the science of skincare for beautiful skin

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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