As a skincare fanatic, I’m a bit ashamed to admit I didn’t know about pre-serums, until my friend Annette gave me a sample of Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate a few weeks ago (thank you!).
Apparently, a pre-serum is something you use after your cleanser and toner, but BEFORE your serum and moisturizer. What it does? Well, Shiseido’s pre-serum is supposed to boost your skin’s immunity, helping your lotions and potions be better absorbed by the skin and work more efficiently.
Sounds very gimmicky, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. A quick look at the ingredient list reveals the serum for what it is: a boring formula that may actually do more harm than good to your skin!
The base of this serum is made up of glycerin, a humectant that draws water from the environment into the skin, and dimethicone, a silicone that creates a protective barrier on the skin without suffocating it.
Yep, popular opinion is wrong. Dimethicone, like all other silicones, has a particular molecular structure made up of big molecules with wide spaces between them. These wide spaces allow skin to perspire.
So, no, dimethicone won’t ruin your skin. But it’ll fill in fine lines and wrinkles so they’ll look temporarily smaller, and make your skin silky soft to the touch. I adore the super sleek feel it gives to my skin, but Annette can’t stand it (that’s why she gave the serum to me).
Glycerin and dimethicone make your skin feel slightly hydrating, but not so much you’ll feel a big difference. It may have been intentional. After all, this stuff is supposed to be used before serum and moisturizer, not in its place.
Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate’s real job is to boost our skin’s immunity, so can it do that? Mmm, no. The exclusive Ultimune Complex, what Shiseido boasted to be one of the biggest innovations of the past year, is only a blend of Bulgarian rose water, aqua in pool, and yeast, that’s supposed to protect and strengthen skin.
I’m sure that Shiseido has studies proving this complex benefits skin, but its ingredients are hardly miraculous, especially in the tiny amounts used here.
So far, the serum sounds average, not bad. So, why do I think it may cause some harm to your skin? Alcohol Denat. This pre-serum is loaded with it! Although I’ve recently come across a study that claims that alcohol is not as irritating as previously thought, it can still dry out skin with regular use.
This serum didn’t dry out mine yet, but that’s more because of the moisturizing cream I apply afterwards. It counteracts its potential side effect. Phew! But why include it?
Alcohol has two jobs in skincare. The first is to enhance the penetration of active ingredients, so they get deeper into the skin and perform better. But active ingredients are severely lacking here. The bulk of the formula is made up of humectants and emollients that work better when left on the surface of the skin.
The other reason is to thin out the texture. Because no one enjoys applying a thick, hard-to-spread serum all over their face. And Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate has a very lightweight, thin texture (just a little thicker than water) that sinks in into the skin quickly, without leaving a greasy residue behind.
And then there’s the fragrance. It’s floral, lovely, and subtle. But it may also irritate sensitive skin. Although, chances are the alcohol will get there first, so the fragrance is the least of your worries, really. So no, this is so not something suitable for sensitive skin.
But is it suitable for anyone else? Mmm.. Not really. Even if the serum won’t dry out or irritate your skin, it won’t do much good either. I’ve been using it for almost a month now and have seen no improvement. Not surprising considering the lack of beneficial anti-ageing ingredients.
So no, I’m not sold on Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate. But I’m not sold on the idea of a pre-serum either. It sounds like a gimmick designed to make us spend more money rather than improve our skin. I don’t think I’ll try another one anytime soon.
Water (Aqua), SD Alcohol 40-B (Alcohol Denatured), Glycerin, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, PEG/PPG-17/4 Dimethyl Ether, Triethylhexanoin, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-14M, Methylparaben, Tocopheryl Acetate, PEG/PPG-14/7 Dimethyl Ether, Rosa Damascene Flower Water, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Fragrance (Parfum) Disodium EDTA, Potassium Hydroxiodes, Silica, Isoceteth-10, Linalool, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract (Ginkgo Biloba), Geraniol, Citronellol, Sodium Carboxymethyl Beta-Glucan, BHT, Thymus Serpillum Extract, Perilla Ocymoides Leaf Extract, Sodium Bicarbonate
THE BOTTOM LINE
Pros: Lightweight texture, sinks in quickly; Doesn’t leave a greasy residue behind; Slightly hydrating; Makes skin soft to the touch.
Cons: Boring formula lacks anti-ageing ingredients; Loaded with drying alcohol; May irritate sensitive skin.
Summary: Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate is a boring formula that did nothing for my skin. But, had it been sensitive, it would have probably irritated it!
Price & Availability: 65$ at Sephora