Monday, March 2, 2015

My review of Paula Begoun’s review of Yonka-Paris skin care products

I came across the following review of the Yonka-Paris skin care line on Paula Begouns website. For those of you unfamiliar with who she is, Paula Begoun is probably best-known for her book, Dont Go To The Cosmetic Counter Without Me. You can read all about her on Wikapedia. To say that she and I disagree on the efficacy and practicality of Yonka products in general and essential oils specifically is a huge understatement.

I just cant help myself from writing this review of Begouns review, no doubt due to my absolute passion for Yonka products, having used them professionally for almost 30 years. So below you will find a mixture of Paula’s review along with my opinions about her viewpoint. Everyone is afforded an opinion, and I certainly have one regarding essential oils and their use in Yonka products. I have highlighted in bold some of the more interesting statements. Here is Paula Begouns review:

Yon-Ka Paris At-A-Glance

Strengths: Good self-tanner and after-sun moisturizer. 

Weaknesses: Expensive; mostly irritating cleansers; almost every moisturizer, serum, mask, toner, and treatment product is loaded with irritating fragrant oils; claims are ludicrous to the max; none of the products with SPF ratings contain active sunscreen ingredients; no reliable AHA or BHA products; skin-lightening products do not contain ingredients that fade discolorations, but do contain ingredients that can make discolorations worse; terribly formulated products to treat blemishes.

Yon-Ka Paris is a French line of cosmetics with a decidedly French accent, but that is where the élan of this pricey skin-care line starts and stops. The ads for Yon-Ka Paris declare that the company has a passion for the “world of plants … that nourish and heal the body and soul and restore the beauty of skin and spirit.” At these prices, thats the least you should expect. Adding to the allure is a description of the name Yon-Ka. “Yon” refers to a river with rapid, purifying water meant to symbolize the energy these products are said to provide skin; “Ka” is an ancient Egyptian term that symbolizes “the vital and eternal force that is inherent in each individual.” Taken together, the name is supposed to represent constant natural regeneration. Unfortunately, when you get down to the product formulas, most of them contain enough irritating ingredients that skin will suffer from degradation rather than regeneration.

Almost every Yon-Ka moisturizer contains a litany of problematic ingredients, the dastardliest of which are citrus oils, thyme, rosemary, and lavender. Others show up, but the aforementioned are the most consistent, and its amazing how many disparate claims are assigned to the products theyre in. Apparently, all it takes are fragrant oils mixed with standard, mostly benign cosmetic ingredients (thickeners, waxes, and a few water-binding agents) to not only firm skin but also erase acne, banish discolorations, reduce wrinkles, purify, and on and on.

Yon-Ka is available in many spas, and their Web site discusses how concerned they are about being selective with distribution. The logic, however flawed, is that they take so much care in creating the products and advising those who retail them how to sell them to their clients that they couldnt possibly let just anyone sell their aromatic blends. Believe me, any aesthetician exclusively retailing Yon-Ka is someone you dont want dealing with your skin (assuming he or she will only be using Yon-Ka products). Were not challenging the credibility or skills of such an aesthetician, just their judgment in deciding to sell a skin-care line so fraught with products that cannot possibly help skin. Anyone seriously interested in taking the best possible care of their skin could care less about a spiritually aromatic spa experience, and instead should demand products that are appropriate for their skin type and condition. Yon-Ka offers none of that.

What Yon-Ka does afford is a sensory experience that may relax you; its too bad that your skin will suffer as a result. And what about the fact that Yon-Kas daily routines do not include a sunscreen? Sun protection isnt even discussed, and the handful of Yon-Ka products with SPF ratings do not list active ingredients, which is as reliable as shopping for food without knowing whats in the package.

Even more deplorable is the companys view of *suntanning. We cant imagine trusting your skins health to a company that sells products that encourage you to get a tan. A skin-care line that turns a blind eye to the issues of sun protection and cumulative sun damage is as unethical as it is ignorant. 

Yon-Ka may be at the forefront of aesthetic aromatherapy, but thats about olfactory benefit, and in no way does that translate to smart, efficacious skin care. If you need to smell something nice, light a candle or wave perfume over pulse points, just keep it away from your skin.

For more information about Yon-Ka Paris, call (800) 533-6276 or visit www.yonka.com.

