Product reviews – Skin care – Face Part I

I last wrote about my skin care regime and products back in February, and thought it time for an update;  what I’m currently using, how the products have fared and a few reviews of new products too.  I’m afraid the full post is a bit long [understatement!] so I’ve divided it into two parts.  Feel free to just skim-read or skip it entirely if all this girly stuff is not your cuppa tea.

My new favourite skin care line back then was Ultraceuticals [yep possibly worst brand name ever] and I’m still incredibly happy with it.   It’s a great range, and the proof is my skin is looking the best it ever has;  like the skin of a clean living healthy 25 year old, which is kinda nice when one is 39!  It looks and feels really smooth and supple, with a very fine velvety-soft texture.  My skin is dry / sensitive and the products I use have been most effective;  the products for oily / combo skins get equally positive reviews.  It’s quite unusual for one line to treat all skin types equally well. 

As far as wrinkles and lines go, well you all know I’m super sceptical but this stuff has made a visible difference.  Frown lines have reduced, in particular my “pain line” [one line that crosses through an eyebrow and deepens depending how much distress I’m in], and I have hardly any lines around my eyes.  Sure there are laugh lines and I don’t look like an expressionless over-Botoxed freak, hello Nicole Kidman, but in general there has been a major improvement in the past few months. 

I’ve re-purchased several items in the line since my first experiments in November 2007.  At first glance the products aren’t dirt cheap, but nor are they anywhere as pricey as Estee Lauder, La Mer or Chanel [$ 550.00+ for a moisturiser?  You have GOT to be fucking with my head] and as they actually work and last a long time it’s worth the spend.  I won’t be looking around for replacement brands, I know that much. 

Ultraceuticals Even Skintone Serum  [AUD 85.00 = 25 ml]

Just what it says; it’s a serum that evens the skin tone.  It contains high levels of AHAs, BHAs, salicylic acid and lactic acid as well as other fruit acids.  While that mix sounds a bit scary [Acid!  Thrown in my face!  Eeeeee!] it’s a very balanced formula and used correctly there’s no possibility of harm.  The AHAs and BHAs work on reducing the appearance of wrinkles and lines, and moisturising the skin, while the acids gently exfoliates and evens age spots and hyper-pigmentation as a result of aging and sun damage.  

Known affectionately as ESTS on the Adore Beauty Forum where it’s one of the top five bestselling products, this little bottle with eye dropper is wonderfully effective.  My skin tone and texture has really improved, it’s smooth with no blotchy patches, and even the redness I get so badly between my eyebrows / on my forehead, upper lip and chin has visibly reduced.  That redness is caused by my skin being so fragile and transparent that the capillaries show through [they just about throb when I’m stressed out or hot] so the ESTS combined with the Ultra Moisturiser Cream in particular [see below] are really helping to heal and condition my skin.

I apply this after cleansing in the evening, followed by moisturiser.  Just a few drops on my fingertips is all that’s needed, then gently stroked and patted over my face.  I usually give the “pain line” a bit of a massage to get the ingredient worked in.  I can’t comment on the scientific value of doing this but it’s certainly helped the line in question!

Ultraceuticals Ultra A Treatment Serum  [AUD 95.00 = 45 ml]

While the ESTS is a slightly oily viscous liquid dispensed with an eye-dropper, the Ultra A Treatment Serum  is a thick-ish cream in a tube.  Like the ESTS you only need a small amount, a pea-sized dollop for the whole face.  It contains a high concentration of Vitamins A and E, BHAs and green tea for additional antioxidant wallop.   This cocktail is designed to reduce the appearance of fine lines and sun damage [eg hyper-pigmentation]. 

Some may find the texture a bit off-putting at first, as it has a slightly gritty feel due to the Vitamin A being delivered in tiny capsules, but they dissolve and soak in to the skin as you pat and stroke the product over the face.  It gives an extra hydration hit as well as the other skin care benefits.  I use it in the morning after my shower / cleanse and before moisturiser.

The “A” line suits me the best, I’ve tried some of the Vitamin C products but my skin has reacted badly; I think they are more effective for normal / oily / combo skin types than to sensitive / dry types.

Ultraceuticals Ultra A Eye Treatment Serum  [AUD 85.00 = 20 ml]

This is a great eye cream, very moisturising and gentle.  Like the Ultra A Treatment Serum it has high levels of AHAs, Vitamin E, Vitamin A [retinol], and other goodies.

Ultraceuticals Ultra Moisturiser Cream  [AUD 60.00 = 75 ml]

WOW is all I can really say about this moisturiser.  It’s the greatest.  Like the rest of the Ultraceuticals line it has lots of yummy ingredients including ceramides, hyaluronan and Vitamin E to moisturise and revitalise the skin.  When I first discovered the Ultraceuticals line my skin was in awful condition [following a bad experience with Dermalogica] and the Ultra Moisturiser Cream deeply hydrated and soothed my stressed out skin.  It’s beautifully creamy and moisturising, makes the sin feel all plumped and radiant with none of that greasy-shiny look and sensation of some rich moisturisers.

The moisturiser, serum and the ESTS just seem to keep on going; you think you should be due to run out and the stuff keeps coming.  It’s the Magic Pudding of skin care!  That’s another thing I love about this line, there’s no waste, you get every last bit out of every tube, unlike some brands that stop pumping and squeezing when they are still a third full.  And despite lasting a good while, if kept in a cool dark place they have a good life-time, I’ve not had anything go “off”.

Ultraceuticals Ultra Protective Moisturiser SPF 30+  [AUD 60.00 = 150 ml]

WOW again.  I love this product so much, I am never going to consider another sunscreen ever, ever again.  Yep, it is  THE best face sunscreen, it has all the pluses and none of the minuses of most other moisturising facial sunscreens.  It gives serious protection against the ravages of the sun being SPF 30+ with both UVA and UVB blocks and Zinc Oxide so it’s a chemical as well as physical sun-block.

Plus, like it’s counterpart the Ultra Moisturiser Cream it is a gorgeous moisturiser with lots of skin care benefits.  Unlike most powerful facial sunscreens it doesn’t look all ghostly white and pasty when applied, nor is it greasy-shiny.  It makes skin look smooth, matte and even, and is a good base for make up too.  The tube is huge [150 ml] and lasts ages; even with daily slatherings on face and neck mine has been going for at least eight months.  I should be due to run out soon, but there’s that Magic Pudding Effect . . .

A few months ago I experimented with Olay Complete Defence SPF 30+ Daily UV Moisturising Lotion  [AUD 25.00 = 30 ml] but after a few weeks I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth it.  The Olay looks horribly greasy and shiny on me, my make up slides off, and dirt adheres and mixes like you wouldn’t believe.  After a couple hours spent grooming and riding horses my face was a mess of thick brown mud, I’m not exaggerating.  There’s also the basic economics; do you pay AUD 25.00 for 30 ml of greasy crap or AUD 60.00 for 150 ml of amazingly wonderful product?  You don’t need to spend much time or have a massive IQ to work that one out.

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