Another skin-care first, at least in Lancome’s mind, is this new Youth Activating Cream Serum. Never mind that lots of products with all types of names have the exact same texture as this product. And in terms of activating youth, it doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in you know where of doing anything youthful or activating. Lancome’s claims imply that serums are inherently more powerful than creams or lotions, which isn’t the case; it all depends on the formulation. As always, the names of products and their descriptions are meaningless—what it contains is all that counts for your skin. You can call a chocolate cake health food, but if the ingredients prove otherwise what difference does it make what you call it?
Genifique Youth Activating Cream Serum is a new addition to Lancome’s original Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate. Although the Cream Serum version includes a greater amount of silicone and less skin-damaging alcohol than the Concentrate, it still isn’t a stellar formulation. Aside from the great advertising promotions you might have seen for this product, there is no reason to be excited or even mildly amused by this lackluster formula.
To delve a bit deeper, let me explain the pseudo-science accompanying Lancome’s claim that their product can “boost genes activity and stimulate production of youth proteins.” It is indeed true that there are genes in our skin responsible for generating proteins. These proteins create myriad pathways, including antioxidant pathways, that protect skin from intrinsic (internal) and external signs of aging. As we age (actually, as we accumulate more sun damage from years of exposure), these genes become less able to “express” themselves in a healthy manner. That leads to oxidation (free-radical damage) within the skin and a decreased ability for the gene-generated proteins and enzymes to handle oxidative stress. The result of these deficiencies is damaged collagen, inflammation, and unwanted changes to skin texture, such as roughness, increased sensitivity, and, yes, wrinkles (Sources: Planta Medica, October 2008, pages 1548–1559; Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research, February 2008, pages 79–88; and Free Radical Biology & Medicine, August 2008, pages 385–395).
What is Lancome’s solution to this issue? A yeast ingredient known as bifida ferment lysate. This same ingredient is the backbone of Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair Concentrate Recovery Boosting Treatment, which is overall a significantly better formula.
Aside from the interesting scientific angle, there is no research proving that this specific form of yeast has any anti-aging or gene-stimulating activity when applied to skin. There is limited research showing that yeast ferment filtrate (a compound different from bifida ferment lysate) does reduce oxidative skin damage in the presence of UV light, but this research also showed that many other antioxidants have a similar effect (Sources: Archives of Dermatological Research, April 2008, pages S51–S56; and Journal of Dermatological Science, June 2006, pages 249–257).
Lancome says their Genifique products took 10 years of research to develop, but given the formulas they’ve created, and the fact that Lauder beat them to it, a chemistry student could have done this a whole lot faster.
Other than of the bifida ferment lysate, you’re getting a mix of water, silicone, slip agents, film-forming agent, and alcohol. The rest of the formula is mostly preservatives, fragrance, mineral pigments that add shine, and fragrance chemicals. The fragrance ingredients can cause irritation and inflammation on their own, which breaks down collagen and is counterproductive to the claims. Irritation will diminish any youth-giving qualities this formula has (which is to say, zero, but still…). This also is true to a lesser extent for the alcohol in this product; while the amount is likely too little to be drying or irritating, it is still capable of causing free-radical damage, something that any ideal gene-assisting product should strive to reduce.
Lancome could have really hit a home run by formulating this with a brilliant range of antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, and no alcohol. As is, you’re left with a lightweight serum that might feel good, but doesn’t go much beyond that.
A skincare first: cream serum. The power of a serum with your daily dose of hydration Now, boost genes activity and stimulate production of youth proteins. Intensely nurtured, skin feels comforted, cushiony soft, retexturized. Skin’s hydration potential is maximized, its youthful quality returns: Smooth, enriched with moisture, as if infused with life.
Water, Dimethicone, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Dimethicone/ Vinyl Dimethicone/ Crosspolymer, Alcohol Denatured, Ammonium Polyacrylolydimethytaurate, Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Adenosine, Nylon-12, Chlorphenesin, Polysorbate 80, Salicycloyl Phytosphingosine, Dimethyisosorbide, Limonene, Xanthan Gum, Linalool, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Carbomer, Disodium-EDTA, Octyldodecanol, Methylparaben , Ceteareth-10, Citronellol, Laureth-4, 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.