Skincare for me as a chemist is like building a puzzle. You have to find and experiment with different ingredients and formulations and pick the ones that are not only scientifically backed but also actually work for you (biologically and for your budget).
Ceramides have been around for a while now and have been one of the ingredients that have given me very quick results, almost as soon as I incorporated them into my skincare. For all science details on ceramides and why you include them in your skincare check out: What are ceramides and do they work in skincare?
In a previous post I looked at the Paula’s Choice Ceramide moisturiser which not only contains a couple of ceramides but also other nourishing ingredients and works so well that has become one of my ride-or-die products.
In this post I wanted to explore one of the more “famous” ceramide products (this post was also requested), the Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules. Does this serum work, is it worth the cash and is it worth using over other products?
Let’s find out.
This product comes with cardboard outer packaging which looks simple and yet elegant and expensive, while having the typical Elizabeth Arden design and golden look.
The actual capsules themselves come in a gold plastic container that is opened by pushing the lid down, a bit like a button mechanism. It’s very easy to use and it looks great however, the plastic nature of it makes it feel light and cheaper than what you would expect, considering the price of the product.
Nevertheless, the packaging looks nice, especially due to the see-through window that showcases the capsules.
The actual serum comes in one-use, disposable, golden capsules which look quite cute. All you have to do is twist the top a couple of times, for the capsule to open, and the serum to flow out. While twisting them open is very easy and doesn’t require strength these capsules didn’t work for me as well as others (see Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules – In Depth Review and Ingredient Analysis), as the opening was most of the time not clear cut, meaning that the serum flew out from different directions. Nevertheless, it’s not a major issue, just a little messier, you can still spread the product wherever you want it.
The fact that this serum comes in ampules is not just for the psychological benefit of using something “that is expensive, serious and works” but also great formulation-wise. Being able to isolate a product from air (oxygen and moisture) and light means that you can create simpler formulations, using ingredients that you may not be able to otherwise and create a product that will also last longer.
However, this is also one of the downsides of this product. The capsules create a feeling of a “special treatment” type of product which shouldn’t be the case. Ceramides should be included in your skincare, if not daily, on a very frequent basis, and just using one or two of these as a treatment every now and again will neither give you sustained results or be worth the cash.
A tin containing 60 capsules (=28mL) retails for £66. This brings each capsule at £1.10 which is not cheap, especially if you use this as directed on the product packaging, twice a day, every day. Atleast, each capsule contains enough serum to easily cover your entire face and neck.
Alternatively, you can buy re-fill packs of 45 capsules for £47 which brings each capsule at £1.04. However, the price difference is slightly dissapointing.
You could also buy a 90 capsule pack for £84 which would bring each capsule to £0.93.
Finally, Elizabeth Arden also sells a 120 capsule set (2 x 60) for £118.80 which brings each capsule at £0.90 and is therefore the cheapest option.
You can also find the 60 tin pack at TK-Max for £34.99, which brings each capsule to £0.58, and is by far the most affortable option.
This serum comes in capsules which means that it is almost expected to be an oily liquid. It is indeed a clear colourless oil and it takes a long time to be absorbed by the skin. However, it’s not the type of oiliness that typical fat creates, your fingers won’t feel slimy and fatty after. Nevertheless, the oily texture makes this serum easy to slide around and spread on the skin.
However, the oily nature of the serum is also a negative (even if you like facial oils) which in a way decreases the product’s potential because you will likely loose a bit of the product by touching your face accidentally, since it won’t be dry for a while.
The serum doesn’t smell of anything other than perhaps a faint oil-type of scent. It is neither pleasant or unpleasant and you might not even smell it.
Products that come in enclosed capsules don’t usually have a “last for” or “xM” label because they can last for a very long time, since they do not come in contact with air or light. That’s definitely a big advantage for these capsules.
Here’s what the brand says about this product:
“Pure. Potent. Precise. Our Advanced Ceramide Capsules provide triple the anti-aging power for visibly firmer, smoother, healthy-looking skin.
Proven to take years off the look of your skin.
Experience a triple-powered capsule of youth that focuses on enhancing skins’ barrier repair function, increasing moisturization within the surface of the skin and minimize the appearance of aging signs. This lightweight, silky-smooth serum helps to maintain healthy, youthful-looking skin and correct the visible signs of aging by delivering a new and improved blend of ingredients your skin needs to target skin barrier repair, moisturization, and Anti-Aging.
Each capsule is biodegradable, fragrance and preservative free, designed to deliver a concentrated dose packed with even more advanced ceramide technology.
The importance of skin’s lipid barrier
Imagine a brick wall. After years of exposure, the mortar between the bricks starts to break down. Your skin is no different. As you age, ceramides (the mortar) aren’t produced at the same rate, resulting in a noticeable decline in ceramides by your 30’s, and an even more dramatic decline by your 40’s. Your skin begins to weaken and form wrinkles, dryness, uneven skin tone and loss of firmness.
