Review - Lancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate
This product was gifted for the purpose of trial and review. Nevertheless, I am giving my (brutally) honest opinion on this product.
I was invited by Beautyheaven to participate in the trial team for Lancôme's Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate (what an elaborated name for a serum!). I was thrilled, because I have been using the Advanced Génifique eye masks and absolutely love them.
The trial period was 3 weeks.
Claims from the Australian Lancôme website:
Advanced Génifique is our #1 serum for younger-looking and radiant skin.
The 1st step in every beauty routine, Advanced Génifique Serum targets the 10 key signs of youthful-looking skin: texture, resiliency, elasticity, firmness, sagginess, fine lines, wrinkles, radiance, even skin tone, clarity.
Its patented formula feels incredible to the touch. Drop by drop, skin feels younger at your fingertips.
For every woman: multiple ethnicities and ages. Clinically proven results.
In my review I will outline my experience and respond to each of these claims.
The dispensing mechanism is worth mentioning. Having worked in laboratories for a decade, this is the first time I've seen a skincare product designed to be dispensed by what is effectively an automatic pipette. Each time when the lid is being closed, the dispensing mechanism sucks into the "dropper" a fixed amount of product ready for the next use. To dispense, push the button on top of the lid and that same amount of product will be dispensed every time. It is quite convenient and clever. I can also see that this mechanism can potentially eliminate the pumping of air back into the product to slow down any oxidation which could make the product less effective. The down side is, of course, you would need to use that set amount of product every time.
I have listed the ingredients of this product at the bottom of the page. As I am conscious about the length of this review I would only expand my observations on two ingredients - Bifida ferment lysate (the key ingredient) and alcohol denat..
Bifida ferment lysate
This is the key ingredient in Génifique. In simple terms, bacterial lysate is the aqueous solution obtained by bursting open bacterial cells, followed by centrifugation to get rid of the insoluble debris. The lysate fraction contains many metabolites, nutrients, acids and other molecules that are potentially good for the skin. It is not high tech stuff - I have made tonnes of bacterial lysate in my science days - and it is certainly not glamorous or sexy. Bifida ferment lysate is made from the fermentation and lysis of Bifidobacteria - a type of bacteria that is found in the colon flora of mammals. Objectively speaking, evidence backing the benefits of this particular lysate is extremely limited - I could only find one study published by the L'Oreal group (the head company of Lancôme) which supports a finding of increased skin barrier function in "reactive" skin. There doesn't appear to be any evidence supporting that it is beneficial to non-reactive skin - and there doesn't appear to be any independent studies supporting these findings at all.
Nonetheless, my experience with Bifida ferment lysate has been positive. Its use in skincare is not new. It is also the key ingredient used in Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair, one of my favourite serums to date.
I came across a lot of promotional and advertising materials, and even a relatively large body of literature labeling bacterial lysate as "probiotic". Probiotic is the buzzword that people like to use to make their products trendy. But what really is "probiotic"?
The World Health Organisation defines the word "probiotic" as "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host" (see source here). [emphasis added]. Ingesting probiotics provide benefits to the host in many ways - for example, to regulate the pH of the enviroment (through bacterial production of acid compounds) and to "crowd out" pathogenic bacteria (through growth and multiplication). I have also come across a couple of studies suggesting suitable live culture has the ability to change the composition of micro flora on skin, which makes sense. However, lysate is not "live microorganisms". They are dead. Dead bacteria do not exhibit the very properties that make the bacteria "probiotic" the first place. In my opinion, to say bacterial lysate and "probiotic" are the same thing is to ignore the basics of microbiology, or to invite confusion.
There are many different types of alcohols used in skincare - but alcohol denat. is the "drying" type. Alcohol denat. is widely used in skincare products as a solvent. There are two schools of thought - one says that it is downright evil, and another says that it can enhance product penetration and absorption. My approach is to avoid it if possible; however, I do not automatically run in the other direction when I see alcohol denat. I look at which type of product it is contained in (e.g. I can accept a larger amount of alcohol denat. in spot treatments and sheet masks - things I do not use on a daily basis), and do the beneficial ingredients outweigh the inclusion of alcohol denat., and, most importantly, how does my skin feel about it.
If a reviewer hasn't been looking after his/her skin properly, applying any cream or serum for a few weeks is going to make a dramatic difference. So it is probably helpful to explain my skin type and what I had been using prior to starting the trial.
My skin type is normal; my t-zone is not oily and my cheeks are not dry. Occasionally my skin can feel slightly dehydrated depending on my water intake at the time. I did not have a whole lot of concerns, but I do have fine lines under eyes, deep wrinkles on my neck, and pigmentation from my recent pregnancy. My skin is resilient. It tolerates most products containing alcohol denat., as long as it is not in the top 3 of an ingredients list.
