From Drunk Elephant to La Mer: What a dermatologist thinks of these 9 cult skincare products.

The skincare market. She's a little crowded. And every other day, it feels like there’s a trendy new product kicking around the beauty streets, being all flirty and smooth talkin' and promising to change your skin for the better.

And hoo boy, is it overwhelming or what! (It is).

Watch: Check out the products and ingredients you need to know about. Post continues below.

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Whether they're fresh and shiny newbies or popular cult products that've been slinking around for a while - it's hard to know what's hype and what's not. 

And it also becomes really bloody important to pay close attention to the ingredients - especially if you have specific skin concerns. Cause there's nothing worse than dropping a heap of cash on something that'll just irritate the hell out of your skin.

So do you know what we did? We asked a leading dermatologist for her expertise.

We hit up Dr Katherine Armour from Bespoke Skin Technology and asked her to take a look at some of the really popular/trendy skincare products floating around on social media and put them to the test.

No fluff. No BS.

Because if anyone knows what's good when it comes to skincare, it's a dermatologist who also happens to formulate skincare products. Am I right? (Or am I left? Pls confirm). 

So, here's Dr Armour's opinions on some of the trendiest products on social media.

Biologique Recherche P50, $160.

Image: Biologique Recherche 


People go nuts over this stuff. 

Every celebrity, beauty reviewer and blogger has been raving about P50 Lotion since forever. Like, one of our You Beauty Collective members even wrote an article on how P50 was his desert island product

But is this funky-smelling exfoliating potion anything magical?

"This cult French brand contains numerous ingredients to smooth skin, unblock pores (AHAs, BHAs) and brighten skin (niacinamide)," explains Dr Armour. "Magnesium and niacinamide also regulate sebum production." 

Go on...

"Overall, its ingredients are great to deal with acne, congestion and skin texture. However, this product is quite similar to many other offerings, and is near the top end of the market cost-wise in terms of AHA serums."

Ahh. So, there you go. A good choice for those battling with acne and regular breakouts, but one of many similar offerings on the market. 

So, if it works well for you and you can afford to splurge on it - go for it.

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, $122.

Image: Mecca 


With its pretty colours and Instagram-worthy packaging, Drunk Elephant has earned itself a cult following among beauty insiders and the beautiful public alike.

One of the most popular members of the DE fam? The C-Firma Day Serum. Heard of it? She's a brightening serum packed with vitamin C. 

At $122 it's quite the splurge - let's just say it's not the cheapest vitamin C serum kicking around. 

But is it worth the hype?

"This brightening serum is quite an investment at $122 for 30mL," said Dr Armour. "However, it contains more skin brightening/anti-pigment ingredients than many of its competitors (15 per cent L-ascorbic acid, liquorice root extract, green tea). 

"I think it is a similar offering to Tatcha Violet C Brightening Serum, and Dr Dennis Gross C+Collagen serum, and is similar price-wise. But, it’s much better value for money than the 111 Skin Vitamin C Brightening Booster."

Crème de la Mer, $680.

Image: Mecca 

This moisturiser costs So. Much. Money. And if you're forking out that kind of cash, you'd want to be pretty sure that it does some Really Good Things to your skin, yeah?


Listen to this episode of YouBeauty where we talk about how to find the perfect moisturiser. Post continues below. 

Well, Dr Armour isn't hella convinced that it's anything revolutionary. "Save your money unless you are happy with the fact that you are just buying brand and status," she said.

"At $250 for 30ml of product, you would expect a lot. I formulate skincare myself and I can tell you that their ingredients (including seaweed/algae extract) are not so expensive to work with that the cost can be justified."


"In addition, their website states that Crème de la Mer contains methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone - which are two preservatives that should be avoided. They are a common cause of allergic contact dermatitis and have largely been removed from skincare. This is a nourishing moisturiser. But, that’s about it."

Rationale #1 The Serum, $174.

Image: David Jones 

Chances are you’ve heard of Rationale. It's a popular Aussie skincare line with an insane cult-like following - it's kind of like the F45 of the skincare world.

"However, this Vitamin B group serum is overpriced for a largely niacinamide-based product," said Dr Armour. "It is a very elegant offering. But, at $174 for a B-group serum, it is very costly."