Defy skin’s decline with Ceramide Technology
Our innovative Advanced Ceramide Capsules have the power to help replenish and restore the ceramides your skin loses with age. Our skin-identical Ceramide technology helps strengthen skin’s moisture barrier layer with what it needs for a youthful-looking appearance.
- REVITALIZES and re-texturizes the look of skin
- IMPROVES skin’s radiance visibly
- SUPPORTS skin’s natural collagen for a firmer look
- REDUCES the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- ENHANCES skin hydration for a fresh and balanced feel
- SMOOTHES and softens skin noticeably”
Practicality of use – user experience
The capsules are very travel friendly and I always take products like these with me when I’m travelling. Not only can they give your skin some extra love and moisturisation but you can also take with you exactly how many uses you need and then you don’t have to carry anything back!
The capsules are very easy to open but did not always open clearly. Sometimes the serum would flow out from different directions, creating a little mess, and others it would flow out perfectly because the opening cut was spot on. Either way this wasn’t a major issue.
The serum is an oil which is very easy to spread around but takes a long time to be absorbed by the skin, which means that not only you might spend some time feeling oily (which is extra uncomfortable if you are the oily skin type) but you will also likely contaminate your hands or clothes with it as you will eventually touch some part of your face and neck that hasn’t dried up yet. I even managed to get it into my eyes a couple of times which wasn’t great and please do not try that!
However, the good news is that your fingers do not need cleaning after using this serum. The oiliness is not the fatty type and it goes away easily if you use a tissue or rub your hands together or spread whatever is left on them. Get some hand care in there!
The claims and results
The brand claims the following:
“Clinical test results:
100%of women showed an improvement in the overall appearance of their skin.
100% of women showed an improvement in skin radiance and luminosity.
97% of women showed a significant improving in the appearance of wrinkles.
95% of women demonstrated significant improvement in visible firmness after just two weeks.
95% of women reported that skin felt intensely hydrated.
93% of women reported that skin immediately looked healthy and felt smoother.
88% of women showed improved texture.
86% of women showed more even skin tone.”
Some intense claims right there that are very hard to argue for or against without knowing the exact tests and procedures that these women went through and also doing long and controlled laboratory tests. Also important, how many women is the 100% referred to because, well 1 out of 1 is 100%! Not saying that they based these claims on one person of course, but such claims are usually based on very small sample sizes that are very often not statistically important.
Additionally, other than one claim, the rest don’t mention how long after using the product you could expect those results and also how often and in combination with what other skincare? There are many gaps and the claims appear bold, especially considering the “not that extensive” ingredient list of this product. Also important, if these women just never used ceramides before (which is something that the study should specify) then yes the results can be drastic because ceramides can change your skin quickly. But if you have used ceramides before and you have a good skincare regime already then I doubt you’d notice many drastic changes.
After using these every night for two weeks (in combination with my standard skincare) I felt that my skin felt smoother and I even thought that my pores were slightly smoother too. However, that was about it for me, no skin radiance or luminosity, no improvement in wrinkles (but I don’t have some so fair enough – plus it would take more time for such effects) and I didn’t feel more hydrated than usual. After a while I was also very fed up with using an oil on my face every day.
If I compare this product to the very similar Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming moisturiser, I thought that this serum was more “superficial” than the Paula’s Choice cream. The cream made my skin feel thicker and deeply moisturised where these serum capsules made my skin feel smoother and softer on the surface.
Both effects are needed and are great for the skin (and I’d never say no to anything that deals with my pores) but I can’t help but feel that the Paula’s Choice results were longer lasting and more significant for my skin’s health, whereas this serum’s results felt more superficial, almost like pre-makeup perfectionism. This of course doesn’t mean that this serum is not nutritious for the skin or that it doesn’t do anything important.
This serum contains 23 ingredients of which all will offer you some skincare benefit (some more than others), 2 potential negatives and 3 potential irritants. The stats are definitely great and this serum definitely has some potential. There are a couple of very good ingredients contained and the serum is fragrance and preservative free which is great.
However, for a cheaper price, the Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming moisturiser is a more rounded product in ingredients contained, texture and practicality of use and so I would recommend you try that one first.
To keep this article short, I am only listing the skin nourishing or skin positive/negative ingredients and ignoring the ones that only play formulation purposes. For the full list of these product’s ingredients scroll down to the “full list of ingredients” section.
- Isononyl Isononanoate – A skin conditioner that leaves a silky feeling on the skin.
- Isodecyl Neopentanoate – A skin conditioner that leaves a soft feeling on skin and hair.
- Isododecane – Solvent and humectant (=locks moisture in).
- Isopropyl Myristate – A skin conditioner and fragrance.
- Dimethicone – Creates a barrier and can therefore protect the skin. Also acts as a skin conditioner. It leaves a silky feeling and can even fill in lines temporarily.
