the science of skincare for beautiful skin

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4 Active: RENOVAGE™ For Cell Longevity

“We assess facial appearance as a whole; unconsciously adding-up visible signs of ageing. Restoring a youthful appearance means reducing the appearance of multiple parameters – lines and wrinkles, sagging [loss of tone], pigmentation, redness, dry skin, dilated pores, and the irregularities of the skin surface. All of the ageing signs are related to less efficient cell physiology; a skin composed of “ageing cells” enters the senescence phase more rapidly than necessary. It’s due to a successive accumulation of DNA damage over time; less effectively repaired and less well protected DNA.”

Prolonging Cell Longevity

Renovage™ – geranylgeranone, is a high-tech global anti-ageing ingredient that acts on the four dimensions of skin ageing: surface, depth and time. It provides anti-ageing and protective effects against stress related damage by maintaining cell division [telomere stabilization and DNA maintenance], improving tissue quality [by optimal cell communication and rebalancing cell metabolism]. Renovage™ prolongs cell lifespan extension by one third.

Clinical & Cell Culture Results 

RENOVAGE™ acts as a cell facilitator and corrector. In vitro studies show several properties that aid recovery of skin function and structure to avoid premature entry into cell senescence.

  • Protection and repair of oxidative lesions and nucleic elements 
  • Keeping of catalasic antioxidant protection to 100%
  • Reduction of apoptosis after UVB radiation exposure
  • Reduction in the expression of heat shock proteins HSP27 and HSP70
  • The entry in senescence of fibroblasts is delayed by 3 months. 

A clinical study showed that RENOVAGE™ [conducted on 24 volunteers, applying 3% cream twice a day] exerts a significant and visible activity on both functional and structural signs of ageing:

After 1 month

  • Increase in skin hydration [34%]
  • Increase in firmness [12%] and tone [15%]
  • Decrease in erythrosis [30%]
  • Reduction of dilated pores [17%]

After 6 months

  • Reinforcement of barrier [+19%]
  • Decrease in pigmented spots [42%]
  • Decrease deeper wrinkles [-47%] and medium wrinkles [-34%]
  • Reduction of dilated pores [26%]

The efficacy of Renovage™ was studied for six months. After six month, the skin texture was dramatically improved with a reduction in expression lines, age spots and pore dilation.

Subjective Rating

In support of all of the clinical measurements, the volunteers were asked to rate the perception of the quality of their skin after 6 months of use:

  • 87% observed improved skin profile and softer skin
  • > 70% observed a reduction of wrinkles and lines, more uniform appearance of the skin and firmer, improved skin tone.


RENOVAGE™ is used under authorisation of Sederma, France. 

4 Active: Self-Regenerative Stem Cell Technology For Vertical Line Re-surfacing

The 4 Anti-Ageing Serum contains a unique combination of active ingredients. They were selected, after thorough research, for their ability to improve the appearance, renewal and regeneration of facial skin. 

Re-surfacing Vertical Lines

Extract from Indian Gentian leaves [Swertia chirata] stimulates epidermal proliferation, increases regeneration and promotes dermal thickness.


This ingredient has won a Silver “Best Ingredient” Award for Innovation at the international trade exhibition In-Cosmetics in 2015. 


Clinically, the active has been [in the same concentration as in The 4 Anti-Ageing serum] proven to resurface facial skin and blur vertical wrinkles. This gives the perception of a “younger, more relaxed facial expression” with diminished lip lines and eye puffiness.  

Please click on this link  to understand how the active ingredient works.


[References available]



4 Active: Anti-Wrinkle Cylindrotheca Fusiformis

The 4 Anti-Ageing Serum contains a unique combination of active ingredients. They were selected, after thorough research, for their ability to improve the appearance, renewal and regeneration of facial skin. 
Marine micro-algae Cylindrotheca Fusiformis, sourced from French Riviera, has a powerful anti-wrinkle effect and stimulates cellular proliferation in the dermis and production of structural proteins by fibroblasts. Clinically, it has been proven to visibly decrease wrinkle depth and volume and dramatically improve elasticity, hydration and softness of the skin.


Cylindrotheca fusiformis microalgae species, is a diatom with an elongated silica shell shape. The extract shows a complex structure of ingredients beneficial to the skin:

  • Amino acids;
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) [an omega-3 that plays a role in inhibiting leukotrienes which are mediators of inflammation];
  • Carotenoids [particularly fucoxanthin, a major antioxidant]
  • Sterols [especially cholesterol, well known for its role in maintaining good skin condition and structure].

