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Posted by Justine
The first thing that is slightly alarming about SkinMedica’s TNS Essential Serum ($250, 1 oz) is that the primary ingredient has ‘human’ as an adjective -- human fibroblast conditioned media (HFCM) to be precise. Human fibroblasts are cells that make up part of the skin’s connective tissue, including collagen, and when skin is damaged, the body stimulates their production as part of the process of repair. The logic behind topical application of human fibroblasts, according to SkinMedica, is to trigger this same process of repair in the skin through external signals.
SkinMedica is apparently one of the first companies to start manufacturing human fibroblasts for cosmetic purposes, although this product and process has been used for several years for treating burn victims. This is a potentially exciting development for the field of anti-aging treatments; except for the fact that a lot of people have been upset by rumors that human fibroblast cells might be derived from actual human sources, like embryos and foreskins and all number of other nefarious methods.
The first thing I did after receiving a full-size sample of SkinMedica’s TNS Essential Serum to try out was to check the veracity of these rumors. And lo and behold, it all seems to be true. Human fibroblast cells have been obtained from human foreskins for research purposes at least, and these are also commercially available in the U.S. So let’s just say that my first thought before actually trying SkinMedica’s TNS Essential Serum was that this stuff had better be damn good for me to be potentially slathering my face with male genital cells.
Having said that, it’s getting to the point with my skin now that I am really willing to try just about anything. I have noticeable lines on my forehead and deep creases in the nasolabial folds even though I am only 37. My problem is clearly related to collagen breakdown: typical signs include fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, etc., all of which I have. I have noticed good results in the past using Retinol-based products. But, as I learned from Truth in Aging, the problem with this approach in the long term is that I may simply be hurtling myself toward even faster cell death (i.e., the Hayflick limit) while doing nothing to actually rebuild damage.
SkinMedica’s product works on a different principle, in that it is designed to stimulate the skin’s own repair process via a powerful three-pronged approach. First is rebuilding of the skin’s extracellular matrix with ingredients like HFCM, palmitoyl tripeptide-5, and silk peptides -- all of which are designed to stimulate the rebuilding of collagen.
SkinMedica TNS also fights free-radicals with antioxidants, including Co-enzyme Q10, Vitamin C, Green Tea extract, Blackberry, etc. (I am happy to say that SkinMedica TNS does not, however, contain spermine because things would just be way too weird if it did). And finally, for instant cosmetic effect, SkinMedica TNS also contains a few ‘specialty ingredients’ such as aminobutyric acid, which purportedly acts as a neuromuscular inhibitor, relaxing facial muscles; and hyaluronic acid, which acts as a kind of molecular sponge, resulting in a smoothing effect. In other words, short of making you a cup of tea in the morning, this product has just about everything you need for the ultimate beauty sleep.
And after about seven nights of use, I really began to notice a major difference in my skin. The lines on my face have been plumped and smoothed, and the overall texture is more refined and clear. I was recently Facebook tagged in a random-night-out candid photo. This would normally be horrifying event for me, but instead I look positively radiant (and that isn’t even a exaggeration). But the verging-on-Benjamin-Button-type drama is reserved for my neck and décolleté.