Cellumination Essence Hydrating Serum (Discontinued)

by SK-II   
$220 - 1 fl. oz.
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Skin Care > Serums > Serums
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The SK-II line has no shortage of serums, and all of them are expensive. All of them contain a type of yeast the company has dubbed Pitera, which makes you wonder when skin will reach a saturation point. After all, if Pitera is such a miraculous ingredient for skin (there's no proof of this), why not include a mega-dose of it in one superstar anti-aging product? Why does it have to appear in every product, and why does each successive item have to cost so much? I could go on with this line of questioning, but what you need to know is that Pitera or any other type of yeast aren't amazing ingredients for skin. They're not useless, but they're also not the fountain of youth or the reason spokeswoman Cate Blanchett's porcelain skin looks so beautiful in ads for this product.

Getting past the Pitera, Cellumination Essence Hydrating Serum is far and away one of the most impressive products SK-II offers. Unlike most of their other serums, this one contains a brilliant blend of cell-communicating ingredient niacinamide with silky slip agents and an impressive blend of antioxidants. Its lightweight texture is ideal for normal to oily skin; those with dry skin will find this serum doesn't provide enough moisture. The niaciamide stands a good chance of helping to fade skin discolorations, though you don't have to spend this much to get this ingredient.

As for the claims, all they're really stating is that this serum makes skin's surface smoother so it is better able to reflect light. Of course, hundreds of products make skin smoother, so this is hardly the only option out there. It's plain physics that smoother skin reflects light and looks more "illuminated" (or "cell-uminated", if you prefer) than skin with a rough, uneven texture. Although this serum deserves its rating, you should know that Olay's Pro-X and Total Effects lines offer similar serums that cost a lot less (Olay and SK-II are owned by Procter & Gamble).

Note: This serum is dispensed via a dropper applicator. Although not the ideal method to dispense a serum that contains light- and air-sensitive ingredients, sometimes this type of packaging is necessary due to formulary requirements. When that’s the case, the goal is to keep the bottle opening as small as possible, the bottle should be opaque or specially coated to protect the contents from light, and you should use the serum up within three months of opening.

Cellumination= conditioning of surface skin cells to boost transmission of light so your skin looks more luminous and even toned. Hydrates and refines the surface to boost skin's natural, healthy-looking glow and help diminish the appearance of discoloration for a more even tone.

Water, Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate (Pitera), Niacinamide, Butylene Glycol, Nylon-12, Pentylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Dimethicone, Boron Nitride, Silica, Polyglyceryl-10 Oleate, Dimethiconol, Polyglyceryl-2 Oleate, Panthenol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Centella Asiatica Extract, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylates Crosspolymer, PEG-20 Sorbitan Cocoate, Polysorbate-80, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium Phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Benzoate, Methylparaben, Fragrance, Sodium Phosphate

Procter & Gamble, as always, is extremely helpful in providing information about their products. In this case it was for their upscale SK-II skin-care line. We certainly can't say that about most companies. We have to acknowledge P&G for having the integrity to share their "inside" details with someone like me, who might be more critical than complimentary. Thank you, P&G!

Regrettably, and we mean that sincerely, we wish we had more positive comments to convey, but alas, we don't. The data provided don't change the reality about skin care and the ingredients that can have an impact on skin. SK-II products are hardly worth the price, especially when compared to Olay Regenerist and Definity (P&G's own drugstore line of skin-care products). In fact, it takes only a quick review of the formulas to note that many SK-II items are very similar to Olay Regenerist items, except that the latter don't include Pitera, the supposedly miracle ingredient in this line. Yet there is minimal research indicating that Pitera is even helpful for skin.

Pitera is the cornerstone of the SK-II line and is present in every SK-II product. Pitera is the trade name for Saccharomycopsis ferment filtrate (SFF), a form of yeast purportedly unique because of the fermenting and filtering process it goes through before being added to these products. As it turns out, many forms of yeast have anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant properties, including SFF (Source: Journal of Dermatologic Science, June 2006, pages 249–257). Other than that, all of the information about Pitera comes from papers presented at medical conferences, not from published studies. Presenting papers at medical conferences is not at all the same thing as publishing the results of studies. We frequently present papers and information at medical conferences, and we wouldn't offer that material as proof of anything because it isn't. The standards for presenting a paper at a medical conference are very different from the requirements for publication of study results in most medical journals.

To give P&G the benefit of the doubt, even if Pitera is a wonder ingredient, this doesn't explain how it rates when compared with other "wonder" ingredients because there are no comparison studies. Hundreds of ingredients—ranging from green tea to superoxide dismutase, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, eicosapentaenoic acid, beta-carotene, pomegranate, and curcumin to vitamin E, vitamin A, and on and on and on—have stellar reputations, and there's copious documentation to prove it.

Another point to consider: If Pitera deserves the spotlight SK-II shines on it, then P&G needs to change their claims about Olay Regenerist and Definity, and at the very least say that these products are almost as good as SK-II except we left out the Pitera. Ultimately, unless you believe Pitera is the answer for your every skin-care need (because each and every SK-II product contains it, with very few other added extras), there is no reason to waste your time and energy on this line.

For more information about SK-II, owned by Procter & Gamble, visit www.sk-ii.com.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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