Review - Ella Baché NeoBright skincare range
Updated: Jul 5, 2019
I was given the opportunity to try the new Ella Baché NeoBright range when I had my Ella Baché Brighten Me Up Facial done at the salon. The NeoBright range is designed to be used for maintenance of results in between professional salon treatments.
The entire range consists of a Radiance C Ampoule set, a Correcting Serum, a Correcting Emulsion and a Correcting Cream. The Radiance C Ampoule is not an entirely new product - I believe that it was an existing product now packaged under the Neobright range, while all the other products are brand new formulations.
As usual, once I picked up the pack I went straight to their ingredients lists (see the bottom of this post). The ampoule set contains L-Ascorbic Acid (LAA) which is the purist form of vitamin C.
There are many forms (derivatives) of vitamin C used in skincare products. Ascorbic acid (also known as L-ascorbic acid, or LAA) is the most powerful one. It is in a form that is "ready to work" - it has a high affinity for "taking up" free radicals that can damage skin. However, this also means that it is unstable and readily degrades (i.e. oxidised). Light, heat and air (oxygen) exposure can speed up the oxidation process. On top of that, LAA has a narrow optimal pH - it works best at a pH below 3.5. At the same time, a pH that is too low can irritate skin.
L-Ascorbic Acid and Nacinamide
The ampoule set contains LAA. However, each of the other products in the Neobright range does not contain any vitamin C in pure form (arguably with the exception of the Correcting Serum, which contains kakadu plum extract - considered to be a source of vitamin C in skincare). Instead, they are formulated with other brightening ingredients including liquorice extract and, notably, a low level of niacinamide. Niacinamide is vitamin B3, which is known to be capable of reducing hyper-pigmentation and refining skin texture.
If you are into skincare, you have probably heard of the rumour that LAA and nacinamide cannot be used together. The myth stems from an alleged reaction between the two ingredients to form a compound called nicotinic acid (or niacin), which can cause skin flushing. However, numerous modern studies proved that the reaction does not actually happen at the temperature of normal human skin. (Read here for a good article on this topic).
Personally, I never mix LAA and nacinamide together because LAA only works at a pH of lower than 3.5, and niacinamide-containing products are usually formulated with a much more neutral (higher) pH. Mixing two different products often means that the pH is no longer optimal for LAA to work. On most days I use LAA on its own to let it do the hard work. On days that I want to use the two ingredients together, I apply the LAA first and let it work for 30 minutes at the optimal pH, before applying the niacinamide-containing product (or any other product, really).
My experience on NeoBright Radiance C Ampoule Set
This set contains a powder and a serum initially stored in separate vials. Once the powder and the serum is mixed, it has to be used within 14 days. This is because the powder contains LAA and other extracts high in antioxidants, all of which will start deteriorating once it is in aqueous solution. Since both heat and light will speed up the oxidation process, I wrapped the bottle in foil and stored it in the fridge once it is mixed.
Pictured above: (top) Radiance C Ampoule powder and serum initially in separate vials; (bottom) colour of the ampoule immediately after mixing.
Ingredients and pH
The salon told me that the pH of the mixture is around 3.5, which is an ideal pH for LAA to work. Apart from LAA, the mixture contains lactic acid and malic acid (AHAs for exfoliating and skin brightening), nanopeptide-1 (for inhibiting melanin synthesis), licorice extract (for skin brightening), pomegranate and tomato extracts (both high in vitamin C), and other skin humectants for hydration.
The ingredient line up is very impressive, except that it contains a relatively large amount of ethanol (also called alcohol denat., listed as the second ingredient in the serum component).
Ethanol / Alcohol denat.
There are two schools of thought on ethanol - one says that it is downright evil, and another says that it can enhance product penetration and absorption. Most of the time it is used as a solvent or for viscosity adjustment - it enhances the solubility of other ingredients which may not be very soluble in water. My approach is generally to avoid it if possible - it is something that I am willing to try but I monitor my skin's reaction very closely. In carefully formulated products, my skin may not notice that it is there. Otherwise, it can make my skin dry or dehydrated, or both.
The instructions on the website say to use one dropper each time, twice a day. One dropper is way too much for me, even when I brought the serum all the way down to my chest. I reduced this amount and started with 5 drops instead. There was a significant amount of sediment in the vial, so I had to shake it each time before use. The scent smelt a little "rusty" to me, but it was certainly not offensive.
Initially I used 5 drops at a time for my face, neck and décollete. There was a slight tingling sensation after the first few applications but it went away quickly. However, I could significantly noticed that my skin became quite dehydrated, and possibly also quite dry within a few days' time. I was not surprised given the high ethanol content. In order to keep going I reduced my usage to only 3 drops each time. My skin felt less tight, but at the same time I was not using anywhere close to the recommended dosage. I felt that I couldn't really win in that situation.
After 14 days, my skin felt both tight and oily, which was a sign that my skin's hydration level had been thrown off-balance. I have also experienced small pimples and blocked pores in unusual places (again, this was a sign that my skin was over-producing oil to compensate for the dryness). That said, I think that there was a very small reduction in my pigmentation. I gave the salon my feedback. The salon told me that some dryness is normal as it is an active product. However, the level of dehydration and dryness that I was experiencing (together with the breakout of small pimples, which I had not have for years) certainly outweighed any benefit of the small level of pigment reduction.
It is a shame that the ampoule contains so much ethanol in it, because I'd say the ingredients are otherwise A-List.
My experience on NeoBright Correcting Serum, Emulsion and Cream
The other product samples are smaller, so I can only share my experience briefly on my short term use (approximately 1 week).
NeoBright Correcting Serum
The serum is very lightweight, with just a hint of very subtle fragrance in it. It absorbs into skin almost instantly, leaving my skin feeling smooth and soft.
