By Jeanine A.
I was unfamiliar with Ao Skincare when I was asked to test Fortify Day Treatment ($89.95 in the shop) for Truth In Aging. A quick look at the company’s website and at the ingredients in Fortify had me wanting to try all of the products from this brand. Phrases like “environmentally friendly, sustainable ingredients” and a director who is a dermatologist won me over pretty quickly. Their message fits right in with my ideals.
I’m in my mid 40s with olive skin that is starting to show its age. I have large pores, hyperpigmentation and have started to see some fine lines and crepey skin under my eyes. I had oily skin for most of my life and day moisturizers were something I have always been a little lazy about. But since my skin has become increasingly thirsty over the years, it’s a step I really cannot skip any longer. I also prefer everything I use to be as clean as possible.
Fortify is cold-processed and has a number of anti-aging actives, including vitamin c, ferulic acid, niacinamide and plant stem cells, along with ingredients unique to New Zealand where the company is based. Ferulic acid is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin against free radical damage while vitamin C also has antioxidant properties, as well as collagen-boosting benefits. Gardenia sasminoides meristem cell culture is included to protect collagen systems. It is said to stimulate new collagen synthesis and prevent collagen loss.
I have read much about niacinamide’s benefits, which include the improvement of fine lines, hyperpigmentation and blemishes, but have been a little hesitant to seek it out as there is also a lot of confusion surrounding its use. Some say vitamin C can cancel out the effects and it is often recommended that is not to be mixed directly with AHAs, which can cause skin flushing. As mentioned, Fortify contains vitamin C, and I also layered it over a separate vitamin C serum at the beginning of my testing and without the additional C toward the end (simply because I ran out) and noticed no difference.
The product is packaged in an airless pump, and I found that the recommended two pumps supplies the perfect amount for the face, but I needed a third pump for neck coverage. The pump was consistent and worked great. The only downside is that, after a month of use, I have no idea how much is left in the container. The consistency of the product is somewhere between a gel and a cream with a very light scent. It absorbs quickly, leaving very little finish — not quite matte but close enough that I was comfortable without powder.
The cream layers with other products beautifully, and I think this is where it really performs. I used it over serums and under makeup. Once I even applied it over makeup when I realized I had forgotten to put it on and each time it was seamless. I do admit the light texture made me wonder if it was really doing anything moisture-wise. I think people who expect a creamy texture or a dewy finish to really “feel the moisture” might be disappointed. However, I never saw a bit of the flakiness that my skin usually experiences in winter and my other products applied so cleanly that it was clear they had a smooth base.
As for its anti-aging performance, I did not expect or experience any big changes, but even after stopping use of an additional vitamin C serum, my skin remained bright and I didn’t experience any hyperpigmentation. The price initially struck me as a little high for a day cream. However, when I thought about my experience, I realized that I was comfortable using this without an additional vitamin C product and so it is worth the cost. I look forward to using this over the spring and summer to see if it continues to hold my hyperpigmentation at bay during sunnier months. I am also eager to try other products from Ao Skincare, especially Protect, a sunscreen product designed to work in synergy with Fortify, and Rewind, a retinal treatment that promises to be more of a heavy hitter in the anti-aging department.