Strengths: Almost all the products are fragrance-free; one very good cleanser and some good vitamin C and retinol moisturizers; an effective AHA product with lactic acid; all the sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection; stable packaging.
Weaknesses: Expensive; most of the AHA products have pH values too high for exfoliation to occur; irritating skin-lightening products; no effective products for acne-prone skin.
What a great name for a skin-care line! Not only does the "ultra" prefix speak to consumers looking for the best or most potent products, but also the "ceuticals" suffix lends a medicinal touch that is reminiscent of the emerging term "cosmeceuticals" (which is a marketing term that has no sanctioned validity or standards, so it can be applied to any product).
Ultraceuticals was the brainchild of Australian plastic surgeon Dr. Geoffrey Heber, whose vision to deliver "honest, clinically-proven skin care" back in 1991 was years ahead of the trend of doctors as skin-care salespeople. The company speaks readily of its ingredient technology, which is what the people behind it believe makes Ultraceuticals a cut above the rest. The clinical study results and before-and-after images provided in the company's catalog look convincing, but, as is usually the case, the details are left out. We don't know what product in their double-blind study was used as a control, we don't know what other products the study participants used prior to being treated with the Ultraceuticals cream, and the result (that topical vitamin C can improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin) is hardly revolutionary or exclusive to Ultraceuticals. It is well established that stabilized vitamin C applied topically (and consumed orally) can do this (Sources: The Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, August 2005, pages 963–972; The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, February 2005, pages 304–307; and Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, January 2005, pages 4–9). Moreover, many, many other antioxidants have the same ability, including vitamin E, green tea, and retinol. In fact, many researchers believe that, regardless of the content of a single antioxidant in a product, a better approach is to use skin-care products that offer a blend of antioxidants. In that sense, Ultraceuticals falls a bit short.
Australians may be all abuzz about this skin-care line, and it is creeping into the United States. Yet aside from offering mostly fragrance-free products and consistently using packaging to keep light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable, it really isn't anything new under the sun. However, as you will see from the reviews below, there are a few star products to consider if the prices don't bother you.
For more information about Ultraceuticals, call (800) 339-5115 or visit www.ultraceuticals.com.