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Lancôme DreamTone Ultimate Dark Spot Corrector Aims To Deliver Customized Skin Brightening Esperience

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Perhaps more than ever before, women are searching to perfect their skin tones, a multi-pronged process that involves eliminating redness, eradicating dark spots and acne scars, boosting overall radiance, and ensuring evenness in their complexion’s tonality. And while women want to enjoy long-term results in the realm of skin brightening, we’re also not ones to delay gratification when there’s a possibility we can enjoy satisfaction immediately. After all, in the age of “real time” media and social networking, the notion of waiting for anything is practically obsolete. To satisfy antsy customers, then, many brands have developed products that promise to deliver long-term skin brightening effects while also providing instant color correction via the clever use of pigments (as is the case with most CC creams) and light scattering technology (utilized in products like Estée Lauder’s Idealist) that visually blurs any melanin clusters, creating a favorable optical illusion.

With all these developments in consideration, Lancôme sought to up the ante by creating a lightweight serum that would blast deep-seated instances of hyperpigmentation (long-standing sun spots, acne marks, and so forth), while also providing immediate reprieve via the usage of soft-focus pearls that would diffuse the appearance of dark spots and boost radiance and, lastly — and this is the key selling point —would incorporate tinted pearls meant to address the specific concerns of women of different ethnicities and with with different skin tones and depths. To that end, then, it developed the Lancôme DreamTone Ultimate Dark Spot Corrector ($98 at Sephora.com and Lancome-USA.com), the first high-end brightening serum to be offered in three distinct shades: Fair, Medium, and Deep. The soft-focus tinted pearls for each formula were created using the L’Oréal Skin Color Chart and the Fitzpatrick scale, a classification system for skin color developed by a Harvard dermatologist and based on the skin’s response to UV light. There’s a slightly flawed logic when it comes to the three skin tone options since the emphasis lies solely on skin depth (whether you’re fair- or dark-skinned) and absolutely no attention given to one’s undertones (after all, regardless of whether you’re ivory-skinned or you have a mahogany complexion, you’ll have cool, warm, or neutral undertones that will influence the look of your skin). But more on that in a bit.

In terms of the serum’s long-term, hyperpigmentation-fighting abilities, the formula relies on a little-known ingredient: Hydroxy-Phenoxy Propionic Acid, a hydroquinone derivative that is said to inhibit melanin production and naturally exfoliate the skin to remove already existing instances of hyperpigmentation. The problem, of course, is that very little information exists about this ingredient except that it’s also used in some competitor products, like SkinCeuticals’ Advanced Pigment Corrector, and that it’s allegedly milder (according to the companies that use it in their formulations) than hydroquinone. Since it is derived from hydroquinone, an effective skin lightener but also a really controversial ingredient due to several studies that linked its use to the development of cancer, I’m not 100% convinced of its safety — particularly if applied to skin consistently over long periods of time.

Other ingredients include: Lyphohydroxy Acid, a salicylic acid derivative that’s often used to unblock pores and which apparently helps the skin undergo a natural exfoliation process that leads to a brighter skin tone over time; Dermochlorella, a green micro-algae extract that has been shown to stimulate collagen production and reduce the appearance of spots and marks created due to poor blood circulation; and Eterniskin, a derivative of Japan’s Maitake mushroom that is believed to firm the skin and protect it from free radicals.

Having gone through the ingredient list, it’s clear that the serum relies heavily on anti-aging ingredients that will stimulate cellular turnover and hence exfoliation— not an uncommon strategy and one that the consumer public tends to appreciate since it means that skin will also appear more luminous and feel soft and comfortable after the application process is complete. Still, in regards to anti-hyperpigmentation ingredients, the only real agent here is Hydroxy-Phenoxy Propionic Acid — there’s no vitamin C complex, no peony extract, no raspberry extract, no wild rose extract, no lotus extract, no apple extract, and no other plant-based skin brightener.

So does it work? Well, it does, but Lancôme’s DreamTone is most effective at battling recently formed dark spots (like, say, a recent acne mark) than it is at tackling some of the more cantankerous scars and spots. I’ve personally witnessed faster results with the Clarins Vital Light Serum and the Estée Lauder Idealist but, that said, I did notice some improvement in the evenness of my skin tone (though, again, the progression was slower). Also, it does make the skin glow nicely thanks to those soft-focus pearls in the formula, and it smells divine.

In terms of the skin tone classification system, I personally think it’s a bunch of rubbish. For one, the system is based on rather limiting and misguided assumptions about the type of discoloration issues women with different skin tones possess. For instance, the “1” serum, which was developed for fair-skinned women, is meant to correct the look of redness. And yet many a fair-skinned woman, myself included, will express greater frustration over brown spots left behind by the sun or by breakouts than they will over redness. Similarly, the “3” serum, said to be formulated for dark-skinned women, is meant to correct the look of acne marks. The problem with that line of thinking is that dark-skinned ladies are as likely to suffer from redness and flakiness as any other segment of the population, much like fair-skinned women are just as likely to have deep-rooted acne scars. As fair-skinned as I am, I’ve been using the “2” serum and it’s been a great fit for me. The tinted pearls aren’t so intensely pigmented as to make me look like I’m using the wrong shade of foundation, so I doubt any fair-skinned woman would have a problem using the “2” instead of the “1” serum.

Ideally, you’ll want to use the serum on cleansed skin, prior to moisturizing.You can use it in the morning and at night, but do make sure to apply a moisturizer with SPF during the day since your skin will likely be more sensitive to the sun’s rays (as is the case with any brightening product). Besides, you certainly don’t want to develop any new sun spots after working so hard to get rid of existing marks!

Again, I do think this product is effective, but its potency is best examined after a significant amount of consistent use (about 12 weeks). On an immediate level, however, you can at least enjoy the lit-from-within radiance the serum yields and the formula’s softening effects.

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