The Review: May Lindstrom The Problem Solver

May Lindstrom Beauty Idealist
Do you have Instagram? If you do and you follow green beauty pros then you’ll know what I mean when I say there doesn’t seem to be a single person who has not heard of or tried May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver. It’s almost an unspoken requirement that to be inducted into the green beauty club, one has a signature Problem Solver #maskselfie.

May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver is one of her core products that helped start it all. It’s a correcting mask made of powdered clays, salts, warming spices, charcoal, and “soil nutrients”. May calls this her “hero. over-achiever. superstar” and describes it as follows:

The jet-black fusion of antioxidant-rich raw cacao, healing bamboo charcoal, soil nutrients, salts and exotic warming spices goes deep, on a mission to reveal your most radiant self. This intense treatment masque effectively purifies and tightens pores, extinguishes inflammations, fights and heals blemishes, jump-starts circulation in the epidermis and detoxifies skin with delightful ease and power. The radically different powder-to-mousse formula activates on contact with water, only releasing its magic at the exact moment of use so you experience full potency every time.

I had read about how this mask provides for quite an intense, heated experience and I will never forget the first time that I used this mask. When I opened the jar, it felt grand. The hefty, weighty jar seemed like it could go on forever. The powder looked a little like ash or soot and smelled like cacao, spices and clay. I diligently followed the instructions and rejoiced in turning the mask into a jet black fusion. Immediately upon application I felt an initial sting that quickly grew into a burning sensation and my face became frozen in a state of grimace.

5 minutes in, I was sweating. My breathing grew heavy and every second tested my resolve to stick it through. But I was so afraid of seeing lobster-red irritated skin if I washed it off prematurely as I believed that this must be the reason we’re instructed to leave the mask on for 45 minutes. As the mask began to dry, my pain gradually subsided. I thought I was out of the woods. And it was then a single god forsaken drop of sweat dripped into my eyes and I discovered pain on a whole new level. I was now crying while wincing and grimacing simultaneously. 45 minutes could not come soon enough and when it did, I washed with tepid, low flowing water which was all my battered skin could take. The rinse off actually provides exfoliation which is good in theory but horrible when your skin just got destroyed. It took me about 5 minutes to wash my face as I needed to be gentle and also because this mask rinses pretty dirty. I was pleasantly astonished to see that my face wasn’t lobster red after the blistering burn I experienced. However it felt traumatized and I looked like I had just emerged from an all night bender. My pores were blackened which required toner on several cotton rounds to clean. My skin looked sullen, dull, and lifeless.
May Lindstrom Beauty Idealist

If I’m being fully honest, this is the first beauty product I’ve purchased that I’ve seriously thought about returning. Given that this mask costs $90, I was determined to make it useful in some way: trying it on friends, boyfriend, family – no one really took to it. Then I read through online advice provided by May: apply this mask pre-cleansing/showering, or add some honey. But these are all just ways to keep as many things between the mask and your skin as possible, in other words creating barriers from your skin and the mask while still convincing you to use it.

Now let’s figure out why I had this experience. This is the full ingredients list for The Problem Solver:

Fuller’s earth clay, red moroccan rhassoul clay, raw cacao, red alaea sea salt, ascorbic acid,sodium bicarbonate, bamboo carbon charcoal powder, organic vanilla, organic lavender, organic marshmallow root, wild harvested frankincense, organic gotu kola, organic angelica root, organic cinnamon,organic nutmeg, organic clove, organic turmeric, organic cayenne

Baking soda, raw cacao, cinnamon, clove, cayenne pepper. The aforementioned are not my Whole Foods shopping list for my next baking project, they’re what you’re marinating your skin in when you apply The Problem Solver. Cacao is a very popular product that’s antioxidant rich, however it’s kind of like wine – there are great properties but nothing exceptional but people laud it because it’s pleasurable. Baking Soda is something I use to scrub and clean my bathroom, it is also very alkaline which really messes up your skin’s pH and functionality so it is not something that is going to do your skin any favors long term. These are among the first 6 ingredients in the mask.

Then we have the spices, or what Tata Harper and countless other skin experts call sources of irritation and inflammation. Despite being culprits for the intense burning, their skin benefits are arguable yet what is absolutely for certain is that these spices cause inflammation. There was a short lived sitcom starring Michael J. Fox on NBC when I first got this mask where his TV character’s family makes a effort to connect with his zanny sister-in-law who always flocks to the next trendy thing. She makes them all mask together and they all going with it to accept her, and then they get burned and run to wash their skin as she says “there is cayenne pepper! They said it’s dujour!” and that summarizes the nonsensical nature of this mask.

To be fair, I understand everyone’s skin will respond differently. And you might love this mask and have no idea what I’m talking about when I share my experience. The reason I call out these ingredients is because I think they’re objectively bad for anyone’s skin.

And that spells the genius of the May Lindstrom hype machine which has convinced legions of beauty junkies and hopeful customers to not only apply these ingredients that go against one’s intuition but to idolize this time as the most delicate form of sensual self-care. As an industry, beauty is swayed more by a pretty story, visuals or ideas than actual scientific data which is irresponsible because the products we use should be more thoughtfully considered.

