The other day I had the strangest experience. I thought I was in Sephora when, in reality, I was in Duane Reade. For those of you who don't live in the New York area, Duane Reade is a pharmacy chain that is dingy, dirty and notoriously staffed by grumpy, downtrodden staff who may as well wear a pin that announces not their names, but that they hate their jobs. But here I was in a gleaming, bright space, surrounded by upmarket beauty brands. Talk about cosmetic eye candy.

"May I help you", I heard and turned to see a young, pretty woman clad in black and wearing a little pouch filled with makeup brushes. I pinched myself. I was in Duane Reade's Look Boutique..

The Look Boutique is a new initiative to improve the DR brand (a mop and brush would have done that, so the company has more than gone the extra mile). Walgreen's has just announced that it has acquired DR and I only hope that they carry on the good work. Look Boutique is a winner. Not only does it stock well known brands, but lesser known all natural ones such as 100% Pure. I swooped on the cleanser and a serum with mushrooms and then the aforementioned pretty woman introduced me to a brand that I wasn't familiar with at all: Rilastil.

Rilastil is an Italian company that has been going since 1934. It claims that, as required by Italian law, independent university research is conducted to verify every claim listed on its products. My purchase of the Rilastil Intensive Face Generating Serum came with a teaming goody bag of generously sized samples (so expect to see some Dare To Try Its in the coming days and weeks as I feel compelled to share the love).

Although the first few ingredients are unexicitng emollients (eg diethylhexyl carbonate) and silicone, this serum gets down to business with lactobionic acid, a polyhydroxy acid (PHA). It is claimed that this is more effective than AHAs whilst less irritating to skin because it has a large molecular structure, limiting its ability to penetrate into the skin. From then on it, its mostly good stuff with the amino acid, arginine, vitamins, beta-carotene loaded carrot extract and oryzanol from rice.  The real heavy hitters include superoxide dismutase, which studies have shown can serve as an anti-inflammatory and prevent precancerous cell changes. Natural Superoxide Dismutase levels in the body drop as the body ages, and applying this ingredient topically is thought to replace some of these natural antioxidants that are slowing in production.

There are several types of ceramide. Making up for of 50% of our skin’s natural protective barrier, ceramides retain moisture levels in the skin and help regulate cell activity. Some studies have shown that adding ceramides to skincare products effectively replenishes the skin’s reduced ceramide levels. Further studies have that  topical application can actually help rebuild and restore the epidermal barrier, strengthening the skin’s appearance and maximizing its moisture levels.

Amongst the botanicals are ganoderma lucidum extract, a Chinese curative mushroom, and another fungi in the form of lentinus edodes extract (shitaki), an antibacterial. Serica powder is silk and as well as mopping up shine, it has amino acids. Phytosphingosine prevents acne from forming and recent studies in France have also shown it to act as an anti-inflammatory at concentrations as low as 1%.

There are the usual suspects in the preservative dept, but all in all, it looks worthy of testing. I shall give it a try and report back.


Aqua, glycerin, diethylhexyl carbonate, steareth-2, steareth-21, PPG-15 stearyl ether, cycloentasiloxane, cetearyl alcohol, helianthus anuus seed oil, polymethyl methacrylate, lactobionic acid, cetyl alcohol, arginine, dimethicone, shea butter, squalane, olea europeaa oil unsaponifiables, betaine, sodium lauryl lactylate, carbomer, tocopheryl acetate, creatine, daucus carota sativa extract, oryzanol, superoxide dismutase, serica powder, glycine soja oil, ceramide 2, ceramide 6 11, ceramide 1, retinyl palmitate, ganoderma lucidum extract, lentinus edodes extract, algae, phytosphingosine, cholesterol, xanthan gum, propylparaben, disodium EDTA, BHA, BHT, Parfum.