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Amperna is an Australian skincare line developed for sensitive and problematic skin that’s still packed with actives that treat acne. A lot of anti-acne product lines are harsh, and even if they’re effective for a lot of people, they can make sensitive skin can freak out. You don’t really want to switch acne-prone skin for stinging, irritated skin.
Amperna’s founder Kiri Yanchenko was inspired by her own experience with sensitive acne-prone skin, and the lack of gentle but active skincare products designed for sensitive skin. Amperna’s products are suitable for any skin type, and have been tested on skin that’s prone to eczema, dermatitis, perioral dermatitis, rosacea and acne. It’s also Australian made and cruelty free, and all of the products come in convenient pump bottles.
The Amperna line currently has 5 products: cleanser, exfoliant, moisturiser, vitamin C serum and soothing serum. I tried them out over a period of 3 weeks – here’s what I thought of them!
Amperna Ultra Gentle Soothing Cleanser
Amperna Ultra Gentle Soothing Cleanser ($40 AUD for 125 mL) is a foaming gel cleanser. It has gentle surfactants (betaine, sodium lauroamphoacetate, disodium cocoamphodiacetate, cocamidopropyl betaine) and foams very lightly with water. It has a low, skin-friendly pH of around 5, which is important for avoiding long-term cleanser-induced irritation.
There are a few interesting actives in the cleanser:
- Canadian willowherb extract, which has been found to kill acne bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) in vitro in manufacturer studies, and reduce redness from irritation and sunburn in manufacturer clinical studies. It’s also an antioxidant that soaks up free radical damage. The active compound is called oenothein B.
- White willow bark extract, which contains salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliant (aka beta hydroxy acid or BHA), salicin which has some anti-inflammatory properties, and tannins, which are astringent.
I recommend using this cleanser twice if you’re wearing sunscreen or make-up – for my sunscreen and make-up routine at least, double cleansing was necessary. But it’s very gentle and soothing, and I don’t feel like I need to moisturise for quite a bit after cleansing even though it doesn’t leave any residue.
Ingredients: Aqua, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem (Canadian Willowherb) Extract, Salix Alba (White Willow Bark) Extract, Betaine, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerine, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Allantoin, Cucumis Sativus Seed (Cucumber) Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Polysorbate-20, DMDM Hydantoin, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.
Amperna 10% Pro+ Resurfacing Lotion
Amperna 10% Pro+ Resurfacing Lotion ($60 AUD for 100 mL) is a pretty unique product. It has a relatively high percentage of the chemical exfoliant glycolic acid (10%), but it’s formulated to be gentle with a relatively high pH of around 6.
Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) chemical exfoliant. It loosens the upper layers of dead skin cells so they come off more easily and more evenly. Out of the AHAs, glycolic acid has the most evidence to back up its effects – fading pigment, reducing acne, shrinking fine lines and wrinkles, smoothing out skin texture – but it also has a reputation for being the harshest of the AHAs due to its small size, which means it can penetrate the skin most effectively, and the same percentage translates to a larger number of molecules.
A high percentage usually means a more powerful but also more irritating AHA product, but combined with a higher pH it’s a lot gentler. The high pH means that the glycolic acid slowly turns into the free acid form that can get into your skin, instead of flooding your skin at once. This makes it a sort of “time release” exfoliant. Low pH itself is also irritating, as you’ll know if you’ve ever felt an acid exfoliant sting your skin. This usually isn’t a huge deal and goes away quickly most of the time, but if your skin is sensitive it can tingle for a while, which is annoying if you’re using the product in the evening and you’re trying to sleep. The high pH of this product means it isn’t a problem.
Most of Amperna’s products (so far, everything except the cleanser) contain a probiotic complex, listed as Lactococcus ferment lysate in the ingredients list. It’s an ingredient prepared by squishing up a lactic acid-producing bacteria, and contains substances produced by the bacteria, plus bits of cytoplasm and fragments of the bacteria cell walls. While the bacteria is dead, it doesn’t mean it isn’t active – in manufacturer studies it’s been found to increase skin growth, repair, strength and barrier function in vitro, and increase skin renewal and barrier recovery in human volunteers.
The 10% Pro+ Resurfacing Lotion also contains moisturising squalane, butylene glycol and glycerin, and calming licorice root extract, panthenol and allantoin to help your skin handle the acids.
The product has a slightly runny lotion texture that’s a little sticky until after it properly dries down, so depending on your routine it may be a bit tricky to use in the morning.
I personally found this lotion a bit too mild for my skin – I’ve been using glycolic acid for years, so cutting back to a milder version wasn’t going to give overwhelming results. I did find that it was very gentle and non-irritating though, and it was nice to have a glycolic acid product I could use without stinging (except on broken skin) on the day immediately after using tretinoin, when sometimes even a regular active-free moisturiser feels too harsh. I think it’s also a great option if your skin is very sensitive and prone to irritation, and you’re just starting out with hydroxy acid exfoliants.
