Future Rescue Repair Serum
Lab Series for Men has some great skincare products, and Future Rescue Repair Serum could've been among them—if it weren't for its inclusion of some ingredients that won't rescue or repair skin (and in fact could do the opposite).
First, the good: This serum has a lightweight, fluid texture that smooths skin and absorbs in a flash. There are some excellent ingredients in here, including numerous antioxidants from non-fragrant plant extracts, including mulberry, which research has also shown can brighten dull-looking, uneven skin. Skin-replenishing ingredients and soothing ingredients are also along for the skin-benefiting ride.
Unfortunately, the lightweight feel and quick absorbing action that makes this serum's aesthetics so pleasing comes from the inclusion of a high amount of denatured alcohol. This is the type of alcohol that can dry out skin, as well as cause other damage (see More Info for details). Future Rescue Repair Serum also includes fragrance, which can potentially irritate skin.
It's a shame, because otherwise this is a great formula that could really do a lot for skin. As it stands though, there are many better serum options available.
- Lightweight, fluid texture absorbs quickly.
- Includes numerous antioxidants.
- Contains skin-replenishing and skin-soothing ingredients.
- Contains a high amount of drying type of alcohol.
- Contains fragrance which compounds the irritant effects from alcohol.
Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Research makes it clear that alcohol, as a main ingredient in any skincare product, especially one you use frequently and repeatedly, is a problem.
When we express concern about the presence of alcohol in skincare or makeup products, we're referring to denatured ethanol, which most often is listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat., denatured alcohol, or (less often) isopropyl alcohol.
When you see these types of alcohol listed among the first six ingredients on an ingredient label, without question the product will irritate and cause other problems for skin. There's no way around it—these volatile alcohols are simply bad for all skin types.
The reason they're included in products is because they provide a quick-drying finish, immediately degrease skin, and feel weightless, so it's easy to see their appeal, especially for those with oily skin. If only those short-term benefits didn't lead to negative long-term outcomes!
Using products that contain these alcohols will cause dryness, erosion of skin's protective barrier, and a strain on how skin replenishes, renews, and rejuvenates itself. Alcohol just weakens everything about skin.
The irony of using alcohol-based products to control oily skin is that the damage from the alcohol can actually lead to an increase in breakouts and enlarged pores. As we said, the alcohol does have an immediate de-greasing effect on skin, but it causes irritation, which eventually will counteract the de-greasing effect and make your oily skin look even more shiny.
There are people who challenge us on the information we've presented about alcohol's effects. They often base their argument on a study in the British Journal of Dermatology (July 2007, pages 74–81) that concluded "alcohol-based hand rubs cause less irritation than hand washing…." But, the only thing this study showed was that alcohol was not as irritating as an even more irritating hand wash, which contained sodium lauryl sulfate. So, the study is actually just telling you that one irritant, sodium lauryl sulfate, is worse than another irritant, alcohol.
Not all alcohols are bad. For example, there are fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be beneficial for skin. Examples that you'll see on ingredient labels include cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol, all of which are good ingredients for skin. It's important to differentiate between these skin-friendly alcohols and the problematic alcohols.
References for this information:
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, pages 1–16
Dermato-Endocrinology, January 2011, pages 41–49
Experimental Dermatology, June 2008, pages 542–551
Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366
Alcohol Journal, April 2002, pages 179–190
Lab Series At-A-Glance
Strengths: One good cleanser; some outstanding moisturizers, including one with sunscreen; very good shave cream and shave gel; well-formulated post-shave lotion; good absorbent mask and lip balm; many products are fragrance-free; packaging that keeps light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use (and it is masculine-looking).
Weaknesses: Cleansers, scrubs, and toners with irritating ingredients; lack of products for men with dry skin; some of the pre- and post-shave products contain irritants such as menthol; only one sunscreen; no effective anti-acne products.
Owned by Estee Lauder Corporation, Lab Series Skincare for Men used to be called Aramis Lab Series for Men. Lauder also has other brands that offer male-specific products, including Clinique Skin Supplies for Men and Aveda Men, but the Lab Series products by far have the better formulas. That's not to say there aren't any missteps to watch out for, because there are plenty, but given that the formulas of most men's products fall far behind those of women's products in terms of basic good skin care, a few good products in a mens line is something out of the ordinary. Compared with Clinique's soap- and alcohol-laden toner routine and the incomplete, overly fragrant offerings from Aveda, Lab Series is the Lauder-owned men's line most deserving of your consideration.
Originally launched in 1987 (well before the industry was taking the men's skin-care market seriously), the people behind this brand now are described as "an elite team of doctors, scientists, and skin-care specialists" who join forces at the Lab Series Research Center to create advanced products tailored specifically to men. However, lofty descriptions don't necessarily make for great skin care. In fact, all that these "specialists" needed to do was look at the well-formulated products from the best Lauder has to offer. In some cases, it's clear they did just that, but in other cases ... well, it should've been an across-the-board strategy but that's now how it shakes out.
In terms of ingredients, there is nothing in these formulas that you don't also find in products marketed to women. Regardless of gender, skin is skin. Hormonal elements do play a role, such as male hormones making a man's skin thicker and more oily than a woman's skin, just as female hormones make a woman's skin smoother and softer, and, more often than not, with smaller pores than a male. But, in terms of what either gender needs to create and maintain healthy, protected skin, there is no fundamental difference. When it comes to acne, sun protection, free-radical damage, growing older, rosacea, psoriasis, and on and on, there is no research showing that men require products that are different from those women need.
Quality aside, what generally differentiates men's products from women's is packaging, and Lab Series Skincare for Men follows that theme. They offer masculine, no-nonsense packaging and plenty of products to deal with the morning shaving ritual. And considering all the talk about elite doctors and scientists endeavoring to create superior products for men, it's disturbing that these so-called experts formulated several products that contain irritants such as alcohol (which also generates free-radical damage), menthol, sandalwood, and peppermint. Those bracing, invigorating ingredients may seem manly, but it's only sensory perception. The reality is that the amount of these irritants in many of the problematic Lab Series products makes them damaging to skin, especially when applied immediately after shaving, causing "razor burn" (which is not really only about the process of using a razor. Think about women shaving their legs; they don't get red bumps unless they use overly fragrant moisturizers afterward.)
It is worth mentioning that Lab Series offers sensible advice about the best ways to shave skin on their Web site. Some of their other information about men's skin having special needs is off base and not at all rooted in fact, but it works within the context of getting guys to become more interested in keeping up their appearances using a sensible skin-care routine.
For more information about Lab Series, call (866) 316-4819 or visit www.labseries.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.