Read-the-label: Embryolisse Lait-Créme Concentree & Fluide

Today we are going to look at not one, but two products!
Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentree and the Embryolisse Lait-Creme Fluide.

The two ingredient lists are:

Lait-Creme Concentree:

And for the Lait-Creme Fluide:

Smart people already have found out that the ingredient lists features the same ingredients, in the same order. But why is there a difference between the cream-like texture of the Lait-Creme Concentre, and the more runny, almost milk-like texture of Lait-Creme Fluide? The difference is the amount of solvent used. During the manufacturing proces, a products usually starts with a solvent or carrier. Most times this is something like water or an oil (blend). Other ingredients are mixed into this carrier, which literaly “carries” the formula. In the Lait-Creme Fluide, there is more solvent (water – aqua) then in the Lait-Creme Concentre. Think of it like concentrated lemonade (those drinks that you can add water to depending on your taste). The more water you add to it, the weaker the taste, compared to the concentrated version. I actually like watching how the colour changes from almost neon to a pretty pastel in those drinks.

To explain the ingredient list I need to discuss the ingredients related to the function of the product as whole. The Lait-Creme Concentre can be used as a primer, moisturizer, make up remover and to reduce shaving irritation. The Lait-Creme Fluide hydrates the face and body (for adults as well for babies), removes makeup, can be used for after sun care, after-shave (for men and women) and is perfect for warm climates. So both products are multi-taskers.

But how is it possible to prime, moisturize and remove make up with the same product? The secret is the use of oils in the formula. If you put an oil underneath a powder, the oil works together with the powder, to lock the product in place. Moisturizing is happening because the oils in the blend complement the natural oils in your skin. During make up removal, oils, or substances that can dilute in oils (based on polarity – a long and complicated principle that explains why water can’t mix with oils, except with an emulsifier), well, dilute in the oil and onto the cotton pad/washing cloth you are using.

The two products mostly consist of water and oil: paraffinum liquidum. Water is the most abundant chemical on earth. We have oceans full of it. Despite popular belief, water doesn’t do anything to hydrate the skin.
In fact, the skin only needs a concentration of about 10% of water in the outer skin cells (cells are the smallest structural and functional unit of life. It is like a little living factory. A lot of cells can make a tissue, lots of tissues make an organ, and organs and other things (bones, etc) make a (human) body) layer. (Source: Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology, November-December 1999, pages 344–351)
Too much water can actually disrupt the membrane or wall around the cell. Also, the water can dilute in the water of your skin and let that water evaporate. That is also the reason why, after a shower, your skin (may) feel dry. But don’t worry too much about water. It is actually quite harmless.

Paraffinum Liquidum is know as “liquid vaseline” and mineral oil. It is an oil derived from petroleum. Petroleum comes from the earth, so some people consider it natural. Keep in mind that it does need a chemical proces to become mineral oil. It has a low melting point (the temperature at which the substance starts to melt) and therefore it can’t become solid (try getting it out of a tube) and clog pores.

Mineral oil and petrolatum are considered the most safe and non-irritating moisturizing ingredients (Sources: Cosmetics & Toiletries, January 2001, page 79; and Cosmetic Dermatology, September 2000, pages 44–46). They can keep air from the skin, but they don’t close the skin off (remember the silicones I explained last Friday?).
Unless you have oily skin, you don’t have to avoid it.
The reason why mineral oils have a bad reputation amongst people is because they think (cosmetic) mineral oil is just as bad as industrial petroleum. Don’t worry. Only cosmetic mineral oil is used in products and even certified by the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or BP (British Pharmacopeia) as safe for use.

Water and paraffinum liquidum don’t mix, so there has to be an emulsifier in it.
It is funny that it is next on the list: Stearic Acid. Stearic acid is a fatty acid. Fatty acids are like soaps and are quite special in nature: they have a polar head (that mostly consist of the red – oxygen atoms pictured in the figure above) and a-polar tale (the black carbon chain with wite hydrogen atoms attached as pictured above).
It grabs the water with the head (it bonds by making bridges between hydrogen atoms) and grabs the oils with it’s tail. Other examples of emulsifier can be found in soaps or mayonaise. Stearic acid aids with cleaning and can be used as a thickening agent. Glyceryl Stearate is a substance that is very much alike with Stearic Acid. It also has a head and tail and therefore acts like Stearic Acid.