MayFB

Via May Lindstrom Facebook Page

Case in point: it wasn’t until May introduced a mask that used cayenne pepper that now multiple green brands also happen to have masks that use cayenne pepper despite this being highly irritating and inflammatory. It wasn’t until May educated us on the benefits of honey for skin in her Honey Mud that multiple green brands now have honey based products, despite it being essentially unviable when any other ingredient touches it. It wasn’t until May made us eye-gasm over the Blue Cocoon’s hue that other companies jumped onto the bandwagon with blue tansy oil despite the fact that with exception to its striking color, I would not use it daily or long term as it is listed as an ingredient to avoid for pregnant women and also those with endocrine or hormonal imbalances, which feels like nearly all the commenters on No More Dirty Looks, and I’ve seen multiple comments online from those who use this saying they can’t use it regularly as it leads to clogged pores and breakouts.

So many blogs will write about the importance of vetting brands while hyping up the very lines they should be questioning. Based on what I’ve researched, I cannot find sufficient evidence that shows whether May herself has any educational background in skincare or dermatology – and if I’m being honest, her title as skin chef doesn’t inspire too much confidence (again beautiful imagery, but WHAT DOES IT MEAN). Green Beauty is rife with passion, but passion and good intentions don’t translate into safe nor beneficial formulas. Given my history with her products, I question how these products are supposed to actually be good for skin (see review on Honey Mud).

Due to my very intense experience that created a very real, physically adverse reaction – I did more research on The Problem Solver in particular to see whether I was the only one. To my surprise, upon closer reading I found a handful of reviews where the bloggers acknowledge the burning but also that upon contacting May, a new jar was sent as a replacement that was free of said irritating ingredients, leading to a glowing review. This isn’t really a question on the validity of the green beauty hype machine, but rather at what point the review becomes entirely inconsequential as the product reviewed is essentially a custom-made product that is going to be different from the one that readers are being convinced to purchase? I know May is kind and gracious, but I think it is misleading to assume that your Problem Solver, will match an influential blogger’s custom made version.

May Lindstrom Beauty Idealist

This might come off preachy and judgy but I assure you it isn’t my goal – because I’m just as guilty of slathering on the said bathroom grade solvent+spices on my skin when they’re gorgeously packaged in dense black glass and gold lettering. My hope is to have this serve as a wake-up call to truly and actually reclaim your independence and trust your intuition. It’s an exercise in being active about what you put on your face rather than passively streaming in the messages you are bombarded with when you go onto social media from retailers, bloggers, brands and beauty sites. I know that May did the level of work and research that satisfied her and her retailers/customers, but I also know that the way she makes products and her choices of ingredients (& those other lines that mimic her) are just not aligned with my ideals.

If I were to summarize the line it would be this: I think May’s objective and success is that she formulates for that sensory experience. Creating products with aromatic richness or vibrant hues that are instantly photo-friendly and incredibly easy for editors to feature as they’re more concerned with marketable copies while only requiring a superficial understanding of the actual skincare. The priority then isn’t necessarily focused on ingredients that are especially great for the skin which opposes what I believe the goal should be for skincare products. This doesn’t mean in my book she can’t do anything right, it just means I’ll have to be diligent in examining future products in a vacuum away from the hype machine.

So tell me: have you had a similar experience to share or am I being too harsh? 

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58 thoughts on “The Review: May Lindstrom The Problem Solver

  1. I literally logged onto my computer when I saw your post delivered into my e-mail. This is so well written and totally agree with everything you stated! As beauty enthusiasts, we keep asking for better but seem to settle for the distraction of sparkly bells and whistles. You said everything that needs to be said and are one of my favorite bloggers.

  2. You are not alone in your experience with this brand. I’m trying to focus more on science and results, but it’s difficult in the world of green skincare.

  3. Fab Fabiana, you just deliver truth bombs left and right. I am one of your readers who does not have a lot of money or time to be spent on frivolous products, your reviews are always written soooo gooood. I can’t thank you enough.

  4. I have tried this product and did not like it at all. She has a face wash clay that did nothing for me either. She uses the word ritual and pamper to market her products. My take home was instead of spending 80$ on her artisanal hand mixed clay, I make my own. Grahm flour and French clay. I played around with ratios that worked for me and added more ingredients from her list. I have a mix that works for me.

    Her oil is wonderful. Please try that when you get a chance if you are into oil blends. The rest of her products are overpriced and meh.

  5. Boy, am I relieved to read this post. I thought I was going crazy wondering why there were so many rave reviews for this product and her line in general when my experiences with ML products have been anything BUT that. In all, I have used Clean Dirt, Problem Solver, Honey Mud, and Blue Cocoon throughout the span of a year and I just don’t get it. Not only have they not made my skin look better, Blue Cocoon caused a dozen tiny little bumps to form over my chin and forehead after using it for a week! I stopped using it and the bumps started to recede a few days later. I think I need to be more objective when buying products and not just get sucked into the hype and hoopla of the marketing which is so easy for me 😦

    • Hi Laurie thank you for sharing your experience! It’s definitely more of a “enjoy yourself” experience rather than any skin benefits when it comes to her line, which is fine but many with real problems believe that her products can save their skin and the truth is that this line isn’t really the place to go for that in my opinion.

  6. Thank you for writing this! You are not the only one this did not work for, I personally purchased this as it promised to “extinguish” acne. Not only did it not do that but I noticed redder, angrier zits and what used to be normal skin started peeling.

