Monday, March 25, 2013

L'Occitane Immortelle Brightening Shield SPF40 PA+++

Had a few sample 1mL/0.03oz. sachets of L'Occitane Immortelle Brightening Shield SPF40 PA+++, including one from the Brighten Up Collection I recently received as GWP. This product is a part of the recent Immortelle Brightening line, claiming to even out and brightens the skin tone while reducing wrinkles, promising to prevent dark spots via mineral physical sunblock, the 11.52% of Titanium Dioxide in its ingredients.

See below screencap for content details of the L'Occitane Brighten Up Collection.

Being so used to the SPF50+ with super light texture and naked-skin feel of Japanese sunscreens that don't usually claim anything else but sun protection, I wasn't so keen on this boastful SPF40. But I figured it wouldn't hurt to just give it a try. I'm working indoor a lot these days, and facing three huge windows with direct sunlight does provide good incentives to test out new sunscreens. Keep in mind I only tested a few samples, so this is nowhere as thorough a trial as the weeks and months I spent to test the various Japanese sunscreens last year.

This product is scented with the same signature crushed-dandelion fragrance that the Immortelle line has, which provokes either love or hate from most people the last time I checked. Overall I would rather my sunscreens be unscented, but having used the Immortelle Cream Mask before I actually do liked this scent. It is an opaque milk, much thicker than its Japanese counterparts but still runny nonetheless. With each application, I used one whole sachet on my face. That sounds crazy, but it's not - 1mL is 1/5 teaspoon, which is actually less than the 1/4 teaspoon required to achieved the stated SPF coverage for the face!

At this 1mL - 1/5 teaspoon amount, the product took forever to absorb, at least an hour(!). Basically, I smoothed it on, waited for thirty minutes, quickly massaged my face again to even out the damp spots, waited for another 30+ minutes for it to absorb completely. And when it did come around to drying, it pilled wherever I touched. Yes, I got a nice semi matte finish, but there was also a noticeable white cast, thanks to the high Titanium Dioxide content, in addition to tackiness.

I didn't give up then though. Thinking back to Allie Extra UV Gel Mineral Moist N SPF50+ PA+++ (the 2012 version) which also took forever to dry and left me with a slight white cast, I pulled out my trusty Lavshuca Face Powder Lucent and lightly dusted it on. What do you know, translucent powder saved the day again and the sticky white cast was transformed into an impressive matte finish that was pleasantly soft and comfortable. The stickiness was gone, and the white cast was marginalized to the hairlines, where I had to look closely to notice. In the end, I got an excellent makeup base that really evened out the skin tone, not so far off from the Japanese sunscreens I know and love after all.

However, going to L'Occitane's US website to check out the full size product, any good feelings I had for it was instantly destroyed - a 1fl oz. (~30mL) bottle goes for $58! Just so you know, both the Allie Gel above as well as my favorite Allie Extra UV Perfect Alpha (the 2011 version, as I did not review the 2012 version Perfect Alpha N) retail for JPY1,470/25mL (~$15.50) or JPY2,940/60mL (~$31) - that's about half the price for twice the amount! And that's just retail. Many drugstores will give a roughly 30% discount, and I restocked my Allie milk prior to leaving Japan at JPY2,058 (~$22 with the current rate, though it was probably more like ~$26 at the time) with a freebie Body UV Mist to boot!

What's more is that as of January 2013, Japan has revised its industry standard and many of its sunscreens now have been either relabeled and repackaged, as in the case of the 2013 Allie Mineral Moist N, or reformulated altogether, as in the case of the 2013 Allie Perfect Alpha S, to remain competitive with the highest rating of PA++++, providing a UVA protection of PPD16+! All of this is done while maintaining the same prices for the majority of the sunscreens, by the way.

So taking into account all the above, this L'Occitane Immortelle Brightening Shield turns out to be an inferior product sold at a premium price. If I was already willing to deal with the lengthy absorption time and solve the unsightly white cast and annoying stickiness problems with translucent powder, why would I settle for lower SPF and PA protection while paying double the price? Makes no sense, right? Yep, that's my conclusion for this product.

But hey, the other freebies in the Brighten Up Collection are lovely and the white canvas pouch is very well made ^.^ I'm currently using the Pivoine Flora Shower Gel and Beauty Milk along with a bunch of other L'Occitane travel sizes. Will review them soon.

***Stock picture and screencaps from L'Occitane USA.

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