Mario Badescu is a European-inspired skin care brand that’s known for its low key packaging, clinical formulations, and affordable price point. Oh and let’s not forget the iconic Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, a bright pink liquid that promises to dry up a blemish overnight.
But do Mario Badescu products really work? In order to answer this question, we’ll discuss the formulation details, including the key ingredients in Mario Badescu skin care products and the research that supports (or doesn’t support) their use. We’ll also share some Mario Badescu reviews so that you can get an idea of what customers really think of these products.
Is Mario Badescu Skincare Worth The Money?
A common question about this brand is if the products are worth the cost.
In our opinion, Mario Badescu products deliver value for money, but take a look at other brands that don’t require you to sacrifice your precious money.
We recommend brands that are committed to developing clean yet effective products.
One brand is Carrot & Stick, a clean skincare brand that perfectly balances the gentle nurturing of plants with the powerful results of innovative science.
Carrot & Stick intro bundles deliver great value for money because you can bundle 3 full-size products worth up to
$240 for $88.
What Are The Top 10 Best Mario Badescu Skin Care Products?
The Mario Badescu collection is a comprehensive line of products with more than 200 items, including day creams, night creams, eye creams, facial sprays and serums. Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 best Mario Badescu skin care products.
If there’s one product from this brand that you’ve heard of, it’s the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. This acne spot treatment has developed a cult following of loyal customers, beauty editors, celebrities, and skin care professionals worldwide. Why? The bright pink formula can make a blemish basically disappear overnight.
The highest concentration ingredient in the Drying Lotion is isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol. This ingredient will definitely dry out a blemish, but it can also dry out your skin. Since this is a spot treatment, we think the alcohol in the formula is okay if you need to get rid of a zit ASAP. But it’s not something you want to be using on a regular basis.
Additional blemish-fighting ingredients in Mario Badescu Drying Lotion include calamine, sulfur, zinc oxide, and salicylic acid.
One thing you’ll notice about Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is that there’s a separation of pink sediment at the bottom and clear liquid on top, which may tempt you to shake the bottle. But no matter how tempted you are, don’t shake the bottle!
Think of it this way: The pink dot you make on your face works like a teeny overnight mask that gives targeted attention to your blemish. You want the product to be clay-like when it’s applied so that it goes on opaque and pink, completely covering the bump. When you shake, that sediment becomes diluted.
Bottom Line: Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is an acne spot treatment that combines isopropyl alcohol with calamine, sulfur, zinc oxide, and salicylic acid to help dry out blemishes overnight.
Mario Badescu Facial Spray is a rejuvenating mist infused with herbal and botanical extracts that help soothe and hydrate skin, resulting in a healthy, radiant glow. It can be used to give your makeup a dewy finish, as a midday pick-me-up, or anytime you need to revive dehydrated skin.
There’s quite a few humectants in this formula, including propylene glycol, aloe vera, and bladderwrack extract. These ingredients bind moisture, thereby improving hydration in the upper layers of skin.
The one thing we don’t love about this formula is the inclusion of fragrance ingredients. While fragrance certainly creates a pleasant sensorial experience, these fragrance ingredients have the potential to cause skin irritation.
That’s because all fragrance ingredients (whether natural or synthetic) impart scent through a volatile reaction, and this natural reaction almost always causes a sensitizing reaction on skin. Even if you don’t have a full blown reaction to the ingredient, the damage may still be occurring every day.
Bottom Line: Mario Badescu Facial Spray contains hydrating ingredients that help to impart a dewy glow, but the inclusion of fragrance in this formula isn’t doing your skin any good.
Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum
Just as the name suggests, vitamin C is the key ingredient in Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum. In fact, the formula includes three forms of vitamin C — ascorbic acid, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, and 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid — for enhanced stability.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps to protect your skin from environmental free radical damage.Furthermore,research suggests that when vitamin C is applied to the skin, it significantly reverses aging-related structural changes by influencing collagen and elastin synthesis.
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, it can. Vitamin C also helps to promote a brighter complexion with fewer dark spots and a more even skin tone by inhibiting melanin synthesis.
