Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Crocuses and crow's feet: Aldi Lacura Expert Day & Night Cream review

To my great surprise, my eBuzzing Beauty ranking jumped up to 75 recently, after languishing in the over 100 doldrums for some time before that. For newer readers, I might just explain that I never intended to acquire this rating - it was a clerical error, more or less - but now that I am officially listed as a 'beauty blogger', I do like to lob in the odd post on beauty products just to keep my unintentional hand in.  Usually on the subject of skincare products that (also) suit 'mature' skin, as in the present case. Without further ado, I will therefore apologise to anyone solely interested in fragrance-related topics (however tenuously so), or who IS interested in skincare but does not have any Aldi stores in their part of the world.

So...shortly after I wrote my post about the Ladurée/Aldi macaron throwdown, Aldi's advertising agency, McCann (they appear to have lost their Erickson since I last looked) contacted me to ask whether I was interested to try their new skincare duo, launched earlier this year: Lacura Expert Wrinkle Filling Day Cream and Regeneration Night Cream. So, given that my moisturising regime has got more intensive since I hit 50 I said: 'Yes please!' to that. Hmm, if only I could top up my pension as readily at this late stage, and in fairness it may be too late for the complexion (some readers may recall my 'closing the stable door after the collagen has bolted' quip in this context).

Soon I was in receipt of a shiny blue metallic Jiffy bag containing the twinset of moisturisers: the day cream had a red cap and a clear glass pot, while the night cream had a slightly darker scheme, namely a silver cap and red glass pot. To be perfectly symmetrical, the glass on the day cream should have been silver really, but that would have been a bit weird, as would a glass top on the night cream. However, the outer boxes do keep this contrasting silver/red theme going as you can see, while the jars themselves are as matching as they can be, and the overall look is still pretty classy for £3.99 a pop.

Content-commensurate packaging - that's what we like to see

Now if I was a proper beauty blogger I would regale you with a detailed breakdown of the creams' ingredients and all the science about their effects. But here at least is an extract from Aldi's website, giving the topline:

Day Cream

- SPF 15
- 5-star UVA rating and antioxidative protective complex protects the skin from ageing caused by the sun
- Pro-vitamin B5 for 24 hour moisture

Night Cream

- Abyssinian oil and shea butter improves suppleness
- Regenerative and wrinkle reducing
- Hyaluronic acid for intensive moisture

Tamper-evident foil - no substrate spared
From my reading of the leaflet - I caved in! - both products in fact contain this antioxidative complex (is that even a word? ;) ), which is based on white tea.  There is additionally an anti-ageing peptide in both called Mimox X, as well as a 'Cell-to-cell Communicator' (though even Aldi thought fit to put that one in inverted commas). It is based (rather arcanely) on crocus extract. (Further details on application.)

I will also refer you to this article in The Daily Mail about how a group of women got on with the creams in trials (very well as it turns out!), and point out that the leaflet that comes in the box with each jar has the details of both products printed on it - one on each side. I did a double take initially, thinking I had been sent the night cream leaflet for both creams, when in fact all I needed to do was flip the blinking thing over. A slightly embarrassing phone call to the ad agency sorted that one out. It is actually a clever idea, because it obviously keeps costs down to have one multi-purpose leaflet across the pair.

The (perversely) more luxuriant day cream is on the left

Right, so the next thing to talk about is how I got on with the creams themselves, from an aesthetic / application point of view as well as in terms of their efficacy.

But first off, a word about the name, which makes me think of a slightly dated, top of the range saloon car - the Renault Lacura, say.  Wow, I note that there is actually a luxury car brand called Acura! So there you go - all my associations are automotive and I can't see any obvious link with skincare.

I have to say that while the scent is less lemon Pledge-y than the previous skincare range called Siana, which came in a blue pot as I recall, after sustained sampling it is still a bit harsh to my nose. Not lemony per se, more like a poor man's version of Clarins Eau Ressourcante body butter, say, by which I mean that it aspires to be a spa or sauna kind of smell, but the attempt doesn't quite come off. I accept that there wouldn't have been a lot of money left for an expensive fragrance after shelling out on these whizzy active ingredients - you don't get many crocuses to the pound, based on the price of freesias in my local Tesco, say - but it does rather let the products down.

Stark illustration of my relative product preference!

