Isagenix is a health and wellness brand that sells a variety of weight loss and beauty products. It’s a multi-level-marketing (MLM) company, and most of our previous reviews of MLM brands (like our review of Plexus supplements) have been unfavorable as these companies can be more focused on marketing than sound science.
In this article we’ll review the ingredients in some of Isagenix’s top products based on medical research to determine if we consider them likely to be safe and effective, and whether we believe they're worth the considerable prices. We will also highlight some ethical concerns we have about Isagenix's business model.
Isagenix Collagen Elixir Review
One of Isagenix's most popular products is their Collagen Elixir. Collagen is an effective anti-aging ingredient, given that it has significant research backing and is safe and non-toxic. It's the core structural protein in skin, and when taken supplementally it can help reverse the effects of decreasing collagen levels with age.
A medical review published in the Dermatology Practical & Conceptual journal in 2022 concluded the following after analyzing data from clinical trials on collagen for skin: "Current research reveals that collagen use could result in a reduction of wrinkles, rejuvenation of skin, and reversal of skin aging."
The 5 gram (g) collagen dose in Isagenix Collagen Elixir is an effective dose, as medical research documents the effective dose range to be between 2.5 g and 10 g per day. We typically recommend a 10 g dose per day, since there are no risks or side effects to collagen supplementation and this appears to be the maximally-effective dose.
This drink contains a proprietary (prop) blend with some exotic botanical ingredients like goji extract powder and aloe vera juice powder. While these are nutritious, whole foods ingredients, their total dose is 160 milligrams (mg) which is relatively low. We have no issue with the inclusion of these ingredients, but we haven't come across any medical research suggesting they are effective for anti-aging, nor does Isagenix share any, so we'll consider them ineffective.
Isagenix’s collagen product also contains two additive ingredients we recommend avoiding for health reasons.
Citric acid is the first, and this flavoring and preservative ingredient has been shown in medical research to contribute to inflammatory diseases in rare cases in humans. It can be derived from citrus fruits, but over 99% of citric acid used in manufacturing is derived from a fungus called Aspergillus niger, as reported in the above-linked study, and this fungus can be allergenic.
Isagenix Collagen Elixir also contains natural flavors, which we recommend avoiding because this is a broad category descriptor that doesn’t state which exact chemical compounds were used for the flavoring. Consumers can’t determine if the flavoring agents used are safe and non-toxic without a description of which compounds were used.
This product is quite expensive. It costs $150 for a one-time purchase of 30 bottles (as a "Guest" -- "Preferred Customers" get slightly lower prices).
Overall we would not recommend Isagenix Collagen Elixir due to the inclusion of two additive ingredients we consider questionable from a health perspective, and due to the high price. We do believe this product is likely to be effective for skin aging, given the effective collagen dose, but we believe there are superior alternatives available at lower prices.
Our Collagen Recommendation
We recommend Bulletproof Collagen Powder to consumers interested in improving facial skin appearance and reducing visible signs of aging.
Bulletproof collagen contains no questionable additive ingredients like citric acid or natural flavor: its only ingredient is hydrolyzed collagen sourced from grass-fed animals.
Bulletproof Collagen costs $43.95 for a one-time purchase at the time of updating this article, and contains 50 servings of 10 g collagen. This equates to a price of $0.88 per 10 g serving.
Isagenix Collagen Elixir currently costs $150 for a one-time purchase and contains 15 servings of 10 g collagen. This equates to a price of $10 per 10 g serving.
Isagenix's collagen costs over 10x as much for the maximally-effective 10 g collagen serving we recommend.
Isagenix Shakes Review
Isagenix sells a number of different flavored shakes, which the brand suggests can aid in weight loss efforts. The ingredients list above is from Isagenix "IsaLean" shake in the Cookies & Cream flavor.
This shake provides 24 g of protein, which is an effective dose for muscle building and recovery acording to medical research. The linked study found that a range between 20 g to 25 g of protein post-workout maximizes muscle synthesis.
This shake contains the sweetener fructose which adds 4 g sugar per serving. Fructose intake has been associated with cardiometabolic disease in medical research, and we recommend avoiding it entirely (except that consumed from whole fruits which has not been shown to be harmful in non-diabetic patients).
IsaLean also contains natural flavors which we covered earlier, and a wide range of synthetic vitamins and minerals. We typically recommend that consumers avoid products with added synthetic vitamins and minerals, because these are added to so many processed foods today that the overall consumption may push blood levels of certain vitamins into unhealthy ranges.
In fact, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reports that Isagenix had to recall several products due to over-fortification with vitamins that caused some consumers to become sick.
We recommend only supplementing with vitamins and minerals based on a documented deficiency, or based on a doctor's recommendation. We haven't come across any medical evidence suggesting that this seemingly-random blend of vitamins and minerals in Isagenix's shake would aid in weight loss efforts or improve general wellness.
We would not recommend Isagenix shakes based on the additive ingredients.
Isagenix Cleanse Review
Isagenix sells liquid and powder products called Cleanse for Life which the brand claims help to detoxify the body. The ingredients label above is from the Peach Mango Cleanse for Life liquid.
The first active ingredient is alfalfa stem and leaf extract which appears to be an effective ingredient. A clinical trial published in 2021 found that alfalfa extract had an antioxidant effect on animals and helped them detoxify from heavy metal poisoning.
However the doses used in the study were significantly higher than what could be included in Cleanse for Life. The animals received a minimum dose of 250 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) body weight, which would equate to a 22,500 mg dose for a man weighing 90 kg. The entire prop blend dosage in this supplement (of which alfalfa extract is only one ingredient) is under 2,000.
Bilberry extract is another potentially effective ingredient in this formulation. It's been shown in a medical study to cause epigenetic (expression of genes) changes that enhance detoxification pathways. This was an in vitro (test tube) study, which is a weaker standard of evidence than studies with human participants.
While some of the ingredients in this formulation may enhance natural detoxification processes, we cannot determine for sure because the ingredients are included in a prop blend, which means individual ingredient dosages aren't reported.
We also believe that the potential negative health effects of added sugar, citric acid, natural flavor and the preservative potassium sorbate may offset any health benefits from this botanical blend.
This product, like many sold by Isagenix, contains a vitamin and mineral blend. It concerns us to consider how high of a supplemental vitamin dose some consumers could intake per day if they were using multiple Isagenix products.
We do not recommend this product nor do we generally see a medical need for detoxification supplements. The body detoxifies via the kidneys and liver, and only in rare medical circumstances (like mercury poisoning) is medically-assisted detoxification warranted. We would recommend that patients speak with their doctor to get blood tests for toxins if they believe they have been exposed to toxins which need to be eliminated.
Questionable Business Model
We consider the business model of MLMs to be generally unethical and irresponsible. MLMs may profit by taking advantage of people without a business education who are interested in entrepreneurship. The term “Isagenix ruined my life” gets 2,900 monthly Google searches at the time of updating this article, according to search software tool SEMRush.
The CBC report referenced earlier in this article found that the median income in the top 10% of Isagenix salespeople was $7,421 before expenses.
A bigger concern we have in regard to MLM health products is that the business model relies on members (who often have no scientific credentials or education) to market their products on social media. This allows a brand to defer liability, and can incentivize members of the MLM to make all sorts of false and uneducated claims about the products.
Anyone with a social media account who has contacts involved in an MLM is probably aware of this trend. We believe it's dangerous for people with no scientific background to be making health claims about product efficacy and safety, which is why we recommend that health and ethics conscious consumers avoid buying from MLMs.