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Shiseido

IBUKI Softening Concentrate

2.50 fl. oz. for $ 24.00
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Brand Overview

Shiseido's Ibuki Softening Concentrate is supposed to set the stage for a well-balanced skincare routine, but instead starts things off on the wrong foot and never regains a beneficial balance for your skin.

We'll admit this much: The ergonomically-shaped white bottle with an iridescent sheen is pretty. Looks can be deceiving though, because what's inside the attractive packaging of this fluid gel is telling: It has a strong, overpowering scent that lingers.

The inclusion of fragrance as well as fragrance ingredients can cause skin irritation, which isn't something you want from a product claiming "deep infusion" (see More Info for details). Another major problem: Ibuki Softening Concentrate contains a high amount of drying alcohol. What a headache for your skin!

I's true that alcohol can help certain ingredients penetrate skin more effectively, but the potential damage makes this a cost-to-benefit ratio that doesn't work in your skin's favor (see More Info for the issues this type of alcohol can cause for skin), not to mention there are non-irritating ingredients that work to enhance penetration, no alcohol required.

Examining the other ingredients in this formula, we were disappointed by the noticeable lack of antioxidants, skin-restoring, or skin-replenishing ingredients, a collective absence that means you aren't getting much benefit out of this product.

See our list of Best Toners for products that truly do start your skincare routine out on the right path.

Pros:
  • None.
Cons:
  • Contains a high amount of drying alcohol.
  • Formula includes fragrance and fragrance ingredients, which can irritate skin.
More Info:

Why Fragrance Is a Problem for Skin: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes a chronic sensitizing reaction on skin.

This reaction in turn leads to all kinds of problems, including disrupting skin's barrier, worsening dryness, increasing or triggering redness, depleting vital substances in skin's surface, and generally preventing skin from looking healthy, smooth, and hydrated. Fragrance free is always the best way to go for all skin types.

A surprising fact: Even though you can't always see or feel the negative effects of fragrant ingredients on skin, the damage will still be taking place, even if it's not evident on the surface. Research has demonstrated that you don't need to see or feel the effects of irritation for your skin to be suffering. Much like the effects from cumulative sun damage, the negative impact and the visible damage from fragrance may not become apparent for a long time.

References for this information:

Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419

Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175

Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80

Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821–832

Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, pages 191–202

International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement, pages 1–43

Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475

American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798

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

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes
A deep-infusion formula that helps deliver effective ingredients immediately into the skin for a softer, smoother feel. Supplies skin with generous moisture and enhances the benefits of the skincare that follows.
Water(Aqua/Eau), Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, SD Alcohol 40-B (Alcohol Denat.), PEG-8, PEG/PPG-17/4 Dimethyl Ether, Butylene Glycol, Trehalose, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Isostearyl Alcohol, Isostearic Acid, Carbomer, Betaine, Erythritol, PEG/PPG-14/7 Dimethyl Ether, Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Fragrance (Parfum), Polyglyceryl-2 Diisostearate, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Sodium Metaphosphate, Potassium Hydroxide, Stearyl Alcohol, Phytosteryl/Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Benzyl Benzoate, Linalool, Lamium Album Flower Extract, Citrus Junos Seed Extract, Tocopherol.

Shiseido At-A-Glance

Strengths: Most of the sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection and present a variety of options, whether you're looking for titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzone; a handful of good (but not great) moisturizers; worthwhile oil-blotting papers; foundations with sunscreen that provide sufficient UVA protection (and there are some wonderful foundations here); pressed powder with sunscreen for oily skin; the Perfect Rouge Lipstick is one of the best creamy lipsticks at the department store; mostly good mascaras.

Weaknesses: Expensive; several drying cleansers; boring toners; no AHA or BHA products; no products to effectively manage acne; no reliable skin-lightening options despite a preponderance of products claiming to do just that; irritating self-tanners; gimmicky masks; jar packaging; uneven assortment of concealers (and some terrible colors); average to disappointing eye and brow shapers; average makeup brushes.

Shiseido is one of the largest cosmetic companies in Japan, and the founder wants consumers worldwide to know that the brand he began is meant for all who seek beauty. Oddly enough, Shiseido (pronounced "she-say-doe"), whose products have a distinctly Japanese appearance and appeal, began in 1872 as Japan's first Western-style pharmacy. Its products have been sold in the United States for over 40 years, and it has become a nearly overwhelming product line. Although there are some respectable products, Shiseido's skin-care collection is far from a total approach to anything, unless your skin-care mantra is "it has to be average yet needlessly expensive and the routine has to include more products than any other line recommends."

A total approach to health and beauty would take into account all that has been learned to date about how skin functions, how it can repair itself, how it ages, and what it realistically takes for it to look, feel, and function at its best. Such an approach does not, however, involve cleansers with alkaline ingredients that cause skin to be unnecessarily dry, lackluster toners, or far too many products with alcohol; that can only harm the skin, which isn't beautiful in the least.

If anything, the numerous skin-care options presented here are merely average or really disappointing. Many of the moisturizers have luscious textures, but again, it takes more than a sensational feel to create exceptional products that have your skin's best interest (and best appearance) in mind.

One point of difference with this line is that Shiseido insists on regular facial massage. That means you'll find several facial massage creams, although most of them have traditional moisturizer formularies that differ little from what's seen throughout the lineup. Shiseido maintains that routine facial massage creates firmer skin that's less prone to sagging because the massage action tones the muscles, but that simply isn't true. The muscles of the face are among the most frequently used. Repetitive muscle movements are a prime cause of expression lines around the eyes, mouth, and on the forehead. Botox has become such a popular procedure because it selectively prevents these muscles from working, which smoothes creases and lines. Massage alone cannot do that; if anything, routine facial massage can encourage lines and sagging by stretching the skin. Furthermore, when skin slackens and sags, it involves more than just the muscles. Sun damage plays a role in collagen and elastin destruction, as does gravity, which causes fat pads beneath the skin to slip. And then there's bone loss, and the fact that, as we age, skin continues to grow (yet has less to hold on to). Massage to repair sun damagegive me a break!

For more information about Shiseido, visit www.shiseido.com.

Shiseido Makeup

Although Shiseido is known more for their seemingly endless array of skin-care products, their makeup, while not without its problem-child products, is clearly not just an afterthought. The main and most impressive part of the color collection is the foundations. For the most part they have silky textures, and provide adequate sun protection (at least an SPF 15 with UVA-protecting ingredients). If you're keen on shopping this line you should also pay attention to their Perfect Rouge Lipstick, lip gloss, the mascaras, and some distinctive specialty products. Items to avoid entirely include the eye and brow pencils and a couple of the eyeshadows; the makeup brushes are serviceable, but pale in comparison to what makeup artistbacked lines offer. Ignore the inflated claims that accompany many of Shiseido's makeup products, but don't ignore the best of what they have to offerbecause in that regard, they're better than ever!

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.