You’ll also find supporting ingredients in this formula, such as hydrating humectants, skin-softening emollients, and soothing botanical extracts like cucumber and ginseng.
Bottom Line: Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum combines three forms of vitamin C into one formula to promote a brighter, firmer complexion.
Mario Badescu Whitening Mask
This clay-based mask includes skin-brightening ingredients like kojic acid, licorice root, and mulberry extract. All of these ingredients work in unique ways to reduce the formation of dark spots while also promoting more even skin tone.
These brightening ingredients are formulated into a base of kaolin, a type of natural clay that helps to absorb excess oil and unclog pores. It also helps to gently exfoliate your skin as you wash the mask off.
Unfortunately, this mask contains a few problematic ingredients, including two parabens as preservatives and a synthetic fragrance blend.
Bottom Line: A clay-based mask that contains beneficial skin-brightening ingredients, but keep in mind the formula contains parabens and fragrance.
Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner
This is an alcohol-free toner that provides mild exfoliation thanks to the alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) glycolic acid combined with soothing aloe vera leaf juice.
While glycolic acid is known to improve skin brightness and clarity while reducing blackheads and bumps, we can’t recommend this toner due to the presence of parabens and fragrance.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other glycolic acid toners on the market, one of our favorites being The Ordinary Glycolic Acid Toning Solution.
Bottom Line: An alcohol-free, mild resurfacing toner that uses glycolic acid to promote mild exfoliation, but keep in mind the formula includes parabens and fragrance.
Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion
This is a lightweight, quick-absorbing solution specifically designed to target large, under-the-surface bumps.
Similar to the Drying Lotion, the highest concentration ingredient in this formula is isopropyl alcohol. While this type of alcohol can cause skin dryness and even damage when used long term, the Buffering Lotion is a rinse-off product so it should be okay if you need to get rid of bumps right away.
The formula also includes beneficial ingredients like niacinamide, panthenol, and allantoin. We love all three of these ingredients, but it’s better to use them in leave-on products. Since Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion is only meant to be left on for 15 minutes, these ingredients don’t have much time to provide benefits.
Bottom Line: Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion is a rinse-off treatment that combines isopropyl alcohol with niacinamide, panthenol, and allantoin to target large, under-the-surface bumps.
Mario Badescu Drying Cream
This formula is similar to the popular Drying Lotion, but the Drying Cream has a thicker, creamier texture with a few different ingredients, such as ichthammol.
Ichthammol, also referred to as “drawing salve”, is derived from sulfur. It works by softening skin cells, which allows pus to be drawn to the surface, thereby helping to get rid of a blemish quickly.
There are quite a few additional key ingredients in the Drying Cream formula, including zinc oxide, sulfur, beeswax, niacinamide, and panthenol. But, unfortunately, this is another Mario Badescu product that contains parabens and fragrance.
Bottom Line: Mario Badescu Drying Cream is a spot treatment for acne that uses ingredients like zinc oxide, sulfur, and ichthammol to dry out blemishes, but keep in mind this product contains parabens and fragrance.
Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel
The brand’s best selling face wash is the Enzyme Cleansing Gel, a lightweight refreshing cleanser that helps to remove excess oil and surface impurities.
Like most cleansers, the formula contains surfactants as key ingredients. A surfactant molecule contains one end that is hydrophilic (attracted to water) and one end that is lipophilic (attracted to oil). This allows surfactants to attract and suspend oils, dirt, and other impurities that have accumulated on the skin and wash them away.
The name of this product includes “enzyme” because of the papaya fruit extract in the formula. Papaya is rich in an enzyme called papain.
Papain works on the surface of the skin to dissolve keratin, a protein found within skin that acts as a glue to keep skin cells together. By dissolving keratin, the papain enzyme helps to exfoliate the top layer of dead skin cells, leaving skin looking brighter with a more even tone. Exfoliating the skin also helps to prevent acne since the buildup of dead skin cells can clog pores.
Note: This cleanser includes parabens and fragrance.
Bottom Line: A refreshing gel cleanser that uses surfactants and papaya fruit extract to clean and exfoliate the skin.
Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser
The Glycolic Foaming Cleanser is meant to replace your regular cleanser 1 to 3 times a week in order to address dullness, congestion, and hyperpigmentation.
Glycolic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that exfoliates the skin by targeting corneocytes (dead skin cells that make up the stratum corneum) in a process called corneocyte desquamation. By enhancing their breakdown and increasing the separation of skin cells, the rate of cell turnover is increased, leading to smoother, brighter skin and a more even complexion.
The cleanser also includes surfactants to remove excess oil and surface impurities, as well as soothing extracts like marsh mallow extract, chamomile extract, yarrow extract, and St. John’s Wort extract.
Note: This cleanser includes parabens and fragrance.
Bottom Line: An exfoliating cleanser that uses glycolic acid to address dullness, congestion, and hyperpigmentation.
Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream
This is a lightweight oil-free face cream that contains the seaweed bladderwrack as the key ingredient.
Bladderwrack helps soothe the skin due to its rich supply of B vitamins, calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulfur, and silicon that contribute to its anti-inflammatory benefits.
This night cream also includes the hydrating ingredients sodium hyaluronate, hydrolyzed elastin, and soluble collagen. These ingredients bind moisture to the skin, thereby hydrating the skin while also helping it to look more plump and youthful.
But as you can probably guess by now, this formula is packed with fragrance and parabens, making this a product we cannot recommend.
Bottom Line: Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream features the seaweed bladderwrack as the key ingredient, with supporting key ingredients like sodium hyaluronate, hydrolyzed elastin, and soluble collagen.
Is The Mario Badescu Drying Lotion Right For You?
Before purchasing Mario Badescu Drying Lotion, here’s a summary of the most important factors to consider:
- Key ingredients? Isopropyl alcohol, calamine, sulfur, zinc oxide, salicylic acid
- Skin type? Acne-prone skin
- Texture? Clay-like liquid
- Fragrance? No
- Cruelty free? Yes
- Cost? $17 USD for 1 fl oz
What Are The Key Ingredients in Mario Badescu Skin Care Products?
There’s a range of key ingredients used throughout the Mario Badescu skin care collection, but most of the ingredients are pretty standard. For example, the brand uses AHAs, salicylic acid, sodium hyaluronate, vitamin C, glycerin, surfactants, emollients, and aloe vera. These are common skin care ingredients that you can easily find in products by other brands.
The brand’s acne spot treatment products, such as the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion and Drying Cream, are slightly more innovative, with key ingredients like calamine and ichthammol. These ingredients aren’t used often in the skin care industry anymore, but perhaps you recognize them from your grandmother’s medicine cabinet.
Yes, that’s right, both of these ingredients have quite a long history of use. Ichthammol was first discovered in the early 1880s, and the use of calamine lotion dates back as far as 1500 BC.
While these ingredients certainly have a long history of use, there’s actually not much research supporting their use for acne. Both ingredients work by drying out the blemish, which is a short term solution and doesn’t actually address the root cause of acne.
According to Healthline, using calamine lotion as spot treatment can help because calamine lotion has drying properties, it can help dry out pimples caused by excess oil faster. But overdrying acne can cause irritation and make acne worse, so calamine lotion should be used sparingly.
Now onto the not-so-good ingredients you’ll find in these products. As you probably noticed from our descriptions of the best Mario Badescu skin care products, this brand uses parabens and fragrance in nearly all of their products. So why is this a problem? Let’s take a look at the research.
Parabens are preservatives used to extend the shelf life of a product by preventing microbial contamination. The use of parabens in cosmetics and skin care products is controversial because there is conflicting research on the potential health consequences of long term exposure to parabens.
According to the parabens can act like the hormone estrogen in the body and disrupt the normal function of hormone systems affecting male and female reproductive system functioning, reproductive development, fertility, and birth outcomes. Parabens are easily absorbed into the skin, which means that continuously using products that contain parabens could lead to elevated estrogen in the body.
