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I'm a low maintenance kind of woman when it comes to skin care but don't make the mistake of equating low maintenance with low spend. I use relatively few types of cosmetic product - you won't find me fussing over cleansers, toners, serums for this that and the other - but I do like to buy good gear for the few products I use and the most important of these are moisturisers. As I dip into the dodgy age at which those around me are getting saggy faces and deeper lines, I think my dedication to moisturisers is starting to pay dividends and my standard winter moisturiser is Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Refining Moisture Cream Complex. For sake of brevity, let's just call it Vis Dif.
I discovered Vis Dif about five years ago whilst shopping on one of the many online discount cosmetics sites. I knew the name, recognised it as a brand I'd seen in the duty free shops and department stores, and figured it was worth a try for the £15 or so I paid for my first jar. I've since worked myself through about a dozen more jars, stockpiling a few jars whenever a good offer comes along. My most recent purchase was of two jars of Vis Dif at £13.99 a pop from the website directcosmetics.com where I also bought three jars of Elizabeth Arden Perpetual Moisture (my warmer weather alternative to Vis Dif)at £9.99 each and a titchy 30g jar of 8 hour cream for £3.99. I'm now set to face the coming winter and sail on through to the middle of next year probably.
Vis Dif has been around for a long time and is one of Elizabeth Arden's best sellers. However, when searching their website to find out a bit more about the history (and failing) I discovered they're now launching 'New Visible Difference' - a range of revamped, repacked and no doubt more expensive options. Perhaps that's why the standard product which retails in stores for around £45 per 75 ml jar seems to be widely available on line for as little as less than a third of the RSP.
Vis Dif comes in a white box with silver edges and the famous red door logo - unless of course you buy the unboxed sample jars which are often available. The one I'm using at the moment came properly boxed and cellophane wrapped. The jar inside is as solid and dependable as its contents. With a heavy glass base that deters me from taking it on my travels and a white screw on matt plastic top with a silver rim, it does give an impression of quality. This is not one of your cheap thin glass or even cheaper plastic tubs. The product name on my jars is in both English and French. With the lid off there is a thin plastic disc which covers the contents and which invariably gets lost within the first two weeks of use.
The cream inside is bright white in colour, with a rich, thick texture that initially made me worry. It looked like it would be just too heavy for my skin and had the look of an old fashioned 'cold cream'. I expected to have to choose between looking like I had white clown make-up or having to spend ages rubbing it in. Neither was true because the remarkable thing about Vis Dif is that despite looking like a heavy duty cream it isn't. A small amount goes a long way because it sits in the pot like a firm cream but transforms on the skin into a much lighter, easily spread and quickly absorbed format. Another surprising thing about Vis Dif is the smell which you might expect to be luxurious and indulgent but which is actually almost unscented and has the faintest slightly 'medicinal' smell to it. If you prefer to smell of the perfume you've sprayed onto yourself and not the perfume a manufacturer stuck into your moisturiser, it's quite a refreshing change.
Ingredient listings are not my thing and I'll assume that if you are interested in the details and are considering a purchase, you'll check them out yourself. The two ingredients that caught my eye as a little bit different were bees wax and olive oil. Paraben and benzoate users can stay away - but unless you're the type to use sterilised little paddles to dispense your cream, I'd say there's a lot to be said for preservatives protecting a face cream from bug growth and staling. Talking of which, the little logo on the base of the jar - the one that shows a jar with the lid at an angle - informs me that the product is good to use for 12 months after opening which I consider to be a good lifespan for a product of this type.
I know some people like bottles, tubes, jars and some even prefer pump dispensers. I like to get my money's worth and I'm always frustrated by the bits I can't get out of all those other containers. I try to always wash my hands before taking product from the jar and find that I can always get every last tiny scrape out of a Vis Dif jar. It's a bit like the last half inch of the toothpaste tube - you can always find a tiny bit more if you scrape around.
The pamphlet in my box happily explains very little about the cream in eleven different languages but it can be forgiven for the lack of detail because it's a very simple product. It claims to be a 'rich, emollient, protective' cream which 'cushions skin with moisture'. Sounds dubious to me. The moisturiser is supposed to penetrate skin and make it smoother, softer and more luminous and to reduce the appearance of fine lines and dryness in 14-21 days. It's hard for me to comment on a product I've used for so long since it's unlikely I can see such differences after so much use although I can say that now the weather has turned cold, my skin seems to be crying out for this old favourite. I'm often told I don't look my age (and not only by people who want to borrow money) but I can't say that one moisturiser rather than another can be given credit for that. I'm more of the opinion that anything regularly is better than nothing or better than sporadic moisturisation.
