I love discovering new make-up and skincare products, so when one of my favourite brands - Institut Esthederm - have so kindly invited me to have a one-to-one consultation to learn more about their "Intensive" range, I knew I was on to something very exciting. To give you an honest, informative and detailed review - I literally spent more than a month to really test, try and experience these newer [to me] formulas first-hand and I hope you find this review helpful and inspiring. This is not a sponsored post (I wish), but you can read full disclaimer here.
Understanding Intensive Range
You guys already know that depending on our age, skin type and other concerns - we all need a "custom-made" skincare routine solution. Institut Esthederm believe in understanding your skin first, which is why the brand has very smart guidelines on how to mix and match their products to suit your needs. My skin type is dry/dehydrated and since I am in my 20s I don't have any visible wrinkles, fine lines just yet. I do experience skin's texture, occasional hormonal breakouts and dullness, as well as clogged pores though.
Up until this year, I have been using some of their Osmoclean (cleansing), Sensi System (sensitive skin) and Cellular products in my routine and I have noticed a massive difference in my skin. You can read more about these products here. Intensive range, however, is split into sub-categories including:
Vitamin E2 (severe sensitivity)
Vitamin C (anti-wrinkle/brightening/pigmentation)
AHA Peel (textured skin)
Every single product within this range is considered more as a "shock treatment" (in a good way) to bring your skin back to normal, feed it with all the needed nutrients and encourage it to hit that refresh button, so that it is able to give you amazing results on its own (not with skincare products only). Important tip here is: once you start using Intensive treatment, you should commit to it and only stop once your product is finished. Depending on how much you use, these products should last you for couple of months and once you are done - you can switch back to your regular routine and only repeat this therapy when you feel like your skin could use some extra help.
Who will enjoy this range?
Most of the products here are more geared towards 30+ women (and men). If you are just like me in your 20s - you can still use a few of them, but I will explain how later in this post.
You guys all know what hyaluronic acid is and why we need it to keep skin plump and juicy. Intensive Hyaluronic Serum is made of three different types of hyaluronic acid, so that together they can really get deep into your skin and revive epidermis tissue by filling it with water. Hyaluronic Serum is made for those of us, who suffer from severe dehydration. It should help refill fine lines and wrinkles too. Institut Esthederm also recommend their hyaluronic range for those women/men, who are at an early stage of using botox and actual hyaluronic acid/filler injections. Using this range (serum+cream) should help prepare your skin, as well as prolong the effect of your esthetic treatment.
Consistency of Hyaluronic Serum is rather milky/watery and it does get absorbed in a matter of one-two minutes. If your skin is more oily, you can use serum alone as it is quite lightweight in texture; but if you have normal to dry skin - it is better stick to a two step treatment.
Intensive Hyaluronic Cream on the other hand is far creamier and does remind me a lot (texture-wise) of Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream. It is that rich, yet light consistency, which you should be using sparingly as it is quite nourishing and powerful. Little goes a long way with this guy for sure! Good thing about this cream is that it doesn't only moisturize, but it also stimulates production of your natural hyaluronic acid. This way it restores cellular activity and - again - helps your skin rely on itself more, rather than some random creams and lotions. In other words, hyaluronic range is quite the food for your skin. This cream does get absorbed fairly quick and leaves your skin feeling rejuvenated, silky smooth and glowing.
How/when to apply?
You should be applying both serum and cream day and night. If you feel like this combination is too rich for you during the day time (or too heavy underneath make-up) you can save it for the night-time routine. I personally used both products at night only, because that's just how it worked best for me. Ideally you should only stick to these two products for ultimate results.
Natural hyaluronic production does decrease with age, which is why the older we get - the more uneven our skin's texture appears. Although my skin is still youthful, I am pretty dry and dehydrated, so I wondered whether I could even notice any improvement. Of course when you are this young, you can rely on your natural hyaluronic, but here is what I have discovered: right after two days of sticking to this two products only - my skin looked exactly the way it did when I was 16. I kid you not, so just let it sink in. If you thought "oh come on, it is not like you are 30 or 40, so what do you know?" - I now know.
My face never looked this good in years (I know, sounds dramatic for a 20- year old). When you think that "nah, it won't even show on my skin" - this might be one of a few ranges out there that seriously did everything it claimed to do: skin looked healthy, plump, properly hydrated and even my cheeks looked rosy every single morning after using these Institut Esthederm products. I was never this happy about my skincare routine, ever.
For the sake of this review, I have kindly convinced my mother to join me in this hyaluronic journey. She is actually the target market for this range (40+), so I thought if this range is really worth it - it will show on her skin. And again, a few days after (she actually didn't tell me when she started using these products) she looked so much younger and her skin was glowing. One morning she was sitting next to me during breakfast absolutely make-up free and her skin was so plump, I asked her "what cream did you use?". Although she doesn't have deep wrinkles, there are a few lines here and there - and even they were nearly gone. It almost felt as if she was photoshopped. Skin became so smooth and hydrated - she barely needed any make-up to mimic a good night sleep. Also her pores were nearly gone. Both of us are beyond impressed with this hyaluronic range.
Frankly if you are my age, I would say - save this range for later when you will actually need it (aka wait for those dreadfull first signs of ageing). The only exception would be: if you are getting married or have any other very important event and want to look like million dollars, by all means use these products together and you will look like an absolute doll on your big day. Of course - make sure to test it on a smaller area first to see whether you are allergic to it or not - and if not, enjoy the magic of unicorn's tears so generously sprinkled into these hyaluronic products. My mother actually keeps on using this range and wow! effect really shows.
