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report by Evelyn of the Cosmetic Connection Product Panel

I used to be one of those people with oily skin who envies those with dry skin - until my skin suddenly dried out completely, bearing an unsettling resemblance to a patch of desert! I began to panic. Cosmetic sales people suggested that this was due to too much moisturizer, not enough, too much alpha hydroxy acid, not enough, too much exfoliating, not enough... You get the picture.

I had heard of Cellex-C, going so far as to look at the products in the line at the one company that sells it in Toronto, The Anti-Aging Shop. I was skeptical, an attitude fueled by a negative review I'd read in Paula Begoun's latest book. But when I read research results in a mainstream newspaper, I investigated further. After some on-line searching, finding out more about the company, I decided to try the product.

Cellex-C was founded by two American scientists. The products contain approximately 10% Vitamin C; they claim that they are the only company to stabilize the rather fragile compound so that it is effective for use on the skin. They have licensed production of the products to a Canadian company; the line is available both in the US and Canada.

The atmosphere at the Anti-Aging Store was decidedly low-key, with no pressure to buy. I asked for samples because in addition to the dryness, my skin had been very sensitive to products both new and old, becoming easily red and irritated. The salesman happily prepared generous samples of three items: Skin Firming Cream, GLA Extra Moist, and Hydra B-5 Complex Moisture Enhancing Gel. The gel was to be used on cleansed skin, followed by the Skin Firming Cream (the line's foundation product; it also comes in a stronger serum). The Extra Moist was meant for very dry, sensitive skin.

The gel went on smoothly and dried quickly, leaving no residue on my face. Then came the cream: it stung mildly but not uncomfortably, something I'd been told to expect. However, it was tacky to the touch and stayed that way for a long, long time. Even in the morning, though the stickiness had disappeared, I could still tell I had applied the cream the night before. It has no fragrance, at least nothing I could smell, which is not to say that the product does not contain fragrance compounds. I finished with the Extra Moist, as added insurance to eradicate the dryness. This cream has more "slip" than the Skin Firming product, with a smoother feel and somewhat quicker drying time.

Cellex-C products are meant to be applied once in a 24-hour period. Though the company does not specify, I can't imagine using them in the morning because the Skin Firming Cream doesn't feel as though it would sit well under make-up.

After about a week, the results were noticeable and – though this is an overused word – dramatic. My skin looked and felt less dry and lined. Where a week earlier I could see crepe-like lines when I prodded my cheek, now there was nothing but smooth skin. I was amazed when a colleague asked what I was using on my skin, as it looked so much better.

The minuses: the products are not inexpensive. The Skin Firming Cream is about $85 for a 2 ounce jar, the Gel and Extra Moist about $45 each for one and two ounces, respectively (these prices are in Canadian dollars). And though I'm used to it, the tacky feeling of the Skin Firming Cream put me off using it during very hot weather.

The pluses: you don't need to use much product per application, so what you get goes a very long way. I've barely made a dent in my jar and have been using it faithfully for a few months now. And despite the sometimes negative reviews it's received (main complaint: there is no conclusive proof that Vitamin C can do anything for skin, or that if it could, that its molecule could either be stable or small enough), it's solved my dry skin problem, hopefully for good. And the lines I had seen are now gone. In my opinion, that's better value for my money than a cheaper product that doesn't perform, or gets used up so quickly that you have to buy frequent replacements.

You can find Cellex-C online at CosmeticMall.com and SkinCareRx.com.



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