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For a long time, I have lauded the efforts of L’Oreal with their rather revolutionary L’Oreal Youth Code line, which was one of the first products to include probiotics, like Bifida ferment lysate. While this was considered to be cutting edge by most and hokey by some in 2009, concurrent research at the time demonstrated that use of probiotics can strengthen the skin from the inside out (Experimental Dermatology, 2009) by strengthening the skin’s resistance to outside stressors. This is particularly useful for those with conditions like eczema or psoriasis, but can also be beneficial for regular ol’ skin as well.
So imagine my excitement when L’Oreal released the new L’Oreal Youth Code Pore Vanisher ($28.97, Amazon.com). Promising to immediately deliver reduced-looking pores and to actually reduce the size of pores over the course of a month, you can imagine how excited I was to try it. Unfortunately, I have a few problems with it…
The Good: Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that is used to cleanse, exfoliate, and treat acne and aging skin.
Salicylic acid is relatively small in structure and is able to get through the skin’s uppermost layers. It penetrates and softens keratin, a protein that forms part of the skin’s structure. By softening keratin, the skin is more pliable and easily turned over. This makes the new skin cells underneath more readily come to the surface.
When salicylic acid is used in conjunction with other treatments, it is able to allow the other formulations’ ingredients to penetrate the skin more effectively.
The Neutral: Silicones and Alcohol
Silicones are a major component of L’Oreal Youth Code Pore Vanisher, comprising three of the first five listed ingredients. Silicones are quadruple threats, acting as silky moisturizers, conditioners, solvents, and delivery agents for other skin care ingredients. It wouldn’t be possible to have a makeup primer or a BB/CC cream without silicones. Truth be told, the entire concept of having a product simulataneously hydrate, protect, and prime the skin for additional product is all attributable to silicones.
Silicones have a specific set of chemical properties, including a large size and significant spacing between each molecule, that enable them to form a molecular lattice on the skin. This lattice will allow the silicones to set on the surface of your skin as a moisturizer and conditioner, while enabling beneficial ingredients to reach the surface of your skin. Unfortunately, other than salicylic acid, L’Oreal Youth Code Pore Vanisher does not contain many of the proven anti-agers. It’s best to consider L’Oreal Youth Code Pore Vanisher as a cosmetic product rather than a skin care treatment.
Alcohol Can Be Tricky
Beneficial ingredients reach the skin even faster when they are embedded in a lightweight solvent like alcohol. L’Oreal Youth Code Pore Vanisher includes denatured alcohol in a fair concentration, so it is thinning out the silicone-heavy solution somewhat.
However, the alcohol in L’Oreal Youth Code Pore Vanisher is one of the reasons why pores immediately look smaller. (The others are skin-smoothing and concealing silicones and use of perlite-based shimmer to distract the eye.) Alcohol actually makes skin cells temporarily swell, making the pores they surround look smaller.
The Ugly: No Probiotics
My biggest grievance with L’Oreal Youth Code Pore Vanisher is that it does not contain probiotics, which were what made the L’Oreal Youth Code products special to me (and scientifically savvy) to begin with. I don’t know why L’Oreal even bothered to include this pore vanisher as a part of the “Youth Code” line, other than the fact that it could be used in conjunction with other L’Oreal Youth Code products. But, truth be told, a silicone-based, alcohol-thinned, perlite-shiny primer/pore treatment could be used together with almost any cleanser/toner/moisturizer combo for those with normal to dry skin, so I’m not convinced.
Does It Work?
L’Oreal Youth Code Pore Vanisher has about the same effect as other BB/CC creams out there: A lightweight-to-medium texture cream that provides medium layerable coverage. The perlite is a nice cosmetic touch, as it hits the light and reflects it.
Over time, L’Oreal Youth Code Pore Vanisher may decrease pore size somewhat as well due to the salicylic acid cleaning out your pores. But I would personally choose a salicylic acid-based cleanser, like Neutrogena Clean and Clear, with 2% salicylic acid directly applied to the skin, instead of it.
L’Oreal has many winners, but L’Oreal Youth Code Pore Vanisher is not one of them in the skin care arena. There are just too many products out there that contain more pore-refining ingredients, like higher concentrations of salicylic acid, and I’m turned off by the fact that this product uses the “Youth Code” name but does not contain any skin-strengthening probiotics. At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a BB/CC cream, go ahead and try it. But if you’re looking for real pore reduction, reach for a 2% salicylic acid treatment instead.
DIMETHICONE • AQUA/ WATER • GLYCERIN • DIMETHICONE CROSSPOLYMER • METHYL METHACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER • ISONONYL ISONONANOATE • ALCOHOL DENAT. • VINYL DIMETHICONE/ METHICONE SILSESQUIOXANE CROSSPOLYMER • BUTYLENE GLYCOL • LAURYL PEG-9 POLYDIMETHYLSILOXYETHYL DIMETHICONE • BORON NITRIDE • SILICA SILYLATE • PHENOXYETHANOL • PEG/PPG-18/ 18 DIMETHICONE • PERLITE • MAGNESIUM SULFATE • CAPRYLOYL SALICYLIC ACID • CAPRYLYL GLYCOL • MENTHYL LACTATE • LENS ESCULENTA SEED EXTRACT/LENTIL SEED EXTRACT • BISABOLOL • PARFUM/ FRAGRANCE • DEXTRIN • DIMETHICONOL • CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499/IRON OXIDES • CI 77891/ TITANIUM DIOXIDE • SYNTHETIC FLUORPHLOGOPITE • EPERUA FALCATA BARK EXTRACT • FARNESOL • LIMONENE • DISODIUM STEAROYL GLUTAMATE • ALPHA-ISOMETHYL IONONE • CITRONELLOL • ALUMINUM HYDROXIDE