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It's winter so it seemed like the perfect time to sit down and type up a full review of a line I've mentioned here and there for quite a while: Ultra Repair by First Aid Beauty. Let's do it...
The first product I tried from this line (many years ago) and probably its most famous member is their Ultra Repair Cream* | £30 (170g). This moisturiser is actually approved in the US to make eczema treatment claims, so whilst it isn't in Europe; you can make some assumptions about how helpful this could be for dry and / or sensitive skin. It's designed to be an all-in-one face and body cream that can be used all over or spot-applied to problem areas. It's formulated with colloidal oatmeal, which has proven moisturising and skin-calming benefits. The actual feel of this is quite light, so you can definitely wear it on your face during the day under makeup. It also absorbs quickly and is easy to spread across the skin. In terms of other ingredients, we have ceramides (a fundamental component of the skin's natural barrier), glycerin is a humectant (attracting water) and fatty alcohols help to replenish the skin. Allantoin is lovely and soothing and we have squalane, a plant-derived version of the oils our skin naturally produces.
One thing I want to flag up though, give how this is marketed and who it's marketed to: it contains eucalyptus oil. Essential oils don't have many skin benefits, they're usually included as a fragrance additive and can actually be quite irritating for the skin. I'm a little confused as I'm sure this used to be fragrance-free but don't have an old tube to corroborate this. Personally, it doesn't bother my skin at all and I find this a lovely calming, moisturising cream for my dry winter skin that's easy to use, but that's totally anecdotal and I can't guarantee that those with eczema or dermatitis won't find this ingredient irritating. I hope they remove it from the formula, because if it wasn't in there I'd be recommend that everyone tries it, but with that in there, I'm hesitant! 'No artificial fragrance' and 'safe for sensitive skin' could be misleading to those with true sensitivities and allergies.
A product I really enjoyed last year was the Ultra Repair Oat & Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil* | £30. This has your colloidal oat alongside nourishing hemp seed oil and also arnica, a skin-healing antioxidant. We also have some other great nourishing and soothing oils like borage seed, jojoba, avocado and shea. Rice bran extract can also be calming and helps to balance out the skin and there's licorice root extract in here which can help with uneven skin tone and post-inflammatory marks; it's not going to resolve this issue all on its own, but it can help support this skin goal alongside other ingredients in your routine. We also have Vitamin E to moisturise and soothe the skin, as well as to provide antioxidant benefits. What I really liked about this oil was that despite containing all those lovely moisturising ingredients, it didn't feel heavy or greasy on my skin at all. I used it as the last step in my evening routine and it helped to prevent transepidermal water loss overnight so I woke up the next day with soft, moisturised skin, even during the winter. I just have to flag up that again, there are fragrant essential oils in here. I don't avoid fragrance in skincare completely, but I prefer it not to be in formulas I'm reaching for to calm my skin when it's irritated. I don't really know why you'd put something in there that's not good for compromised skin if you're marketing it as being as safe for sensitive skin as possible. Of course, anyone can react to anything but fragrance is a common enough irritant that in calming and soothing products, it's wise to just leave it out entirely.
The next thing I tried from the line was the Ultra Repair Firming Collagen Cream* | £38. I actually sat in on an event with the brand for the launch of this moisturiser earlier in the year and I really appreciated how transparent they were about their use of collagen. Of course, collagen is what gives our skin its youthful bounce and its stores deplete over time. You can apply collagen topically, however the consensus seems to be that the size of the molecule is just too large to penetrate into the skin and actually replace lost collagen. However, it can still be beneficial for the skin, hydrating it and providing a superficial, temporary plumping effect. And they aren't charging you an arm and a leg for this stuff! Ironically, despite being less geared towards very sensitive skin types than the previous two products I've discussed: there's no fragrance here. You have the base-level ingredients from the original Ultra Repair Cream in here like ceramides, colloidal oat, shea butter, squalane, fatty alcohols and glycerin but it's elevated to be more of a well-ageing face cream option. You have your peptides, which can plump the skin and maybe help stimulate collagen production, the topical collagen (as discussed) and niacinamide to boost up ceramide production in the skin and help tackle discolouration.
The texture of this is definitely a little richer, more nourishing and more substantial on the skin, and I actually rather enjoy that as someone with a drier skin type. At the same time it's not heavy, greasy or difficult to spread. It softened, smoothed and hydrated my skin and I definitely noticed that added 'bounce' when using this, even if it was a temporary effect. If you have sensitive skin and you're looking for a moisturiser that supports well-ageing without potentially-irritating fragrances and extracts for a reasonable price: definitely give this one a go!
One of my total standouts has to be the Ultra Repair Wild Oat Hydrating Toner | £19. I love, love, love this as a hydrating layer for my skin; it kind of has that 'light moisturiser' quality of something like the Laneige Cream Skin, so it could double as a hydrating serum if you're more on the oily side. I love the weight and milkiness it has to it but also the fact that it doesn't feel sticky or pill up. You have your oat extract, your glycerin, your squalane your hyaluronic acid and added licorice extract. This also is kind of like an essence, as it contains fermented ingredients, which can boost the efficacy of the ingredients and also act as a source of microbiome-boosters to help build a strong skin barrier. Honey is moisturising and antibacterial and beta glucan is a soothing humectant, so they're both fantastic to have in here. There's no fragrance in this product, or essential oils, just some botanicals, so if you have no issues with those, this should be suitable for sensitive skin too. Overall this is a fantastic option for dry winter skin. I know some people don't get excited about toners, but this is a toner worth getting excited about!
Next I tried the Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum* | £30 | which has been the subject of a bit of annoyance on the internet, and I can see why! Apparently there were previously some really nice peptides in here but for some unknown reason they were removed from the formula, leaving behind a nice serum, but one that feels like a bit of a rehash of other products in the line to me. That means there's no real reason to pick this up as well as other products in the line; if you have the toner and one of the moisturisers, there's nothing in here that's different or adds another angle to your skincare routine. However, if you don't really do toners and you already have a moisturiser you love, I do still enjoy this product. It's a water-based humectant gel with lots of glycerin alongside some hyaluronic acid. Then we have panthenol, allantoin, Sodium PCA and aloe to soothe and hydrate the skin. And there's obviously your colloidal oat and the licorice extract (though this is quite low on the ingredient list). There's no fragrance or essential oils in this one. I like the texture of this, how it melts onto the skin and the fact it provides lasting hydration, but there's no longer anything in here to elevate it beyond being a nice hydrating serum.
Lastly, we have the Ultra Repair Oatmeal Mask | £20. This is a nourishing, creamy mask with oat pieces that I enjoy slapping on before a shower in the winter and then rinsing off after I get out to prevent water loss from the warm environment, but also to give my skin that 'pep' it needs in the morning, so it's less dry and tired! We have the usual suspects: oat, shea butter, glycerin and fatty alcohol. We have bisabolol, which is essentially the 'active' element of chamomile, for its soothing properties, and nourishing cocoa butter, alongside a prebiotic and nourishing sea buckthorn oil. Obviously this is all short-contact so you aren't going to see amazing treatment effects, but this mask is really about softening and nourishing the skin, and that it does beautifully!
Ultimately, I don't think you need everything from this line, it's more like different iterations of similar ingredients, so you'll choose the delivery and texture that works for your skin and within your routine. My personal standouts are probably the Collagen Cream and the Toner.
Have you tried the Ultra Repair Cream or anything else from First Aid Beauty?