*On the suntanning issue: Yonka is indeed a French product line. It is fairly common knowledge that Europeans have a different view on sun and tanning than many here in America. However, foreign skin care manufacturers are changing their views these days probably due to the American market and our demand for higher SPFs. Im sure this was the case with Yonka. Over the past several years they have upgraded their sun products to keep up with the American market. In 2012 the FDA mandated SPFs cannot be higher than 50 (to limit unrealistic claims), and Yonka has kept to that regulation; they have several SPF products including an SPF 50. In years long past, Yonka didn’t have a sunscreen higher than SPF 15. That, to update this or any reviewer, was decades ago.

Several times Begoun describes the use of “fragrant oils meaning the essential oil content of a product. There is so much information about the efficacy of essential “fragrant oils, it’s interesting Paula doesnt seem to have any confidence in the litany of information available and only views these powerful ingredients as though they are simply fluffy and aromatic. We have a huge difference of opinion, and I imagine that anyone using essential oils or products that contain them would also disagree with this world-renowned reviewers review of Yonka products.

I could go on and on about using Yonka for problem skin and even sensitive skin, contradicting what Begouns review states. There are many articles on this blog that talk about the use of these effective products for all types of skin—especially problem skin. And the writing in my articles is only reiterating what I find in practice, using these products in my salon on real people.

I have given facials and had skin care businesses for 30 years in many cities (Dallas TX, Los Angeles CA, Chicago IL, and currently in Boulder CO) and continue to sell Yonka products to thousands of satisfied clients. I seriously doubt if anyone coming to me would agree with what Paula Begoun says about aestheticians who sell Yonka products. To copy part of the above reviewThis is ME!:

“Believe me, any aesthetician exclusively retailing Yon-Ka is someone you dont want dealing with your skin (assuming he or she will only be using Yon-Ka products). Were not challenging the credibility or skills of such an aesthetician, just their judgment in deciding to sell a skin-care line so fraught with products that cannot possibly help skin.

At the end of the day, its all just opinion; Paula has her opinion (is it based on using Yonka products on thousand of clients facesor even just her own?), and I have mine (having used Yonka products on literally thousands of faces as well as my own face for almost 30 years).

For more information about me and Yonka products, see:
UPDATE: 1/2016
Interesting. I just went to Paula Begouns websites, (both Paula’s Choice Skincare and Beautypedia Reviews), and I cant find Yonka product reviews anywhere. I tried every which-way to spell Yonka, but no reviews, only “Sorry, no results were found. I dont believe my little review here had anything to do with that, but I am curious as to why Paulas reviews of Yonka products, and there were many, arent available anymore. Interesting.


  1. Wow, what an unfortunate, poorly researched review by Paula Begoun on Yonka. I have been using Yonka products almost exclusively on my skin for about 17 years now, after Caroyln Ash introduced me to that line of skin care products when I first went to her many years ago for facials. My skin at 53 is beautiful. Just yesterday, in fact, someone who has known me for many years asked me if I ever use make up, since my skin looks so good. (And the answer is 'very little'.) I have never had skin irritation from any Yonka product whatsoever, despite having very reactive skin to traditional sun screens and synthetic fragrances. Even though, sadly, I no longer live near enough to Carolyn Ash to receive her facials, she has been an impeccable and responsive guide through the years for me as to which Yonka products suit me best. She is one of the finest, most knowledgeable and respected aestheticians I have ever encountered, and her two books on skin care, which I own, are extensive reference guides for professionals and lay people alike. And...as far as essential oils go, their benefits for the skin, as well as general health, are far reaching and well documented.

  2. The only way an aesthetician could stay in business is if the service, and the products they use, benefit skin for the most number of people. Carolyn, you use Yon-ka because it works. Your "judgment" would be wrong to use a product that, in your experience, didn't work for your clients! So, Paula's statement about aestheticians who use Yon-ka makes no sense!! In my opinion, most businesses devoted exclusively to facials and skin care tend to use quality product lines - the differences come down to approaches and personal preference.

  3. Thank you for this article! Well said! I'm an aesthetician in Toronto and having been using Yonka for over 15 years and I can honestly say that I have NEVER had a negative review from any clients regarding Yonka. I also work with numerous other skin lines and have had some negative reviews from the other lines I work with but never Yonka. Also, Yonka clients are fiercely loyal to Yonka. Paula couldn't be anymore misguided in her judgement of Yonka. Thank you once again for a great article.