Urged by a reader, I bought and have just started to trial A&G Skin Solutions new Eye Serum ($120 for 0.25 oz). I am putting it through its paces by limiting it to my left eye so that I can compare it to YBF Correct, which I have been using for a month or so, am very pleased with and will continue using around my right eye.

I am perversely going to risk the wrath of A&G's loyal and vocal fan base. When I criticized the packaging of the Active Serum, I was inundated as the fans sprang to A&G's defense. Anyway, here we go again because I have to say that the Eye Serum is just bizarre. It looks like a plastic tampon applicator. I'm sorry, but it just does. And it doesn't work properly. I have resorted to using both hands (one to hold the damn thing and the other to push the pump at the base).

Now, as I mentioned vis-a-vis the serum, my real problem with the packaging is that the ingredients include Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media without explaining what it is (you have to make a trip to the website to work it out - but, if you read on, I'll save you the trouble).

Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media is A&G's secret sauce. It is in Active Serum, which I am continuing to use and do believe it has erased a few wrinkles. The loyal and vocal fan base doesn't miss any opportunity to report on the near-miraculous results that they have had with Active Serum. Still, there is something about Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media (HFCM) that makes me a little uneasy. Probably because I don't feel as if I've really got to the bottom of what it is.

It is hard to tie back HFCM to A&G's website because it is never mentioned on it. What the site does say is that its products use a patent-pending combo of four ingredients: transforming growth factor (TGF-b); platelet; grannulocyte monolyte colony growth; and interleukins. (TGF-b), platelet, and grannulocyte monolyte colony growth
are all proteins found in human skin and they regulate cell growth.
Interleukins are molecules that do the same thing. The website also cites research using vitamins and evening. So I initially assumed that these all go to make up HFCM.

On the other hand (and this is where the plot thickens) there are other companies that claim to use HFCM and this is what one of them, called Revitacell, says it is: "human collagens (soluble), hyaluronic acid, essential amino acids, natural antioxidants, and naturally occurring growth factors such as TGF Beta (induces collagen synthesis), KGF (stimulates growth of epidermal cells), VEGF (increases blood flow), and IL3/IL6 (reduces inflammation)".

In fact, HFCM is really nothing more than actual skin cells and they are increasingly used to heal wounds at the cellular level. The Skin Deep Cosmetic Database says: "Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media is the growth media removed from
cultures of humanfibroblasts after several days of growth. The starting media is Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium, supplemented with calf serum."
Incidentally, Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium is a solution of glucose. It is used in laboratories to keep cell cultures stable while they are being grown.

I imagine that A&G's fibroblasts are grown in a laboratory. However, the practice of using HFCM in cosmetics and wound treatment has given rise to some imaginative speculation on the internet as to how scientists get hold of their fibroblasts. There is a widely held view that male foreskins are used and some websites for mothers are scandalized by the idea that they come from new born babies. (Perhaps rabbis have a little sideline going).

Anyway, back to A&G Eye Serum. In addition to this vexing HFCM stuff, it has the two peptides that make up matrixyl 3000 and acetyl-hexapeptide-8 (the muscle freezing peptide) and green tea. There are three  ingredients for treating dark circles. Dipeptide-2, for which I could find no substantiating research. Chrysin, a derivative of passionflower, that is controversial because research on fish showed it to be toxic. Hesperidin methyl chalcone, a citrus flavenoid, is often used as a dark circle treatment because research shows that it lowers the filtration rate of capillaries. However, the research is on oral use and the effects on the organs of guinee pigs and rats. Some people claim it is unlikely to do much for dark circles under the eyes. (Click on coninue reading for the full ingredients list)

Immediate application of A&G resulted in an unpleasant, but short-lived stinging sensation. I shall stick with it over the next few weeks and report back.

Ingredients in A&G Skin Solutions Eye Serum: Water (aqua), human fibroblast conditioned media, acetyl hexapeptide-8, glycerin, hesperidin methyl chalcone, steareth 20, dipeptide 2, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7, butylene glycol, evening primrose seed extract, polysorbate 20, chrysin, n-hydroxysuccinimide, palmitoyl oligopeptide, aminoethylphosphinic acid, xanthan gum, green tea leaf extract, grapefruit extract, lactic acid, bergamot oil, phenoxyethanol, 1,2-hexanediol, caprylyl glycol.