lines, and makes your skin feel crazy soft.
Hyaluronic Acid: A water-attracting molecule that retains 1,000 times its weight in water.
|No ingredient-specific data to substantiate claim. |
Hyaluronic acid does, however, have a of high molecular weight, usually in excess of 1,000 kDa.
EM Cosmetics, is this what you meant to say?
Vitamin E: Antioxidant.
Vitamin E: A fat-soluble antioxidant that is naturally extracted from plants.
Vitamin E: Go-to antioxidant moisturizer used to protect against free-radical damage. While we love it for it’s anti-aging benefits, Vitamin E is also used as a safe treatment for eczema, psoriasis, and myriad other skin conditions.
SKIN TYPE & USE
According to EM Cosmetics, the Color Drops Serum Blushes (Pink Nectar, Soft Amethyst, Sunset Sky, and Rose Milk) were formulated and may be applied per the following:
Dispense 1 drop to cover both cheeks. With clean hands, blend into skin with fingertips in a soft tapping motion. To intensify color, add another drop. Can also be applied with a sponge or brush.
- For easy dispensing, prime the pump by pushing the top down 3-5 times
- Set serum blush with translucent powder for a velvety finish
- Combination/oily skins: prep bare skin or base makeup for application by blotting cheeks with a tissue or an oil absorbing sheet before applying.
THE GOOD & THE BAD
Similar to my Kosas Tinted Face Oil post, mixing a favorite color cosmetic with botanical oils or skincare products have always been something of interest. So you can only imagine how intrigued I was when the EM Cosmetics Color Drops Serum Blush came out.
What was I doing before, you ask?
Well, I’ve been specifically mixing some of my powder blushes or liquid/gel blushes (like the Glossier Cloud Paints) with either:
Since EM Cosmetics does not identify itself as a “clean beauty” brand. They make no claims of being a “clean beauty” brand and we reviewed EM Cosmetics and the Color Drops Serum Blush as such.
A few important things to notice…
The focused ingredients; plukenetia volubilis seed oil (or sacha inchi oil), squalane, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E) are listed from the middle to the end of the ingredient list.
Why is this important?
Well, based on CIR assessment that the current concentration use of phenoxyethanol is no more than 1%, we have to assume that anything listed BELOW or AFTER phenoxyethanol, would likely be at a concentration below 1%.
And since the focused ingredients (sacha inchi oil, squalane, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E) are listed AFTER phenoxyethanol, it would likely lean toward a concentration at or below 1%. Below 1% seems to be a very low concentration to provide much impact as it relates to these particular ingredients. Particularly since, EM Cosmetics claims that these ingredients (sacha inchi oil, squalane, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E) are the cornerstone of what makes the Color Drops Serum Blush:
- Gives cheeks a youthful, healthy, plump and bouncy appearance.
- Imparts a healthy enduring sheen to the skin.
And lastly, there are studies that observed irritation of the following that are contained within EM Cosmetics Color Drops Serum Blushes:
- When isododecane was mixed with trimethylsiloxysilicate.
- When silica dimethyl silylate was mixed with isododecane.
- When trimethylsiloxysilicate was mixed with hydrogenated polyisobutene.
THE UGLY (PRICE)
EM Cosmetics Color Drops Serum Blush ($25)
Colors: Pink Nectar, Soft Amethyst, Sunset Sky, and Rose Milk
DO I NEED THIS?
Very similar to my statement with the Kosas Tinted Face Oil, this product is marketed as a luminous blush providing concurrent skincare treatment.
So the question of whether you really need this product is relative, right?
If you are on a hunt for a blush that incorporates added botanicals, the EM Cosmetics Color Drops Serum Blush may be the product for you.
But if the price point is your main concern, then you might not necessarily feel defeated.
Let me explain…
You may already have (and love) all that you need to manually create the same EM Cosmetics Color Drops Serum Blush effect. Simply take your favorite cream or even powder blush and add the following options that may contain individual (or a combination of) sacha inchi oil, sesame oil, squalane, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E (tocopherol).
- Cocokind Golden Elixir
- The Ordinary “B” Oil
- This Works Stress Cheek Face Oil
- Acure Brightening Glowing Serum
- Allpa Sacha Inchi Face Oil
- Manyo Factory Nutritive Oil
- REN Skincare Vita Mineral™ Omega 3 Optimum Skin Oil
- Wabi-sabi Botanicals Balancing Act | Intensif Serum No. 2
We are seeing this more and more, the incorporation of botanical oils or facial oils into everyday color cosmetics. I don’t expect EM Cosmetics Color Drops Serum Blush to be the only iteration.
Either way, the choice is yours!
At present, there is only one dupe which includes two of the highlighted ingredients (sacha inchi seed oil and tocopherol), as it relates to the EM Cosmetics Color Drops Serum Blushes:
Tata Harper Volumizing Lip & Cheek Tint
Then there are serum/oil/cream blushes that are “marketed” to have beneficial skincare impact but may/may not include ingredients similar to the EM Cosmetics Color Drops Serum Blushes:
Physicians Formula Organic Wear Dewy Blush Elixir
Josie Maran Vibrancy Argan Oil Fresh Face Paint Palette
RODIN olio lusso Luxury Lip & Cheek Oil
ARE THE CLAIMS BACKED BY SCIENCE?
Overall, the EM Cosmetics Color Drops Serum Blush claims were very very general. So, EM Cosmetics was true in its statements as it relates to its simplified claims. This was very surprising since the marketing concept was centered around the following key ingredients: sacha inchi oil, squalane, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E.
I expected the folks at EM Cosmetics to be a bit more proactive about diving into some of the specific benefits of the ingredients within its product description. But they kept it very light and basic.
In fact, the claims were so light that it seemed that by simply focusing on these four ingredients and listing generalized claims; we as consumers would make some sort of direct correlation to its benefits?
Either way, if you are on the hunt for an alternative to your regular blushes (and have extra cash to burn), then the EM Cosmetics Color Drops Serum Blushes might be worth investigating.
As always, I like to advise readers to be smart about how they select products to test. Is the product really what is stated – ingredient-wise? Are the ingredients worth the hype and price point? Not all ingredients are created equal and sometimes marketing can play into our purchasing and consuming psyche.
Until my next review!