Based on this product's name, there's no question it's all about improving dark spots and getting a more even skin tone. Those are great skin-care goals because, for most of us, years of sun damage has led to dark spots and patchy discoloration that make our skin look much older than it is. Sadly, this expensive product goes about "correcting" these concerns via cosmetic pigments rather than proven skin-lightening ingredients. Essentially, for almost $100, you're getting a cosmetic brightening effect rather than a true lightening of dark spots.
Lancome offers three versions of DreamTone, supposedly to match specific "pigmentation profiles," by which they mean the discoloration issues unique to those with fair skin, medium skin, and dark skin. That sounds logical, as if it's a more targeted way to deal with discolorations, but let's look at how Lancome breaks these "profiles" down:
- Pigmentation Profile 1 is for fair skin with dark spots, uneven skin tone, and redness.
- Pigmentation Profile 2 is for medium skin with dark spots, uneven skin tone, and sallowness.
- Pigmentation Profile 3 is for dark skin with dark spots (seeing the pattern?), uneven skin tone, and acne marks.
The problem with these profiles is that all of the issues that they segment out for the different skin colors can and do occur on ALL skin colors. Redness may be more apparent on fair skin, but those with medium to dark skin also can experience redness. The same is true for acne marks: On fair skin, these marks may be pink to red, on dark skin they tend to be tan to brown. So, the concerns overlap, and, for the most part, the treatment options remain the same, especially for dark spots from sun damage.
The only distinguishing element between each DreamTone product is the cosmetic pigments each contains. Profile 1 has a sheer yellow tint and subtle shimmer; Profile 2 has a soft, peachy pink tint with subtle shimmer; and Profile 3 has a subtle bronze tint with a hint of shimmer. Their effect on their intended skin tones can be pretty, but, for example, someone with fair skin could use the Profile 2 product just as well as someone with dark skin—and someone with fair skin could use Profile 3, although they'd look a bit tanned.
In terms of ingredients to lighten dark spots, the only hope comes from the ingredient hydroxyphenoxy propionic acid. Present in each DreamTone product, the only information about this ingredient's ability to lighten dark spots comes from the company that sells it—and that research isn't available for scrutiny. As a result, it's truly a leap of faith that this will work, or that Lancome included an effective amount of it. (Each DreamTone formula contains more alcohol than it does this potentially helpful ingredient.) We'd rather use skin-lightening products with proven ingredients, and trust that you do, too!
As is true for most Lancome treatment products, each DreamTone formula contains a potentially irritating amount of alcohol and is highly fragranced. The fragrant ingredients have documented research proving they irritate skin, so, although your nose may be happy, your skin's rebelling (perhaps silently, as skin is very good at hiding when it's being irritated). See More Info for details on why daily use of highly fragrant products is a problem.
On the upside, Lancome peppers each DreamTone formula with some intriguing antioxidants and skin-repairing sodium hyaluronate. Although that's great, you can get those ingredients from a variety of less expensive, and less potentially irritating, products—including those that stand a very good chance of lightening dark spots and addressing an uneven skin tone. Check out our list of Best Skin-Lightening Products for our top picks.
- Each "Pigmentation Profile" shade has an attractive brightening effect on skin.
- Feels silky and leaves skin smooth.
- Contains some intriguing antioxidants.
- Doesn't contain any ingredients proven to lighten dark spots.
- Expensive given it cannot make good on its lightening claims.
- Highly fragrant, plus contains a potentially irritating amount of pro-aging alcohol.
- The customization for each skin tone is more gimmicky than useful.
Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
Introducing New DreamTone, 3 barely-tinted serums to visibly correct dark spots, color imperfections and uneven skin tone. Customized for fair skin tone - Dark Spots - Uneven Skin Tone – Redness.
Aqua/Water, Cyclohexasiloxane, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol, Squalane, Isopropyl Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Polysilicone-11, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Hydroxyphenoxy Propionic Acid, Grifola Frondosa Fruiting Body Extract, Carbomer, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hydroxide, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Mannitol, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyltauramide/Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Disodium EDTA, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-15, Ethylhexyl Hydroxystearate, Acrylates Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, CI 19140/Yellow 5, CI 75470/Carmine, CI 77163 Bismuth Oxychloride, CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Geraniol, Eugenol, Limonene, Citronellol, Benzyl Alcohol, Parfum/Fragrance.