The second thing to mention is that I have used each product at very differential rates - and that is an understatement. Basically, I am almost through the night cream after two and a half months or so, while the day cream is largely unused. I must have had about ten go's with it and on at least six of those the product got into my eyes and stung like crazy, even though I took care to avoid the eye area, and applied it in exactly the same parts of my face as the night cream. I would love to know if anyone out there has tried the day cream and had the same experience. I can't believe it is anything I am doing wrong, or I would have had the same issue with the many other brands of daytime moisturiser I have tried lately. Actually, I did have it with Boot's Sanctuary Illuminating Moisture cream, but that is the only other one that I can think of that migrated (most painfully) into my eyes.

The third thing to mention on the aesthetic / application front is that the day cream is much richer than the night cream, which might have had something to do with the getting into my eyes business, I don't know. You may or may not just be able to see the difference in the first photo showing the pots side by side, but trust me on this one. And intuitively it all seems wrong. By day I want something lighter that is going to sink in quickly and not look too greasy, go under foundation etc, whereas by night I can slather on any kind of thickness of cream and it doesn't matter as my eyes will be shut and I will hopefully be asleep.  So I don't know how that came about.

'Does my skin look smoother, firmer, tighter in this?'

Finally, in terms of how I got on with the products, I can say that my skin feels hydrated all right, but then any moisturiser might have done that. I didn't take any before pics, though here is an 'after' one, in which I don't notice any difference in terms of my skin appearing 'smoother, firmer, tighter' or 'more young-looking', like the women in the trials reported in The Daily Mail, nor any obvious improvement to my wrinkles. But my skin is certainly in a holding pattern. So I think the product probably did as good a job as my usual brands of night cream - which range from the usual high street suspects of Nivea and Garnier to the cheap luxury brands you find in T K Maxx (notably Lange in my branch). I prefer the Aussie brand Dr Lewinn best of all the face creams I have tried, as it smells and feels very pampering. But again, I have no idea whether my wrinkles were improved by any of them.

My hunch is that it is the heavy duty anti-ageing products containing retinol that have had a really noticeable effect in the past on my forehead and lip to mouth lines - to wit Roc Retinol Correxion and Indeed Retinol Reface. But I haven't been using those in the period when I was trialling the Lacura creams. So I would say that the Lacura products would keep your hydration levels topped up at the very least, and save you a lot of money versus the dearer brands if hydration is your main goal.

Personally, I can't recommend the day cream because of its overly rich texture and the stinging business, but if you don't mind the harsh scent the night cream was a pretty good buy. Actually, I could always try using the day cream at night, as it may not migrate into my eyes so easily if they are shut. And there's SPF15 sun protection with that, in case it turns out one day that not only is there a risk of sunburn through cloud, but also darkness.

Ooh, but look - there is a new cream on the block - from rival chain Lidl: OSIRIS AVISE, which costs under a quid for a pot while stocks last.  I may have to test that next - I mean how bad can it be for 99p?

Have you tried either of these Aldi creams?  Or the Lidl one pictured - or any other bargain basement brands or non-brands for that matter?

If so, I would love to know how they worked out for you on the general moisturising and wrinkle filling fronts...


  1. Hmmm it sounds like they batched them into the wrong pots! I know exactly what you mean about the eye thing though - not with this cream, but with others, and good brands too like L'Oreal or Olay. I *know* I didn't actually put it in my eyes and was even under the under eye region but as soon as it went on my skin, my eyes started smarting like crazy and I had to wash it off. There must be something in it that literally gives us the vapoUrs (;-)) I couldn't figure out what the particular ingredient was common to both that caused it as more than one was in both. I wondered if it was something to do with the type of cream - the purpose for it - as I used regular Olay moisturizing lotion and have done for decades, with no negative affects. I do agree that those containing retinol are the business though - I've had great results (at least I'm grimly telling myself that).

    And congrats on turning 75! :-)

    1. Hi SallyM,

      Well, I did raise that very point with the ad agency, when I was mistakenly querying the leaflet, and they assured me not. In the light of Undina's comment below about the SPF15 ingredient being the likely stinging factor, it sounds like they were in their correct pot. Which I didn't truly doubt.

      One of the reasons why I probably only started regularly moisturising as late as my mid 30's maybe is because the older generation of day or night creams - the Olays and L'Oreals you mention - also seemed to get in my eyes, and I just wouldn't touch them. I am sure the technology has improved there and certainly I rarely have this problem nowadays.

