The beauty world is filled with trailblazing women, such as Estée Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, Mary Kay and Anita Roddick of The Body Shop. More recent beauty entrepreneurs include Tata Harper and Emily Weiss of Glossier. But there’s one name that belongs in that group that perhaps isn’t quite as well known- Jane Wurwand, the founder of Dermalogica, which is known for its straightforward, clinical approach to skincare. Here’s a look at what Dermalogica sells, what its products can do and are they worth a try?
What Is Dermalogica?
The South African-born Wurwand moved to the US in 1983. Although Wurwand was trained as a skin therapist in the UK, she has said in interviews that she was shocked at the lack of advanced skin and body therapy education in the US. She and her then boyfriend (now husband) Raymond started a skin education facility called International Dermal Institute, which taught its students about techniques such as extraction, lymphatic drainage and reflexology. There were also courses on the business side of skincare. Today there are 37 global locations of the IDI and it serves as the research arm of Dermalogica.
The couples’ next big move was the launch of their Dermalogica product line in 1986. In an interview with Swaay, Wurwand explained, “We wanted it to have a West Coast American personality, and be something between a cosmetic and a pharmaceutical, which was unheard of at the time.”
The line was an instant hit. According to Wurwand, Dermalogica generated $1 million in sales its first year and $10 million in its third year. In 2015, Unilever acquired a majority share in the company.
What Is the Concept Behind Dermalogica?
As the company states, Dermalogica is focused on skin health rather than “beauty.” The company takes a no-nonsense approach to its products and packaging. Dermalogica products have always been formulated without common irritants and ingredients that could cause breakouts, including lanolin, SD alcohol, mineral oil, artificial colors and fragrances. The packaging is simple and understated, and looks practical rather than luxurious.
What Does Dermalogica Sell?
Dermalogica sells a wide range of skincare products, including cleansers, moisturizers, masques, toners, boosters and treatments. The products fall under eight categories, including Age Smart, Ultra Calming, Active Clearing, Clear Start, Daily Skin Health, Daylight Defense, Powerbright TRX and a Body Collection. Here’s a breakdown.
Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF 50 – This moisturizer pulls double duty by keeping skin hydrated while also protecting it with broad spectrum SPF 50. The antioxidant white tea and polypeptides help improve the appearance of photo-aged skin.
Super Rich Repair – Formulated for dry skin, this heavy duty moisturizer boosts hydration with shea butter and primrose oil while protecting the skin from environmental aggressors.
Special Cleansing Gel – This foaming gel helps get rid of any impurities on the skin while balm mint and lavender leave it feeling soft.
Clearing Skin Wash – Salicylic acid and beta hydroxy acid give pores a deep clean and keep breakouts at bay. Botanicals helps soothe the skin.
Overnight Retinol Repair – What makes this retinol product different is that it can be customized. The Retinol Repair comes with a 0.5% microencapsulated pure retinol along with a Buffer Cream. The retinol can be mixed with the Buffer Cream to help minimize irritation, and as skin gets acclimated, less Buffer Cream is needed.
Age Bright Spot Fader- This spot treatment tackles two things at one. Salicylic acid helps zap breakouts while niacinamide and hexylresorcinol work to fade post-breakout marks and improve skin tone.
Barrier Defense Booster – Formulated with oat oil and squalene, this hydrating oil can be worn alone or mixed into a moisturizer.
Solar Defense Booster SPF 50 – This non-chalky broad spectrum sunscreen also contains vitamins C and E to nourish and protect skin. It can be worn alone or mixed into foundation or moisturizer for extra protection.
Stress Positive Eye Lift – Formulated with wild indigo seed, sea water extract and arctic algae, this eye mask should be left on for three to five minutes to help depuff and brighten the eye area.
Charcoal Rescue Masque – Packed with activated binchotan charcoal along with volcanic ash, the Charcoal Rescue Masque is designed to brighten and deep clean the skin.
How Much Do Dermalogica Products Cost?
Dermalogica products are pricey, and similar to other prestige brands sold in department stores. Both The Prisma Protect SPF 30 cream and the Age Bright Clearing Serum retail for $65. Redness Relief Essence is one of the lower priced products at $21, while Biolumin Vitamin C serum is $87. The Age Reversal Eye Complex is $80, and the Charcoal Rescue Masque is $49.
Is Dermalogica Cruelty Free?
