Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate makes me think one of my biggest issues is that I'm not a dermatologist with some kind of PhD in cosmetic chemistry. That lack of credentials is part of why I haven't written specifically about Shiseido Ultimune yet. I've mentioned it in posts, and put it in pictures, but a review post... nope. I can't explain it. Or at least I couldn't when it first came out.
Dr. Junichi Hosoi has a PhD in cancer cell research. He's clocked time at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University Cutaneous Biology Research Centre researching a specific type of skin cell called Langerhans (named after the man who discovered them in 1868) that is considered part of the skin's immune system. He's been part of several studies published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Since 1993, he's been a key researcher on skin immunity for Shiseido; he helped to develop Ultimune.
When I first met with Dr. Hosoi in 2014, he told me Ultimune serum provides support for skin's Langerhans cells so they can do their job better and longer. As I understand it, that job is Crisis Management. Langerhans cells watch for signs of irritant invasion, alert skin's defense system in the event of an attack, and galvanize specific responses as needed. (I think they also escort intruders to the lymph nodes for filtering out of the body, but I've got to check on that.) And, unsurprisingly, because #aging, Langerhans slow down and react less efficiently over time.
Sounds good, although I had to get past the part about the skin having its own immune system. It's not just the body's immune system? *mind blown*
But how does Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate ($78 CAd at sephora.ca and $67 USd at nordstrom.com) shore up our Langerhans cells? Here's where it gets a bit hazy. The serum includes water (I'm okay with that; my skin's thirsty), glycerin (humectant that attracts water), dimethicone (type of silicone), fragrance, sodium carboxymethyl beta-glucan (binding and thickening agent that has soothing and moisture-retention properties), and antioxidant botanical extracts from Ginko Biloba, Perilla (sesame leaves) and wild thyme. Shiseido calls the key ingredients an "Ultimune Complex" – I don't know exactly what's working for our Langerhans cells. Is it the hydration boost plus antioxidants?
Maybe I'm also tripped up because all this stuff is about defense as opposed to an action. For instance, glycolic acid I totally get: it's an exfoliant that actively encourages unnecessary, lazy-ass dead skin cells to get lost. Shiseido Ultimune is more like wearing sunscreen, and brushing your teeth. Those are "negative-effect" things – do them, and bad things won't happen. At least with sunscreen and teeth-brushing you know what consequences to expect if you skip them because there are studies and lots of stories.
I didn't notice any great improvement in my complexion when I first started using Ultimune. It wasn't until I'd stopped using it (because I finished the bottle) that I realized my skin didn't seem quite the same. A little less calm, a little less content, although all the other stuff I was using was the same. So I started another bottle – the serum fits into most skincare routines after cleansing, before other serums – and lo my skin settled down again. And now that I'm way into my third Ultimune serum, I can at least tell you my skin likes it. I told Chatelaine Magazine that, too, in the March 2016 issue on stands now. (Great story called "Skin that Glows," all about ingredients that work best for skin in its 30s, 40s and 50+.)
Have any of you tried Shiseido Ultimune Power-Infusing Concentrate? (There's an eye serum too, by the way.) What's your take?