Arden’s Superstart Skin Renewal Booster and Shiseido’s Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate

Shiseido and Elizabeth Arden have invented a whole new step for our beauty regimens: the post-cleaning/pre-serum stage.  According to industry press, this is an attempt by the beauty giants to stay relevant in a competitive world where Korean cosmetic companies create a new niche every month (or so it seems). OK so that’s the secret reason, but should we go for après cleanse?

Arden’s Superstart Skin Renewal Booster ($65) and Shiseido’s Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate ($65-$125) are supposed to be “multi-beneficial products” that prepare skin for all the products that might follow: serum, moisturizer, dark spot remover, anti-aging cream, sunscreen, BB cream, CC cream.... The list is positively exhausting.  

Arden’s Superstart Skin incorporates another trend: probiotics (Superstart has lactobacillus). But otherwise, it looks a lot like Arden’s other ceramide-based skin care products. Don’t get me wrong, ceramides are a good thing and this isn’t a terrible formula. It’s just more of the same and it’s hard to see why it would be needed, especially if Arden is already part of someone’s regimen.

A spokesperson from Arden said, “it is vital to take a whole new approach because the deeper layers of the skin are where you need to build collagen and elastin.” I’m not going to argue with that, but I don’t see how adding Superstart will achieve that any more or less than Arden’s serum.

Shiseido’s new Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate is also meant to be sandwiched between cleansing and serum application. Power Infusing Concentrate has bizarre USP based on “a tranquil and mood-elevating green floral fragrance called ImuCalm Compound.”  I’m sure I could do with some stress reduction, but Shiseido rightly guessed that this might not win over hordes of new customers and so it is quick to point out that Ultimune features “the world’s first technology to enhance skin immunity.”

All well and good, but this is in the entire Ultimune range and, once again, it is not obvious as to why this new niche product has been created. Nonetheless, I was curious as to what this “technology” might be. It turns out that it is three ingredients yeast, Bulgarian rose, and a mysterious invention of Shiseido’s that they dub Aquainpool. This seems to a proprietary moisturizer with the performance of glycerin, but with the advantage of not feeling tacky on the skin. Thank science for that. A pity about the rest of the formula; it may not be sticky, but it’s pretty ghastly.

Both the Arden Superstart and the Shiseido Concentrate seem little more than yet another, barely tweaked variation of their respective Ceramide and Ultimune lines. And even if they weren’t, they haven’t persuaded me that there is a need for après cleanse. The very idea belongs in Dept of Daft.