"The re-branded Rationale website does not list the full ingredients. So, I can’t comment further on formulation. I’d prefer to spend my money on some of their other products and spend less on a vitamin B serum. There are so many more cost-effective vitamin B serums on the market."



Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, $159.

Image: Mecca 

Have you tried ANR before? I have. And I love it. I feel like it's a do-it-all serum that makes my skin nice and happy. 

But what does it look like through expert goggles? Is it as good as we think it is?

"This is the brand’s #1 serum, and is a top-seller. Legions of women swear by it. The marketing on the Estee Lauder website is impressive. However, I can’t really tell you how good this product is in terms of science, as I can't seem to find the full ingredients list anywhere."

Ooft! So much mystery!

"This always makes me a little bit suspicious. The only ingredients that I can find on the current Estee Lauder website are Chronolux™ Power Signal Technology, which apparently helps the skin to regenerate at night by influencing the skin’s circadian rhythms. 

"Our skin innately regenerates at night. So, hmmmm. I think that this might just be a really lovely moisturising serum. I’m happy to review a full ingredients list and be proven wrong!"

Dr Dennis Gross Spectralite Faceware Pro Mask, $661.

Image: Mecca 


You'd be lying if you said you didn't want to try this fancy face shield. It looks like something that will fix ALL of your face issues, plus more. But it's definitely on the pricey side of things.

"I love LED as a treatment for rejuvenation and soothing (red light) and to combat acne (blue light). This mask contains both of these light wavelengths. It is a sexy-looking piece of machinery, for sure. It is very hard to compare between different home use LED masks without knowing how much energy they emit."

"The price tags seem to vary wildly ($150 to $3000) as do the suggested duration that you should use the mask for to obtain benefit. The more expensive devices do not necessarily require less time."  

So, is it worth it? Or is it just a bit of a gimmick?

"The Dr Dennis Gross Spectralite Faceware Pro Mask retails for $661 in Australia. It is advised to use it for three minutes per treatment. In clinic (with far more powerful devices) we treat with both red and blue LED lights for 20 minutes. I find it hard to believe that significant results can be obtained with three minutes of home device use. 

"But, there is no doubt that the convenience of a home device is very appealing. Dr Dennis Gross is generally a well-researched brand, with a good evidence base. I think that you’re paying a bit more for a great-looking device from a well-established brand. But, if you’ve got the spare cash, it’s probably worth trying."  

Beaute Pacifique Defy Damage Skin Repair Serum, $80.

Image: Beaute Pacifique 


This serum-in-lotion is supposed to work well on all skin types and help to fight annoying skin issues like pigmentation, ageing and sun damage. 

Beauty experts and skin experts rave about it on the reg, with many praising this formula for its ability to do good things to your skin without burning a whole layer of it off.

"This gentle serum is good value for money," said Dr Armour. "It contains ursolic acid, which has been slightly forgotten as an effective skincare ingredient. This ingredient both protects and repair the skin’s collagen. Citrus lemon in this serum is a natural source of vitamin C."

"Apart from vitamin E (antioxidant), most of the other ingredients (such as hyaluronic acid) act as moisturisers. This serum contains retinyl acetate and retinyl palmitate. The penetration ability of these retinoid esters is fairly minimal. So, while they won’t irritate, they are unlikely to be hugely active in the skin."

Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, $38.01.

Image: Paula's Choice 


This gentle, yet effective formula from Paula's Choice is an all-rounder for those with acne-prone skin, and the formula is a real winner in Dr Armour's books.

"Great value for money and backed by solid science. Its main ingredients are salicylic acid - which helps to unblock pores and exfoliate - and green tea which soothes the skin. It's great for those with oily skin and acne."

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $9.90.

Image: Adore Beauty 

Can confirm: Dr Armour seriously rates The Ordinary. Especially this guy.

"I looooove this product and regularly recommend it. It is fabulous value for money ($9.90 for 30mL) and is an elegant formula."

"I use this product with medical treatments for skin barrier repair, acne, rosacea and other inflammatory skin conditions, to treat pigmentation, and to prevent wrinkles. It’s a winner."

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Have you tried any of the above products? Share your experience with us in the comment section below.