Just like Clinique’s Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector claims to rival “the leading prescription ingredient” (which is the gold standard, hydroquinone), this entry from Lancome makes the same boast. The difference is that Clinique uses a mix of ingredients with some promising research behind them, while Lancome defaults to little more than enticing marketing copy and limited research for a less impressive formula. However, neither formula is going to be as effective as prescription-strength hydroquinone (4% strength), a fact with which almost any dermatologist familiar with the research behind that active ingredient would agree.
Bright Expert Dark Spot Corrector has a lightweight, gel-like texture that slips easily over skin, but doesn’t contain much that can significantly lighten sun-induced brown skin discolorations. Lancome maintains this product is clinically proven, but the results of their study were not peer-reviewed or published, so you’re left to take their word for it.
The ingredients in this product that may have some skin-lightening ability (though research is limited) include yeast extract and ellagic acid. Of these two, the research on ellagic acid is more compelling, especially because we don’t know what type of yeast Lancome includes in this product. Certain strains of yeast have some intriguing research pertaining to skin discolorations, while generic “yeast extract,” which is what Lancome lists on the ingredient list, does not.
Studies have shown that ellagic acid (a polyphenol antioxidant that may be natural or synthetic; a natural source is pomegranate rind) works as well as the skin-lightening ingredient arbutin on patients with brown discolorations. The problem? There’s only one small study that examined topical application. The other studies have shown oral administration of ellagic acid has the same effect, but made no mention of its use in skin-care products (Sources: The Journal of Dermatology, September 2008, pages 570–574; Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, October 2006, pages 383–388; and Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, December 2005, pages 2368–2373).
Given the lack of substantial research on ellagic acid, it’s surprising Lancome chose it over more thoroughly researched options such as various licorice extracts, arbutin, kojic acid, or even over-the-counter strengths of hydroquinone. What we don’t know is how much ellagic acid is needed to produce a result on brown spots, but the amount of it in this product is likely less than 1%, so who knows what results, if any, you may see.
Beyond the paltry potential for skin lightening, the amount of fragrance ingredients in this highly fragrant product is likely to cause irritation, even if you cannot see it, and that’s detrimental to your skin. Please see More Info for details on why fragrance ingredients almost always spell trouble.
- Lightweight gel texture works well under serums or moisturizers.
- Contains a couple of ingredients that might improve brown spots.
- Highly fragrant, and several of the fragrance ingredients can cause irritation that hurts skin’s ability to heal and produce healthy collagen.
- Limited research to support the use of the skin-lightening ingredients in this product over other known skin-lightening options.
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).
Faster dark spot reduction in just 4 weeks. Clinically-proven against the leading prescription ingredient. More than 12 years of research on hyperpigmentation and skin unevenness. So powerful that an independent clinical study proves even faster results on dark spot correction than the leading prescription ingredient.
Water, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Methyl Gluceth-20, Dimethicone, Octyldodecanol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Tocopherol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Soy Flour, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Stearic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Yeast Extract, PEG-100 Stearate, PPG-5-Cetreth-20, Ethylparaben, Ellagic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Polyacrylamide, Salicylic Acid, Sunflower Seed Extract, Xanthan Gum, Benzyl Salicylate, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Linalool, Peppermint Leaf Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Alphaisomethyl Ionone, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Rosa Centifolia Extract, Cetyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Tetrasodium EDTA, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Laureth-7, Glyceryl Stearate, Licorice Root Extract, 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.