- Camellia Japonica Seed Oil – A skin conditioner and soother. A potential good source of fatty acid and oleic acid.
- Divinyldimethicone/Dimethicone Crosspolymer – A skin conditioner and firm former.
- Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride – A skin conditioner and replenisher. Can enhance the delivery of vitamins, pigments and other ingredients.
- Cyclopentasiloxane – A solvent that enhances fluidity and gives a silky feeling. It can also temporarily fill in wrinkles and creases. Can lock in water by forming a protective barrier on the skin.
- Ceramide 1 (EOP) – One of the naturally occurring lipids in our skin and therefore a skin replenisher compound. Ceramides can moisturise the skin, improve elasticity and even reduce lines and skin irritation. They can also condition hair! Check out: What are ceramides and do they work in skincare?
- Ceramide 3 (NP) – See above.
- Ceramide 6 II (AP) – See above.
- Cholesterol – One of the main lipids in our skin other than ceramides. A good skin conditioner and replenishing compound that can help maintain the skin’s healthy feel and appearance. Our skin naturally contains cholesterol, it works by strengthening the outer structure of the skin and protecting it from dehydration.
- Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil – A skin conditioner that is high in anti-oxidants and anti-bacterial fatty acids. Provides deep hydration and conditioning to skin. Some research shows that it can improve skin’s elasticity and by extent perhaps slowing down wrinkle formation.
- Crithmum Maritimum Extract – A skin conditioner.
- Dimethiconol – A skin conditioner that can fill in lines, wrinkles and pores giving a plumper look. Can also create a subtle gloss on the skin and protects the skin from losing water.
- Lecithin – A lipid that improves skin equilibrium.
- Linoleic Acid – A very good skin soother, anti-oxidant, skin restorer and skin conditioner. Deficiency in this ingredient can cause many effects including slower wound healing. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory compound, for acne reduction, and moisture retention.
- Medicago Sativa (alfalfa) Extract – An anti-oxidant mixture with anti-microbial properties which contains minerals, Vitamins A, C, E, and K and possibly coumestrol. A study claims it can reduce hair growth.
- Phytosphingosine – A natural phospholipid that can act as a skin and hair conditioner. Has water-biding, skin restoring and preservative properties.
- Retinyl Palmitate – A less irritating pre-version of vitamin A, our bodies convert this to retinol. A skin conditioner and anti-oxidant.
- Squalene – A naturally occurring lipid that can act as a hair and skin conditioner. A skin replenishing compound.
- Tocopherol – Refers to a class of compounds with similar activities to vitamin E. A skin conditioner, anti-oxidant and fragrance agent. Check out: Vitamins C & E – Do they work in skin care?
- Lecithin – Generally considered safe but some suspect this to be a carcinogen. However, there is no proof.
- Medicago Sativa (alfalfa) Extract – Could potentially contain coumestrol which is a phytoestrogen that can mimic the activity of the female hormones, estrogens. However, if this causes any issues or not is unknown.
Ingredients that can cause irritation to some:
This is actually really case specific, as different people have different sensitivities and allergies. Just because a compound has been reported by some to cause sensitivity, it doesn’t mean you will have an issue. “Sensitizer” compounds being present is not a negative in my opinion, as this is the case with pretty much everything out there and funnily enough I’ve seen products that are targeted specifically for sensitive skin, containing some compounds that have been reported by some, or are known to be, sensitizers.
If you have sensitive skin or you are prone to skin sensitisation and unwanted reactions, try a little bit of this at the back of your hand first and consult a medical doctor if you are concerned.
The following compounds present in this serum have been either proven or claimed by some to be sensitizers, irritants, allergens etc: Isopropyl Myristate, Cholesterol, Retinyl Palmitate.
Full list of ingredients:
Isononyl Isononanoate, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Isododecane, Isopropyl Myristate, Dimethicone, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Divinyldimethicone/Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cyclopentasiloxane, Ceramide 1, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Cholesterol, Cocos Nucifera (coconut) Oil, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Dimethiconol, Lecithin, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Medicago Sativa (alfalfa) Extract, Phytosphingosine, Retinyl Palmitate, Squalene, Tocopherol.
A good product especially if you don’t mind oils on your face. The ingredients and formulation have potential and the serum did give me some quick skincare results, with more potentially if I keep using it consistently for longer. However, I believe that the Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming moisturiser is a better product (and cheaper!) that is suitable for all skin types and has a more practical texture, so I would recommend you try that one first. However, these little serum capsules can come in handy when traveling and might be especially soothing if you have dry skin. And perhaps if the rest of your skincare is solid and very specific and you don’t want to change any of the products, you could add this serum in as a ceramide source.
A good product let down by it’s texture, price and ingredient versatility.
I am not affiliated with any company or brand. These are my views and experiences.
Beauty is a very personal thing, we all have different skin, requirements and biological build which can influence things. What worked for me might not work for you and vice versa. Have you ever tried these products? Did they work for you? Let me know your experiences below!
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