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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dr. Denese SkinScience: adding science back into the mix

I've been using natural and/or organic skin care products almost exclusively for a little over a year, and have had really great results. My pesky skin allergies and irritations all but vanished, I've learned of the dramatic and pleasurable results that a good facial oil can provide, and I've healed from major surgery by using gentle, natural remedies instead of standard-issue hospital fare. Now, I'm looking to throw a few very carefully curated scientific skin care products back into my regimen, because time just won't slow down, no matter how I complain.

When you look in the mirror day after day and say to yourself (or out loud!): "I think I'm aging quite well", you almost certainly are. Perception is everything. I've reached the point where I can still say that and mean it, however, I also see where improvement is needed. I know that deep lines, wrinkles and sagging cannot be obliterated completely by skin care products alone (that's a job for the cosmetic surgeons and derms). Skin that is healthy, well-hydrated, with cells that are turning over at the appropriate rate and is being fed ingredients to encourage collagen production, etc, has the appearance of being smoothed out for the short term, and some ingredients have long-term, cumulative benefits.

A healthy glow can be faked (and often should be), but how do you feel when you wash your face at night and use your evening skin care products? When the BB Cream and spackle comes off, does your self-confidence go with it? I'll say this: I wouldn't kick a free syringe of Botox out of bed right now, but it's not likely I'll ever go there.

In the meantime, products such as the ones Dr. Denese formulates are a real treat to use, because not only are they created with ingredients that are proven effective in anti-aging, but they make you look and feel awfully good. I recently had the opportunity to delve into the brand beyond the HydroShield Face Serum, which I had already been a huge fan of, and I found some new gems.

Wrinkle Rx Extreme Pro-Peptide Gel

Here's what I would imagine to be a common scenario in the beauty and skin care industry:
A wrinkle-fighting, hydrating anti-aging serum or gel is in the works, but it's not that different from other high-end, dermatologist-developed products on the market. What do you do? Some would (and have) launch the product as is, not striving for uniqueness. Dr.Denese? She develops and patents her own peptide complex (and several others). It went to work immediately on my "elevens", the lines between the eyebrows. I have always been a frowner, a furrower, and no matter how hard I try to relax my facial muscles, they do what they want to do in the end. The Wrinkle Rx Extreme Pro-Peptide Gel is not a product I would have immediately gravitated towards, because my wrinkles are not at all extreme, and the name made me feel that it was not particularly suitable for me. I'm so glad I gave it a chance, because it's one of those instant gratification things: 1. Apply gel to areas where deep lines live. 2. Let it dry 3. Look in the mirror. Radiant smoothness! The proprietary peptide blend will also work cumulatively for the long-term. This is a winner.

HydroShield Ultra-Moisturizing Face Serum

I love this stuff. I love it so much that a 1.7 ounce bottle is long gone by the time I'm done with my 3 EZ-Pays on it. I use it twice a day, generously, and massage the remnants on to the backs of my hands. It's a clear, super-slick and silky serum packed with retinol, ceramides and other good stuff that dries to a matte finish in about 5 minutes. In warm weather, I really don't need another moisturizer on top. This is far and away Dr. Denese's most popular product, for many reasons- but mainly because anyone can use it. And, I think it's fair to say, everyone should use it.

15 Day SkinScience Booster Program

This product comes in a long box with each evening's dose in a separate ampule. The first five days, the serum is a lot like the HydroShield Serum. The next ten doses are a tantalizing combination of  hydrating, anti-aging and vitamin-based ingredients. I really wish I could buy a big bottle of this stuff. I wake up every morning with balanced skin that glows. After 15 days, my complexion is far more even-toned and even-textured, my pores appear smaller and overall, my skin is profoundly more hydrated than when I started. Definitely worth trying.

