As Dior Skincare launches its latest addition to the Dreamskin family, A&E delves into the scientific formula and the psychological significance of these complicated products as we talk exclusively to Edouard Mauvais-Jarvis, Environmental & Scientific Communications Director at Parfums Christian Dior and neuroscientist Dr. Arnaud Aubert.
Dior’s Dreamskin is among the most sought after of cosmetic formulas. When it first entered the market in 2014, the age-defying product had one main goal – to give women perfect skin and it was tremendously received. Then in 2016 Dior created an advanced version of the product for an even more natural look. Now in 2019, the Dreamskin story continues.
After over 800 formula tests that combined the latest in technology and the most recent scientific advances, Dior presents the third generation of this special product in the form of Dreamskin Care & Protect. This active emulsion has an ultra-fluid texture that is more comfortable on the skin’s surface, will improve quality and texture when used every morning.
With more natural-origin ingredients, the active formula is fully-functional and gentle on the skin. A two-part formula is completed with a gel-cream peeling mask, reformulated to create a “new skin” effect in just 60 seconds.
The formula is enriched with a patented complex of ultra-micronized mother-of-pearl for radiance, pigments for colour correction and micro-powders for a blurring effect. The synergy between the ingredients allows the fluid texture to act as an optical veil so that, even make-up free, the skin looks touched up, luminous and with a matte finish. Under foundation, the cream provides an instant filter that blurs imperfections.
New ingredients include Shea butter from West Africa which strengthens the cutaneous barrier and acts as a booster upon contact with the skin. Another is soothing anti-oxidant vitamin B3, which helps to counterbalance the harmful effects of toxins and boost radiance. It also neutralizes both redness with its soothing power and yellowing thanks to its anti-glycation action. Marine sugar meanwhile reinforces the skin’s natural defence mechanisms, while French Alpine water recharges the skin with minerals and activates hydration.
To discover more about the research behind Dior’s latest skincare revelations, including the psychology involved in creating the latest and most relevant products for the market, we talked exclusively to Edouard Mauvais-Jarvis, Environmental & Scientific Communications Director at Parfums Christian Dior and neuroscientist Dr Arnaud Aubert.
What can you tell us about this product, what makes it unique and what has been adapted for this year’s addition to the range?
Edouard: I think we basically wanted to go one step further with what the product was, so we started by making our own diagnosis of what could be the weaknesses of the existing product.
We knew that one of the things that could be improved was this notion of real skincare and caring about the skin in an in-depth way. We knew that the quality of healthy-looking skin is extremely important in terms of perceived perfection, so we said ‘Okay, we need to have something that is extremely healthy and is a product that is more focused on caring about the skin and giving long-term correction from the inside as well as keeping a natural look.’
We wanted to work on specific drawbacks of the product that meant when the skin was darker or more pigmented it had a tendency to look bit ashy or greyish when the product was on the skin. This was linked to the technology that we were using for the blurring. So this is basically what we improved – the care part and the perfection part. This is how we came to decide on the name of the product.
What can you tell us about the ingredients that were added to the formula for this new updated edition?
Edouard: We have added Shea butter – more than five per cent – which is very important as it really brings nutrition and long-term hydration to the formula. We have replaced all of the water with an ‘active’ water that comes from The Alps that not only reinforces in terms of minerals but has an impact on circulation.
We have added four per cent of vitamin B3 which has multi-benefits – it really is a true health ingredient. It works on the regularity of the skin texture, the colour of the skin, it is anti-ageing and also increases the plumpness of the skin.
When we look at the skin it looks like all the colours are located on the top – the red, yellow and brown tones. But it is the blue undertones that are compensating and creating a more whitish colour.
This comes from the dermis, (the thick layer of the living tissue below the epidermis which forms the true skin, containing blood capillaries, nerve endings, sweat glands, hair follicles, and other structures), and it is very important to maintain the right proportion of light diffusion elements in the dermis, as this is responsible for radiance. If the dermis was completely flat there would be no radiance and you need a good colour combination to create this.
