Review of Riversol skin care (part 2) and Giveaway!

(In case you missed part 1 of my review, click here to read it.)

As you know, I have been reviewing Riversol's skin care regimen this past month. I am really impressed with how well it is working, and how streamlined the formulations are. More often than not these days, it seems like cosmetic formulators feel compelled to add in a ton of unnecessary ingredients which not only may dilute the effect of the few ingredients that are actually having an effect, but also increase the risk of allergic reactions. Riversol's formulations contain the lotion/cleanser base, the key ingredient beta-thujaplicin, and in the case of the serum, Vitamins E and C, and that's it - nothing more, nothing less. In my view, it's no coincidence that it works well for sensitive skin types and skin conditions like rosacea.

I had the opportunity to ask Dr. Jason Rivers some questions about the Riversol products. Here's what he had to say:

Q1.  There are three structural isomers of thujaplicin: alpha-, beta- and gamma-thujaplicin. The Riversol products contain beta-thujaplicin. Is beta-thujaplicin (hinokitiol) the most biologically active of the three isomers or is there another reason it was chosen for use in the Riversol products?  
A1. To my knowledge, the beta isomer has the most activity and is the one most studied.   
Q2.  A search of the scientific literature shows that the thujaplicins have only been used in a few instances for treating skin (e.g. atopic dermatitis and anti-ageing). Overall, it appears the thujaplicins have been more commonly used for completely unrelated purposes. What led you to the thujaplicins in the first place and what led you to try using thujaplicin to treat rosacea?    
A2. In the first instance, I was lead to thujaplicins  because of a meeting with individuals from the department of Forestry at the University of British Columbia.  They were working with beta thujaplicin because of its potential as an anti-infective agent.   I became interested in the molecule because of the following article:  "Inhibitory effect of beta-thujaplicin on ultraviolet B-induced apoptosis in mouse keratinocytes."
Baba T, Nakano H, Tamai K, Sawamura D, Hanada K, Hashimoto I, Arima Y. J Invest Dermatol. 1998 Jan; 110(1):24-8. 
My initial thoughts were related to prevention of skin cancer and the reversal of skin damage caused by the sun. We incorporated the thujaplicin into a cream and found that people really enjoyed the product. As the product is designed to minimize potentially irriatating and allergy producing ingredients, it was suitable for most skin types.   Just by chance, we found that people who had rosacea were deriving benefit from the products.   This may be on the basis of the ingredients overall, including the thujaplicin that has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial actions.

Q3.  Are there any known downsides of thujaplicin use?  For example, is it safe for pregnant/nursing women to use? [With regards to this question: I located a few scientific articles that discuss the use of thujaplicins to inhibit growth of a human cancer cell line, as well as a test that concluded beta-thujaplicin was non-carcinogenic in rats. However, I also found one article that cited possible teratogenicity of beta-thujaplicin in mice: Food Chem Toxicol. 1999 Nov;37(11):1097-104. Although this test was conducted on mice, I wonder if there is any risk to pregnant women and nursing women?]    
A3. To my knowledge, there are no studies done on pregnant or nursing women  ( similar to all products out there).  However, as you point out, the risk of topical application of our products would be unlikely to cause any harm to mother or fetus.

Q4.  The Riversol products contain chemicals which are on the list  of The Suzuki Foundation's so-called "Dirty Dozen" chemicals that they recommend avoiding. This includes parabens and mineral oil. What do you have to say to consumers who are concerned about the presence of these supposedly suspect chemicals? (**See update below**)    
A4. First off,  I would like to see the scientific data to support the notion that parabens and mineral oil are unsafe.   Mineral oil of cosmetic grade is known to be inert,  does not cause cancer and is not comedogenic.  The FDA and Health Canada approve of this product – and they wouldn’t if there was a concern.  Remember that mineral oil of cosmetic grade is produced after a number of distillation processes that remove impurities. With regards to parabens, again they are safe in my opinion. [Dr. Rivers appended the U.S. FDA fact sheet on parabens for reference.]
Q5.  Given that the thujaplicins exhibit a number of useful properties in vivo,  do you think the Riversol products can also be used for improving other skin conditions besides rosacea and ageing? For example, as the thujaplicins are antibacterial, can you envision your products being used for treating acne? As it is anti-inflammatory, could it be used by people to care for chronic conditions such as psoriasis or eczema? 
A5. Yes to all of the above.  We are in the early stages of our knowledge and exploration of the uses of thujaplicin on the skin.

Q6.  Within Riversol's category of treatment serums, there are three different products, Rosacea, Anti-ageing, and Original Serum. However, the ingredient lists for all three serums appear to be the same. Is the concentration of beta-thujaplicin different in each serum, according to the different purposes of each serum?  
A6. The concentration of thujaplicin is the same across all three serums. The concentration of vitamin C is different between the anti-aging serum and the other two serums.
If you are interested in learning more about Riversol, they are currently running the Unmask campaign, to promote the message that true happiness and beauty lies within each of us. Please check out their video on Youtube here.

Finally, if you have managed to get through this epic long review, you deserve a chance to win a prize! ;-) The people at Riversol have kindly offered to provide a full size skincare kit as a giveaway prize to my blog readers.

To enter, please do all of the following (MANDATORY):

  1. Be a public follower of this blog.
  2. Sign in under your Google I.D., leave a comment (please include your email address if your contact information is not on your Google profile or your blog), and state which type of skincare kit you would prefer, normal/oily or normal/dry.
  3. Read my review and let me know why you are interested in trying Riversol skincare, or if you have any questions about the products.

