Adventures In Investment Skincare

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Upon graduation, my mom gave me the matriarchal equivalent of a Birchbox, filled with handpicked samples. She scrawled: “Alexis’ Post-Graduation Skin Care Regimen” across its top, immediately making me skeptical of its internal contents because  as her daughter, it is my duty to be defiant towards any motherly recommendations. And, for most of my life, I successfully have been. Then, I tried SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF.

As a product, it’s an “investment” purchase: a broad-range antioxidant treatment, claiming to protect and correct the skin from future and existing environmental damage. It also retails for $159—roughly 1.5x more than the price per share of Apple, but 3.5 times less than Google.

Impervious to its corrective and preventative claims, I applied the amber colored serum that smells faintly of a chemically-produced-laboratory-grown-orange anyways, followed by sunscreen. My skin, though not suddenly, transformed from irreversible childhood sun damage, looked unusually dewy instead of greasy (as is the case with SPF). After a week, the color became more even and the texture, smoother. I apply every morning and need little face makeup—maybe some powder—as a result. After eight weeks, I finally finished the small sample my Mom gave me and purchased a bottle.

As a person, I’m what you’d call an "instant gratifier"—one who has trouble setting aside that dress or meal out towards my Roth IRA, instead. My foresight may be limited, but future prevention plus instantly visible perfection? Those are two things I’ll willingly invest in.

—Alexis Cheung

Photo by Alexis Cheung

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  • Lauren

    Yes, this is a wonderful product. It really events out your skin tone very quickly and makes life just a little bit easier! And your mom sounds awesome.

    • mamavalveeta03

      She does, at that. I do the same thing for my daughters (no brownie or candy care-packages, here!), so think you can put in a good word for me?!? ;-)

      • Lauren

        Sure! I'd be happy to! Not having a clueless mother is one of the greatest gifts life can give you.

  • http://anniescitykitchen.blogspot.com Annie Lindsay

    Ugh, I find it so hard to drop big bucks on skincare. I KNOW how important it is to be preventative but the price tag is enough to make me cry sometimes. How long would you say a fullsize bottle of this lasts?

    • bluesky557

      Try NuFountain C20+Ferulic. It's the same thing but for $22.

      • http://anniescitykitchen.blogspot.com Annie Lindsay

        Holy heck I will absolutely check this out. Thanks!

  • http://anniescitykitchen.blogspot.com Annie Lindsay

    Ok that makes me feel muucchhh better. Thank you!

  • lisa_carbone

    The PIXI Glow Tonic is apparently a good dupe for the Recherche...at $16 it's worth a look

    Best, Lisa

    • Misskitty

      I second that! It also smells significantly better than P50 since it doesn't contain phenol.

    • Katie

      I actually have both, but prefer the P50. I find it to be more effective!

    • pamb

      Is that from her Target line, or her other line (she said, hoping it's the Target one… ;))

      • lisa_carbone

        Not sure sorry...I'll be checking My local Target though. I know she had an online store, so worth a look!

    • jellymo

      Yes, I have heard a lot of good things about the pixi tonic as well...

    • Nina

      I LOVE the Glow Tonic. It smells amazing and my skin is so glowy now (I guess it does what it says on the bottle, haha).

  • AsphodelJones

    "Investment piece" is in the eye of the beholder, and there is, fortunately, no One True Skincare. I wouldn't drop my money on this, but I did have a Schott Perfecto custom made. Different strokes.

  • Alexis Cheung
  • Misskitty

    Vitamin C can be fairly unstable and will oxidize over time. I've read in several places that any product containing vitamin C should be used up within a few months of opening. I store my Skinceuticals C E Ferulic serum (very similar to the Phloretin CF) in the refrigerator in its original box to prolong its lifespan.

  • Sara

    The best investment is just a simple sunscreen. But use it every single day. So, no thanks! I don't believe in expensive skincare products.

    • Catherine Théberge

      Sunscreen is def the most important. I don't mind splurging after having test the product and I know it is effective! Or I shop at Winners (Canadian TJ Maxx)! I can find extremely good product (always look at the expiration date) for at least 50% less!

  • lauren

    Does anyone else wish their mom did something like this for them? My mother is averse to anything fashion/beauty related, much to my dismay. I'm the black sheep of the family and have never had a "how to" session on the perils of doing your hair or applying makeup.

    • http://www.atdorsia.com/ Eliza

      Haha same! I'm the only person in my family who gives a damn about clothes or skincare--which is of course fine, but sometimes I wish I had a mom who would appreciate talking about serums for hours (since I definitely can!). My mom's only products are generic Noxema and sunscreen (to be fair, sunscreen is one of the best beauty staples there is; hers just happens to be a chalky white one that I wouldn't put on my skin if my life depended on it). No nail polish, no hair coloring, not even a hint of makeup. Luckily, she's the best mom ever, so I can't complain. :)

  • EmmaBoulware

    I'm trying to decide between this product and one of the Medik8 Vitamin C serums. Anyone have thoughts??

    • Michelle

      Unfortunately I'm fine with this product for a couple of days and then my skin breaks out,as it does with a lot of high chemical products.for general daily use I have gentler products and only use this occasionally.

  • bluesky557

    Skin Ceuticals is a good product, but you can get the exact same thing for much, much cheaper. Try NuFountain serums (www.nufountain.com or on Amazon). I use their C20+Ferulic and it's awesome. And only $22.

