24 Mar 2011

Beauty Review - SkinCeuticals Serum 10

In 2008 and quite suddenly I started suffering from late-onset acne (adult acne that manifests itself in the thirties). It was localised on the lower-face region and became quite unsightly. It was characterised by a combination of acne spots, skin blotchiness and flakiness. I had read about the condition previously and when personally confronted to it, I put it down to a combination of stress, fatigue and poor diet (contributing factors, although the real reasons are likely to be more complex and hormonal).

From having suffered a mild yet stubborn bout of acne in my late teenage years, I knew that lotions and potions alone would not be sufficient to treat the condition, while on the other hand I was reluctant to undergo another round of Roaccutane, as the harsh side-effects had put me off.

When out and about in Manchester city centre, I had spotted (pardon the pun) a newly-opened skin treatment clinic, in Kendals (House of Fraser): White Light Skin Clinic - rebranded shortly after as DestinationSkin. I went in and enquired about their IPL treatments (Intense Pulsed Light), and whether these would make a noticeable difference to my skin. I was told that they would and I signed on for two courses of IPL treatment, and never looked back! Despite some doubts after my initial buzz, the results were truly amazing. The spottiness, blotchiness and flakiness all cleared.

As soon as I started the course, I was advised (but not forced) to switch my skincare routine to SkinCeuticals products, in order to maximise the benefits from the IPL - especially the broad-spectrum UVA/UVB protection, to wear day in day out, even on cloudy and rainy days (when we may wrongly assume that skin is safe from the damaging sun effects!). By the way, I was told by DestinationSkin that they are not commissioned on any of the brands that they recommend/ sell to their clients.

I was also encouraged to start using a serum - which I had never done but read that once in your thirties you should consider using one - and to kick off the process with SkinCeuticals Serum 10 (10% pure vitamin C), SkinCeuticals' mildest dual formulation of ferulic acid and L-ascorbic acid. It is an antioxidant serum that offers added protection against UV skin damage and free radicals, and claims to reduce the visible signs of premature ageing like wrinkles, lines and brown spots.

SkinCeuticals is an American cosmeceutical brand. Its proposition is at the intersection between pharmaceutical and cosmetic care, on a mission to deliver pharmaceutical advancements in skincare. The brand is part of the top-end niche skincare market, and is building on further market penetration.

My skin therapist warned me that SkinCeuticals products didn't particularly 'smell nice' (apart from the subtly-scented Emollience moisturiser). So no pampering flowery smell nor - for that matter - luxe designer-style, sexy perfume-like packaging to demonstrate the premium nature of the brand. SkinCeuticals would rather keep sobriety in packaging and shy away from glossy advertising campaigns to concentrate their research budget and expertise on those formulations of active ingredients that will help deliver benefits to the skin. If the proverbial proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of the product is definitely in the application...

The Serum is so concentrated in active ingredients that you should use no more than 4-5 drops for the whole face, neck and chest, daily. So this is really a case of a little going a long way, and a bottle of Serum will last you months! Therefore keep this in mind when faced with the initial price outlay. For best results, you are advised to use the serum regularly, without interruption, although SkinCeuticals serums are effective for a minimum of 72 hours after application. Apply in the morning on cleansed skin, before moisturiser and UV protection sunscreen, in a thin-to-thick formulation order.

SkinCeuticals encourages its customers to increase the level of concentration, in line with skin tolerance, i.e. move from Serum 10 to Serum 15, when you feel your skin ready for it. You may experience some stinginess and/ or irritation at first, therefore space applications out until skin gets used to the treatment. The serum will oxidise naturally with time, i.e. turn darker in appearance, which won't affect its effectiveness.

It would be naive to expect miracles out of a bottle of serum alone. My skin tone has greatly improved, primarily thanks to the IPL, but I doubt the serum alone would have achieved such dramatic results all by itself. However as part of a maintenance programme, it is a great way to help your skin stay in tip-top condition. My skin looks and feels more supple. The serum facilitates skin cell renewal, and as a result my complexion is less dull than it would without. Now I have a confession. I haven't been as religious with the Serum as I should have. Also I should have moved to a higher serum level, instead of lingering in the comfort zone. So I'll make sure my next SkinCeuticals serum purchase reflects that intention.

Also to those of you who might be tempted to believe that a serum will magically erase sun spots or age spots on the face, it won't. It will fade them, like IPL does, but they will tend to return, especially if - like me - you (now) live on the Mediterranean shores, even if you do avoid the sun... That's the price to pay for that life-in-the-sun lifestyle, I'm afraid!

SkinCeuticals Serum 10 is available as a 30ml (1 fl.oz) bottle, RRP: $84.00, £54.00.

  • Proven added protection level to UV factor sunscreen used daily
  • Lightweight, easy to apply
  • A little goes a long way
  • Skin feels plumper, suppler, healthier
  • Cosmeceuticals brand, integrity
  • Metallic smell, may be perceptible
  • When the serum starts to naturally oxidise, its colouring might tint an area of the skin slightly if not applied light-handedly
  • Price (serums are not cheap).

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