    • I also paid attention to that but given how harshly my skin reacted, the masks ability to extinguish my acne became of lesser concern. I once had a consult with Pratima which is a green, ayurvedic line and was wisely told that acne has to managed with “cooling” herbs as it is a “heat” condition, so I think using spices to attack “heat” is kind of… ridiculous which is fitting given that I call this formula nonsensical.

  7. Your blogposts are so informative with none of the BS. Thank you for your honesty. I don’t think ML products are worth the sticker tag.

  8. I’m SO appreciative of your blog. It’s easy to find rave reviews on almost any green beauty product without a thoughtful or careful analysis of what’s going on your face. It’s like we’re two steps away from putting arsenic on our faces just because it’s a “natural occurring substance.”

    I also had no idea that mixing honey with other clays makes the mask unviable. I personally do my own clay masks (because $30 for three pounds of two different clays, turmeric, and sandalwood is WAY cheaper than $90 for a tiny bottle) with raw honey (and water) and get nearly the same mousse effect as the problem solver. Does honey just act as a physical barrier between the other ingredients, or does another process occur that makes the positive benefits of both cancel out?

    • Hi S. I so appreciate your readership of my blog. Honey is a pretty overhyped ingredient. I consulted with green derm on this to keep me honest and pretty much it’s this: all the nutritive, biologically active, anti-bacterial benefits of honey go out the window the moment it is mixed with something else. Now you’ll still get the benefit of honey’s texture but I personally find that you need more than is ideal in order for it to not tug on your skin when you try to wash it off.

  9. Wow, two non-glowing posts in a row 🙂 I think it is so hard to write about less-than-impressive products with grace, and you have the art mastered! I’ve actually never tried the problem solver–ML products just don’t “speak” to me, except if I were rich I might douse myself in the good stuff all day long.

    I did want to kind of come to the defense of the use of baking soda in the mask, although I think for being that high on the ingredients list it could definitely be called overpriced filler. Ascorbic acid is listed right before, and when you combine the two with water, there is a chemical reaction. I won’t go into overlong details, but basically you are left with a slightly acidic pH, assuming you add enough water. I actually worry that the recommendation to use honey instead for a “gentler” mask might keep the baking soda from its reaction with the vitamin C and end up doing more harm than good. Not sure about that though.

    I do love a good clay mask, and I recently bought the Mahalo Pele mask, which I know a lot of people compare to the problem solver. just looking at the ingredients, you’ve still got baking soda and ascorbic acid, but MUCH lower on the ingredients list. My thought is that the reaction between the two is what causes the little bit of foaming and leads to the nice mousse texture when you apply, but at the low concentration I don’t feel like I’m being completely overcharged for cheap ingredients and getting more of the beneficial herbs and clay. Of course it does still have cayenne–had I not tried a sample and been REALLY impressed with the results I might not have gone for it, but at least in this layperson’s opinion the formulation of the whole product including other great anti-inflammatories allows the cayenne to increase circulation a bit without damage. I’m not a dermatologist though, so I’d love to see any research on the impact of warming spices on the skin instead of just trusting my own experience/intuition. And of course I’ll continue to recommend Yuli pure as the face mask I compare all other face masks to.

    • Thank you Sarah! It is kind of a challenge in getting the tone right because I want to be honest and fully communicate my thoughts without being offensive or needlessly harsh.

      I appreciate you sharing the information regarding baking soda + ascorbic acid, it basically creates sodium ascorbate which is kind of a catch-22, too high in the ingredients list and you’re paying a lot for a cheap ingredient, too low in the ingredients list and it’s not enough to be effective. Like you said, you really have to get enough water in there and also hope that the mix you happen to have taken has an equal proportion of the two ingredients which is realistically not going to happen.

      Besides burning my skin, I just don’t think problematic skin which tends to exhibit an imbalance in ‘heat’ needs spices added in, this was something I learned from Pratima regarding Ayurvedic principles.

      • SUCH a great point about Ayurvedic principles! I wish more skincare lines paid attention to the energetic and doshic differences between skin instead of trying to lump us all into “oily/acneic” “dry/aging” or “sensitive.” I’ve actually never tried Pratima, but I was thinking about stoping by their shop/spa when I am in new york next weekend. Anything great you suggest I look at?

        Personally I am a serious Vata type (dry and cold with poor circulation with a deep love for fatty food and warming spices) but I also try to pay attention to more subtle imbalances that come with the seasons–I am feeling very “Pitta” in my digestion with this summer heat 🙂

        p.s. I just got a cute lipbalm from Hurraw that is flavored for the vata dosha, and they have them for pitta and kapha doshas as well!

  10. I’m so glad I never spent any money on May Lindstrom. I think I’ll stick to my 50/50 mask mix of sea clay and matcha powder, or if I want to use a pre-made mask, Pangea Organics’ mask, which really does impart amazing benefits (it kind of does everything all at once- clearing, calming, glowing). I’m surprised more bloggers haven’t talked about it, but it may be because it’s been around since before the natural beauty blogosphere existed.

    • Hey Erin! Oh no, my intention wasn’t to turn people from purchasing May Lindstrom products but just to highlight what you’re paying for which is that sensory experience which is fine by some people. In fact I’d say a lot of people when they buy skincare are so concerned about how it smells etc. despite the fragrance not having much to do with how your skin is actually going to benefit from it, so there is a pretty sizable audience. You’re probably more like me where we want products that work for our skin and in that sense, I’m so glad you found a mix that works for you (also feel free to e-mail me where you’re getting the sea clay + matcha powder, because this sounds like a dream!).