The Anti-Wrinkle Effect

As a powerful antioxidant, the active acts to remove free radicals and helps prevent cell structure damage in the dermis layer. It stimulates the synthesis of collagen [a protein responsible for supporting skin growth and organisation] and elastin [helping to maintain skin elasticity, tone and texture].

  • In vitro: The active ingredient has been shown to stimulate cellular proliferation and ex-novo synthesis of collagen. In dermal fibroblast culture, it has been shown to significantly increase collagen synthesis [by +19.3% in 24 hrs, at same concentration used in the 4 Anti-Ageing Serum] compared to an untreated control cell culture.

    In vivo: Clinical study shows a significant and visible anti-wrinkle activity [even at a lower concentration than used in the 4 Anti-Ageing Serum]. In 2 months, there was a decrease in wrinkle depth [by 10.4%] and a decrease in wrinkle volume [by 12%] compared to baseline [before treatment].

    Self-assessment: Volunteers confirmed an improvement of elasticity, hydration and softness of the skin.

    [References available] 




4 Active: Liquorice [Glycyrrhiza glabra]

The 4 Anti-Ageing Serum contains a unique combination of active ingredients. They were selected, after thorough research, for their ability to improve the appearance, renewal and regeneration of facial skin. 

We predict that future research will further highlight the benefits of liquorice in skincare. In traditional Chinese medicine, liquorice (甘草) is believed to “harmonize” ingredients. Liquorice has been traditionally used in Ayurveda for rejuvenation and as a home remedy for skin lightening throughout Asia



A Soothing Ingredient

Liquorice extract has soothing properties – ideal for sensitive and irritated skin – and may be effective in improving the appearance of an uneven skin tone and hyper-pigmentation. Liquorice root and rhizomes contain glabridin [a potent antioxidant and soothing ingredient] and glycyrrhetic acid, a triterpenoid saponin glycoside.

Sun light [and mainly ultraviolet radiation UVB] is the major factor in skin ageing. Glycyrrhetinic acid has been shown to possess antioxidative properties and modulate immunity.

  • In an animal model, glycyrrhetic acid attenuates UV-induced skin damage by its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as regulating the abnormal expression of tissue damaging enzymes [matrix metalloproteinases MMP-1, MMP-3].
  • In vitro: In a cell culture of dermal fibroblasts, glycyrrhetic acid alleviates UVB radiation-induced damage. Glycyrrhetic acid and glabridin also prevent oxidative DNA fragmentation in UVB-irradiated human keratinocyte cultures.

An Anti-Sagging Ingredient? 

Early research from Shiseido [Japan] suggests that liquorice and facial exercise can help to improve skin sagging. Having studied how the loss of dermal anchoring structures leads to sagging, Shiseido discovered that exercises [to contract and relax facial muscles] can stimulate fibroblasts to prevent sagging. Liquorice has been used as the active to mimic the facial exercise.

“The vertically arranged dermal anchoring structures function is to prevent facial skin sagging. They are vital to retain the facial skin structure lost with age.”

Facial sagging is one of the biggest ageing concerns. Research has shown that facial skin contains convex matrix structures that may retain the dermis in subcutaneous tissue, named “dermal anchoring structures”. Whilst dermal fibres are arranged horizontally in the lower part of the dermis, they are arranged vertically in the dermal anchoring structures. 

Biologically active components of liquorice still require further in vitro and in vivo
investigation. Additional research needs to demonstrate the benefits of liquorice in prevention and management of skin conditions e.g. rosacea and atopic dermatitis.

[References available]




SAVE or SPEND: Aldi Caviar Illumination Super Lift Kit

The new Caviar Illumination Super Lift Kit contains caviar extract, soy phyto placenta extract and bio peptide – for youthful and firm looking skin. Included within the kit are four 6ml Super Lift Gel sachets, an application brush and preparation tub. RRP £12.99

We ran our last small perception study on the mask. Given the age and skin types of my participants, we tested it as a pre-party pick-me up. This was an independent study and the participants were unaware of any clinical results or packaging; they were evaluating “skin feel” after application.  Age and skin type of participants below, all Caucasian and based in Yorkshire.

Skin feel, texture, sensation..