As for the fragrance used in Mario Badescu products, we already mentioned that fragrance has the potential to cause skin sensitivity. In addition, the use of synthetic fragrance ingredients can be a problem because the brand can use a proprietary blend of chemicals to create the fragrance, and they do not have to disclose which chemicals they use on the label. They are allowed to list this blend as “Fragrance (Parfum)” on the ingredient list.
A 2018 study by Women’s Voices for the Earthdiscovered that in over 3,000 chemicals reportedly used for fragrances, 1,242 were chemicals of concern – and that included at least 7 possible carcinogenic (cancer-causing) agents.
How Much Do Mario Badescu Skin Care Products Cost?
Mario Badescu is a mid-priced brand; the products are slightly more than your average drugstore product, yet they are far more affordable than luxury brands like Drunk Elephant and SK-II.
Just to give you an idea of the current prices of these products, the Mario Badescu Drying Lotions costs $17 USD for 1 fl oz and the Facial Spray costs just $7 for 4 fl oz.
Where to Buy Mario Badescu Skin Care Products?
Mario Badescu Skin Care products are sold on the brand’s website, as well as many third party online retailers, such as Sephora, Ulta, Walmart, and more. The brand also has a store locator on their website so you can find a retail location near you that sells Mario Badescu skin care products.
What is The Mario Badescu Return Policy?
The Mario Badescu return policy states, “At Mario Badescu, we work hard to ensure that you’re using the absolute best products for your hair and skin. However, we want to be certain that you are completely satisfied with your purchase. As such, we have a 30-day money back guarantee on our entire line of products purchased on MarioBadescu.com or in the Mario Badescu Skin Care Salon.”
Is Mario Badescu Cruelty Free?
Yes, Mario Badescu is cruelty free.
Is Mario Badescu Vegan?
Mario Badescu may offer some vegan products, but this brand is not 100% vegan.
Mario Badescu Reviews
Mario Badescu reviews on the brand’s website are overall very positive. The product with the most reviews is the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
The positive reviews for the Drying Lotion mention how fast and effective this product is for reducing the appearance of blemishes for those of all ages.
For example, one review says, “This drying lotion works on breakouts fast. I’m 59 years of and still have breakouts. Immediately when I see one I apply lotion on spot and the time of breakout is reduced at least by 50%. I will continue purchasing and sharing information with friends and family.”
And another 5-star review says, “My teenage son uses this when he has breakouts. He puts it on before he goes to bed and by the morning his breakout areas look 100% better. A must have product!”
However, there are a handful of negative reviews for Mario Badescu Drying Lotion from customers who noticed the product dried out their skin but not the pimple.
For example, one review says, “Has been ineffective for any pimples. Only dries them out and they still don’t go away. Very disappointed.”
Others who tried Mario Badescu Drying Lotion didn’t notice any change whatsoever. For example, one review says, “I used this product after I wash my face and use my toner before going to bed, sadly it did not make any changes for me, I tried using it for a week.”
Overall, we think that some Mario Badescu skin care products are better than others, and we would recommend avoiding the products that include parabens and fragrance.
- Products contain evidence-based ingredients like glycolic acid, salicylic acid, vitamin C, and more
- Many positive Mario Badescu reviews
- Mario Badescu is cruelty free
- Most products contain fragrance
- Most products contain parabens
- The isopropyl alcohol in acne spot treatment products may cause excessive skin dryness
What Are Some Alternatives to Mario Badescu Skin Care Products?
There’s no need to compromise when it comes to finding skincare that’s effective and safe.
If you’re looking for effective skincare products that skip harmful toxins, one brand we recommend is Carrot & Stick.
Carrot & Stick is committed to creating plant-derived formulas that deliver extraordinary results without relying on toxic chemicals or standard preservatives.
Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare, perfectly balancing the gentle nurturing of plants with innovative science.
Nutrients. 2017 Aug; 9(8): 866.
Healthline “Does Calamine Lotion Treat and Help Prevent Acne?”
EWG “What Are Parabens, And Why Don’t They Belong in Cosmetics?” April 2019
Women’s Voices for the Earth “Unpacking The Fragrance Industry” 2018