      I purchased a few Pangea products years ago when they were sold at Sephora and found the products pretty good, definitely above Juice Beauty in my book. I think since changing their model to like an online-pyramid selling structure, it’s been a little out of the loop.

      • If a product smells lovely, it’s a bonus (I’m a natural perfumer and I do appreciate a beautiful scent), but, yeah, ultimately, I want it to yield good results on my skin. I realize that you weren’t trying to tell people not to buy May’s products. I’m just glad I haven’t because they’re so pricey and I am a sucker for a pretty package and nice smelling products, but I have a feeling my face would react to those ingredients.

        As for where I get my sea clay, it’s available through multiple formulator sites like From Nature With Love and Garden of Wisdom, and I get my matcha powder from iherb.com- whichever brand is reasonably priced. The sea clay/matcha mixture does such a nice job of purifying and reducing inflammation.

  11. I got a sample once. It burned my skin big time and I had to rinse it off right away. I shouldn’t have to be in pain to receive benefits from a mask. I also tried a sample of The Clean Dirt and found that it did nothing for my skin at all, and was also irritating.

    I’ll stick to my two favorite masks – both of which are highly effective and do not cause any pain or burning. YULI Pure for treating my acne, and Laurel WPO Brightening for dealing with hyperpigmentation.

    • You know this reminds me of an interview I read from Oprah once where she was at a hair salon for the “stylist to the stars”. And they put her in this heat treatment and she felt pain but didn’t say anything because they told her it was normal, the result was that she got burns and her hair ended up falling out and she decided from then to go with her gut.

      Brava! You did much better than I did as I winced through the pain for the full 45 minutes. I love Pure a lot, and the ingredients are really good, anti-inflammatory cooling herbs instead of spices? Yes please.

  12. Thanks for post! I agree it was refreshing to read in the sea of almost all positive comments about so many skincare brands, though it did make me feel like you were unhappy at May for making these products? I was surprised to hear about blue tansy being contraindicated for long term use – I do have a few products with that ingredient in it. Yikes! Can you tell me where you found the info? The book on essential oil safety that I have only spoke of drug interactions. Appreciate it!

    • Hi Jacklyn, I’m unhappy with the products I’ve used, but I acknowledge that May formulates based on her own principles which happen to be different from mine which is okay as variety makes the world go around. I’m not thrilled at the hype machine which I believe often writes uninformed copies filled with hyperbole so if there is any critical element that I’m really laying blame upon, it’s that. And I thought about it.. I don’t believe many editors even realize they’re doing this because they’re just trying to fill in a story and probably go through 6-7 products each week with only a very fleeting understanding of any said product. The thing is they probably don’t know how any products work long term because they’re cycling through them all the time but this system simply doesn’t work when they’re recommending these products to readers who do purchase and continue to use these products.

      Here are some websites that I found through a quick web search regarding blue tansy, a lot of the information I received was also through local sources like Brooklyn Herborium:

      http://www.edenbotanicals.com/tansy-blue-organic.html
      “Safety Considerations: Has the potential to interact with certain OTC and prescription drugs.10 Avoid use with small children, elders, epileptics, pregnant and/or nursing women. ”

      http://sedonaaromatherapie.com/blog/2015/07/27/the-difference-between-tansy-essential-oil-and-blue-tansy-essential-oil/
      “the essential oil is contra-indicated for use with women who have an endocrine imbalance and in pregnancy”

      • Thanks so much for the reply! Yeah, totally not into hype at all, so I do appreciate the candidness in your posts. 🙂 Thanks for the links, as well. Having been a dietitian in my former life, I do love me some scientific articles (though some are decidedly bogus…). I clicked through the links and saw that Sedona Aromatherpie references Edenbotanticals and they reference the Essential Oils safety books that I have! So I excitedly turned to page 438 and realized that the entry for Tansy oil (Tanacetum vulgare) is on that page and the entry for Blue Tansy oil (Tanacetum annum) starts at the very bottom of pg 438 and the contraindications are actually on 439. There is no mention of any contraindications aside from a drug interaction. So I’m thinking I’m going to double check with both websites to ask about their sources re: their cautionary statements. But just in case, will leave off using my blue balms for now. Hope to get to the bottom of this! 🙂 Thanks again!

  13. I am new to your blog here after finding you on Instagram and I am absolutely impressed by your honesty, wit, and discernment despite the hype around products like this. I applaud you! You keep it up 😉

    When I first came across the ML brand and this product in particular, my first thought was concern. A mask such as this, targeting acne prone and problematic skin is quite concerning because the ingredients in this, especially the spices, are going to add heat to already “heat imbalanced” skin, which needs cooling skincare and also gentle, not aggressive. I also can’t believe the price for the assumed ratio of sodium bicarbonate in this! Not only does it shout filler, but it also looks like far too much for skincare. We already have a problem with it irritating skin in natural deodorants.

