Strengths: Almost all of the sunscreens contain one of the recommended UVA-protecting actives; a good sunscreen for those with sensitive skin; one good cleanser; the self-tanner is great for dry skin; a few worthwhile products in the men's line.
Weaknesses: Very expensive; many products contain fragrance components that can cause irritation; some of the sunscreens contain embarrassingly low SPF ratings; mostly average yet overpriced moisturizers; no reliable exfoliants; no skin-lightening products; no effective anti-acne products; masks that are bound to confuse skin; claims that entice consumers to believe various plants will prevent wrinkles and revitalize skin.
Elemis products are sold at upscale department stores, such as Nordstrom, and in select spas. The company describes itself as having the most successful professional spa and anti-aging range of products in the world—quite a boast, especially considering that we've never seen Elemis listed on any review or comparison of the financial status of cosmetics companies, and we review that sort of information frequently. I'm comfortable wagering that Aveda, Darphin, Decleor, Sisley, Sothys, or even Yon-Ka have greater sales than Elemis each year, but we suppose they're hoping the fiduciary boast helps establish their credibility stateside. Even if their numbers were accurate, popularity does not necessarily equate to quality; cigarettes and getting a tan are still popular, and both are terrible for skin.
Just like every spa and salon line we've ever reviewed, Elemis uses the exact same approach to skin care that their competition does—touting the miraculous properties of essential oils and the benefits of aromatherapy. Of course, Elemis wants you to believe that their blend of nature and science is the only way to keep your skin looking young and wrinkle-free for as long as possible. As is true for many lines, Elemis has followers, and some of the customers we overheard at our local Nordstrom store were excited about this line. One woman actually commented to her husband: "Look, honey, these are the products used in that expensive spa we went to, so they must be good!" Although we really wanted to tell her that spa products and price tags have nothing to do with formulary excellence, we kept my mouth shut; we get in enough trouble at cosmetics counters as it is.
On first glance we weren't real enthused about this line, and after extensive review and researching their products, we are even less enthused, plus a bit irritated at the paucity of value represented. For the most part, this is nothing more than an average collection of products whose elitist spa positioning allows them to get away with charging an exorbitant amount of money for products that cannot possibly do what they say. Even worse, they may hurt your skin in the process due to the irritating fragrant plant extracts they contain. As expected, sun protection as part of daily skin care is given little attention (their daytime moisturizers top out at a whopping SPF 7), while there are numerous moisturizers and serums claiming to increase skin's dermal respiration, oxygenate tissues, and make inelastic, sagging skin a thing of the past. If you're the type to fall for such false promises and want plants galore, there's not much else we can say to keep you from exploring this line. But if you're skeptical and concerned chiefly with getting the best possible skin care for your needs (and dollars), then Elemis is a line you can safely and absolutely ignore (if you want to splurge there are far better options).
Falling for the Elemis spa trappings, potent fragrances, and "we're-imported-so-we're-better" philosophy won't provide your skin with the litany of ingredients it needs to function at its peak and to resist signs of aging that can be legitimately addressed with state-of-the-art products.
For more information about Elemis, call (800) 423-5293 or visit www.elemis.com.