My Ultraceuticals RVR90 Skin Brightening Experience

My Ultraceuticals RVR90 Skin Brightening Experience

Ultraceuticals is an Australian cosmeceutical skincare brand with a strong focus on scientifically-backed, effective products. I was invited to take part in their RVR90 program where I had to commit to using their products and treatments for 3 months (fellow beauty bloggers will know how crazy this is). I’m excited to share my results with you today!

Ultraceuticals was founded in 1998 by Dr Geoffrey Heber, a cosmetic physician was the first to bring alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to Australia. As well as take-home products, they offer in-clinic treatments at a variety of spas and salons around Australia.

RVR90, which stands for Real Visible Results in 90 Days, involves 3 steps. First, you discuss your skin concerns with a skin technician and decide what you want to work on. Next, you receive an RVR90 starter pack for your skin type, containing cleanser, lotion and sunscreen, plus an appropriate serum ($199). Finally, you’re prescribed a treatment and homecare plan to address your specific concerns. Ultraceuticals believes that 70% of results are achieved through homecare while 30% is from in-clinic treatments, so if you don’t like in-clinic treatments you can still get most of the benefits.

I decided to target my hyperpigmentation, since I have some pigmentation happening on my cheeks (yay Asian genes), and the treatment would also help with congestion and acne as well. I was prescribed the Oily/Normal pack (surprise!), and was given the Ultra Brightening Serum to start with, then the Ultra A Skin Perfecting Serum a bit later on.

My Ultraceuticals RVR90 Skin Brightening Experience

I was given three 30 minute Radiance Plus+ in-clinic treatments over the 90 days by Tracey Beeby, the Head of Global Training at Ultraceuticals. This consisted of:

  • Double cleansing with the Ultra Balancing Gel Cleanser and Pre Peel Skin Preparation, using the UltraSonophoresis machine
  • 15 min mask using the Ultra A Skin Perfecting Concentrate and Ultra Brightening Accelerator Mask, which contain 8 skin brightening agents that act on hyperpigmentation, dark spots and blotchiness
  • After removal of the mask, application of Ultra Protective Antioxidant Complex and sunscreen

I was initially a bit skeptical that I’d see much of a difference in 90 days since my skin was already pretty good and the treatments were pretty painless (slight prickling and heat but nothing close to burning), but when I saw my before-and-after photos and skin analysis I was very impressed.

Here are the photos, with Day 0 on the left and Day 86 on the right (I couldn’t make it in on Day 90). I look a bit like I’m going into surgery with the hair net…

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Neostrata Enlighten range – review

Neostrata have recently released a range called Enlighten recently, which claims to lighten spots and reduce hyperpigmentation. Will it work? You may remember a recent post here on non-hydroquinone skin lighteners – for more information on the whiteners mentioned here, you can refer back to that. Neostrata Enlighten Ultra Brightening Cleanser ($39.95 for 100 mL) is a creamy cleanser that …

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What are the skin lightening alternatives to hydroquinone?

Recently we looked closely at the most famous of the whitening agents, hydroquinone – it’s the most studied and very effective, but has some serious (though often overstated) side effects, is irritating to the skin, and has been heavily restricted in some countries as well. Today let’s have a look at some of the other whitening agents on the market – how do they work, and what are the side effects?

The most commonly used topical treatments for treating hyperpigmentation are usually hydroquinone or retinoids, which are quite irritating to the skin. Therefore a lot of people turn to alternative whitening agents. Although many of these haven’t been studied extensively, they appear in many products and appear to be quite safe.

Note that clinical studies are almost always done on patients who have quite severe hyperpigmentation, such as melasmas and dyschromias – not the target audience of this post (if your hyperpigmentation is severe, you should discuss your specific situation and treatment options with a dermatologist). This means that the results mightn’t entirely translate to the mild freckling, acne scarring and sun damage that the average beauty junkie is looking to reduce.

How do lightening products work?

Whitening agents work in a number of different ways, and some work in more than one way. Lightening products generally slow down melanin production.

Most treatments for hyperpigmentation act on the first step of melanin synthesis – the conversion of tyrosine into DOPA and dopaquinone by an enzyme called tyrosinase. They can either:

  1. act as a mimic of tyrosine, essentially keeping tyrosinase too busy to produce as much melanin as before (hydroquinone, mequinol, azelaic acid, arbutin, licorice extract)
  2. block off the important copper ions in tyrosinase, preventing the enzyme from working (kojic acid)

Some other ways ingredients reverse or slow down hyperpigmentation are:

  • slowing down the production of tyrosinase enzyme (N-acetylglucosamine)
  • undoing the reaction that tyrosinase does (ascorbic acid)
  • slowing down maturation of melanosomes (pigment producing organelles) (arbutin and derivatives)
  • preventing melanin pigment from travelling from the melanocytes where it’s made, to the keratinocyte skin cells (soy, niacinamide, retinoids)
  • dispersing pigment (licorice extract)
  • increasing skin turnover, meaning there are more skin cells being produced, and less pigment to go around (alpha and beta hydroxy acids, retinoids)

In general, side effects are less of a concern for the less effective ingredients; however, combining different whitening agents results in a more potent product without too much irritation.

Mequinol (4-Hydroxyanisole)


Mequinol is the main alternative prescription alternative to hydroquinone. It’s also known as methoxyphenol, hydroquinone monomethyl ether, and p-hydroxyanisole.

How it works: It’s not entirely clear how mequinol works, but it seems that it’s similar to hydroquinone in that it mimics tyrosine and decreases tyrosinase’s ability to make melanin pigment.

Strength: Mequinol usually comes at a concentration of 2%, sometimes in combination with 0.01% tretinoin and ascorbic acid to enhance penetration. It’s been found to be as effective as hydroquinone.

Irritation potential and side effects: It’s supposed to be less irritating than hydroquinone, but can sometimes cause temporary postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. There has also been some instances of reversible depigmentation.

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Fact-check: The Dangers of Hydroquinone

This week’s Fact-check (it’s late, I know, sorry!) looks at another controversial skincare ingredient, hydroquinone. What is hydroquinone, what benefits does it have in skincare, why do people say it’s harmful, and is it actually bad? Let’s find out… What is hydroquinone? Hydroquinone (sometimes referred to as “HQ”) is a chemical with the structure shown below: It occurs naturally in …

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Vitamin C – what does it do for your skin?

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