    I also applaud you for your grace about the subject. I didn’t read this as an “attack” on May as others possibly could, but rather a wholesome look at the product in conjunction with skincare principals and a reminder that we really need to continue questioning brands and products in the clean beauty realm. Natural ingredients such as these can definitely cause much damage, a lot more quickly than conventional types of products. I was also taken back by the fact that ML brand sent out replacement masks, without the said irritating ingredients to those who contacted her about it. Why then is this product not undergoing reformulation? I think one of the greatest issues about Green beauty, along side the lack of proper preservation, are products, particularly skincare, formulated without the proper and proven knowledge about skin. I have come across so many products that honestly… look like pinterest recipes. I am so very careful and picky about what I even sample let alone buy, and strive to find higher education about skincare and ingredients and how they interact with skin types and other ingredients as well. I have never been drawn to this brand, and do firmly believe in intuitive skincare…however, let that be intuitive skincare backed with education and understanding about one’s own body and skin.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and knowledge about this product, and putting yourself out there though it may not be “popular”. This is the deeper level of knowledge and wisdom I have been looking for in this community and am so happy to have found your blog! Subscribed! =)

  14. Ok, your blog is now officially the most honest and fair out there when it comes to green beauty–thank you! Your review does not come across as harsh at all. I’ve tried all of her products, because apparently I am a sucker for marketing, but I won’t be buying again. I agree that May is a lovely person, but I think she is selling a lifestyle. We are paying for the fancy black jar with the gold flower. But she is not a skincare expert, and she is using some really harsh and intense ingredients. Yes they smell great, but that does not equal good for the skin. It’s interesting to note that her products were really hyped and heavily marketed by the NMDL blog back when it was relevant. I think she really benefitted from that. They reviewed all of her products, she wrote up a morning routine post, and there were some sales and promotions through their website. If the so-called experts are saying her products are good for your skin, it must be, right? I fell for it!
    One thing that really bothered me with this mask and also her scrub is that the dust particles would get stuck up my nose, and I would be sneezing it out and blowing my nose for an hour afterwards. It would burn my nasal passages and I kept thinking–this can’t be good! Her balm I thought was very unique, and I loved the smell, but it was way too heavy for my face. It ended up being the most expensive hand cream ever. Sorry to ramble on here, but at this point I am starting to stick to companies that have a solid background in skincare or chemistry. I just overhauled my entire routine, it’s all back to Yuli. I’ve also been happy with True Nature Botanicals and Marie Veronique.

  15. This is an excellent post. As a licensed esthetician who does work with organic products including custom blends featuring essential oils which require a careful balance, May Lindstrom products are just not used nor endorsed at my practice. I have seen firsthand, several of my patients who come in with very irritated and unhealthy skin that use her line. Because they hear that her products are good, they automatically think their skin is the problem and it takes a lot of education for them to move past that conception.

    The feeling you described after you mask is a common indication of inflammation. Many people expect inflammed skin to be visibly red but that is not always true. That tired, lackluster feeling often followed by feelings of stiffness or tightness is indicative on inflammation and swelling at local sites under the outermost layer of skin.

  16. Spot on, Fabiana! I think all her products have some problematic ingredients – I never bought them… I now use almost exclusively yuli, mvo and tnb – with these I feel i get the green ingredients but also science. I sometimes mix pure by yuli with honey as recommended by yuli. I wonder whether I should stop doing thar?

  17. Honestly, you’re the only green blogger I still follow because you’re honest and don’t reject science out of hand. Another well-worded, thoughtful, genuine review. Thank you.

  18. I’m not sure I can add much to all of the comments here, but as I was reading this I just kept thinking ‘YES!’ As someone who has eczema and therefore touchy skin, I have to fight against the urge to buy all the hyped products because MUCH more often than not, they will destroy my skin and all the hard work I put into it staying calm and happy. The way products are built up and promoted is so pervasive and I fall prey to it just as much as the next person, but I think because my skin is so finicky I have a *bit* of a protection from diving in 100% because I suffer the repercussions so much. I really like your point about following your gut – this is actually what has kept me from trying May’s products, because as much as I love the story, I just never felt comfortable with the ingredients – I just had a feeling they wouldn’t be for me. This post pretty much solidifies that, and also gives me that extra boost to avoid falling for these kinds of traps.

  19. Your post is spot on. Two years into my green beauty journey I finally realized that I have to be the one to know ingredients because just like the “dirty” products, it’s difficult to find honest reviews. It feels like a sorority of girls playing chemists in their kitchens while the kids nap. With no experience in how their potions actually work on the skin. Then all their friends say how wonderful their products are because it’s not nice to say the truth. These products are expensive and we blindly slather them on our skin because green is good. The reason most of us switched to natural products is because we felt lied to and we are still not being told the truth.

  20. “As an industry, beauty is swayed more by a pretty story, visuals or ideas than actual scientific data which is irresponsible because the products we use should be more thoughtfully considered.” Too true! For the cringe worthy amount of money consumers spend, the actual physical benefits should at least equal to the sensory experience, which I am really big into. But I can’t justify $90 on a mask or $60 on a toner just for sensory experience and pretty stories alone (guilty, definitely am prone to marketing and packaging). Once yes, but no more. I think most of us who are into diy’s can also be a Skin Chef and formulate something with enough trial and error. I think May is amazing at selling her products and kudos to her. I’d love to have her marketing skills and it is something to aspire to in a professional life. “So many blogs will write about the importance of vetting brands while hyping up the very lines they should be questioning. ” – This is why I’ve completely stopped reading some blogs and continue to read only 3. Thank you for always being honestly transparent in your thoughtful reviews. They are a pleasure to read. 🙂

  21. I’m so grateful too, have experienced same negative reaction to product and awe at all the hype and love that you do what you do, very grateful — thank you!!