Ingredients: Aqua, Glycolic Acid, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Butylene Glycol, Glycerine, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Sodium L-Lactate, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Liquorice) Root Extract, Olive Squalane, Sorbitan Stearate, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Menthyl Lactate, Allantoin, Urea, Magnesium Aluminium Silicate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Titanium Dioxide, Xanthan Gum, DMDM Hydantoin, Sodium Hydroxide, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate.
Amperna Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum
Amperna Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum ($70 AUD for 50 mL) is a hydrating serum that’s heavy on skin restoring, soothing ingredients and vitamins.
On the protective front there’s a bunch of ceramides, phytosphingosine and cholesterol. Ceramides and cholesterol are substances naturally found in between the cells in your skin. They’re important in keeping your skin barrier intact, and if your skin isn’t producing enough on its own they can be helpful in products. Phytosphingosine is another fatty substance naturally found in your skin. It has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties when applied on skin, and has been found to help with acne treatment.
There are also a few other helpful actives: the probiotic complex I mentioned earlier, niacinamide (vitamin B3) which has a hundred different benefits from evening out skin tone to repairing the skin barrier to minimising fine lines, hydrating hyaluronic acid and sodium lactate, antioxidant and brightening vitamin C (in the form of sodium ascorbyl phosphate), and calming panthenol (vitamin B5) and allantoin.
This serum has a really nice, light texture that leaves only a very mildly tacky feel after it absorbs. Unlike a lot of products that are heavy on silicone, it sinks in quickly and doesn’t remain in a layer on top of your skin (silicones are a bit controversial in some skincare circles, but most of the objections are wrongly based on the “natural is better” fallacy). It worked well under my sunscreen and make-up. I found that my skin felt really soothed after using it, and didn’t feel as flaky and tight at the end of the day – as well as being great for sensitive skin, I think it’s a good option for “rest” days when you need to give your skin a break from harsh products, but you still want to use actives. It’s also lightweight enough for layering.
Ingredients: Aqua, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Sodium L-Lactate, Sorbitan Stearate, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Allantoin, Urea, Menthyl Lactate, Sodium Polyacrylate, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, DMDM Hydantoin, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Carbomer, BHT, Xanthan Gum.
Amperna Probiotic+ DS Soothing Serum
Amperna Probiotic+ DS Soothing Serum ($50 AUD for 50 mL) is designed to restore, soothe and calm irritated skin. It has similar base ingredients as the Pro+ Vitamin C Hyaluronic Serum, including the ceramides, phytosphingosine, cholesterol and probiotic complex, which are great for general barrier restoration and moisturisation. It has a similar texture to the other serum as well – it sinks in easily and leaves minimal tackiness, and worked well under sunscreen and make-up.
The special ingredients in this serum are zinc gluconate and copper gluconate, which could act as biocides to kill bacteria on the skin and have some anti-inflammatory effects as well.
Ingredients: Aqua, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Sodium L-Lactate, Sorbitan Stearate, Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Calcium Gluconate, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Allantoin, Urea, Hyaluronic Acid, Menthyl Lactate, Titanium Dioxide, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sodium Polyacrylate, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, DMDM Hydantoin, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum.
Amperna Lightweight Soothing+ Emulsion
Amperna Lightweight Soothing+ Emulsion ($50 AUD for 100 mL) is a lightweight moisturiser. The emulsion system includes the cationic surfactant behentrimonium methosulfate, which helps it sink into skin quickly and leave a smooth, weightless finish. It has a similar base tot the serums: the moisturising base of ceramides, phytosphingosine and cholesterol, the Probiotic Complex, the soothing panthenol and allantoin, and the extra hydration from sodium lactate, urea and hyaluronic acid.
I didn’t feel like I really gave this enough of a go, since it’s winter here in Australia and my skin is really dehydration-prone and needs a much heavier moisturiser at night. This worked well as a day moisturiser under sunscreen and make-up, and might be enough for my skin in summer.
Ingredients: Aqua, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Lactococcus Ferment Lysate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Sodium L-Lactate, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Allantoin, Urea, Hyaluronic Acid, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Oil, DMDM Hydantoin, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Carbomer, Xanthan Gum.
Other Notes on the Amperna Skincare Range
- Amperna doesn’t have a sunscreen, but they encourage use of a sunscreen which is something I obviously support wholeheartedly.
- As well as being cruelty-free, the products are also vegan. Amperna’s products were also developed and made in Australia.
- They have a limited number of trial samples and are looking into making travel kits with smaller product sizes in the future.
- With the exception of the AHA lotion, the products have a sage scent from the inclusion of sage oil, which may be an issue if your skin is sensitive to plant oils in products (although sage oil doesn’t commonly cause irritation).
- One small thing I really appreciate is that Amperna have a series of handy skincare regimen printables you can download to help you use your products. I think this is such a great idea – one of the most common questions I get from readers is how they should use their products, and what order they should use them in, so this is a really handy and non-ambiguous way of addressing these concerns.
This is a sponsored post; however, the opinions expressed are still my honest opinions of the products. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.