Ultimune Eye Power Infusing Eye Concentrate
Ultimune Eye Power Infusing Eye Concentrate is said to strengthen skin around the eyes to help it defend itself, but doesn't offer delicate eye-area skin much beyond a silky texture and a potentially problematic dose of denatured alcohol.
The alcohol presents its share of problems to skin (see More Info for details), not the least of which is stressing skin.
Perhaps more disappointing is that all of the really intriguing ingredients are listed after the alcohol. Even though this is packaged (quite sleekly) to keep light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable, the overall formula is problematic.
Problem two is the fragrance this contains—not just straight-up fragrance but fragrant plant extracts! Most eye-area products omit fragrance as it can be especially sensitizing when applied near the eyes, so there's no reason to choose an eye treatment that exposes skin to it (plus the alcohol). See our list of Best Eye Creams and Treatments for superior options.
- Packaged to keep its light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable.
- Silky, lightweight texture layers well with other products.
- Contains a potentially irritating amount of denatured alcohol.
- Fragranced formula is inappropriate for the eye area.
- All of the fragrance ingredientsincluding rosewatercan sensitize skin.
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
Why You May Not Need an Eye Cream: There's much you can do to address signs of aging around your eyes, but it's not mandatory to use a product that claims to be special for the eye area. Any product loaded with antioxidants, emollients, skin-repairing and skin-brightening agents, and skin-soothing ingredients will also work well in the eye area. Those ingredients don't have to come in a product labeled eye cream, eye gel, eye serum, or eye balm—they can be present in any well-formulated moisturizer or serum.
Most of the products designated as exclusively for the eye area are not really necessary because they contain nothing special for the eye area, they come in packaging that will not maintain the effectiveness of their key ingredients, and/or they are poorly formulated.
Just because a product is labeled as a special eye-area treatment does not mean it's good for the eye area, or for any part of the face; in fact, many can make matters worse.
It's staggering how many eye-area products lack even the most basic ingredients to help skin. For example, most eye-area products don't contain sunscreen, which is a serious problem because it leaves skin around your eyes vulnerable to sun damage—and that absolutely will make dark circles, puffiness, and wrinkles worse! Of course, for nighttime use, eye-area products without sun protection are just fine. If you opt to apply an eye cream without sunscreen during the day, be sure to apply a sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater over it.
Any product you use in the eye area must be well formulated and appropriate for the skin type around your eyes. You might prefer to use a product specially labeled as an eye cream, but you might do just as well by applying your regular facial moisturizer and/or serum around your eyes. Experiment to see what combination of products gives you the best results.
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-brightening 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).
For more information about Shiseido, visit www.shiseido.com.
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 artist-backed 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 offer, because in that regard, they're better than ever!
About the Experts