Usage instructions are simple and you just apply it to clean skin twice a day. I can't swear that I do that as I don't always need to moisturise twice a day and if I'm going to be outdoors much in any day, I would substitute it for a day cream with sun protection. Those you use makeup can slap it on top, those of us who don't can face the world with what feels like a bit of a protective layer.
I do find that if I bounce into the day with a bit too much vigour and do anything too energetic too soon after applying, the cream seems to cause me to get a bit of a sweaty face which is very unattractive and one of the reasons I save this for winter. I would also suggest that this isn't a good cream for anyone with greasy skin and is better suited to slightly dry skin like mine. Except on very cold days when I'm going to be taking the world on full in the face, I'm more likely to use this at night than first thing in the morning but if my skin is feeling a little dry, then I would use it more often.
The downside to Vis Dif is the lack of sun protection. I'm sure if it had been launched in the past few years, the manufacturers would have stuck some in. Instead it's in that same time warp as other classics like Clinique's 'Dramatically Different' - it has too many fans for the company to risk changing it, but at the same time it's falling behind cheaper, newer competitors in terms of functionality. If I can continue to get it at good prices, I'm likely to stick with Vis Dif because it works for me but I can imagine that the lack of sun protection will put a lot of people off and the texture can come as a bit of a surprise.
As part of an Elizabeth Arden Duty Free gift set I received, there was a small tube of their Visible Difference Refining Moisture Cream Complex. This was probably the item in the set that I was most excited by and tempted to use as moisturiser isn't something I would spend a lot of money on. I normally use a £3.99 Nivea light moisturiser and am very happy with it, but always love the chance to try something a bit more indulgent for a bit of pampering.
As it was part of a set, my cream came in a small white tube, rather than the glass tub shown above, but if you bought it separately you would have the choice of this cream in either a 30ml, 75ml or 100ml glass tub like the picture. My tube is plain white with very minimal writing or information on it, merely the name of the product on the front and instructions in four languages on the back telling you to smooth it onto cleansed skin morning or night. The tube is around 3 inches in height and stands on a white screw top lid. Now, when I say it's a small tube this isn't a complaint, as it was part of a set and I was just pleased to receive it at all. HOWEVER! Research for this review has shocked me into silence...not an easy thing to do!
Looking online to see how much you can expect to pay for a normal sized tub of this cream I discovered the following: the cream is available in the sizes I already stated above. At the moment they're all on special offer on cheapsmells.com. The prices are 30ml=£12.45 (normally £25.00), 75ml=£19.00 (normally £45.00) and the 100ml=£21.50 (normally £65.00). The RRP's of the different sizes were enough to stun me, but when I looked at my tube and discovered that it is actually 30ml, the same size as the smallest tub, and if I'd bought it myself it would normally retail at £25 I was flabbergasted! I'm all for paying a bit extra for excellent products that deliver great results, but can any moisturiser really be worth that much money?
Using the moisture cream complex is easy enough, you simply unscrew the lid (I would always prefer a flip top lid on things like this, but that isn't really a complaint for this product as it's a small sample version, and the packaging for the full-sized cream is very different), squeeze a small amount onto your finger tip and then massage it into your face. I use it morning and night after cleansing and toning and a little really does go a long way. I only need to use a pea sized amount to cover my face adequately.
The smell of this cream was totally unexpected. Instead of the usual vaguely citrussy vaguely floral vaguely fresh face creams I'm used to, this has a different smell altogether. It's almost a sherbert kind of smell and actually reminds me of those refresher chew sweets...not the small, round, chalky ones, but the long chewy ones you used to be able to get. It's by no means an unpleasant smell, but it is quite strange rubbing something that smells like that all over your face! It also lingers quite a while as well, so on a morning I do feel I smell a but like a sweet shop!
The cream itself is quite a thick one, much thicker than I'm used to in a moisturiser. It's more reminiscent of quite high factor sun cream than the lighter creams I'm used to but it spreads easily across your skin and feels quite light when you're using it. When I saw how thick it is I was expecting it to be quite difficult to absorb and thought it would take some effort to rub it in properly. This isn't the case, however, and it does absorb very easily into my skin with very little effort.
After I've used this cream by skin is definitely left feeling moisturised and smoother. I can't say I've noticed much of an actual visible difference with regards to my pores/blemishes etc, but my skin does feel softer. With my normal moisturiser, one of the things I like about it is that it leaves my skin feeling sort of "dewy" and glowing. This one, on the other hand, has the opposite effect and seems to mattify my skin, sort of the same effect as when I use a loose powder. I don't dislike this look but personally, I always think that the dewy look makes me look a bit healthier!
