Beauty and the beast – Skin care update

Well after all that lovey-dovey stuff, I figured I’d continue in the “girly” vein and write an update on my skin and the products I’m using now [further to my post here way back in July 2006.  Yep, definitely time for a review].

Toward the end of last year my skin was looking truly terrible.  Perhaps not leprosy-level terrible or even terrible by others’ standards, but I’ve always had good skin and this was bloody awful, for me.  I’ve never had acne, only the occasional hormone- or stress-related pimple, it’s normal-to-dry and fairly balanced, and tends to look very fine-textured and smooth.  The only “issue” I have are these red blotchy patches on my forehead, my upper lip and chin.  It’s not exactly rosacea although it shares many similarities;  it’s more a kind of birth-mark.  Or perhaps it’s just the capillaries are more visible because my skin is so soft and translucent [due to the collagen imbalance of the connective tissue disease].

So … toward the end of last year my skin was giving me an awful time.  The bitch.  It was even more blotchy and red than usual, I had raised acne-like lumps under the surface but not breaking out completely, and even though it felt kind of greasy and clogged it was so dry it was flaking in some areas.  Delightful.  All the medication I was on definitely had a lot to do with it [or rather, increased dosages of same], having been even more ill and bed-bound than usual, then add to that a good dose of hormones and depression.  Not the greatest combo.I wasn’t happy with the skin care products I was using, that’s for sure, but because I am so sceptical of the industry and don’t buy or experiment much with new products [because I am broke and will only pay for quality] it was going to be a challenge to find a new regime.  First step; research.

I’m a big one for research, whether I’m buying a kettle or a car, or a moisturiser.  I look up brands, ingredients, reviews and testimonials.  As mentioned, I’m sceptical and cynical of the skin care / make up industry and all it’s hype, so fads and “cult” products are O-U-T.   I am picky and have a highly tuned bullshit detector that’s set off in seconds at most skin care / make up counters when the sales staff get into their snake-oil routine.  Finally I have to get the very best for what I pay for.  I don’t mind shelling out; but it has to be damn well worth it.

My internet research led me to Adore Beauty, a well presented and no-bullshit Australian shopping site for beauty and cosmetic products.  They have pretty good pricing [although you can get some brands cheaper on Strawberrynet] and excellent service/delivery.  The site lists all product ingredients and in many cases has a decent spiel as to the science and active ingredients.  There are also honest reviews [raves or otherwise] from customers, and a lively forum with discussions on brands and trends.

The brand I was drawn to is called Ultraceuticals, which is possibly one of the worst brand names ever and would have turned me right off if the products and ingredients hadn’t spoken for themselves.  The product line was initially developed by a CSIRO scientist* so it has a firm grounding in real science R&D.

* CSIRO is an Australian independent R&D group, the Commonwealth Science and Industry Research Organisation; they have many many different divisions like Petrochemical, Fisheries and Marine Environment [where I once worked, the best job I’ve ever had], Engineering, and apparently even cosmetic chemistry.  Yes, there is such a thing and such beasties as cosmetic chemists – check out the wonderful site The Beauty Brains if you don’t believe me [linky-link on the left].

There are many active and stable ingredients such as AHAs and antioxidants in usable and useful proportions – you will find that many product lines touting themselves as miracle anti-ageing creams [and jaysis do I hate that term – “anti-ageing” my bum] have the advertised miracle component in proportions of about 0.00000001% of the total amount.  The line is quite minimalist in comparison to many department store brands like Clarins and Lancome, but it’s a very thorough and comprehensive one.

I started off with one of Ultraceuticals’ small trial sized sets so I could get a good feel for how effective the products really were.  The ability to purchase sets tailor-made for your skin care with good-sized tubes containing enough product for a few weeks is sheer brilliance, and why don’t more companies don’t do that?  I’m not going to shell out hundreds of dollars on a regime when I don’t know if it is going to suit me or not.

Anyway I was most pleasantly surprised – exceedingly impressed, even – way, way more than I have been by anything else I’ve encountered.  The products made a huge visible and feel-able difference in a relatively short time, maybe even within a week?  After three weeks I was ready to buy full sizes.  Now, after a few months using a few carefully chosen products my skin is looking pretty damn gorgeous, if I do say so myself.  It is smooth, soft, glowing, and clear.  Even the red blotchies have visibly calmed down.

The official Ultraceuticals site is here.  As well as online at Adore Beauty, Ultraceuticals is available at David Jones in Perth and other select department stores.  I found the salesgirls to be very nice and not at all pushy, and they have a straightforward scientific approach which I obviously appreciated.  I don’t know if it is available outside of Australia / New Zealand, but if any UK or US people are interested, I’ll find out for you.

NB:  I’m not being paid for this testimonial but maybe I should be!  How do I rate as a beauty blogger, then?

. . . . . . . . . .

Following are the products I use.  There are a couple others I want to try including the Ultra A Hydrating Booster, which is a hydrating mask.  As I said the range is small but comprehensive; there are products for dry and dull skin – that would be me – to oily / combination skin and acne.  The reviews on Adore Beauty for the oily / acne range have been very good.