Triethanolamine is an amine (note the -amine at the end of the name) which serves as a pH balancer (pH is a scale used to measure the acidity of a substance). It is a fairly strong base (a base counteracts an acid.
Very simply put: to reach the skin-neutral pH (7.0, except in certain area’s) for a product which is quite acid/sour (pH under 7), a base or akali (pH above 7) is added to reach the desired pH). It also aids with removing make up. It is debated whether or not Triethanolamine is safe for use because Triethanolamine can cause a higher risk of allergies (as in, it is more likely to cause an allergy then another, avarage substances, and can convert itself to a nitrosamine (which can cause cancer). However, this is unlikely because a) it is used in low concentrations, b) in theory, nitrosamines cannot penetrate the skin and c) cancer is a very complex disease and it isn’t proven yet that it can be caused by a single factor (by the way, the best way known to date to try to avoid cancer is stop smoking, a healthy lifestyle and an healthy environment. If that’s is correct, don’t worry too much).

Cera Alba is otherwise known as bees wax and is a secretion of bees (it therefore falls in the same catagory as poo, tears, sweat and milk – lol). It is most known as a thickening agent. It is debated if it can act as a moisturizer. My take: don’t bet on it as a moisturizer. Cetyl palmitate is a wax made from palmitic acid and cetyl alcohol.
Butyrospermum parkii, shea butter is a moisturizer and is rich in antioxidants (Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, October 2003, pages 6268–6273). It is also reported that to have anti-inflammatory properties (Source: Journal of oleo science 2000, 59, pages 273–80).
Steareth-10 is a surfactant/detergent that is used in a formula to emulsify (mix) the water and oil and “allow” the formula to be washed away.
Polyacrylamide C13-C14 Isoparaffin forms a film that can bind water and leaves a smooth feel on the skin. It is also used as a thickening agent. The polyacrylamide is a polymer (explained in last Friday’s post) and C13-C14 isoparaffin (iso = “looks like”) is a type of paraffin/mineral oil.
Laureth-7 is a form of lauryl alcohol (a fatty acid-like substance, but it’s head contains alcohol instead of the hydroxide in the fatty acid). It therefore acts like a surfactant (soap) and emulsifier.
Propylene glycol is a moisturizer, just like other glycols and glycerols. Some websites or spam e-mails state that propylene glycol is in fact industrial antifreeze and the major ingredient in brake and hydraulic fluids. These sites also state that it is a skin irritant and cause liver abnormalities and kidney damage. That is an urban legend and just as likely to happen as getting pregnant from a toilet seat.
Hydrolyzed soy protein is produced by boiling and then neutralizing soy protein (the pH is low, but rises with a base) with sodium hydroxide (a very strong base, I might add). It is done to break the protein into it’s building blocks; amino acids. In food, it is used as a flavour enhancer, and in cosmetics it is used to bind water.
Aloe Barbadensis, Aloe Vera is thought to moisturize the skin and consists of many compounds, anti-oxidants amongst others. In pure form (as in, cut up a leaf of aloe barbadensis and use the juice) it is known to be effective, however, scientists actually haven’t proven yet it is effective as a moisturizer in a cosmetic formula.
The 1,2-Hexanediol is a preservative just like Caprylyl Glycol, but also has some skin conditioning properties.
Tropolone; difficult to find why it is used. What I do know is that Tropolone is higly reactive (it has a very strong urge to react with another substance), combined with the place on the list (next to the preservatives), I think that Tropolone may be used as a preservative to react with free radicals or other harmfull substances.
Last, Parfum, to make the product smell good and to cover odor from the other ingredients.

Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre and Lait-Creme Fluide are products that are basically mixtures of water and oils that are hold together with the many emulsifiers with some extra’s in it. It reminds me a bit of the blue tins of Nivea. Nivea was actually the first product where water and oil were mixed – it was unheard of when it launched. It is therefore considered a pioneer in cosmetic science.

I hope you’ll find this post useful.

Until next time,


* Editors Note: if you like to hear more, just let us know by posting a comment!


16 thoughts on “Read-the-label: Embryolisse Lait-Créme Concentree & Fluide

  1. I found your article while searching about anyone else who experienced an allergic reaction to Embryolisse. I just purchased this product and used it twice–both times I had an allergic reaction to it. I’m wondering if the Triethanolamine is the culprit after reading your article…

  2. This really is a wonderful product – I have been using it for many years and cannot see myself ever going back. This can be used as a cleanser to remove makeup, a day/night moisturiser or even a face mask. It does have quite a strong smell to it but luckily the scent is incredible, very fresh and clean. It is very gentle on the skin but leaves the skin feeling very soft, supple and hydrated. My skin absolutely loved Embryolisse.

    6 July 2016 by Eila

  3. This post is amazing!!! Honestly the reason I was looking up the increasing for this product is because the name freaked me out! EMBRYOlisse?? the name having the word embryo in it was an automatic red flag for me. I’m assuming it means something different in the language that it is?

  4. Oh my goodness! This is an awesome post on a beauty product scientifically dissected, and yet digestible for the layperson! Please continue posting these valuable nuggets on your blog

  5. Mineral Oil is not a very good ingredient for proper skin care. It is just cheap and comfy for companies since it won’t go stale as easily as other oils. Some of the other ingredients mentioned are also time bombs in the long run leading to allergies and issues. While I want to love Embryolisse, the ingredients always turn me off! Same crap as most pharmacy brands inside and then the slogan that the brand is all about doing the best for your skin… I have sensitive skin and I have yet to find a mineral oil based product that has not irritated or in the least shown good results on my skin. The fact that it does not let the skin breathe as well should be a big enough warning…

  6. I am so glad I found this blog as I was looking into buying Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre as a moisturizer and primer. But I did get thrown off when I saw that both the fluide and Concentre have the same ingredients. I have oily skin (gets dry in the T-zone in the winters) and I think that the fluide with its runny consistency would be good for me, but do you think it will work as a Good Primer or should I just go with the Concentre?

    • I’m not the blog author, and I’ve never tried the fluide–but after 3 years’ use of the lait-crème concentré, I can tell you that it makes a GREAT primer/moisturizer for combo skin (me: super-oily tzone + unpredictable dry/flaky patches). With Embryolisse alone, I might blot after 4-6 hours bc my forehead gets dewy, but even if I don’t it’s not gross-greasy. With a good matte tint on top I don’t even have to blot. (I use about a pea-size amount, more if I’m feeling extra dry, and massage into my face with the heels of my palms after cleansing.) Also makes a great hand cream. Mostly I love Embryolisse for the whole breathable barrier thing, though–really does help protect the skin, whether it’s environmental/cosmetic irritants, acne-causing bacteria, or plain old chapping from dry air.

      Bottom line: same ingredients = same function; I’m not persuaded that the fluide is better for oily skin just because it’s runnier. If you look carefully at what Dymphy says about the multi-uses of each, they’re much the same thing. It just comes down to the texture you prefer. I find creams indulgent and easier to work with, so that’s what I do.

  7. Just found this post, as I ordered my first tube of the concentree with some bonus points from Birchbox, and I wanted to see how others are using it. I have to say, I absolutely *love* your explanations in this post. I’m a neurobiologist, and I’m always thankful when someone explains the science behind a product, method, etc. Great job! Now that I’ve found your blog, I’m going to settle in and make my way through some more posts.

  8. Pingback: A Closer Look At: Shea Butter | PROMAKEUPSTORE

  9. Pingback: Guestposts April 2012 « Nurchamiel + Beauty

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