  • Good texture, no unpleasant sensation.
  • Nice texture, tightened almost immediately.
  • Texture good, only sensation is the tightening.
  • Mask felt very light when on and comfortable. Felt a slight tightening effect when on.
  • Felt tightening whilst it was drying.
  • Liked the gel like texture, interesting. Felt the mask tightening on the skin as it dried. No other sensations.
  • It wasn’t especially pleasant. Very tight and then stinging in various places, noticeable around the nose.
  • Thought the texture was very good, not too thick but not too thin. There was no sensations until the 15 mins were nearly up when it started feeling very tight in my skin.
  • I wasn’t keen of the feel of it on my skin, felt like jellyfish. I did feel it tightening my skin which I felt was beneficial.
  • Texture was good, tightening feeling, warm.
  • Texture is fine. After 10 minutes the gel tightened skin.
  • At first it was quite cooling as it was a gel. After 5 mins I noticed a slight tingling and then for the last few mins it felt very tight on my skin so I didn’t feel as if I could move my face, especially round my mouth.
  • Felt very astringent compared to creamy mask normally used.
  • Feels lovely. Very tight feeling but not on forehead.

Absorption & Residue

  • The mask absorbs very well, leaving no residue.
  • Left a thin residue.
  • Yes it absorbs, although there was an awful lot of product after 10 mins, a thin residue.
  • Only felt it dry out rather than absorb, only a thin residue.
  • Yes it absorbed quite a lot. I would say thick residue.
  • Not sure if it absorbed as it dried completely on the skin. There was plenty in the sample to apply a thick layer. Didn’t feel as though it left a residue – removed it with a linen cloth and lukewarm water..
  • Didn’t think of it as being absorbed just washed off. Minimal residue.
  • Hard to say if it was absorbed or if it dried on the skin as above. It left a very thin residue so probably yes, it was absorbed.
  • Left a thin residue.
  • Absorbed a little, did not leave residue.
  • All of the mask was absorbed. It left a thin residue which disappeared after 5 mins.
  • I felt more as if it had set rather than absorbed. There was little to see on my skin before I washed it off.
  • Absorbed, but left skin feeling very taut.
  • Absorbed totally, no residue.

The participants had a different experience with the mask application – all received a single dose. Sensitive and dry skin types might experience side effects – taught, drying feeling and tingling! 

Skin feel after mask washed off..

  • Feels refreshed
  • Firmer and brighter
  • Feels AMAZING, softer but noticeably tighter, wrinkles ironed out!
  • Felt and looked fresh
  • Feeling warm sensation now mask off and a little sore and dry for my skin
  • Skin felt very soft. Slight softening effect, especially on my horizontal forehead wrinkles!
  • Smooth and tightened.
  • Skin felt smoother and looked quite bright.
  • Feels smooth
  • Feels soft and smooth, yet slightly irritable and warm
  • Skin felt soft and had a nice glow
  • My skin feels quite revitalised but am not sure that it looks any different
  • Looks and feels tight
  • Very fresh and smooth.

As a pre-party firming mask – does it do what it says on the tin?

  • It made my skin look fresher and more toned
  • Yes
  • Absolutely
  • As above, would buy and use again.
  • Skin feels tighter but dry, so I would say yes it does
  • No dramatic effect. A slight softening effect, most visible on the forehead – but not dramatic enough for me to make it a ‘must use’ before every important occasion.
  • I think so. Face looked great with the mask on! Did feel tightened – shame there is not something similar for eyes.
  • Can’t say I felt particularly that it firmed – but it did look smoother and my skin felt good.
  • I feel it has firmed my skin and would use it again.
  • It looks quite firm at the moment but not long since washed off
  • It firmed the skin and left it soft ready for make up
  • My skin feels firmer but I do not think it looks ‘lifted’. I think it is nice to have a special routine if getting ready for an occasion. I used the 15 mins to relax which would be a nice way to begin the evening. So I think it makes me feel better if not look better and that is always half the battle.
  • Yes
  • Definitely firmed up the skin & could immediately apply day cream and makeup.

Will you be buying it on December 1st?

  • I will buy it
  • Price dependent
  • Everyone over the age of 40 will be buying it – including me.
  • Did not feel it was a deep working mask, but comfortable to wear and nice immediate result.
  • I would have to try this mask out a couple more times as not sure it would be any good for sensitive skin, as mine is feeling dry and feeling warm at the moment
  • I enjoyed testing the mask, but it tightened up to the point it was uncomfortable and I was glad to wash it off! 
  • Would definitely try it again.
  • 15 mins is a long time! Lots of masks are only 10 mins. Suspect it is intended for someone slightly younger than myself. May purchase – depends on price.
  • Yes I would buy it. My skin does feel firmer
  • I would like to wait and see how my face looks in a few hours. If I am pleased with the results later I would buy it as I like their other products in the range..
  • I liked the effect after it was cleaned off. I wasn’t so happy with increasing tightening effect; it actually began to pull my eye downwards towards the end of the 15 minutes.
  • I think it is perhaps for a younger person. I would perhaps buy it if it came in individual sachets..
  • As a pre-party mask, but would be interested whether to use moisturiser etc afterwards
  • I feel any skin type could use this mask, easy to use, easy to remove and no side effects. Will buy.