  • bluesky557

    You'd never want to use Vitamin C serum that's a year old. It's highly unstable and oxidizes and degrades very quickly when exposed to light and air. A couple of months is as long as its potency will last once you open it.

    • breeze

      No offense, but not so. Yes, it will gradually oxidize, but if the product is fresh to begin with and the cap screwed on tightly between uses a bottle will maintain its integrity for at least 9-12 months. Obviously you don't want to store it in direct sunlight or a hot room, nor should you leave the lid off for more than a minute during use. Refrigeration is fine but not necessary. SkinMedica and two independent dermatologists are my sources, not to mention my personal experience over several years. Even if your serum darkens somewhat, if the above critera have been adhered to, product viability and potency should not be impacted.

  • mamavalveeta03

    It's the BEST. What's the old saying? "Once you've had Skinceuticals serum, you can never go back!"

  • mamavalveeta03

    Great point.

  • mamavalveeta03

    True. Which points to the idea that bottle of serum should be packaged smaller.
    Gotta' love capitalism!

  • Deborah

    I think skincare investment is something those with genetically gifted skin might take for granted but for a girl like me who went from terrible acne flareups to all of a sudden dealing with that, greasy skin AND fine lines, it can make or break everything!

    I don't necessarily believe in just spending a bunch of money on expensive products to get good skin but rather I see investment as doing good research for what will work for you and being able to put the money down for some of those products that may not be a comfortable purchase. Case in point, I use a drugstore cleanser but use Biologique Recherche P50 lotion to exfoliate.. despite its price and smell because it gives me good results. I also use a cheap mineral-oil free moisturizer that cost like $15 but then I invest in Yuli Cell Perfecto PM serum to fix my acne scars which again is expensive but my scars are fading and the results are beyond.

    So really.. invest time in picking out good skincare and figure out what to go all out on and what to save on.

    • Misskitty

      You just might be my skincare twin! I also use BR P50 and Yuli Cell Perfecto PM and can attest to the magic of both. :)

  • http://www.clevergirlreviews.com/ Clever Girl Reviews

    I tried using this but it smelled like rotting hotdogs. Maybe I got a bad batch?

    • ScienceTeacher

      If it smelled like hotdogs, it was probably the CE Ferulic, which is famous for its weird, meaty smell, which (in my experience) doesn't mean it's bad. The smell fades quickly.

    • Iris

      Hahahaha! I was just going to write this. Not only did it slightly burn and make me break out, worst of all it smelled like old hot dog! Guess I was thinking of CE Ferulic...but I'm not going to lie, it's turned me off to all SkinCeuticals products.

    • http://www.atdorsia.com/ Eliza

      Hahaha too funny, actually LOL-ing.

  • sharon

    made me brake out!!!!

  • Rose

    I'm curious—does it help with scarring?

  • Willa

    I've been using this product for 4 years now. I have the opposite of sensitive skin. Almost nothing can break through it. Products don't usually break me out BUT products don't improve it, either. Phloretin CF, to my shock the first week I used it, smoothed my skin like nothing else. I do find, though, that I become immune to it if I use it for too long. I remedy this by taking a break from it for a week every month.

    I just buy a pack of the travel size on eBay. 6 vials for $23. Comes out to about $80 a year.

  • Emem

    Cosmetic Skin Solutions. Roughly $100 less for the same ingredients, but a slightly higher pH. Still just as effective!

  • http://www.mademoisellenature.blogspot.com Mademoiselle nature

    Would love to know the product composition to see if it does justify the price.

  • Lauren

    this is excellent advice. I don't know why young women don't visit a dermatologist when their skin acts up. I have mine on speed dial! The great skincare routine is for maintenance once you have gotten to the root of the problem. Usually dermatological topical medicine fixes the problem within ONE WEEK.

  • Lauren

    "as if women are so empty-headed and averse to economics that the only investments we can handle are in **pretty things!!** Buying stocks, real estate etc are the only real investments- and articles like these divert women's attention from doing so" I never thought of this, but you are 100% correct. Amazing point.

  • Aubrey Green

    I think a Dermatologist (a good one) is the best investment. At $45 a visit and a mild glycolic peel each time (usually once a month if my skin is freaking out, aka: acne),otherwise like every 3 months - this sometimes comes with prescriptions that are long term and some shorter. Regardless, best investment I've made. On that note: health insurance is also a good investment, as some of my prescriptions I've needed/used are roughly $400-$600 a piece without insurance.

    • jellymo

      Absolutely, health insurance is the ultimate investment.

  • KatInEurope

    My dermatologist tells me to use this - so I do. Fantastic stuff.
    Wait for the 20% off deals at SkinStore or buy the sample sizes (some prefer those due to oxidization). When I don't use it, it shows.
    Means I can use cheap moisturizer (I do use SkinCeuticals sunscreen though)!

  • christina

    I used this stuff for 3 years until my skin broke out. My derm says this stuff isn't good for long time use

  • Cindy

    I have been using this product since around 2008, recommended by my doctor friend. I have been a sun-lover for years and used to play water sports competitively. So you can imagine how much UV I've been exposed to (not that I recommend it, in fact I try to limit it in recent year). In recent 2 years I started also to wear sunscreen everyday. I am now 38 years old and I am proud to say that nobody at all can tell my age from my skin. My skin looks under 30 to most people. I have pretty healthy skin and don't need to use any foundation (but I do like to use a little powder sometimes). This is the only skincare product that I have not changed since 2008. I continued to use it as my dermatologist also recommended it. I guess this says it all.

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