Review: BORBA HD-Illuminating Plasma Crystals

By Voxy  

I am beginning to think that BORBA is the single best reason to shop at TJMaxx and Marshall’s.

This might surprise you, if you remember that the last time I reviewed a BORBA product on this site I found it … er, less than adequate, to say the least. However, I also said I had another BORBA product that I thought was superb. I still haven’t gotten around to writing a review of that one, and in between times I’ve picked up two more products that are excellent, so I’m 3 for 4 on BORBA at the moment. I don’t yet know if I’d buy them at full price, but getting them at discount stores is really working out well for now!

The BORBA HD-Illuminating Plasma Crystals kit is a home microdermabrasion-type product (which really just means it’s a fancy kind of exfoliating scrub). It’s a two-part process: you start by applying the HD-Illuminating Plasma Crystals to clean, dry skin and massaging in gentle circles for about a minute. Although the crystals are suspended in some sort of goopy substance (in other words, it’s not like pouring a handful of grains of salt into your hand), they are still mighty abrasive. The feel is not unlike sandpaper; I can’t say that it’s pleasant. You can actually hear the crystals scraping away at your face. To make you feel a little better about it, BORBA tells you that you’re using “prismatic micro-diamonds” in this product, and it is true — there’s gold in them thar hills diamonds in that there jar, although diamond powder is the very last ingredient. And it’s probably not the diamonds that give this product its sparkle; mica is way up there in the ingredient list. Diamond powder is an exfoliant, though (unsurprising, as diamond is the hardest substance around), but the majority of the exfoliating work of this product is carried out by the other exfoliants it contains: sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), rice hull powder, and silica.

After you’ve abraded yourself to within an inch of your life, you’re supposed to put a squirt or two of the Step 2 product, the “Plasma Activator/Pore Perfecting Thermal Serum” into your hand and rub that on top of the crystals on your face. This is also the part where you swear because you realize you should have uncapped Step 2 before you dipped your fingers in Step 1 and got them all goopy. (I’ve done this twice now, dammit.) When the serum touches the crystal goop on your face, heat is produced and the crystals mostly melt away. You rub this all around for a bit and then rinse. I haven’t worked out what the right proportion of serum to crystal goop is yet, and am usually left with some crystals that haven’t dissolved. Unless you’re super-patient or have a hand-held shower jet attached to your sink, it’s easier to rinse this off in the shower than at the sink, because the crystals are stubborn and don’t dissolve in water. In both cases a washcloth is a helpful accessory.

This product really does leave skin glowing and gorgeous. I’ve used a lot of exfoliating products and was basically over the idea of using anything other than a baking soda or sugar scrub — baking soda because it’s easily available and is a very fine scrub, and sugar scrubs because I happen to have some with aromas I really like that have a bit of moisturizing oil in them as well. Also, most of my exfoliating these days is chemical rather than mechanical, via AHAs and BHAs. Still, I’ll definitely be using this product.

Of course there’s always a fly in the goop ointment; last time it was overpackaging, this time it’s gimmicky advertising language. You know I’m suspicious about that, and the people who write the BORBA copy put it out in spades. From the website:

A revolutionary 2-step treatment using advanced, high definition (HD) plasma technology and prismatic micro-diamonds to dramatically resurface and retexturize your skin. By helping your skin more optimally reflect light your skin begins to look picture perfect. Innovative in its design, this luxurious product warms itself to deeply cleanse and minimize the appearance of pores. Enhances the skins youthful luminosity and flawlessness maximizing its beauty.

Plasma is an extraordinary substance used in advanced optical technology to help provide extraordinary definition, vibrancy and clarity to illuminated images. Plasma ‘high-def’ technology is the inspiration for BORBA’s new HD-Illuminating line of skin treatments. This new Diamond-Dermabrasion Treatment, designed with innovative silver plasma technology & pure micro-diamonds, helps improve the visible quality of skin so it appears smoother, brighter and more youthful – what we call “high definition skin.”

Gag me with a spoon, fellas — the whole second paragraph essentially says nothing, except for defining (sort of) what plasma is in terms of its use in TVs. If this were a student essay I were grading, it’d be covered with red slash marks. As it turns out, “plasma” is a word with many meanings, some of which are very relevant to cosmetics, but the ways in which different types of plasma are used in cosmetics and cosmetic procedures vary so much that just saying something has “plasma” or “plasma technology” really isn’t saying much. I’d actually very much like to know exactly what kind of plasma is being used here and how it works — or am I to take them at their word, which is that plasma high-def technology is merely the “inspiration” for the line? If the blue sky is an inspiration for me to write a poem, can I say that my poem was composed with blue-sky technology?

So my advice is always to ignore the advertising language and look at the efficacy of the product to see if it’s worth using or continuing to use. Here, I hate the language and the hype, but I have to admit, the product is very impressive, as are the other two I have waiting in the wings to review. I will definitely keep using it, although I think I’ll have to cover up the labels so I don’t hurt myself by excessive eye-rolling over the flowery language. Look out for it at your local TJMaxx or Marshall’s; if it’s inexpensive and you’re looking for an effective exfoliant, this might be a good pick.


BORBA HD-Illuminating Plasma Crystals: $59.00 (from BORBA; check your local discount store for much better deals)

Provenance: Purchased, via TJMaxx

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Full price: poor, probably. Discount price: excellent.

Purchase again? Yes, but not for full price.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

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