Herbivore and acne: Do they mix? I’m so pleased to have some Herbivore empties to share with you. Herbivore is a brand I’ve been wanting to try for ages. Something about their clean aesthetic and glass bottle designs containing their bright jewel-like products really appeals to me. But, their products initially were only plant oils, of which I was convinced did not agree with my skin (see my post on the Bees Brilliance Mankua Honey mask for more info). When Sephora had an offer on the Herbivore Jewel Box last year, I took the opportunity to pick it up when I was back in Canada, as it had also the new Prism AHA/BHA exfoliator that I wanted to try.

Image from Herbivore

This is the box set I got, which is no longer available. However, you can currently buy individuals of the small sizes of the Lapis and Phoenix face oils as in this box on Cult Beauty. It does seem Herbivore periodically release mini sets like this, so just keep your eyes peeled for them, wherever you normally see Herbivore products being sold. The products that came in the box were as follows: Lapis Blue Tansy face oil, Phoenix Rosehip Anti-Aging face oil, Emerald Deep Moisture Glow face oil, Prism 12% AHA + 3% BHA Exfoliating Glow Serum, and Bakuchiol serum.

Another reason I bought this set was because I thought it would give me the opportunity to test if these plant based oils would cause any acne issues. Their face oils do contain essential oils, for fragrance, so if you are sensitive to these, best to avoid. My skin doesn’t react to essential oils oddly enough, but it does react badly to synthetic fragrance.

Phoenix Rosehip Anti-Aging Face Oil

Image from Herbivore

Unfortunately… I chickened out! Phoenix contains chia seed oil, supposedly with a comedogenic rating of 3, which means likely to cause breakouts for most. I avoided my face and just used it on my neck. My sister has dry skin and her face loved this stuff.

I do have to say my one gripe with many anti-aging products is they tend to pack them full of rich emollients, making it difficult for anyone with acne-prone skin to use, and that was the case with this oil. But my sister gave rave reviews – she really enjoyed this one.

Herbivore and acne: do they mix?

Probably not for Phoenix

Lapis Blue Tansy Face Oil

Image from Herbivore

I started testing this one at the same time I started testing out the Farmacy Green Clean cleansing balm and some other new products I’ve now forgotten. Unfortunately I ended up with a really awful bout of acne. Silly me – too impatient and optimistic to test patch. I put that one away, and tried it again at a later date, in a more controlled manner.

Herbivore and acne: Do they mix?


This face oil is marketed to be a treatment for acne, so Herbivore really would have got it wrong if it was causing acne. Of all three face oils – this one was my favourite for smell. So delicious.

Emerald Deep Moisture Glow Face Oil

Image from Herbivore

I missed a trick with this one. I confused in my mind sea meadowfoam oil and macademia oil. Macademia oil is considered to be very emollient and has a comedogenic rating of 2-3.

Conversely, sea meadowfoam oil has a comedogenic rating of 1 (unlikely to cause breakouts in most people), and is high in ecosenoic acid, like jojoba oil, which is meant to be similar in consistency to human sebum. I had actually used most of this one on my neck also before realising that it was the perfect one to try on my face as part of the experiment. *face palm*.

Testing of this one has been patchy because it contains CBD oil and ashwagandha extract, and I was avoiding it intermittently due to potential interactions with something else (non-skin or beauty related).

Herbivore and acne: Do they mix?

Probably yes. (this one also smells divine!)

A cautionary note on comedogenic ratings

By the way, these comedogenic ratings are not considered to be reliable. From my rabbit hole reading on the topic (no pun intended), it seems that the ratings came about from experiments done on rabbit ear canals in the 1970s, which have not translated well to real world experience (1, 2). Seemingly this is because the experiments did not take into account real-life use of said ingredients, which are normally mixed with other substances. If you’d like to know more, please let me know in the comments below or on Instagram, and I can write a post about this topic. Nevertheless, as I know I have fussy skin and oils are a new thing for me, I’m “starting low and going slow”. The comegogenic ratings I’ve quoted are from Holistic Health Herbalist, who has complied a rather comprehensive list. Interpret how you will.

Prism 12% AHA + 3% BHA Exfoliating Glow Serum

Image from Herbivore

I enjoyed this very much. My skin is quite “lazy” and needs extra help with exfoliation. Mechanical exfoliants have always triggered inflammatory acne, so I avoid them. I’m always on the look out for good chemical exfoliants.

This was gentle but effective. My skin was definitely softer and smoother the morning after using, and it did not cause any tingling or inflammation.

Herbivore and acne: do they mix?

Yes – and no “purge” detected (mind you I only had a mini)

Bakuchiol Serum

herbivore and acne: do they mix? Ingredient list for Herbivore Bakuchiol serum
Image from Herbivore

I was curious about this, as bakuchiol is meant to be a natural alternative to retinol. It is a purified meroterpene phenol found in plants, such as Psoralea corylifolia (babchi) (3,4). The cellular pathways targeted by bakuchiol appear to be similar to those of retinoids, including modulation of retinoic acid receptor genes and upregulating collage and extracellular matrix synthesis enzymes (5). In plain English, this means that bakuchiol has been found to have similar mechanisms of producing anti-aging effects as retinols. A recent randomised, double-blind study conducted only over 12 weeks on only 44 participants demonstrated that in terms of decreasing wrinkle surface area and hyperpigmentation, bakuchiol and retinol were not found to be different. Bakuchiol had the added benefit of being much less irritating (6). It certainly seems like a new Wünderkind, but as with all trendy things, time will tell whether it will stand up to rigorous testing.

