Having had dark spots on my face for years, I really, really wanted Lancome DreamTone to be a miracle serum. Perhaps others felt the same, because this is one of those rare products that everyone in the industry was talking about three months before it was even available to buy.
DreamTone was, Lancome said, the next-generation solution to dark spots (also known as age spots, sun spots or melasma) and other skin tone irregularities such as redness. Seventy per cent of its testers felt that the appearance of their dark spots reduced within four weeks, and Sarah Jessica Parker, Naomi Campbell and Kate Middleton were all said to be fans of their pre-launch bottles. Someone at Lancome had the clever idea of creating a waiting list, which accordingly went into the thousands.
That’s the hype. But does it work?
Well, I’ve been using DreamTone for 12 weeks now and frankly, I’m a little disappointed.
As you’d expect from a Lancome product, it looks lovely – a triangular pink and silver bottle – and is reassuringly expensive (at £69, I’d expect this to work). You can choose from three pigmentation profiles, depending whether your skin is fair, medium or dark. For this review I tested pigmentation profile 1, which is for fair skin.
You can use DreamTone over your entire face or in a targeted way as a dark spot treatment; I chose the latter as I think I’d look like a dead person without my freckles.
A peachy-pink, peachy-smelling serum, it feels silky smooth and goes on easily, leaving a slight iridescent sheen on the skin. The idea is that you apply it twice a day, morning and night. Back in the real world, I did it when I remembered, but at least once a day and often twice. Sometimes even three times: I really wanted these dark spots gone.
When I got my first one, in my mid-twenties, it really didn’t bother me. I’m a very pale, freckly person and at first I thought that what my sister referred to as “your cornflake”, a dark mark under my eye about the size of a 5p piece, was just a little cluster of freckles under my right eye.
I decided it gave my face character. Even when a flirty man at a wedding tried to rub it off. Even when I went to get a new passport and the lady behind the counter at the Post Office said, “Oh, the photo booth’s put a smudge on your picture,” and I had to point out that there was a smudge on my actual face. Even when I told that story to Get the Gloss founder Sarah Vine, and she explained that this was an age spot, often caused by hormonal changes such as in pregnancy – but in my case probably thanks to the progesterone pills I’d been taking for several years.
But when a second, smaller dark patch started to appear under my left eye, I got a bit worried. One is a beauty spot. Two is a disfigurement. And if more should appear…
I became much more careful about sun protection, using an SPF moisturiser every day, and tried a couple of different dark spot corrector creams. I exfoliated regularly. Sometimes I thought the patch was getting slightly lighter, or starting to break up a little. But ultimately I couldn’t tell any difference.
And then Lancome DreamTone turned up, promising a revolutionary skin-lightening effect. ( See here for details on the science part .) The problem, I think, is that it has overpromised. If it were being sold as a cover-up, I'd give it top marks: the light-reflecting particles really do reduce the appearance of dark spots. But so would YSL Touche Eclat. Underneath, are my dark spots smaller? I don't think so. Are they lighter? Perhaps, but that could just be the time of year, and the fact they're getting extra protection from the sun.
In my heart, I don't believe that anything removes dark spots apart from waiting it out. But DreamTone is a lovely product to use and I want to believe that it works, so I'm going to keep trying a little longer. If I suddenly wake up one morning with the clear, even skin of a 22-year-old, you'll be the first to know.