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Skincare review: why DCL is a bit contrary

29th April 2018

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What’s this all about? Proper science-based skincare with top ingredients in really good formulations. DCL stands for Dermatologic Cosmetic Laboratories which gives you an idea of the seriousness of the brand, but it’s a bit of a mouthful isn’t it, so you can see why they shortened it.

DCL is a ‘cosmeceutical’ line ( ie products with pharmaceutical ingredients that are sold as cosmetic skincare, without needing a prescription). So if you’re looking at stepping up your skincare regime, it’s one you might consider. (This isn’t an ad, btw, I was sent this bunch of products last year and am writing them up because it’s a really interesting brand.)  I found it a bit chalk and cheese. Some of the products I loved, others less so…

 DCL skincare: great products with serious ingredients  DCL skincare: great products with serious ingredients

A contrary approach

The way DCL suggests using various ingredients is a bit contrary, because their products use key ingredients slightly differently from most – which is confusing when, say, you’ve just about got your head around the idea that vitamin C is a great thing to be put on the skin, and it’s something you should do in the morning… and here is a brand saying use it at night. But hey, there’s more than one way to cram great ingredients into your skin, and this is theirs.

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Skin Renewal Five-in-one refining hydrator SPF30 (£117)

This sounds intriguing (skin renewal is what we all want, isn’t it?) and it is one of DCLs hero products — an all-in-one day cream with active ingredients and SPF30, so you can just slap it on in the morning and off you go. The key ingredient in here is 10% glycolic acid which will encourage exfoliation of the top layers of your skin cells, and which will also help your skin hold onto moisture better. And yes, glycolic acid is often something that you use overnight but it’s fine during the day as long your skin is sufficiently well protected from UV light, and there’s a hefty SPF30 in here to do that. Then there’s an antioxidant (from green tea) which is always a good idea for daily skin defence, and vitamin b5 (panthenol, hydrating, anti-inflammatory) and hyaluronic acid (HA; also nice and hydrating).  So it’s a fab bunch of stuff and tingles just enough to be exciting when it goes on but alas my skin just didn’t get on with it and kept throwing up tiny pimples by the afternoon whenever I used it, so I moved on.

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Profoundly Effective A Cream SPF30 (£59)

This is DCL’s other cracker of a day cream, and the contrariness here is that vitamin A is usually a night-time-only option  – because it gets broken down by daylight, but not in this particular formulation. Hope you are still with me. So this is a moisturiser with a skin-regenerating polypeptide vitamin-A derivative (and yes, I’m feeling baffled, too). The stronger derivatives of vitamin-A are good for rebooting tired, wrinkled, mature skin and encouraging the growth of new collagen to make skin firmer, reducing pigmentation and improving skin hydration – but the key here turns out to be retinyl palmitate which is a less strong and less irritating form of retinol which won’t do much on its own, but in this cream it’s combined with the aforementioned polypeptide which I would guess is what is really doing the work here. But whatever, it really suited my skin and it also has hyaluronic acid in it, and soothing B5 and green tea as above and even better, my skin loves this, so it and I have become firm friends.

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Hydra Boost Finishing Serum (£98) 

Very fancy and finely formulated serum with not one but three sizes of hyaluronic acid (HA) molecules in it – so some will sink right in to hydrate the lower layers of your skin, some will wedge themselves into the epidermis and the biggest ones will sit on the surface, all attracting moisture and keeping your skin comfortable. Usually you use an HA serum on dry skin before other products, but this wants you to use it on top of whatever else you have put on your skin. Which is fine but definitely contrary. Also, it’s a beautifully made product but I’d question whether you need to spend that much when there are plenty of other cheaper HA serums around all of which do a decent job. 

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C scape High Potency Night Booster 30 (£108)

And finally a big old vitamin C serum with a whopping 30% concentration of L-Ascorbic acid (which is the most effective form of Vit C for the skin) for brightening the skin by reducing pigmentation and firming it up by waking up the fibroblasts.  And yes, where most vitamin-C serums are for morning use, this is an overnight product. The texture is really fascinating – it’s a bit gritty (this particular form of vitamin C) and it’s a waterless serum so it feels like a dry gel, if you can imagine such a thing, which spreads around the skin easily enough and sinks in nicely (that’s thanks to an ingredient called isohexadecane, which leaves a dry powder finish). There’s a time-release system in the formulation to let this huge concentration of vitamin C into your skin overnight, which is just as well. It’s challengingly tingly as it is and I probably shouldn’t have put it so close around my eyes the first time as I then lay there in bed wide awake waiting for the prickly feeling to subside. But I love this, and the way it makes my skin look fresher and brighter by morning.

Where to start?

If I had to pick one product? I’d go for the A-cream. Would it suit you? Most probably, because it’s not too challenging, feels lovely on the skin and will  give results if you use it consistently.

You can find more info on the DCL website here

In the UK, the products are at SpaceNK


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