  22. Thank you so much for sharing! I decided to splurge on this mask, and even though my skin’s reaction during the mask wasn’t as severe as you’re describing, after using this mask I experienced horrible breakouts! I’m too afraid to use it now because it’s taken 2 weeks for my skin to calm down again and now I’m left with hyperpigmentation spots of where all the break outs were. So disappointed that I probably waisted my money on this 😞

    • Ouch! Sorry to hear about horrible breakouts from using this. While there shouldn’t be anything that clogs pores, I do question the use of spices to treat a heat condition, it just seems like it’s going to throw off balance even more. If it is fairly new, perhaps consider gifting to a friend?

  23. Unfortunately, I’m sending mine back as well. I’ve used it once on it’s own and my face was on fire!
    I then purchased the Honey mud to mix with it since I heard great things about that one and while it did tone the heat down, it continued to irritate my face. My face has become redder and more aggravated. I truly wanted this to work, but the ingredients are obviously irritants.
    I will keep the honey mud as a soothing mask. I have gone through an entire jar of Blue Cocoon but will not repurchase. The scent is therapeutic, but it breaks me out in so many places. Saddened by this as I really like the aesthetics of her line.

  24. Pingback: The Review: de Mamiel Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate | The Beauty Idealist

  25. I feel many people in the Green Community aren’t keen, on there honest thoughts about May’s recipes, but I read this blog and had to be honest and forthcoming about May Lindstrom Skin. As a community we bash conventinal brands, and seem to be very honest about our bad experiences with main stream products. Somehow we stay silent, and down play green beauty products that don’t work for us. I feel its very important all views get shared this allows for a more open dialogue and honest form.

    All of May’s packaging is very well done, beautiful bottles, beautiful site, just lovely. I have to say I’m a sucker for packaging and these were way to nice to pass up, plus they smelled great. After 3 months of use I can certainly say that the hype is real, and I was fully wrapped up. I purchased The Clean Dirt, and The Problem Solver. I was gifted the Honey-Mud and Blue Cocoon from my sister, they it simply didn’t work out for either.

    The Clean Dirt-
    This was like scrubbing with warm sandpaper, there was an unexpected heating sensation which i suspect is from the cinnamon. The texture is rough and a little uncomfortable, it is very harsh, and kinda drying. After a few trys I got use to it, I kept using it as directed on the MLS site, and my skin looked really glowy and felt clean, for a few days. The instructions were to use it everyday, but because of its intensity I did it 2 days a week. After 1month of using this product my skin has consistently been dry in a weird way. I am 28 with normal to oily skin, and never have had dryness skin like this, flaky a hard to describe stripped feeling….Just not for me or my skin.

    The Problem Solver-
    The heating element with this product wasn’t an issue, I have oily/normal skin and its tough so maybe thats why i didn’t feel it. I used TPS once a week for 2 months, It was tight and very uncomfortable, but nothing more the say Aztec Clay. It felt clean after I scrubbed it off and it takes some work to get off, but the next morning after I used the product, I had dry spots around my chin, and jaw area. I thought it was my cleanser, but it only happened when i used the PS mask. I found out it was contact dermititis and have given both the problem solver and clean dirt away, which was nearly $200.00 such a shame.

    The Honey Mud-
    Smells like Heaven, is sticky doesn’t cleanse well, but feels like a treat! Like a sunday skin treat…a pamper product. Honey, clay, and oil make-up this product and it’s a lovely experience, but made no difference in my skins appearance. I think raw unrefined, organic honey with a little oil will give you the same result if not better you can buy a large jar of the best organic manuka honey for less.

    However I do like the The Blue Cocoon, It’s basically colored Shea Butter, but i loved the smell. My sister gave it to me because it was too thick for her skin, its a nice body balm and I use it dry spots. I don’t see any major changes in my skin, in terms of results, but its a luxury product and is pretty. I can’t say its worth 160.00 not even close. I must say i’m sucker for balms, the Mahalo Rare Indigo Balm BLOWS away, The Blue Cocoon! It’s AMAZING and different from any balm in green beauty.

  26. I’ve just found your blog and have enjoyed having a read through some of your posts! Really interesting to hear your thoughts on May Lindstrom. I’ve been having thoughts about whether some of these green brands are worth the money and am currently researching alternatives of some of these popular products for my blog. Although I haven’t tried anything from the May Lindstrom line I have been reluctant to purchase. I’m just not sure I can justify spending that much especially without sampling first.

    Recently I came across a brand from NYC called Marble and Milkweed. Have you heard of them? I’m ordering their rose and chamomile honey clay cleanser which I believe may be similar to ‘The Honey Mud’ from ML but at a much more reasonable price even with shipping to the UK!…Also going to try their Nourishing Facial balm! All handmade natural products. Can’t wait to try!

  27. Just found your blog and have enjoyed reading through some of your posts. Really interesting to hear your thoughts on May Lindstrom. I have recently been thinking whether some brands that fall under the ‘green beauty’ banner are worth the price. I am currently doing some research for my blog to see if I can find alternatives to some of these high end luxury products that seem to be very popular within the beauty community.

    I have recently discovered a company from NYC called Marble and Milkweed, have you heard of them? They are small apothecary that hand make natural eco friendly products. Their Rose, Chamomile and Honey clay cleanser seems to be a potential dupe of the ML ‘The Honey Mud’ but sold at a much more reasonable price even with shipping to the UK! I have ordered this along with the Nourishing Facial Balm. Can’t way to try them!!