Ultra Moisturiser Cream – a lovely moisturiser with lots of AHAs and antioxidants [Vitamin E etc], it has a light creamy texture and is very hydrating, not at all thick and gloopy.  It absorbs beautifully into the skin and leaves skin feeling smooth and soft and plump.  For all skin types.  I use this either in the morning if I’m not going out in the sun in which case I use the Protective Moisturiser [see below] and at night after the Even Skintone Serum [see below].

Ultra Protective Moisturiser SPF 30+ – an excellent UVA and UVB sunscreen with green tea and other active ingredients so it is very moisturising and a good skin care product as well as a great sunscreen.  The best thing about it, apart from the SPF 30+ [the highest SPF in Australia] is that it doesn’t make your face all ghostly white and greasy like most high SPF sunscreens.  I use it right down and around my neck and cleavage and on my hands.  I put this on in the morning after a treatment product such as Ultra A Treatment Serum or Ultra C Facial Treatment Cream.

Even Skintone Serum – this, along with the Ultra Moisturiser Cream and the Protective Moisturiser, is the key “hero” product for me.  I noticed a huge difference after only a couple of days.  It does precisely what it says – it is a high powered serum [a concentrated product it comes in a small dark glass bottle with an eye-dropper and you need only a few drops but they go a long way] with loads of AHAs, antioxidants and other good stuff.  It lightens and evens skin tone and texture, calms blotchy and aggravated skin. It is also very moisturising and of course with all those AHAs it gently exfoliates too.   For all skin types.  I apply it at night after cleansing and before the moisturiser.

Ultra C Facial Treatment Cream [23 %] – a high strength treatment giving stable delivery of Vitamin C and antioxidants [Vitamin E, grape seed extract] which works to improve skin that has a rough texture, looks dull and uneven.  I use this in the morning before the Protective Moisturiser or you can use it at night instead of or after the Even Skintone Serum

[Very important: you must always always always wear a high SPF sunscreen over a Vitamin A / Retinol product otherwise you will get even more age spots, oops I mean “hyper-pigmentation”, which would kind of defeat the purpose.]  I haven’t worked out which one I prefer between this or the Ultra A Treatment Serum yet but I think this one is the most effective and beneficial of the two.

Ultra A Treatment Serum – this is quite a high-strength product with Vitamin A and E, green tea and BHAs and is suitable for all skin types but especially for oily skin and acne.  I don’t quite like the texture as it seemed a bit gritty but I don’t know if I got a dud tube or not.  I will continue to use this for a bit as I basically like the actual product and it’s effect.

Ultra A Eye Treatment Cream – a gorgeous, ultra-light eye cream, this is very moisturising plus it has lactic acid [AHAs}, Vitamin A and Vitamin E [antioxidants] so is excellent for those fine crêpey wrinkles around the eye, puffiness and dark circles.  It’s much the nicest and most effective eye cream I’ve ever used, and generally I think most skin care lines’ claims viz a viz eye creams are a load of bollocks.

Ultra Milk Cleanser – a really nice cleanser with antioxidants, it is light, very effective and not at all drying or tightening, I use it in the shower or to cleanse off my slap [Irish slang for make up] at night.  I like it a lot but I’m just as happy to use Neutrogena cleansers [Neutrogena is about the best “budget” skin care brand]; as far as I’m concerned it’s the moisturisers and serums that matter and where you spend your money.

Active Mineral Colour Compact – this is a powder/mineral compact foundation [I use #01 Ivory which is the lightest shade].  I’d never used a mineral foundation before – yes I know, last on the bandwagon as usual.  I’m really impressed with it and I did not expect to be.  It has quite amazing coverage of dark circles and red blotches, areas where I’d normally dab on concealer.  It is a light matte texture and looks very natural, and you don’t need to use much.

I’m loving this right now with the hot weather because honestly, who wants to feel like an oil slick what with wearing moisturiser, sunscreen AND liquid foundation and concealer?  After my moisturiser has soaked in a bit I use a big phoofy buffing brush [specifically, MAC # 182 Buffer Brush], swirl lightly in the compact, tap off a little then swirl over my face in circles and buff buff buff [very important to buff otherwise it will look cakey, same goes for all mineral foundations] to get the desired coverage and natural matte effect.

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  • How to Get Six Pack Fast  On Thursday 16 April 2009 at 1:25 am

    I read your posts for quite a long time and must tell you that your posts are always valuable to readers.

  • Rosacea Guy  On Saturday 27 June 2009 at 12:12 am

    Very interesting post. Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Caroline  On Friday 3 September 2010 at 9:35 pm


    I recently returned to UK from living in Sydney for 2 years and I am addicted to Ultraceuticals! Its the best face cream I have ever used. I havent been able to find it anywhere in the UK resulting in me asking friends in Australia to buy and post me my order.

    Do you know if there is an easier way to purchase from UK?


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