Posted by Claire

Hormonal, or cystic, acne is a nasty thing; and it will haunt you long after you’ve chanted your last “no more pencils, no more books, no more teachers dirty looks.”

You probably know what I’m talking about—they’re those large, underground molehills of zits that often erupt from a painful, reddish lump, and leave behind scarring red shadows upon your otherwise perfect complexion. I get them on my chin, which is a typical place for the blemishes to arise when the main culprit is hormonal fluctuations.

I’ve been using 3LAB Perfect "Glow" Complex ($95, 1 oz) for the past few weeks to remedy this and with good results, although I must say I am as equally as stumped as Marta was in her review of 3Lab’s WW Eye Cream about what to make of their patented Nano-Claire GY, aka “the first bioengineered growth hormone.”

As she said there, “The main argument … is that human growth hormone is not generally something you imbibe or apply topically. HGH supplements aren’t the actual hormone itself, but something to stimulate its production in the pituitary gland.” Typically, this molecule (identified as Human Oligopeptide-9 on the ingredient list) is too large to penetrate the dermis. However, 3Lab makes the case that through nanotechnology Nano-Claire GY is able to effectively penetrate deep down into the skin.

My research into human ogliopeptide-9 has been intense, but I just haven’t been able to get quite at the bottom of it. There seems to be some claims that (as peptides generally go) it does have anti-aging effects, but then there’s not a thing about any anti-pigment effects… which makes this an odd—but welcome—addition to a formula designed to “erase the signs of skin damage including age spots, sunspots and acne marks…for more even toned skin that glows with clarity and radiance.”

Nevertheless, I must say that I have seen improvement, and I attribute that to their respectable lineup of anti-pigment ingredients. So what are they? Let’s go down the line…

Niacinimide is a derivative of Vitamin B3 that suppresses melanin from reaching the surface of the skin and protects the skin from further UV damage. Too much melanin (which is a naturally occurring substance in the body that is responsible for both its color the skin’s absorption of UV rays) can result in age spots, freckles, and hyper-pigmentation.

What’s more, studies do show that it works for brightening the skin: In the peer reviewed article "Niacinamide: A B Vitamin that Improves Aging Facial Skin Appearance," data revealed that 5% niacinamide applied to the face for 12 weeks resulted in reductions of fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowing). In addition, elasticity (as measured via cutometry) was improved. (Bissett et al, Dermatologic Surgery Vol 31, Iss 1)

Lumiskin, or diacetyl boldine, is another highly effective skin brightening ingredient that has been extracted from the bark of the Chilean Boldo tree. In cosmetic formulas it helps to lighten skin and control hyper-pigmentation by stabilizing the enzyme tyrosinase in its inactive form before it can catalyze into melanin. In addition, it will work to lighten the appearance of already-pigmented skin such as with melasma.

Arbutin, also included in this formula, works in the same fashion—by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosine.

Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is a highly stable form of vitamin C that helps also to brighten the skin by inhibiting the production of melanin. Here, it works by converting into the enzyme phosphatase, which then blocks the production of melanin. It’s also good at treating skin roughness and an anti-oxidant to boot.

Another antioxidant is the powerful astaxanthin, or haematococcus pluvialis extract, which rumor has it (ok, a little more than a rumor) to be more than up to 500 times more effective than vitamin E, and ten times stronger than beta-carotene. It’s a cartenoid that’s usually extracted from marine microalgae.

Equally charming is the inclusion of pycnogenol (pine bark extract), which works to help protect elastic fibers, collagen and elastin from breaking down in the skin. It has the same active ingredient as grape seed extract, and is a potent free radical scavenger and preservative with antioxidant capabilities that are 50 times greater than Vitamin E and 20 times greater than Vitamin C. What’s more, and perhaps more importantly, pycnogenol has a molecular structure that is much smaller than either Vitamins E or C, and so can more easily penetrate the epidermis into the dermis.

Dipotassium glycyrrhizate (the potassium salt of glycyrrhizic acid), also known as licorice root, is yet another excellent skin lightener and brightener. Plus, a reputable anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory.

Other nice botanicals include exfoliating allantoin (extracted from the comfrey plant) and chamomile, both of which are known for their soothing properties.

The other ingredient that I’m really a fan of is sodium hyaluronate. Some quick notes about sodium hyaluronate (which you can read more about here): Its small molecular size is able to reach deep down into the dermis layer of your skin to maintain and attract moisture. In fact, it is able to hold 1000 times its weight in water, as well as aiding the absorption of other key nutrients found in the formula.

What else? There are a few fillers, and then some of the typical no no’s: the preservative caprylyl glycol, phenoxyethanol, disodium EDTA, sodium metabisulfite, potassium hydroxide, and propylene glycol.

Obviously, this is not for the purists. But I must say, comparably, this isn’t that bad… with everything at pretty low concentrations that are unlikely to cause irritation or harm.

Related Posts:

Platinum Oil and Acne Control Gel

3LAB WW Eye Cream with human growth hormone

Reviewed and rejected: 3LabWW Cream (the one that costs $400)

What is it? Hyaluronic acid & Sodium hyaluronate

FDA warning on phenoxyethanol


Water (Aqua/Eau), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Niacinamide, Arbutin, Alcohol, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Panthenol, Magnesium Asorbyl Phosphate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Butylene Glycol, Diacetyl Boldine, Human Oligopeptide-9, Pinus Pinaster (Pine) Bark Extract, Haematococcus Pluvialis Extract, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Allantoin, Polyglyceryl-10 Oleate, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Tocopherol, Tocopherol Acetate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Bisabolol, Propylene Glycol, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Metabisulfite, Lysolecithin, Lecithin, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Chloride, EDTA, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol