Ultra-Lift 2-in-1 Wrinkle Reducer Serum + Moisturizer
Recently reformulated, Garnier’s SkinActive Ultra-Lift Day Wrinkle Reducer 2-in-1 Serum + Moisturizer, which comes in one container with a pump dispenser, is a swirled moisturizer and serum that’s said to firm skin and reduce wrinkles. But far from being a 2-in-1 time-saver, this product is mostly disappointing. It contains a standard roster of slip agents and thickeners to create a creamy, non-greasy feel, but state-of-the-art ingredients are in short supply.
This is said to contain “pro retinol from nature” but the form of vitamin A used is retinyl linoleate, which can be natural or synthetic. That’s not terrible, but the fact that this moisturizer contains more fragrance than anti-aging ingredients certainly is!
Retinyl linoleate is retinol combined with linoleic acid; both are good cell-communicating ingredients. However, there is considerably more research on pure retinol’s benefit for skin than retinyl linoleate and Garnier isn’t using much retinyl linoleate in this product.
Along with the retinyl linoleate is a tiny amount of antioxidant vitamin E, likely not enough to offer any anti-aging impact—and certainly not in clear packaging that exposes these delicate ingredients to degrading light. This serum plus moisturizer makes some big promises, but the formula simply isn’t capable of fulfilling them.
In terms of instant firming, this contains enough film-forming agents to make skin feel a bit firmer, perhaps even a little tighter, but skin feeling firmer or tighter isn’t the same as it actually becoming firmer or tighter—it’s just a tactile sensation that may make you think the product is doing something. The texture and finish are best for normal to dry skin, but we strongly encourage you to consider the superior options on our list of best moisturizers or best serums instead.
- Elegantly creamy, non-greasy texture.
- Attractive pump dispenser.
- Contains more of the fragrance ingredient linalool than pro-retinol.
- Cannot lift skin and won’t do much to actually make it firmer.
- Clear bottle packaging exposes the retinol and vitamin E to light.
2-in-1 innovation. For wrinkles + firming. Boosts wrinkle repair in just 1 step. Serum deeply penetrates. Moisturizer instantly firms. 2X pro-retinol from nature. Dual-fusion delivery: Ultra-Lift 2-in-1 Wrinkle Reducer Serum + Moisturizer is precisely mixed together only at the time of use to provide powerful anti-wrinkle results vs. a daily moisturizer alone. Upon application, the fast-absorbing serum penetrates deep throughout skin's surface layers, and when fused with the daily moisturizer, instantly firms and hydrates skin.
Garnier Nutritioniste At-A-Glance
Strengths: Interesting and potentially helpful cleansing oil and foundation primer.
Weaknesses: Insufficient UVA protection from some of the sunscreens; average to below average moisturizers and eye creams; mostly irritating cleansers; no effective products for blemish-prone skin; jar packaging.
Debuting with permanent hair dye and then making the segue to a full line of hair-care products emphasizing carefree, casual styles with can't-miss-it colorful packaging has been Garnier's formula for penetrating the U.S. market. Several well-known actresses have had dual roles as spokesperson for Garnier's hair dyes and skin-care products, with splashy ads appearing in magazines and on television commercials.
Unfortunately, this group of products hasn't got much going for it except the lure celebrity spokespeople provide. The amount of fragrance is perhaps forgivable for a French-owned product line, and in most of the Nutritioniste products it's not too intrusive. What is deplorable is the lack of sufficient UVA protection in the sunscreens. A skin-care line has no right to speak about the anti-aging benefits and "breakthrough approach" of its products when they cannot get this fundamental aspect consistently right.
It's also disappointing that some products contain irritating peppermint, which made us wonder whether the dermatologists who consulted for Garnier had any idea of what's good for skin and what isn't. It seems they didn't, because what they ended up with is a mix of pro and con products that make it impossible for consumers to assemble a sensible skin-care routine, not to mention products that make skin-lifting claims most dermatologists would dismiss as cosmetics puffery.
The hook for this line is the way it is said to bring nutrition and dermatology together. The products are "fortified" with antioxidants such as lycopene and nutritional ingredients such as fatty acids, vitamins (A and C, never present together in the same product!), and minerals. Garnier wants you to think this is a revolutionary idea, but it isn'tdid they also overlook that everyone else, from L'Oreal (Garnier is owned by L'Oreal) to Estee Lauder and Clinique, has been using such ingredients in their products for years? And why consult a nutritionist (as Garnier did) when their training and professional expertise has little to do with application of anything to the skin? The whole scenario proves Garnier was more concerned with creating an attention-getting story for this line rather than formulating truly breakthrough products.
Despite our disdain for the way Garnier's marketing takes precedence over making the products as good as they could be formulary-wise, there are some bright spots. Because Garnier is owned by L'Oreal, it's no surprise to find that there are lots of similarities between the better and worse aspects of L'Oreal's skin care as well as with L'Oreal's department-store sister company Lancome. In some ways, Garnier's formulas best those of both companies by including a greater array of antioxidants and intriguing skin-identical ingredients. The occasional jar packaging choice reduces the effectiveness of some of these products, but other than that, Lancome users should take note of the happy facerated products in this line. You'll be getting a better product for considerably less money here (though, at least for now, no free gift with purchasebut you can buy Lancome foundations or mascaras instead when gift time comes around).
For more information about Garnier Nutritioniste, call (800) 370-1925 or visit www.garnierusa.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.