Yes. According to the company, Dermalogica is recognized as cruelty-free by PETA and Leaping Bunny. Dermalogica is certified vegan on all but four products, and the formulas, which are manufactured in California, are free of artificial colors and fragrances, mineral oil, lanolin, S.D. alcohol, parabens and microplastics.
What Ingredients Are in Dermalogica Products?
Dermalogica products are formulated with a mix of botanicals as well as common skin care ingredients and more unusual ones. Some of the standard skincare ingredients used include retinol, which boosts skin cell turnover, oils and hyaluronic acid, which holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Salicylic acid, which gives pores a deep clean, is found in several Dermalogica products including the Overnight Clearing Gel and the Breakout Clearing Foaming Wash.
Overnight Repair serum contains argan and rose oil for hydration, and the Multi-Active Toner has lavender, balm mint and arnica to help soothe and hydrate skin. Pure Night Nourishing Overnight treatment cream contains vitamin C, which helps brighten skin and niacinamide and zinc glycinate to help control melanin formation. Pumpkin enzyme provides a gentle exfoliation while some of the more exotic ingredients in the cream include extracts from white bird of paradise seed and moth bean seed.
Where Can I Buy Dermalogica Products?
Dermalogica is sold on its website and retailers including Blue Mercury, Sephora, the Dermstore, Ulta and Nordstrom. There are also several Dermalogica flagship stores around the world, which also offer skincare treatments and analysis.
Do Dermalogica Products Work?
It’s never a straight forward process to find the right products for your skin. A little trial and error is always necessary, as one person’s hero product may do nothing for you. I’s always helpful to look at customer reviews as a starting point.
Dermalogica has been around for decades and has racked up plenty of media coverage and awards. The Daily Microfoliant, a rice based powder with salicylic acid, won a 2019 Allure Reader’s Choice Award while the Resurfacing Daily Superfoliant nabbed a 2018 Glamour Beauty Award. The Phyto Replenish Oil, which helps boost the skin’s protective barrier, won an O-ward from Oprah’s magazine in 2018. Other products have received write ups in just about every major women’s and men’s magazine, including InStyle, More, Details, Marie Claire, Redbook and Shape.
The brand also has its celebrity fans. The actress Patricia Clarkson told The New York Times she’s a fan of Dermalogica Super Rich Repair, the Multivitamin Exfoliator and the Redness Relief. January Jones told People magazine she uses Dermalogica’s Sleep Cocoon, an evening gel cream. When the actress Amy Adams is wearing a lot of makeup for work, as she relayed to Allure magazine, she reaches for Dermalogica’s Ultracalming Cleanser.
Dermalogica products have plenty of customer reviews on Sephora. The Daily Microfoliant Exfoliator has over 10,000 loves and gets a 4.7 out of 5 star rating. One reviewer called it a “Glass skin miracle!!!!!! I rarely write reviews but this product blew my mind.” Many people noted its high price but felt it was worth it as they said it left skin feeling soft. “This exfoliant will change your face.” Customers who gave it low marks cited its unpleasant smell or found it to be too drying. As one reviewer wrote, “… immediately after using this my face tightened up and I couldn’t put enough moisturizer on to sooth my skin.”
The Special Cleansing Gel also has plenty of customer reviews on Sephora, with a 4.4 star rating. One customer said “it was worth every penny. This has been the best cleanser I’ve ever used.” Reviewers said that it cleaned their skin and helped remove makeup. “Feel so great. My skin is feeling fresh without being dry out and tightened up. Definitely will be returning to buy it.” Those that didn’t love it found it to be too drying- “This cleanser is harsh and leaves skin feeling stripped and dry. After 1 month of use my skin is dry, flaking and I look aged.”
What Are Some Alternatives to Dermalogica?
Dermalogica may not be for everyone, either because of the high price point or it doesn’t react well with your kin. There are a few other brands to consider.
Formulyst’s philosophy is long-term and effective skincare. The brand wants to help its customers achieve their best looking skin, rather than covering it up with makeup. The comprehensive line of products addresses everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin.
For polished looking skin, try Formulyst Retexturing and Perfecting Serum. It contains plant based acids to gently slough off old skin cells, leaving behind fresher, smoother looking skin. The serum also works to tackle unevenness and blotchiness.
Hydrated skin looks healthy and dewy. If you like the feel of a lightweight moisturizer, try Formulyst Super Hyaluronic Water Moisturizer. Hyaluronic acid helps keep skin plumped, hydrated and dewy looking. This oil free formula is packed with multiple types of hyaluronic acid and it works as a moisture magnet by drawing water to the skin.