  28. Thank you so much for the honest reviews. I love looking at her products but couldn’t force myself to spend the money to try them. Was seriously thinking of trying them with the sales this weekend. since my skin does react to certain things you listed, I think I can skip them now and admire from afar without that need to try. Yours was not the first review that I read with a less than glowing review and I have to say the I greatly appreciate you repeating that just because they didn’t work for you doesn’t mean they don’t work. I think that is something that so many people forget to state. For now I think I’ll stick to some other products I like along with making my own diy items. Thank you again.

  29. Thanks for your honest review. In this day where there are a proliferation of products and not enough honest bloggers, your point of view is a refreshing one.

    I was one of those who really wanted to love ML’s products. The package, the smells… absolutely gorgeous. I could just pick up a bottle and smell it all day! But that was about it. The products don’t work. The Honey Mud is so hard to remove! You definitely have to use a second cleanser after to remove all the residue. And the other product I bought was the Clean Dirt, which smells like cinnamon! But is so harsh on the skin, I can’t bear to use it more than once a week. And my skin is pretty tough and used to all sorts of exfoliating scrubs.

    So yeah, a tad disappointing, and I wouldn’t repurchase. But I did try to milk my money’s worth by sniffing the pots every now and then for a bit longer than needed! Hah!

  30. Oh I’m so mad I read your review!LOL ….because I just ordered The Clean Dirt. I have to say I was really hooked by her beautiful packaging and interviews I saw with her and anticipating a lovely experience. I have a nice routine down but I really love a good physical scrub every now and then and never found one that seemed to do it for me (except Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion in the black tube). This brand and de Mamiel were calling to me but I picked ML….oops. That said, I do think you did a great job with your review, giving your opinion in a “clinical” way and most of your readers, I’m sure, are intelligent enough to know that all skincare is so personal – what works for some is trash for others! But reading all the comments, I’m quite nervous. I don’t usually spend this much on skin care, but I just wanted at least 1 pure luxurious product.And I have what I think is a bit of Roseaca on my cheeks and I thought Blue Cocoon was made for soothing?? I ordered direct from ML site, and they seem to have a good return policy, so if it doesn’t work out for me (I hope I didn’t psych myself out of it) I will return and instead try the de Mamiel – all in all I’m actiually happy to read the review, a lot of times when there is so much hype around a product that doesn’t work for you (like Pixi Glo tonic , which is horrible to me!) you think it’s just you. SO I appreciate the honesty and especially how you put it out there. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  31. OMG! I’m so glad I came across the blog, I really thought I was crazy. I too got a serious case of dermatitis from using this line of products. I just thought it was in my mind, or I had sensitive skin. 
    Considering I’ve done some serious chemical  peels in the past, TCA and VI peels. I don’t consider my skin to be sensitive at all. I was beyond irritated for nearly six weeks, after using these products.

    A few months ago I came across these products via Instagram. They seemed to be everywhere and people really loved them. All-natural, very luxurious and looked like you could almost eat them. So I got the whole line! I know it’s jumping the gun, but I figured I wouldn’t need to invest into skincare for a year or so if I got everything from one line. They were multi-purpose and very large. Which is kinda a problem, they are so big I couldn’t finish them before the expiry date. 

    This just seemed pretty wasteful and bummed me out cause I had to toss them. Yes, the packages are beautiful and I tried to reuse them, but I had no real use for them.  

    The product I did enjoy was the The Honey Mud, it’s rich and smells like chocolate. The results were not what I was expecting, it’s actually a little more stripping then hydrating. If that’s possible, maybe cause it had clay in it. I’m not sure. It’s says enzyme mask, but I also have Josh RoseBrook Active Enzyme Exfoliating Mask and it really exfoliates. Aren’t the enzymes in honey digestive enzymes? I’m not sure if they can exfoliate dead skin like other enzymes can. I suppose this is a selling point, but doesn’t seem logical. It’s a little deceptive, because it doesn’t exfoliate, at all, but hey i’m no honey expert.

    The Problem Solver Mask, Sigh…………….Ok, so May told me to use it 3x a week for my active acne. No, just no…This cannot be used more then once a week, at least for me. I don’t know how beneficial something can be if it’s only used once or twice a month. It’s much to harsh on its own, and mixing it was such a darn hassle. It was grainy, hot, and drying. Every time I mixed it, I got a different pH, which I don’t think is good. Unfortunately I do think this is what made my skin freak out into full blown dermatitis around my mouth and jaw. A Baking Soda mask for 45 mins, isn’t a good idea. Then I was told to mix The Honey Mud and The Problem Solver which made it tolerable, but felt like I was wasting the only product I really liked to fix a not so good product, again just a little wasteful.

    The Youth Dew smells sweet and lush, I used the whole bottle no difference in my skin what so ever. The Co-q10 is the last ingredient, so your not getting much. This did however inspire me to buy Organic Rose Hips Seed Oil and it’s amazing! I don’t see any difference after using this tiny bit of $120.00 oil, The African Botanics Oil is superior and just, well…frankly many oils in Green Beauty are better.