It contains kakadu plum extract (a source of vitamin C), hexylresorcinol (possible skin lightening ingredient), algae extract, glycerin, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. This is fairly extensive, although I would prefer it to contain either LAA or another form of vitamin C derivative, and/or skin brightening peptides to justify the price ($119 for 30mL).
NeoBright Correcting Emulsion
The emulsion is also very lightweight, in fact it is more lightweight than I would like for a moisturiser. The consistency almost feels like a serum. In fact, it is only just a tiny bit thicker than the NeoBright Correcting Serum. Again, it absorbs into skin instantly.
There are a few overlapping active ingredients contained in the emulsion compared to the serum, although slightly less extensive. My concern, however, is the inclusion of ethanol as the third main ingredient, which seems a bit high for a moisturiser. It explains why it feels so lightweight. But because of this, the emulsion is not something that I would be keen to use for long term.
NeoBright Correcting Cream
Although the cream is the thickest product in the whole NeoBright range, it is still very lightweight compared to an average cream. Again, it absorbs into skin very quickly and makeup can be applied immediately. This consistency is my ideal day cream consistency - thick enough for me to feel that I have put "something" on, and yet it is not greasy so my makeup does not slide around.
The active ingredients contained in the cream are similar to those in the emulsion - algae extract, licorice extract, humectants and niacinamide. Notably though, the cream contains shea butter and squalene, two nourishing ingredients that my skin loves.
The full-size cream is packaged in a jar, but I feel that the cream is light enough to be packaged into an airless pump bottle to avoid oxidation and contamination.
The cream is my favourite product in the NeoBright range, although it is quite expensive ($135 for 50mL) so I haven't made up my mind on whether I want to purchase it.
Ingredient lists for the products
NeoBright Radiance C Ampoule Set
Brightening Serum – Aqua, Alcohol Denat., Peg-20 Almond Glycerides, Butylene Glycol, Lactic Acid, Peg/ppg - 18/18 Dimethicone, Glycerin, Urea, Phospholipids, Sodium Pca, Dextran, Hydrolysed Jojoba Esters, Malic Acid, Citric Acid, Nonapeptide-1, Salicylic Acid, Lactus Proteinum, Sodium Lactate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Diethylhexyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Trehalose, Polyquaternium-51, Triacetin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, 1,2-hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol Vitamin C Concentrate
Powder – Ascorbic Acid, Corn Starch Modified, Mannitol, Silicon Dioxide, Yeast Extract, Titanium Dioxide, Disodium Succinate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Flavour/ Powder, Silica, Cyclodextrin, Iron Oxides
NeoBright Correcting Serum
Water, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Peg/ppg/polybutylene Glycol-8/5/3 Glycerin, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Hexylresorcinol, Undaria Pinnatifida [algae] Extract, Terminalia Ferdinandiana Fruit [kakadu plum] Extract, Maris Aqua (Sea Water), Macrocystis Pyrifera Extract, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Bisabolol, Pentylene Glycol, Sclerotium Gum, Lecithin, Chlorphenesin, Pullulan, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Hydrolyzed Yeast Extract, Balanites Roxburghii Seed Oil, Acrylates/c10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Sucrose Palmitate, Papain, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Silica, Glyceryl Linoleate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Sodium Polyglutamate, Tocopherol, Niacinamide, Adenosine, Sodium Hydroxide, 1,2-hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Citric Acid, Algin, Fragrance
NeoBright Correcting Emulsion
Water, Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprylate/dicaprate, Ethanol, Dimethicone, Propanediol, Caprylic/capric Triglyceride, Peg/ppg/polybutylene Glycol-8/5/3 Glycerin, Sucrose Distearate, Steareth-10, Undaria Pinnatifida Extract, Maris Aqua (Sea Water), Macrocystis Pyrifera Extract, Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Pentylene Glycol, Acrylates/ C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Chlorphenesin, Butylene Glycol, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Hydrolyzed Yeast Extract, Balanites Roxburghii Seed Oil, Sodium Gluconate, Sucrose Palmitate, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Tocopherol, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glyceryl Linoleate, Sodium Polyglutamate, Niacinamide, Biosaccharide Gum-4, Adenosine, Achillea Millefolium [yarrow root] Extract, Citric Acid, Fragrance
NeoBright Correcting Cream
Water, Propanediol, Glyceryl Stearate, Triethylhexanoin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Octyldodecanol, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Alcohol Denat., Cococaprylate/ Caprate, Dimethicone, Cetyl Alcohol, Undaria Pinnatifida Extract, Macrocystis Pyrifera Extract, Maris Aqua (Sea Water), Phytosteryl/octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Pentylene Glycol, Peg-75 Stearate, Ceteth-20, Steareth-20, Chlorphenesin, Butylene Glycol, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Hydrolyzed Yeast Extract, Balanites Roxburghii Seed Oil, Sucrose Palmitate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Tocopherol, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Xanthan Gum, Squalane, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glyceryl Linoleate, Niacinamide, Biosaccharide Gum-4, Adenosine, Achillea Millefolium [yarrow root] Extract, Polysorbate 60, Citric Acid, Sorbitan Isostearate, T-butyl Alcohol, Fragrance
Orange - source of vitamin C
Purple - source of vitamin B
Pink - other (possible) brightening ingredients
Blue - humectant
Green - antioxidant / other "anti-aging" or nourishing ingredient
The samples were provided by the salon on a complimentary basis. I have no obligation to publish any review or report.
Makeup artist and hair stylist based in Sydney. Founder of the well-known award-winning bridal specialist team Faces Makeup & Hair. Beauty junkie with an obsession for skincare.