Lacura

Lacura At-A-Glance

Strengths: Inexpensive (but at the price of good skin care); one good facial scrub; one good eye cream, though it is easily replaced with a well-formulated facial moisturizer; very good moisturizing mask for dry skin; excellent lipstick and lip gloss.

Weaknesses: Jar packaging for moisturizers, so the ingredients don't remain stable; limited distribution; most of the skin-care products are intensely fragranced; no sunscreens; no products to address acne or skin discolorations; no testers and the makeup is packaged so you cannot see the color without making a purchase; average powder blush; the waterproof mascara isn't waterproof and has a cloying fragrance.

Lacura is a Germany-based cosmetics line that is exclusive to Aldi, a chain of grocery stores found mostly in Midwest and East Coast states. Despite the limited distribution, the Cosmetics Cop Team has repeatedly been asked to review Lacura.

Lacura products made a big splash in Europe because of their low, and we mean really low, prices. Their arrival in the United States has garnered the same hopeful enthusiasm among budget-conscious shoppers.

So, is the hype deserved? Yes and no. Yes, because their best products, most of which are makeup, have prices that are tough to ignore; on the other hand, a resounding "No", because a lot of the skin-care products have problems that are hard to ignore. When products are badly formulated, any savings in terms of price are just not worth it; they're just a waste of your money.

Lacura did a great job with their lipstick and lip gloss as well as their pressed powder and eyeshadow. The color selection isn't extensive, but, for the most part, the shades are attractive and contemporary. It's unfortunate that the Lacura displays in Aldi stores don't have testers, because the makeup is packaged in such a way that it's impossible to see the color without prying the box open (and the color swatch on the box is a poor facsimile of what's inside).

There really isn't anything about the skin-care products that's worthy of your attention. The only options worth considering are the Regenerating Eye Cream, the Ultra Firming Mask, and the inexpensive three-packs of various lip balms, but even then you'll be dumbing down your skin-care routine.

The rest of the products are so far below average it's hard to see bottom. Almost every skin-care item has a strong, wafting fragrance; it's too bad that fragrance isn't skin care. All of the facial moisturizers are packaged in jars, so even though they do contain some decent ingredients, they break down in the presence of air.

Truly disappointing is Lacura's lack of options for acne, skin discolorations, and sun damage—there are no products to address these common concerns. Plus, most of the products are geared toward women with dry skin and little else.

One more point: If you're looking for a reliable daytime moisturizer with sunscreen (and you should be), Lacura absolutely isn't the line to shop. Although their facial moisturizers contain sunscreen ingredients, they are not listed as active (which is permissible in Europe because sunscreens are not regulated as over-the-counter drugs like they are in the States) and the products do not list SPF ratings, which is NOT permissible anywhere in the world if you are making a sun protection claim, as Lacura is. This means you haven't a clue about how much sun protection you'll get, and sun protection isn't something you want to remain clueless about!

For more information about Lacura, visit www.aldi.com. The company does not provide a phone number.

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