      Yes, retinol is wonder stuff, but to be used with care. And I am only dabbling in the OTC stuff. Thanks for your congrats - I did a double take initially, thinking, hold on, I am only 55 - those creams can't have made any difference after all!

  2. The burning that you've experienced with your eyes, most likely, came from the SPF ingredient - at least, that's how I react to many of those. And since I never go outside during the day without wearing a sunscreen, I went through literally dozens of different day creams to find several those that don't have that effect on my eyes.

    Don't even think about using a day cream at night: you want to wear SPF when you absolutely need to but you definitely do not want it on your face during night!

    When it comes to skincare, I'm a much bigger snob than when we're talking about perfumes: I don't go for anything from a bargain bin. I don't think that a cheap cream cannot be as effective as those more expensive ones that I use - I'm just sure that the number of frogs one has to kiss while looking for a good inexpensive skincare product is much higher than with the more established/expensive brands.

    1. Hi Undina,

      Thanks so much for explaining where the stinging issue has likely come from - that makes perfect sense, as it is the common factor across those two creams that were problematic. I must say the Nivea light moisturiser with SPF 15 is brilliant in every way, so I may stick with that as my day cream of choice.

      I know what you mean about being a snob about skincare - part of me wants to be but I keep drifting back to the budget buys just to see how good they are. There was an article somewhere which scientifically tested a load of moisturisers at all different price points, and I believe Nivea and Olay came out very favourably versus a number of super expensive brands. Not sure I could find it again though. The luxury ones have a nicer feel, I would say that definitely.

    2. This is one similar, perhaps, though not the one I was thinking of.

  3. Nice post, Vanessa.
    I have tried a Lidl moisture serum before and that was really good and I also don't mind trying other cheap stuff from TKMaxx. My go to skincare regime consists mainly of French pharmacy brands, which are well tested and somehwere in the middle range, price wise. I think in the end of the day we will never find out which product does what exactly, but proper cleansing and moisturising, plus a good spf day creme is totally benifical. I think you should write about skin care more often, your approach is honest and refreshing, the 'proper' beauty bloggers with their worship of everythying they got a freebie for are going on my tits big time. Plus, they usually have no clue about science and do a bad job in hiding it behind copying PR copy.

    1. Hi Sabine,

      Oh, I haven't clocked a Lidl serum - do they still do it, I wonder? I was in there this morning, but there must have been a run on their skincare products as the selection was very sparse. Ah yes, French pharmacy brands can be good, if you are thinking of the likes of La Roche-Posay? I have their range too for skin toning and spot zapping - Birgit got me on to it in one of her 'favourite product' posts.

      Thanks for your kind comments about my style of writing in relation to beauty products. There does seem to be more advertorial and general 'puffery' in the beauty sector, but on the other hand I may not tell anyone anything of consequence - I am not even sure the Lacura stuff worked or not, whereas the Daily Mail cohort seemed to think so. I wouldn't know how to start comparing my before and after - I don't think a normal camera would capture it. You might need one of those skin analysis / imaging machines that tell you how much sun damage you've got, hehe.

  4. I agree with Undina that sunscreen was the likely culprit in the day cream (and would also effect the texture). As for the benefits of inexpensive (but perhaps not cheap products) I think it was Consumer Reports that found the Olay Regenerist line more effective than a number of much more expensive moisturizers. I use the fragrance free serum from that line and quite like it.
    If you want to know more about the theory (and possible reality) of "cell-communicating ingredients" check out Paula Begoun's site under cosmetic ingredients dictionary.

    Feel free to write more about skin care and cosmetics.

    -- Lindaloo

    1. Hi Lindaloo,

      I am so glad to have got to the bottom of the stinging effect with readers' help. The more I look, the more I keep stumbling across articles recommending various 'cheapie' brands for this and that. Today I bought some L'Oreal Youth Code Illuminize on the recommendation of Sali Hughes, who is a pretty hard nosed beauty journalist with The Guardian. That is not scientific evidence as such, but she knows what's what I figured. I had also read good things about the Regenerist range somewhere, I am sure.

      And thanks for the tip off about where to bone up on 'cell-communicating ingredients' - I am familiar with some of Paula Begoun's videos - she's another proponent of no-frills but effective beauty products.

      I was planning a cosmetics post actually - a product I have fallen for that is just perfect for my colouring (and anyone else in that general 'autumnal' area).