Once you have fulfilled the above requirements, you can earn extra entries by doing any one or more of the following! (Let me know in your comment if you do any of these.)

(+1) follow me on Twitter @cosmetic_bee

(+1) follow Riversol on Twitter @Riversol
(+1) tweet about this giveaway by clicking the Tweet button below this post and include the tag @Riversol in your tweet
(+1) mention this giveaway on your blog (include a link to your blog in your comment if you do this)

This event is only open to public blog followers located in Canada or the U.S. Anonymous entries will not be accepted. Contest closes December 17, 2011 December 21, 2011 at 11:59 E.T. I will be conducting the draw with, after which I will send a notice to the winner. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my notice, and if no response is received, I will conduct another draw. Good luck!


**ETA, May 8, 2014: This review was based on Riversol products available in 2011. The Riversol skincare products have now been reformulated to be paraben-free. The relaunch of the new products will happen June 1, 2014.


  1. I am already a follower.
    My blogger idea is and email is (I think this is what you were asking for)
    I am interested in this for my sisters who both suffer from Rosacea. The only treatment that seems to work is light therapy and it does work but one has to go to a salon for it. Thanks for the information.

  2. Hi Louise

    This is an excellent review and you asked great questions from Dr.Jason Rivers.

    I would love to be entered in the contest - my skin type: is dry.

    Thanks for your generous offer

    Helen Tilston

  3. I am a GFC follower
    I would love to try these products because I have rosacea and acne prone skin, and am always on the lookout for something that might help.

    talesofmommyhood at yahoo dot ca

  4. I would love to try the kit for normal/dry skin. Fingers crossed!

  5. This would be a fabulous early xmas gift! I would love to get the normal/dry set if I was lucky enought to win. I am interested int rying the products due to their simple nature.

  6. Knowing how you are very careful in your product choices, an endorsment from you says a lot. I would like to try the normal/dry.

  7. I am a long time reader but just started following.
    I have combination skin, with both dry patches and acne so I'm not sure if the normal/oily or normal/dry formula would be better. I also have nummular eczema (not on my face) and redding of my chin which has been suggested may be rosacea, although it has not been officially diagnosed. Needless to say I am very cautious trying new products. These products sound like they would be perfect for my crazy skin. Thanks for your review and putting together this give away!

  8. Hi Louise,

    Thanks for answering my Twitter question. I am not sure if I am doing this correctly! But here goes...

    Would love win the Riversol skin care as I have sensitive skin with eczema. Its hard to find products that are not irritating to my skin. This product sounds like it might help the redness.

    My skin type is normal/dry
    My email is: chitchatguy at gmail dot com.

    Great blog. I like your cosmetic reviews. With your background in Chemistry I trust your reviews. I also love the JCrew reviews that you do as well.

  9. GFC follower (Anne-Marie T)

    I would prefer the kit for normal/dry skin.

    I am interested in these products because they work together as a system

    amt (at)telus (dot)net

  10. Following you on Twitter as @amt946
    amt (at)telus (dot)net

  11. Following Riversol on Twitter as @amt946
    amt (at)telus (dot)net

  12. Tweeted!/amt946/status/144675720818466816

    amt (at)telus (dot)net

  13. Great review of Riversol, especially useful question and answers from the physician. One question I have is: any idea how long the kit is supposed to last? At $218 I'd like to know if this is a monthly, every 2 month investment, etc.

    My skin type is oily. I have recently discovered that I have rosacea. It's a big relief to finally have a diagnosis so I can work on managing it. I'm hoping Riversol will be a solution for my skin problems. Thanks for the great offer!

  14. Sounds like a great product! I'd love to try it for my rosacea!

  15. Oops forgot: email is sharonlhayward (at) gmail (dot) com. I would love to try normal/dry.

  16. thanks for being so thorough in your investigation of products!

    I have rosacea as well and would love to try the normal/dry formulation if I won the kit. I get the red raccoon mask look when I get excited or nervous or overheated. It is ridiculous!

  17. I follow via GFC as Glogirl.

    I would love the normal/oily set.

    I'm interested in trying this skincare set because based on your review, it sounds like you had good results from it. I too suffer from adult acne and would love to see how this might help my skin. The anti-aging effect of these products wouldn't hurt either :)

    (e-mail is in profile)

  18. I follow you on Twitter @glogirl3

  19. I follow Riversol on Twitter @glogirl3

  20. Tweet:

  21. I follow with GFC as edmontonjb. I have normal/oily skin and would love to try this because it sounds quite advanced. I have trouble skin so I am always looking for products that agree with it.

    Thanks so much for the very thorough review!


  22. Oh, I am a follower, and I'm intrigued by the restrained concoctions- I don't have 'sensitive' skin, and yet seem to react aversely to many skincare products....

  23. I am a follower! I would love to try this product - I have really dry skin in the winter and have been told that it looks like rosacea. I would like to try the normal/oily

  24. I thought I commented on this as I've been thinkingabout this product ever since. I really love your blog because it makes it a lot easier to narrow down products (and waste less money) when you have insight not only into what that product claims to do but why it does (or doesn't) actually do it.

    I have rosacea, sensitive skin and dry skin. I think this sounds like a system that is just tailor made for my...challening skin!

    Thanks for another great review! (I'm already a follower.)

  25. I just became a public follower. I came across this blog as a result of searching for safer baby products. Then I discovered your great reviews and chemical analysis of skin products! It's a wonderful blog!

    I have normal/dry skin. I'm interested in trying Riversol skincare b/c the thujaplicin ingredient sounds quite interesting.

    Thx for your blog and review.


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