I first reviewed REN in my very first post for this blog, in 2007. I reviewed it again in 2008. Back then REN products were only carried in America by the now-defunct C.O. Bigelow chain of stores that were owned by Bath & Body Works (the original C.O. Bigelow in New York City doesn’t carry the line). Now REN is carried by Sephora stores nationwide, and are much more easily attainable.
When I reviewed REN products the first two times, I was using the Rose Centifolia Cleansing Gel for Normal Skin, and the Mayblossom Cleansing Gel for Combination Skin. I was suffering from chronic adult acne during those years, and both of these cleansers, while natural, were foaming cleansers. I’ve since realized that my skin, although acneic, was on the dry side, and I was drying out my skin by using foaming cleansers. Now my skin no longer breaks out, but it is dry and sensitive. I no longer use foaming cleansers. When I saw that REN made a cleansing balm, in the vein of Eve Lom and Josie Maran, I wanted to try it.
REN Rose Centifolia No. 1 Purity Cleansing Balm ($48 for 5.1 oz.) is a soft balm that comes in a tub. It also comes with a muslin cloth. I scoop out a little (about a fingerful – you don’t need much), spread it over my dry face, and massage it in to help emulsify dirt and makeup. Then I wet my fingers with warm water and massage my face again. One thing that really impresses me about this cleansing balm is that it emuslifies into a milky cleanser upon contact with water, much like a cleansing oil, and unlike other cleansing balms. I then remove it with the enclosed muslin cloth rinsed in warm water, and my skin is clean and soft. Because it emulsifies with water, it’s easy to remove and doesn’t feel like it leaves a film on my face like other cleansing balms can. And it smells divine, like essential oils. I was using the Josie Maran Cleansing Balm, but the REN Rose Centifolia No. 1 Purity Cleansing Balm is the same price as Josie Maran’s while giving you two ounces more cleansing balm. I haven’t tried Eve Lom’s cleansing balm because it’s very expensive (the 3.3 oz. size will set you back $80), and it contains mineral oil, a petrochemical. REN’s cleansing balm is like the all-natural version of Eve Lom’s balm, which was arguably the first cleansing balm and which has achieved a cult-like status. Ren’s Cleansing Balm, like all of their products, is clean, meaning it uses only natural ingredients, and, as they state on their website:
REN is free from synthetic fragrance, mineral oil, petrolatum, sulfate detergents, synthetic colours, animal ingredients and parabens. In addition, REN products do not contain potential irritants including: glycols and diglycols (such as propylene glycol), PEG’s, PPGs, urea, D.E.A, T.E.A, PABA and other synthetic sunscreens, aliphatic alcohols/hydrocarbons, phthalates, fumarates, amines, alkanolamines, synthetic AHAs/BHAs, polyacrylamide, metacrylate, elastomer, poloxamer, styrene, vinyl, polyquaternium, synthetic chelating agents, nylon, nitriles, nitrates, nitrosamine releasers, bromates, fluor, aluminum and alumina et al.
I round out my REN regimen with the Evercalm Cleansing Milk (which I abosolutely adore – it makes my skin look glowing) in the morning and in the evenings when I’m not wearing sunblock or makeup, and I follow this or the Rose Centifolia Cleansing Balm with the Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream (both day and night).
I really enjoy using my REN products. I think I’ve found a regimen that finally works for my skin. I feel like I’m putting only good things on my skin, not nasty chemicals or synthetics that were possibly causing my skin to react badly and break out. I’m looking forward to trying more of REN’s products.