    Ahhh…The Blue Cocoon. It smells like perfume, it’s more aromatherapy then skincare. I’m not sure how good it is for skin too many Eo’s. Pretty much a solid oil, melts like butter. It’s so amazing, to just stare at. Just no difference in my skins, texture, or physical appearance.  I still need an extra layer of oil over it, but it’s oil! Odd I know ?? It’s basically a huge lip balm, mostly shea butter and essential oils. But it smells really good, maybe that’s why people love it. I think the shea butter is kinda drying? I’ll never get through it, it last too long…if that makes sense and wouldn’t repurchase. Also, I think it gave me some small white bumps when I used it as an eye treatment per the directions. Ugh…

    The Clean Dirt is messy, irritating and is basically The Problem Solver without the cayenne pepper, and active charcoal. It is a HORRIBLE daily cleanser, maybe I could use it once a week, so long to my acid mantle. I don’t think I’ll ever finish it, again waste. I get very little use out of scrubbing my face with cooking spices, dry clove, baking soda, and clay! 
    I wouldn’t use this if she used diamonds, instead of clove, that’s kinda how it feels too. Each time I used it the pH was between an 8 and 10—eek!. Sunday Riley has a clay cleanser it’s nice, and Josh Rose Brook, Tata Harper, and Indie Lee made good cleansers for a fraction of the price with a lower pH.

    The Jasmine Garden! Reminds me of the old Bath & Body works body mist , but for face–yummy perfume water. Not one bit hydrating or nourishing. Not at all!! It could be the base is witch hazel. Hmmm it has water, silver, some essential oils, that’s it’s that’s all! None of these ingredients are hydrating. Also doesn’t have an emulsifier, so how do the oils and water mix. Pretty much you can make your own. It’s $100.00 ridiculous. Josh Rose Brook Hydrating Accelerator, is aloe based much cheaper option and a better product. I’ll buy it for life, and I use it almost everyday, not super hydrating either, but the ingredients list is phenomenal and smells lovely.

    May will always have customers who are willing try it, not sure how many actually re-buy. She’s great at the whole marketing, modeling, and creating an idealistic environment for pampering. The product are less then average and seem to have no lasting effects on skin. How is a body oil drying? I really can’t wrap my head around so many oils and clay based products in one line. Skin chef school must only use clay and oil. I’m not being facetious at all, I just feel like it’s the same stuff over and over in green beauty, amongst the self taught makers. 

    clay mask= The Problem Solver (hard pass and run)
    clay cleanser= The Clean Dirt (super hard pass)
    clay and honey mask=The Honey Mud (unique smells good, no real hydration, but enjoyable.)
    oil “serum”=The Youth Dew (no results, buy African Botanics) 
    oil balm= The Blue Cocoon (Mahalo Balm is better and Siam Seas is amazing!!)
    oil for body=The Good Stuff (pass, basic body oil)
    oil for cleansing=The Pendulum Potion (absolutely terrible,this leave a serious film on skin, also contains way too many irritants, EO’s for my skin)–One Love Organics or Tatcha makes much a much better cleansing oil. 

    I’m not sure why I made the dive in so quick…I’m starting to realize there are Intsagram Brands, and just real skincare, no more IG brands for me. I will never buy these products again… All in all, it was a huge waste for me. Also, she should make perfumes, not skincare. She would make amazing candles, and perfume…

  32. I think obviously this brand is over priced. Besides, I wonder whether her studio is clean or not that she put a video of her playing with a dog while she was making her products. Even they don’t play together, but what kind of bacteriala will be existed In her products I’m wondering… and at least she should use alcohols and gloves when she’s working on her products. Furthermore, most of her products aren’t even using essential oils but infused oils with ridiculous price. If people try to study more about the ingredients for those skin care products out there, they would know which brand worths the money.

    • Hi Berkin,

      I get what you are saying about sanitary conditions. I am a huge lover of animals and cannot contain myself around an adorable pup, but get anxious when I see them in restaurants and settings where disease is more susceptible to being spread. I do have a question: what is an infused oil? I only know of carrier and essential oils, and this is the first time I heard of infused oils, would love to know more!

  33. I am so glad I came across this article. I thought it was just me. I totally bought into the clean beauty products in beautiful jars hype and splashed out on the Youth dew, Blue Cocoon, Problem Solver and Clean Dirt. I really wish I had read this before – I read a LOT of blogs and everyone just had glowing reviews about their newly glowing skin. Add my desperation about my progressively worsening adult acne + associated pigmentation issues and I was a ready sucker. I just really wanted to believe I had found a fix.
    Youth dew – an ok facial oil. There are much better out there and much cheaper. I am really liking Indie Lee’s Squalane oil
    Clean Dirt – messy, adequate exfoliator, not really worth it
    Blue Cocoon – absolute disaster. Broke me out all three times I tried it (Had to keep trying as its so expensive). I even tried it on my neck and broke out (I never break out on my neck!!)
    Problem Solver – a fairly good clay mask. Basically, it does what I expect from a clay mask. Obviously as this blog and the comments demonstrate, it can also be irritating to varying degrees. I have learnt to never use it more than once a week after using it twice one week and ending up with little wounds/broken skin all over my face.

    As an aside, I read a lot about May Lindstrom thoughtfully recommending products to suit her customers specific skin concerns. Given the price range of her line, I contacted her detailing my specific facial acne issues and had the whole line incl body oil and bowl + brush recommended to me. It left a bit of a bad taste as obviously if you are not a beauty blogger with a platform, you just get a standard advertising email despite the promo as a company that has the personal touch with ALL the customer base including us plebs.

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