Ole Henriksen

Ultimate Lift Firming Serum

1.00 fl. oz. for $ 55.00
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This serum is a bit of a joke, but you probably won't be laughing. It's lifting ability is tactile only. Sadly, products like this cannot lift or "restructure" sagging skin. That's because the numerous factors that contribute to skin sagging simply cannot be addressed by skin care. For example, gravity and bone loss after menopause play a significant role in how and when skin sags, as does the shifting of facial fat pads beneath the skin. NONE of those issues can be addressed by skin care, which is why for sagging skin the best options are invasive or non-invasive cosmetic surgical and corrective procedures. That approach, coupled with a great anti-aging skin-care routine that includes daily sun protection, is a much smarter solution for sagging skin than wasting money on products like this.

The tight feeling this serum provides is from the high amount of film-forming agents it contains. These can temporarily constrict and tighten skin, but no actual lifting is taking place. You may also notice a cooling, tingling sensation when using this. That sensation comes from the menthol-derived ingredient menthyl ethylamido oxalate. According to the company that makes this ingredient, menthyl ethylamido oxalate is 82% stronger than menthol lactate, a menthol derivative seen in some Neutrogena products. The company recommends using this ingredient as a "consumer-perceivable marker for efficacy". In other words, include it in products so consumers think the product is "doing something" but in all likelihood all that's happening is skin irritation. There's no research proving menthol ethylamido oxalate is a skin irritant per se, but given its relation to menthol and menthol lactate, it's not unreasonable to assume the risk is there, and that's not good for skin.

That's a shame, because Ultimate Lift Firming Serum contains a smattering of intriguing anti-aging ingredients, including AHAs lactic and glycol acid along with glucosamine, oat kernel, and hyaluronic acid. If only it didn't contain the menthol-derived ingredient and such a high concentration of film-forming agents, which have their own potential to irritate skin when used in such lofty amounts. In the end, this cannot work as claimed (or at least not the way you might interpret from the claims) and is a fragranced serum we can't recommend.

  • Contains several intriguing anti-aging ingredients.
  • Super-light, smoothing texture.
  • Glycolic and lactic acid are good water-binding agents (they're not working as exfoliants in this product).
  • Claims of lifting and restructuring skin are physiologically impossible from a skin-care product.
  • Contains super-potent derivative of menthol that likely poses a strong risk of irritating skin due to its prolonged cooling effect.
  • The amount of film-forming agents will make skin feel tighter, but could also be irritating. The resulting inflammation may make skin look smoother and feel firmer, but in the long run is damaging.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

This dual-action serum helps visibly lift and restructure skin while triggering immediate tightening for sculpted facial contours.

Water (Aqua), Adipic Acid/Neopentyl Glycol Crosspolymer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Glycerin, Glucosamine HCL, Polysorbate 20, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, PEG-8, Menthyl Ethylamido Oxalate, Pisum sativum (Pea) Extract, Arginine, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Bambusa Vulgaris Stem/Leaf Extract, Dimethicone, Panthenol, Polyisobutene, VP/VA Copolymer, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Mica, Sorbitol, Glycine, Amodimethicone, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Titanium Dioxide, PEG-7 Trimethylolpropane Coconut Ether, Sodium Hyaluronate, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Sea Salt, Copper Tripeptide-1, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Potassium Sorbate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum).

Ole Henriksen At-A-Glance

Strengths: The Protect the Truth SPF 50+ Sunscreen is good.

Weaknesses: Expensive; not all-natural as claimed; jar packaging for antioxidant-rich products is pervasive; terribly irritating toners; several average serums and moisturizers, including eye creams; lip balm that contains irritating ingredients.

"Facialist to the stars," L.A.'s "number one face man," and "one of Hollywood's hottest facialists" are but a few of the accolades Denmark-born Ole Henriksen has garnered since he first made a name for himself in Los Angeles back in 1974. Henriksen's skin-care philosophy was, and still is, a mix of holistic teachings, common sense, and, as seen in countless other cosmetic lines (though Henriksen was somewhat of a trailblazer when he started), an affinity for Mother Nature and all she has to offer the skin.

We agree with Henriksen's philosophy that feeling good from the inside can manifest itself on the outside, and we applaud the fact that he admonishes his clients for being too hard on themselves when it comes to their complexions. That bromide loses some of its believability, however, when you realize that Henriksen's products are all about fixing the outside of you, especially the parts with wrinkles, puffy eyes, skin discolorations, and on and on.

For example, all the self-confidence in the world won't change the need for sunscreen or change your genetic propensity for certain skin conditions. Clearly, Henriksen believes that, too, because his skin-care products are meant to help his devotees put their best faces forward. He maintains that his products are different because they are "pure," "natural," and "high performance" productsnow really, how often have we heard that? Way too many times, and as is often the case, the products aren't pure or all natural in the least. It turns out that Henriksen's products aren't anywhere close to being all natural. Every product is rife with plenty of unnatural ingredients, most of which are used industry-wide. (That doesn't make them bad, but marketing hype and distortion should not be the basis for making decisions about what skin-care products you use.) In essence, the only unique aspect of this line is Henriksen's ability to charm his clients into thinking that his products are in some way unique and worth the money, when they absolutely are not. A quick review of the ingredient label reveals far more problems than is acceptable for anyone's skin.

Stepping away from the marketing aspect, this product line has way too many missteps to make it interesting or beneficial. While it does contain helpful plant extracts and oils, it is certainly not the only line that includes those ingredients. Sadly, the potency, and yes, even the purity, of many of the good plant extracts are compromised due to his tendency to use jar packaging rather than more stable, airtight options (all plant extracts deteriorate when exposed to air or light). And the amount of irritating plant extracts makes some of his products just hurtful for skin.

Perhaps the saddest part is that a so-called skin-care expert can't even get sun protection right. You place all that trust in someone's expertise and they don't even have the basics down! Henriksen's Herbal Day Creme SPF 15 lacks titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, Mexoryl, or Tinosorb. All the ballyhooed "calming extracts" and "pure botanicals" in the world cannot stave off one wrinkle if your sunscreen lacks sufficient UVA protection. A few of the sunscreens that do provide adequate UVA protection contain skin celldamaging lavender oil. Sigh. It's not fun when you consistently run into examples in line after line that prove that natural ingredients are not inherently better for skin! Given how many consumers want to use such products, we'd love to offer them some slam-dunk options.

This aesthetician-created line has a few reasonably decent options to consider, but overall the line is not on par with many others. The overwhelming emphasis on "natural skincare" (which, we repeat, this line definitely is not) might sound like it will be good for you, but that is not what you will find here. A company's apparent blindness to the published evidence that many of the natural extracts as well as many of the synthetic ingredients they include are potent skin irritants means you don't want to shop this line through rose-colored glasses.

For more information about Ole Henriksen, call (800) 327-0331 or visit www.olehenriksen.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.

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