So, all in all I'm finding it quite difficult to rate this Refining Moisture Cream Complex. Yes, I like it as a moisturiser but I don't like it enough to a) replace my usual Nivea with it or b) buy it even at special offer prices, let alone full RRP. I think it does soften and moisturise my skin but I don't think it does it any better than the cheaper moisturisers and personally, I don't like the mattifying aspect of it. It does feel quite a luxurious product to use and I would imagine that if you were using the full-sized glass tub it would feel even more so but then I also struggle to find any "refining" qualities to it either. As a moisturiser I would probably give it 4 stars but for the price I would give it 1 so if I split the difference and round it up, then I suppose it gets 3 stars from me, but I definitely wouldn't buy it again myself.
Every winter the cold air reeks it's horrible effects on my skin and sees me come out in a rosy cheeked glow (quite attractive), a few dry patches (not quite so attractive), and my nose turns a vibrant shade of red in its bid to steal Rudolph's crown (positively repulsive!) So my usual solution to this is to switch to a heavier moisturiser and, on rifling through my make-up drawer I came across Elizabeth Arden's Visible Difference Moisturizing Cream.
Elizabeth Arden describe this as "a refining moisturising cream complex to fight the appearance of fine lines, dryness and sustain moisture levels for more toned and healthy looking complexion" It contains Vitamin A to brighten skin, and allatonin, a natural healing agent which promotes the growth of new skin cells, and panthenol, a vitamin B complex thought to firm up the skin. Less scientifically impressive are the inlcusion of olive oil (a great moisturiser, but one you could lift straight out of your food cupboard) and beeswax (used as a binding agent and an ingredient some people are sensitive to).
I bought this on holiday the previous summer but found it much to heavy for use in hot weather and, like many others before it, it was cast aside to the drawer and was forgotten about... until now that is!
It comes in a very classy looking heavy glass pot containing 70g of cream. On twisting off the lid, you can faintly smell the light fragrance - very subtle but really clean and refreshing. The actual consistency of the cream is really thick and I would definitely describe it as a cream rather than a lotion, but it is absorbed by the skin surprisingly easily and you only need the tiniest dab to cover your entire face. The cream is very rich and I prefer to use it in the evenings as it can leave your skin looking very shiny and with large pores just after you've used it, but the next day your skin looks fabulously smooth and with a lovely glow to it.
Elizabeth Arden claim that this will refine, smoothen and moisturise your skin, creating a 'visible difference'. To be perfectly honest, I couldn't claim that there was a huge difference (though my flaky rudolph nose has gone), but my skin certainly does look a lot healthier and more refined than before. As this cream is so rich, I wouldn't recommend it for people with oily skin, but for dry skin it's great! I'm a combination skin sufferer and find that this is great on my drier areas (so perfect for winter skin) but I do avoid using this on my forehead as it doesn't work well there at all and does seem to encourage small breakouts.
So, (as happens so often with my ops) now for the catch. I paid about £25 (whoah, storming ahead into my overdraft!) for my 70g pot but it is normally priced at abot £35, which in my opinion should give you something really special. I don't really object to paying that much for something which really is worth it but I've used moisturisers which cost less than half the price of this which work just as well. The results are good, but for someone with reasonably good skin anyway, they're just not that spectacular and definitely not worth the expensive price tag. The other problem I have with this is that it's notwidely available - you won't find this down your local Boots! Try posh deprtment stores like House of Fraser, or if you're jetting off on holiday, look in duty free.
While I've got a pot of this I'm more than happy to use it, but when I run out (which by my scientific calculations should be in about a years time as it's lasting amazingly), it's not one I would rush out to buy again.
I bought some trial size 15ml tubes of this on ebay for about £3.50 plus p&p to see what I thought of it. I have dry skin and I'm not 100% sure if this is suitable for dry skin, it claims to be but I'm not convinced, but as I really like Elizabeth Arden products I wanted to try it.
The claim is it will moisturise and improve the texture of the skin in 2-3 weeks so I thought my trial size tubes might last 2 weeks.
I applied this after cleansing and let it absorb then felt my skin. I can honestly say it didn't moisturise particularly well and my skin still felt a bit dry. It isn't oily and I don't usually opt for oily moisturisers anyway but this didn't do the basic job of moisturising very well at all.
I had to apply lots more than with other creams too as it absorbed so quickly it didn't spread very well.
I persevered for a few days but I used a whole tube in those first few days and didn't feel I was getting enough moisturiser to keep my skin soft and free from dry patches.
It smells quite pleasant with a nice light fragrance and the cream itself isn't oily so if you had normal skin this would probably be sufficient. I gave my second tube to a friend and she used it and liked it but she doesn't have dry skin.
As far as refining the texture of the skin, I didn't use it long enough for the results of this and my friend said she noticed no difference in hers, she just liked the moisturising effect.
I was disappointed as I often use Elizabeth Arden products and like lots of them but this wasn't any use for me.
Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Refining Moisture Cream Complex is another Elizabeth Arden must have / a rich, protective moisturiser that cushions your skin and creates a barrier to prevent your skin from moisture loss / '