Most participants experienced strong firming effect leaving skin feeling soft and fresh. About half will definitely part with their money. My participants have their favourite brands [Sisley, Clarins, Aveda, Avene, REN, Caudalie] – but masks are not used frequently among the British consumers. Mask still are an add-on rather than a staple of a regular skincare routine in Britain. 

SAVE or SPEND? SPEND. Great pre-party pick me up. Not for very sensitive skin type.

SAVE or SPEND: Aldi Cuvee 2016 Advent Calendar

We ran our 2nd small perception study on the 2016 Aldi Cuvee Royal Advent Calendar, which features 24 skincare treats for the month of December. The calendar contains a mix of ‘mini-treatment ampules’ for all skin types, including acne-prone and oily skin. Given the age and skin types of my participants, we tested 3 different ampules – hydrating, lifting and bi-phasic rejuvenating ampule with retinol – each for two consecutive nights. 

Aldi special buys.

This was an independent study and the participants were unaware of any clinical results or packaging; they were evaluating “skin feel” and ampule application only.  Age and skin type of participants below, all Caucasian and based in Yorkshire.


In Summary

Ampules are new to the British consumer. They work great when used seasonally, for a specific outcome. The measured-out dose is perceived as a benefit, yet it is clear the liquid formulas should be mixed with a night moisturiser [or an evening oil]. As the Aldi Calendar contains high-tech active ingredients, the actives in the night moisturiser have to be compatible with the ampules [the combination with the Aldi Cuvee moisturisers should work well]. The calendar offers a route to personalisation, however, it caters for too many different skin types at once, without detailed instructions. RRP 19.99 GBP

SPEND. Ideal for combination skin types [with oily T-zone and dry U-zone] aged 40 +. Alternatively, good for women with normal to dry skin that can share the calendar with their teenage daughter. 


  • Participants’ Comments.
  • PROS:
    • Ampules are a first for me. I like the idea of using them for special outcomes, for the chin area and cheeks. 
    • I like the fact that each usage is measured out in the single ampules.
    • You know you have the right amount each time.
    • I don’t have any issues personally with using a product packaged in this manner. If it is one per day, I see it as positive as it means greater hygiene.
  • CONS: A little fiddly – NOTED BY 3 PARTICIPANTS [but not a problem]
    • Not ideal for travelling
    • Maybe more difficult for older users with slightly arthritic hands. But for this type of use I preferred them to sachets as I felt I got more product out. 


“Without adding it to a small amount of base oil I found it a rather disappointing experience. First of all I tipped the oil into my palm and because it was such a thin consistency I lost about a third of it before I could apply it to my face, as it ran through my fingers. Also once on my skin it did not feel rich enough for me, just a little thicker than water and sank very quickly into my skin where as I preferred it when mixed with a richer oil as it felt more like it was nourishing my face.”

THE PARTICIPANTS WERE ADVISED TO MIX THE AMPULES WITH A NIGHT OIL [rose hip, jojoba and camellia plant oil mixture] AND LEAVE ON AS A MASK OVERNIGHT. They had to add ‘the right amount of nurturing oil’ according to their own skin type – a trial and error to start with and follow with a night cream if required. 

  • Nice thin residue as I tried to massage each night. No need for extra cream.
  • I found using the right amount of carrier oil was a bit tricky at first, the mixture took a while to settle into my skin. I did use a moisturiser on my cheeks.
  • The mixture absorbed well, and felt good on my skin and it surprised me that I did not feel as if I needed to or wanted to add a cream on top.
  • It took a lot of pushing into the skin and there was a slightly oily residue left on the skin. I didn’t apply night moisturiser generally and if I did it was very light.
  • It was slightly oily but that could have been the amount of oil I added. I did not need a night moisturiser as well.


  • Silky and smooth
  • Smooth, similar to night cream 
  • My skin felt soft and hydrated the following day
  • Nice and hydrated
  • I didn’t notice any real difference


  • Yes, my skin feels more hydrated. 
  • Because I always use a serum and night cream, I did not see any significant change in my skin but I did like using the oils and how they felt.
  • My skin feels good but then I had a massage ten days ago and my skin has felt in good condition ever since. It may be these products have helped to extend the good work of the massage. However, the weather has been changing and I have not experienced the normal rapid dehydration of my skin so maybe they have had a better effect than I am crediting them with.
  • Not sure I noticed that.
  • Whilst I can’t say there has been a positive change in my skin condition. There has not been any negatives and it may be that a longer use would be beneficial. 