The Invention of the blue LED light allowed us to have white LEDs. Before this, it was very easy to make green or red but blue was missing so it wasn’t possible to create white. It’s exactly the same with the skin, you need to be able to reinforce everything, and to create a light, you need to work on all the aspects and regulate what we do.
In this product, we also have an action on the micro-circulation to avoid unevenness in colour. Vitamin B3 also works on this aspect. It is also very important to have an anti-ageing aspect not only for the sake of anti-ageing but for the sake of the skin.
Dr. Arnaud Aubert, Neuroscientist
We notice in skincare that there are a lot of ingredients used that aren’t necessarily natural. Of course, they can be more powerful on the skin with faster results, but to what extent do you think it’s crucial to have natural ingredients in skincare products?
Edouard: I think natural is something that’s very important but you must understand that there are pros and cons to natural products. A natural ingredient can be a composition of many molecules coming from a natural plant.
Sometimes it’s the natural combination of the right levels of different molecules that are present in a vegetable source, for example, that will bring a real efficiency. The drawback of this is that in a plant you might extract 200 different molecules and you have ten that are useful and from the rest, some are completely neutral but some can be harmful and this is where the problem lies.
When you go for something that is synthetic – Okay, yes it’s synthetic but it’s also extremely pure so you know exactly what you have. So natural is good but it can have its drawbacks. Synthetic also has drawbacks and positives so sometimes they complement each other.
It is often good to have something synthetic that is extremely safe rather than something that is natural. It seems paradoxical but it is the truth. I think it is a trend to source more and more things naturally.
How do your roles complement each other when you are bringing a product to life?
Dr Arnaud: There is a saying, ‘the beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ so one of the questions I ask is ‘how does the brain of the beholder work and what matters to them?’ And once you understand the roots of the problem you have the tools to develop new approaches and products.
For example, when you develop such approaches using psychology you discover that wrinkles are not such a big deal. We find from a scientific and psychological point of view that being skinny isn’t perceived as beautiful for example – this is something that comes from mass media and isn’t universal, it is, in fact, a stereotype of mass marketing.
What I mean is that body shape doesn’t matter at all – you can be beautiful by being slim or beautiful by being bigger – what is a common point in the body shape is the optimal ratio between the hips and the waist. This optimal ratio is 0.7 between the size of the waist and the hips. Many studies have been done on this. So whatever your weight or size it is all linked to this ratio and this is completely universal.
Edouard: This is crucial for us because it helps in understanding the relevant cues on which we need to act. So when we look at a face and we say it’s young or old or attractive or non-attractive, it’s completely instinctive, but you have no idea where it comes from.
So by helping us develop these cues that are innate, it helps us to develop a more relevant product. If we understand what people are looking for we can understand what these changes mean in terms of biology and we can find the active ingredient that will reflect on the surface as something that is visible and deeper than that and make a real change.
In the past few years, we have noticed that Dior’s products are answering to customer needs. What can you tell us about the skincare universe of Dior – how do the ranges complement each other and what should we be looking for from skincare products?
Edouard: This is why we need to have people to give advice on our products because people need guidance on what they should be using. Actually the geography is quite simple. You must have a key product that is a starter or essential and it must be a product that is detoxifying. When you have toxins in your skin it tends to cripple the system so if you try to do anything before removing the toxins it’s like trying to accelerate with the handbrake on. So first you need to remove the handbrake before starting to drive and you can do this with a detoxifying product.
Then we enter the part where you can have aspects that are preventative – this can be anti-ageing or correcting – so this is why we have developed creams that capture youth. And then we know that everybody is different and will age differently depending on their skin type, the reason why we have added serums that allow the cream to work more efficiently on the system.
We also have Capture Totale which is more for correction which means that it integrates all the signs of ageing through a broad spectrum approach working on stem cells. Each of the products in the Dreamskin range can be used either alone or as part of a complete routine. Personally, I like to layer different products but I’m maybe not the average male user!
We get very interesting demands from clients and we want to make sure we offer something that has a large enough offering to answer to the needs of everyone. No one is the same, some people will have the tendency to age with more signs than others and they will feel more concerned.