Pore Refining Toner

You might be thinking, "a toner? BO-RING!", but this is no boring toner. It contains so many good things that I love: aloe, glycerin, rosehip, fruit acids, CoQ10, retinol.... I could go on. It feels like heaven and gives a pleasant rice-like natural sweetness to the nose. I keep some in the fridge and when I have eye puffiness, I soak cotton rounds with the stuff and place them over my eyes (applying gentle, rolling pressure under the eyes) and puffiness is relieved. At the moment, I enjoy using it after cleansing, but when the weather warms up, I think I'll be spritzing out of a spray bottle so nothing goes to waste.  Let me point out in a little sidebar here that some people don't think toners are ever necessary, but I really enjoy using them. This has become one of my favorite toners due to its gentleness and soothing ingredients.

Advanced Firming Facial Pads

Advanced Firming Facial Pads contain glycolic acid, alpha lipoic acid, and proprietary ActiZone Firming Factor which, according to Dr. Denese's website, "works to deliver the skin you want under the skin you have". I like that line. It's not promising the moon, it's something that is a reasonable expectation for a consumer to have. While I'm not a huge fan of jar packaging, I have to admit I've become quite accustomed to using one of these pads every night. It's cooling on the skin, exfoliates a little, hydrates and tones a little, and is very refreshing. Many nights, this will even render a toner unnecessary for me. I LOVE the feeling of wiping the slate clean, literally, without my skin feeling dry or tight. The Advanced Firming Facial Pads kick it up a notch in my quest to make the pores on my nose look smaller.

HydroShield Dream Cream

Loaded up with glycerin, retinol, dimethicone and ceramides in a very lightweight hydrating base (it's more like an emulsion than a cream), HydroShield Dream Cream is a really wonderful moisturizer. My skin leans toward super-dry and cranky, and a dab of this stuff calms it down and shuts it right up. I love the way it makes my skin look-- very plump and youthful. Hydration is half the battle, and this gives me the edge I need. I really wish this was in a pump bottle, though-- the consistency is certainly appropriate for it.

SkinPerfect Rx Glycolic Transforming Peel

The Skin Perfect Rx Glycolic Transforming Peel was recommended to me by a Dr. Denese SkinScience staffer; it's her holy grail home peel. I'm known for my love/hate thing with at-home peels and have the battle scars to prove it. I will say this-- my skin is not as sensitive as it was a couple of years ago. This peel does sting a bit, so instead of leaving it on for the 5-7 minutes recommended on the label, I wash it off after 3. It delivers dramatic results without being overly harsh. There are some interesting ingredients included besides the glycolic and lactic acid powerhouses: aloe, willow bark, orange and lemon, sugar maple and mushroom extract.  I use this once a week maximum, and I'm very happy that my skin will tolerate it. As skin ages, skin cells need a jump to turn over and regenerate. This is an easy way to stay on top of it. This product will never win any awards for its scent (it's sort of like milk gone bad), but I'd MUCH rather smell something rather funky for a few minutes than have chemical fragrances added!

In general, I find Dr. Denese's SkinScience line really elegant and effective. I would recommend any of these products to people 30 and up, or even late 20s. SkinScience has a brand image that really appeals to older women (as is evident by consistently amazing sales on QVC), but the main reason I wanted to feature these products was to get a message across that anti-aging measures can and should be taken by young, middle-aged and more senior women alike. This goes without saying, but I'm gonna say it anyway: the most powerful anti-aging tool anyone can employ is a good sunscreen, and it should be applied vigilantly. Also, make sure to get enough rest; there's a reason it's called beauty sleep! Those two things alone have helped me immensely over the years.

Shopping notes:
On the Dr. Denese SkinScience website, there are a few trial-size kits available for good prices. There are frequent sales and specials so be sure to sign up for the e-newsletter. You can also get up to $10 off your order by tweeting from the website and sharing on Facebook. To make things even more enticing, virtually everything you buy can be split up into 3 monthly credit card payments (usually with a minimum order of $50 or $75). I wish every company did this! I was able to snag myself a 4oz bottle of HydroShield Face Serum this way (you'd think I pour the stuff over my cereal every morning with the way I use it).

[some products reviewed here were sent to me by the company for my consideration, and some were purchased by me for my own use. all opinions stated above are my own and I have not been compensated for them]

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