  • PROS
    • I definitely liked mixing with the oil, made the product richer and worked well on my skin.
    • Mixing with oil was very good, it would have been unworkable otherwise. I think it would depend on the moisturiser and ensuring it was a suitable accompaniment to the ampule’s contents.
  • CONS
    • I think mixing with the moisturiser would be quicker and more accurate
    • Mixing with the oil a bit fiddly, it would be easier with night moisturiser
    • I found it fiddly and time consuming compared to using a cream. Mixing with a cream would be easier and less messy and time consuming. 


  • I would like to try just using an oil on an evening from now on, felt more hydrating than serum and cream. 
  • I have enjoyed it. I have found it interesting using the different products and recognising how to combine to make products useable. 
I would like to thank the participants for their comments. If you have bought the Advent Calendar and are waiting to use it before Christmas, please register your email address in the comment section below – to receive tips on personalisation. 

Effective Skincare [Without the Price Tag]

There is more to an effective skincare routine than expensive products! I come across women who are devoted to expensive skincare brands, yet with little visible result to their skin, and others who do wonders on a shoe string.


There are parallels with food – buying quality raw ingredients is only the start to creating a delicious meal. It is the tips and tricks of the application, smart combinations of the ingredients, understanding your skin, lifestyle and seasons – and regular therapy that can make a noticeable difference to your face.

My clients who get the best results do the following: 

  • Cherish their skincare products [like expensive perfume]
  • Use skincare products to their best potential
  • Have regular facial treatments 
  • Adopt a holistic approach incorporating advice on relaxation, diet and facial exercise into their skincare routine.

They ask me to recommend the best products [to a budget and across all brands] and edit their skincare routines regularly to achieve results. I like to talk to an engaged audience who are truly interested in ‘properly’ looking after their skin with efficacious products & treatments. This goes beyond the brand story; reading the ingredient list and looking at the scientific evidence is essential.

“I feel I am worth it and don’t hesitate to spend on myself.  If women are very busy focusing on work & family, they don’t find time to pamper themselves.. Some might just be baffled by the overwhelming selection and the prices some skincare companies charge when the ingredients don’t warrant it. Disposable income might also be a factor and understanding what products deliver results [without the necessary top-end price tag] & advice on lifestyle can help.” 
“I have stopped using the old moisturiser as I like the one you recommended more! [And I really liked the old one!]. I’m really impressed a few small changes can make a big difference.” 
“To be able to talk about my skincare routine and skin concerns knowing that I am being listened to and given the best advice on products purely for me and not with an ultra motive to sell as you find in the department stores has been invaluable.” 

Talking about money

Skincare can be tailored to almost any budget – I honour the £15 watershed for a stay-on product, cleansers can be cheaper. On the other side of the spectrum, going over £120 per product is extravagant.

The beauty of the £50 per product rule when hunting for a bargain works well in Britain. 

A monthly facial MOT costs between £1.50-£2 per day, an effective skincare routine about £5 per day – this is a relatively small price to pay when compared to expensive fashion items; particularly those we never wear! Therapy is a key component of an effective skincare routine; both for prevention and repair. However, only 24 % of British women have a regular facial treatment.

The famous “YOU ARE worth it”

Start young to PREVENT AGEING. Younger people often do not realise they need to look after their skin until they start to see the signs of ageing. Prevention works better than repair. It is important to learn the principles and adopt them early in life. 

Some people don’t see skincare as important – yet they would still like to look good for their age. Quite often these “skincare-sceptics’ don’t understand how an effective skincare routine could help offset the negative consequences of today’s hectic, 24/7 lifestyle and increasing levels of air pollution, both of which contribute to signs of premature ageing. Also, taking care of ‘skin health’ rather than focussing exclusively on vanity, might have more of an appeal to them. Spending money on diets, gym memberships, fashion, manicures, pedicures – why not the face?

Learn to use the right products – for you. Pay attention to the brand story – if you like – but read the INGREDIENT list first. Skincare products have a shelf life and routines are seasonal. For A Science-Based Personalised Review, go to my BLOG.

The Golden Touch: Evidence Base for Self-Massage [SPC, Oct 2016]

Innovation in Skincare. A review of evidence-based self-massage techniques and their physiological benefits – specific modes of massage deliver tailored effects.


Working with Brands to enhance their efficacy with scientifically substantiated claims. Enquiries on



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