Prior to starting the Génifique trial, in the morning I had been alternating between 3 different serums: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair, Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus, and Antipodes Hosanna. I am a long term user of both the Estée Lauder and Clinique serums. It was the perfect time to test out Génifique, as Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair uses the same key ingredient - Bifida ferment lysate. It was interesting to see how these two serums perform against each other.
In the evening, I had been applying just one serum after cleansing - Drunk Elephant C Firma - with no toner or moisturiser. This was because my vitamin C serum contains ascorbic acid - which only works at a certain pH. In order to obtain maximum benefit from this expensive serum, I skipped my toner and moisturiser altogether to minimise the risk of changing the optimal pH in which that the serum is formulated in. During the Génifique trial period, I replaced this serum with Génifique, although I decided to add back my usual toner (Dermalogica Multi-active Toner) and moisturiser (Dermalogica Active Moist) - because there was no reason to skip these steps.
I have been using this serum twice a day for three weeks. The serum is a semi-transparent and milky solution which feels thinner than most serums of similar prices. The pre-set amount is perfect for the whole face, neck and décolletage areas, although this amount is more than what I would generally need to use for other serums. The serum is absorbed within seconds, with no stickiness at all. Other products (moisturiser, makeup primer, etc.) can be applied almost immediately after.
My first impression was the smell and feel of alcohol - it is strong and it is unmistakable. My skin mildly heats up within a few seconds after applying the serum, but that sensation goes away quickly. My skin did not feel any different for the first 4-5 days. However, toward the end of the first week my skin felt "tight" at the end of the day - it was either dry or dehydrated. I should not be having this feeling as the weather was quite warm and humid. The only explanation was the alcohol denat. - I actually tried to embrace it with an opened mind (as the forth ingredient I did not think that it was at a concentration that could affect my skin significantly) - but, at the same time, I have tried enough products to know when my skin does not get along well with a product. In order to continue with this trial, I used a facial oil (usually rose hip oil) after applying the serum, or a very rich oil-based night cream at night. Eventually, the addition of oil cancelled out the dry and tight feeling.
At the end of the trial period I did not notice any major difference to my skin at all - which is probably a good thing because I consider that my skin was in a very good condition before the trial. I will explain further in the following section.
(Picture shows the pre-set amount of serum)
My ratings against the claims
Does this serum address the "10 key signs of youthful-looking skin"?
Texture - unchanged
Resiliency - unchanged - although I think that if I did not add the facial oil step after the serum my skin would probably feel less resilient.
Elasticity - unchanged
Firmness - unchanged
Sagginess - unchanged
Fine lines - unchanged
Wrinkles - unchanged
Radiance - unchanged. I should add that scoring an "unchanged" in this category probably means that it is working. I was using a top notch vitamin C serum prior to this trial and I know that the vitamin C was working and it did make my skin more glowy. I stopped applying this vitamin C serum so that I could test Génifique properly.
Even skin tone - unchanged. I have some pigmentation on the bridge of my nose and on my cheekbones - I can't say that I have noticed any improvement since using Génifique. If anything, they are actually slightly more prominent (due to the fact that I have stopped applying vitamin C serum for the purpose of this trial, and vitamin C is capable of lightening pigmentation).
Clarity - unchanged
Comparison to Estée Lauder's Advanced Night Repair
I know that the internet has already been flooded with comparisons between Advanced Génifique and Estée Lauder's Advanced Night Repair. Still, it is difficult for me to not compare the two as they both use Bifida ferment lysate, they are around the same price and I was using Advanced Night Repair immediately before the Génifique trial. As much as I want to be nice to Lancôme for giving me the chance to try out its #1 selling serum, it is a no-brainer for me - Advanced Night Repair wins (by a mile). Apart from the fact that Advanced Night Repair contains some additional ingredients (such as squalane) that my skin absolutely loves, it has no alcohol denat.. Unfortunately, the alcohol denat. in Génifique is a deal breaker for me. It has a very strong drying effect on my skin. Despite no harm done when I use a facial oil in conjunction with the serum, I would prefer the use of facial oil to be optional, not mandatory.
If you already have a vigorous skincare regimen and you are happy with the state that your skin is in, I doubt that Advanced Génifique could add much more benefit. If you do not already have a good skincare regimen, or if you would like to see if Bifida ferment lysate works for you, I recommend trying Estée Lauder's Advanced Night Repair instead.
Full Ingredients list
Water, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Dimethicone, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Adenosine, Faex Extract/Yeast Extract, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyltauramide/Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Limonene, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Octyldodecanol, Citronellol, Parfum/Fragrance.
Orange: key ingredient
Red: Alcohol (ethanol)
Green: antioxidant and other molecules supporting an anti-aging function