Now I am an exfoliation freak. My skin is prone to dry patches and texture, so in order for my other skincare products to efficiently penetrate and hydrate my skin, I exfoliate at least once a week. I normally use gritty scrubs, but they might break capillaries and to be very honest - you only remove the top layer of dead skin - while what's underneath it might still be pretty congested.
Intensive AHA Peel is a genius little product because it doesn't just improve the look of your complexion - making it smooth, cleansed and radiant - but it also stimulates epidermal renewal on a micro-level. AHA stands for "alpha hydroxy acid" and its primary job is to act on living cells; this particular product includes a concoction of glycolic, lactic and citric acids, which all have a great bioavailability (in other words they get absorbed really well) and small molecular size to really penetrate your skin on a deeper level.
The brand offers two types of AHA peels - the one I have here is for someone with a sensitive skin. I must admit that even a single thought of "chemical peel" scared me; do you remember that SATC episode when Samantha came to Carrie's book launch party looking like Freddie Krueger? Well that was my view on chemical peels: painful and scary. Thankfully, none of my fears came to life and this product turned out to be simply amazing.
How to use this product?
AHA Peel should be applied overnight; you can use it alone or wait for about 15 minutes before adding your cream. I normally wear it on its own and even with my dry skin - it is pretty soothing. It has more of a watery/gel-like clear consistency and you might experience slight tingling when using this peel for the first time. Fear not, it is very delicate and won't damage your skin. Since this is a part of the brand's intensive line - you should only use it once every two weeks or even once a month (which is something I do). I also recommend wearing a good sunblock the following morning, because your skin might be a bit vulnerable during first 24 hr.
What happens after?
Surprisingly, when you wake up - your skin looks just like its normal self, except it is so much smoother. Pores appear smaller and complexion is radiant. Two-three days after you might notice a few skin flakes here and there, which you can exfoliate with a gentle scrub. But in a long run - you might even forget about scrubbing your skin for almost a month, because (believe it or not) dry patches won't re-appear. And when they do, you just re-apply your peel and enjoy life.
Who will like it?
Anyone, but your dog. This type of a product works well on all different skin types, because its task is to refine your skin's texture by cleaning it on a deeper level (and get rid of all the dead cells too) so it pretty much suits everyone. The dosage is very safe, so hopefully you should not experience excessive dryness, peeling or burning when using this product. Even on my extra dry/sensitive skin it worked wonders, so I give it my seal of approval.
Institut Esthederm strongly believe in using cellular water, instead of a regular one. Funnily, water is one of the key ingredients in many skincare products, but most of the time it does very little to help our skin because it has a slightly different molecular formula. Here is when cellular water comes into play - it is very similar to physiological water (found in our bodies) and actually works so much better with our cells by energizing them.
I love a good facial mist, but this is something very unique. This Cellular Spray is so light, that it almost feels like early morning dew. The spray itself is unbelievably fine, so it won't camel spit on you. This product is great for everyday use and it works on all skin types. You can set your make-up with it to get rid of any excess powder, but it won't prolong the wear of make-up.
You can also use it prior to your daily skincare routine to really wake up and refresh your skin. I love this spray and am addicted to it, no kidding. It instantly hydrates and calms down even slightly irritated areas.
Gentle Deep Pore Cleanser & Lightening Buffing Mask
These two guys are a dream team: Gentle Deep Pore Cleanser and Lightening Buffing Mask amped up my skincare routine and took it to a whole new level. Normally I wouldn't invest in a seriously expensive cleanser, because it is not one of those products that stays for a long time on your skin, so I would opt for something from the drugstore instead.
Lately, however, I started noticing very painful "blind pimples" on my chin and forehead. They usually happen around that time of the month, but sometimes they just appear out of nowhere and bother me a lot. Although I love unicorns, I don't want to look like one!
During my consultation, I was advised to try the brand's Gentle Deep Pore Cleanser. What it does is - eliminate all impurities deep within your pores. You should dot it around your face, especially more problematic areas, then gently massage it using minimal pressure. When the product thickens and looks white, it is time to rinse it off several times to make sure there is no residue left on the skin. If you are oily/combination - you can use it twice a week; otherwise if you are normal/dry/very dry use it once every two weeks only.
Step #2 would be to apply a thick layer of Lightening Buffing Mask to even out your complexion. You should leave it on for 15 minutes only and rinse it off. Funny thing about removing it is - you should wait for it to get matte and tacky and literally rub it off your skin. If you have applied a good layer, then it will come off very easily leaving your skin bright and refined. Pores also look so small - I am a big fan of this technique. Again - use it once/twice a week depending on your skin type.
Since I have added these newer products to my skincare routine, my complexion is back to normal and I don't get as many clogged pores or blind pimples as I did before. This technique is also a great preventative method, so around that time of the month - I don't get nearly as many (if any) blemishes and things, which feels so liberating.
To say that I am blown away by the quality of these skincare products - is to say nothing at all. Even when this review is over, I will still go back to these life saviours and re-purchase them with my own money once I run out. I believe that depending on your skin's needs - you can always use certain products mentioned above, I am not saying you need them all at once; but if you love investing in a good skincare - by all means check out Institut Esthederm. This is one of those amazing French brands, that deserves more recognition simply because it doesn't promise life-changing results, but it certainly delivers and helps your skin do its own magic by feeding it from within. Of course to have truly healthy skin you also have to look after how much water you drink, what food you eat, your lifestyle and so on and so forth; while these nuggets will help take care of your skin in a scientifically smart way.
If you are based in the UAE, you can find Institut Esthederm at all leading pharmacies across the country. For more skincare reviews on this blog, please click on #skincare hashtag below. Don't forget to follow me on Instagram, Pinterest and Bloglovin for more fun, beauty inspiration on the go.