French flair, free gifts with purchase, constant magazine ads, and attractive packaging impel women to seek out the Lancome counter. Once you're there, though, unless you're captured by the enticing claims, the skin-care products are resoundingly dull, and we mean really, really dull (the makeup is a different story). With new research and developments in skin care many cosmetics companies typically improve their formulas, even if just in a small way. That’s not the case with Lancome, which tends to raise their prices while producing lackluster, ordinary formulas with little benefit for skin.
Even more shocking is that their most expensive skin-care items tend to be the most disappointing, usually for what they lack rather than for what they contain. It's startling to realize that their priciest moisturizer is remarkably similar to dozens of other Lancome creams priced more reasonably (but still too high when you consider what you're getting for the money). It seems that all it takes to justify the excessive prices is a good story based around a rare ingredient and claims of delivering a younger look. What a shame so many consumers are taken in by this kind of marketing mumbo jumbo.
L'Oreal-owned Lancome, along with L'Oreal's own skin-care products sold at the drugstore, has fallen well behind their competition. For all their lofty claims and beautiful models, many other companies leave them in the dust. Most of the Lauder companies (Clinique, Estee Lauder), along with Dove, and Olay have skin-care formularies that consistently outperform those of Lancome and L'Oreal in terms of what substantiated research has shown is necessary to have healthy, more wrinkle- and age-resistant skin. Lancome claims to understand women, and they certainly know how to entice them with pretty packaging and scientific-sounding claims. It would be far better if they had an intimate understanding of what it really takes for skin to look its best and function optimally.
The biggest improvement Lancome has made is that almost all of their sunscreens now include the right UVA-protecting ingredients. Who knows why it took them so long to get this straightened out (L'Oreal is no stranger to this issue, as they have developed and patented new UVA filters throughout the years), but it is now easier than ever to find a reliable sunscreen from Lancome. Given their prominence and presence in department stores around the world, Lancome isn't easy to ignore. My suggestion is to look beyond most of the skin care and focus on what they do best: makeup (especially foundations and mascaras).
Note: Unless mentioned otherwise, all Lancome products contain fragrance.
For more information about Lancome, owned by L'Oreal, call (800) 526-2663 or visit www.lancome.com.
L'Oreal-owned Lancome is a stellar, French-bred collection of makeup that remains the best reason to shop this line. Because most of Lancome's skin-care products have problematic elements (be it jar packaging, insufficient sun protection, or dated formulas), it is a relief to find that, for the most part, the colorful side of their business has more than its share of innovative products. We enjoyed the fact that no matter where we shopped, Lancome's counter personnel were friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful. There's a lot to keep track of, and Lancome deserves credit for keeping their salespeople so well informed.
If you're looking for a force to reckon with for foundations, Lancome is a must-see. They continue to offer some of the most elegant, silky formulas anywhere and in a color range that is overwhelmingly neutral, whether your skin is porcelain or ebony. The only troubling aspect is that most of Lancome's foundations with sunscreen do not contain adequate UVA protection or the SPF rating is too low. Lancome obviously knows about the risks with these issues (after all, they market ecamsule, their version of the UVA-protecting ingredient Mexoryl SX, and brag about its UVA range). And considering that, we are not recommending as many of their foundations as we have in previous editions of this book. Beyond this major gripe, you will discover that Lancome has a well-deserved reputation for their fantastic mascaras, and that their latest powders and eyeshadows apply with a silkiness that makes them gratifying to work with. The rest of the makeup encompasses many valid choices, but before you commit to Lancome, consider the similar options available for less from sister companies L'Oreal and Maybelline New York. Striking a balance among the best of each of these lines will give you first-class makeup that beautifies without breaking the bank.
Note: Lancome is categorized as a brand that tests on animals because its products are sold in China. Although Lancome does not conduct animal testing for its products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brands state that they don’t test on animals “unless required by law.” Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Paula’s Choice Research Team.