Wrinkles are not necessarily the issue. What people see in their mirror is a change. The person I see in the mirror is not the person I feel I am and this is where the discrepancy creates a tension. Ageing is not a problem in itself, what is the problem is that at some point you don’t recognise yourself.
Blaming the wrinkles is a simple solution but it is more complicated than that, you need to address the real problem. This is what we try to do – understanding what the problems really are and helping people to make a change that is really noticeable.
We are reaching an era where women are being trained on acceptance. Do you think this is playing a role in the way beauty is being perceived?
Dr Arnaud: Yes and what he [Edouard] said is very true. The problem is when you are looking in the mirror and you see changes, the changes are automatically a problem and from this, you fear rejection.
The issue is social acceptance – what you are seeing in the mirror isn’t a problem at all – wrinkles are a sign of ageing – but the issue is not to look younger it’s that when you are younger statistically you are healthier so we don’t connect wrinkles with health. It’s not really about beauty, the point is that you can be beautiful at any age.
You are on the constant quest for solutions, anticipating what is needed in skincare, how do you start working on this and how do you solve upcoming problems?
Edouard: Everything comes down to understanding – understanding the real cues and drives of what we perceive. Cosmetics have a role in changing the interface that we have with others. Our skin is the first social interaction with others so it’s crucial.
This is why trying to gather new methods, either with artificial intelligence or science, could help us find ways to understand the real relevant driving forces behind what people are looking for. Once we understand this, maybe we don’t find the solution immediately, but we have some understanding and an idea of what we need to correct.
Another big subject is the understanding of the optical behaviour of the skin. So on one hand we understand how the skin is analysed and we ask when we see a visible change, what could be the origin of this visual change at a biological level? Visual cues are usually correlated to some changes at a microscopic level and sometimes we need to find out what is the mechanism at the route of this change.
From there, we try to find ways to study it and if we can study it we can find ways to correct it. I cannot tell you what the subject will be in two, three or five years. We try to put our knowledge back on the table and study groups of people to try to gain a new understanding, but it’s not always from what people express. If someone tells us ‘I need an anti-wrinkle cream’ great we will make an anti-wrinkle cream, but the cream won’t only be focused on the immediate problem but on the real problem behind wrinkles, that’s what changes the person’s perception.
From a distance, you wouldn’t be able to notice if a woman’s wrinkles are reduced by 30 or 40 per cent, for example, but on the contrary, what you could notice is the smoothness of her skin and you would be able to perceive a difference in visual radiance. These visual cues are so important when we are working with products because these are the ones that are really changing the impact it has on the woman. This fear of rejection and isolation is the problem not the problem of ageing itself.
As they continue to grow in popularity to what extent do you think sheet masks and face masks are effective?
Edouard: The function of a mask is to put a product in a thick layer on the face so that you can leave it on your skin for a longer amount of time. If you try to put a serum on your skin for a period of time for example, it’s difficult because it’s a liquid and it will slide off, so masks transform something liquid into something that you can leave on and allow you to bring a larger quantity of active ingredients to your skin and this is why masks can be very useful.
We tend to put a high concentration of active ingredients in our serums which allows our products to be more effective and so you are not necessarily going to need masks, but sometimes what you can do is to apply serums with a brush and leave it to penetrate on the skin.
This will give you an experience that is very close to the experience that you have with a leave-on mask. If you have your usual day cream and apply it in a thick layer before going to bed it will have a different performance to what you are used to usually.
You recently launched the Capture Youth Intense Serum which we love – what was the difference in the formula between this and your previous serums?
Edouard: The magic is the richness of this product. We wanted something that was extremely nourishing and repairing and it is an intense rescue. This product is really an SOS system that is repairing all the little cracks in your skin. It is kind of a cloak that will repair everything on your skin and maintain the water while not being suffocating. It is made only with vegetable oils that are extremely penetrating. It has nothing to do with the other serums, it’s much richer.
What would you tell the women of today?
Edouard: I would say take care of your skin and be confident. Your first asset in life is your face and you need to take care of it because it’s essential.
Dr Arnaud: You can be beautiful at any age and you need to be confident.
Interviewed by Lara Mansour Sawaya.