So you can understand my curiosity about this product.

Herbivore and acne: do they mix?


It was non-irritating. Not even a fuss from my fussy skin. No “purge” either, though this was a mini.

As for the anti-aging aspect… well the mini just wasn’t large enough to test this.

Herbivore: About the brand

A little about the brand – summarised from their website.

They state their products are “safe, non-toxic, and highly effective”. They do not believe in fillers, and every ingredient is there for a reason. Herbivore use “plant-based food-grade cold-pressed oils steam distilled therapeutic-grade essential oils, GMO free soy wax, recyclable and reusable packaging, many certified organic ingredients.” They do not use “Synthetic ingredients, parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, phthalates, chemicals, fillers, animal testing, mineral oils, petroleum.”

Would I buy it again?

Honestly, I probably would only buy Prism and Bakuchiol again.

Lapis, Emerald & Phoenix

I enjoyed using Lapis & Emerald, but I get the same effects with plain old squalane oil. I currently buy mine from The Ordinary, and it retails in the UK at £5.50 for 30 mL versus £60 for 50 mL for Lapis and £42 for 30 mL for Emerald. Lapis & Emerald both smell gorgeous and look amazing on your vanity. For that reason I might justify purchasing them again because the sensory experience of it does bring me a lot of joy. Phoenix did not suit me, so I wouldn’t purchase that again.

For the time being though, I’m not in the market for a new face oil. I still have 3 bottles of The Ordinary Squalane to use up (purchased last year in the Black Friday sale – miscalculation there!), as well as roughly 6 mL of my 8 mL bottle of Lapis. I go through face oil verrryyy slowly.

However, if you are in the market for a face oil, my honest opinion would be to consider trying Herbivore if your budget allows, because the ingredients are pure and it was a very enjoyable experience using their products.

Prism & Bakuchiol

If budget allows or if you want an all-natural product, then definitely consider these. Bear in mind there are many AHA/BHA exfoliators at all price points, and there are cheaper bakuchiol serum alternatives, of which the one by Typology is also all natural. Neither Prism and Bakuchiol were irritating, and for that reason, if you have extremely sensitive skin, you may want to consider these ones.

To compare prices:

Prism retails at £53 for 50 mL. There are many AHA/BHA exfoliators out there – virtually every company will have an available one. I am not going to list them all. You could start somewhere like The Ordinary or Inkey List for something inexpensive, and go progressively spendier to other brands such as Dr Dennis Gross or Sunday Riley.

Bakuchiol, retails at £45 for 30 mL. Two cheaper alternatives are from Inkey List (£9 for 30 mL) and Typology (£14.80 for 15 mL). (Typology is currently on my skincare wish list! But I am wanting to finish up some of the products I already own that would become duplicates if I bought some Typology now).

The Verdict

I was pleasantly surprised that I could tolerate two of their face oils (Lapis & Emerald) without triggering any acne. Whether you want to make the investment in Herbivore products really comes down to your personal preferences. With Herbivore, it’s more of a whole sensory experience thing. Also, their glass packaging (made from recycled glass) is so very beautiful. You will be hard pressed not to re-use the bottle for something else once you have finished the product inside!

I hope you have found this helpful! If so, I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below or connect with me on Instagram. Until next time x

This is not a paid review and there are no affiliate links. I only supply them for your convenience, in case you wanted to read more about the technical specifications of the product.

  1. Kligman AM, Kwong T. An improved rabbit ear model for assessing comedogenic substances. Br J Dermatol. 1979;100(6):699-702. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.1979.tb08075.x
  2. https://www.prettycat.uk/post/comedogenicity-testing-the-rabbit-ear-test-proven-to-be-not-effective
  3. Mehta G, Nayak UR, Dev S. Meroterpenoids–I. Psoralea corylifolia Linn.–1. Bakuchiol, a novel monoterpene phenol. Tetrahedron 1973; 29:1119–25.
  4. Prakasarao AS, Bhalla VK, Nayak UR et al. Meroterpenoids–II. Psoralea corylifolia Linn.–2. Absolute configuration of (+)‐bakuchiol. Tetrahedron 1973; 29:1127–30.
  5. Chaudhuri RK, Bojanowski K. Bakuchiol: a retinol‐like functional compound revealed by gene expression profiling and clinically proven to have anti‐aging effects. Int J Cosmet Sci 2014; 36:221–30.
  6. Dhaliwal S, Rybak I, Ellis SR, et al. Prospective, randomized, double-blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing. Br J Dermatol. 2019;180(2):289-296. doi:10.1111/bjd.16918

2 thoughts on “Herbivore and Acne: Do they mix? An honest review”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *