Apothederm is not just any old anti-aging cosmetic brand, it is owned by a bio-tech company that owns the patents to 100,000 peptide sequences. Two of them made it in to Apothederm Firming Serum ($75) and there’s nothing more of a come-on to a peptide-phile like me than a serum with unique, proprietary peptides. To my surprise, though, it was not love at first sight and a patient courtship was required before I learned to really appreciate Apothederm.
To put it another way, Apothederm (at least in my case) was a slow starter. For three weeks or so, I swore I was seeing no effects whatsoever. This has happened to me in the past with anti-aging products that proved - eventually - to be stellar and so I wasn’t about to quit. Although not especially hopeful, I kept going until I was in the fifth or sixth week of my test. Then suddenly Apothederm really came into its own.
It was indeed firming and brightening. When brushing my teeth in the morning, I'd catch a glimpse of my plump and glowing cheeks. Not bad. It might even be keeping rosacea down. After two months (and I still seem to have plenty left in the bottle), I’d say Apothederm Firming Serum punches above its price point.
Although there are other ingredients worthy of mention, Apothederm Firming Serum is really all about two peptides, heptapeptide-7 and palmitoyl hexapeptide-14. The frustrating thing about a proprietary peptide is that there isn’t any independent information on it and so we’ll have to take Apothederm and parent company, Helix BioMedix, at their word. Palmitoyl hexapeptide-14 is said to stimulate fibroblasts, increase collagen production, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and even skin tone. While heptapeptide-7 supports skin structure, and promotes keratinocyte proliferation and migration to fill in lines and wrinkles and reduce their appearance.
Somewhere along the way, a very distant bell began to faintly ring. It turns out that Helix BioMedix had a cosmetic brand called Striking a few years back. It looked a bit like something someone was selling on eBay from their spare bedroom and when I took a look at it at the time I noted that the peptides were about the only thing going for Striking’s mediocre formulas.
Striking seems to have evolved since then into Apothederm and, thankfully, the peptides are in better company. I found Firming Serum pleasantly hydrating and this seems to be due to trehalose, a natural sugar that has rehydrating and water binding properties, and phospholipids, a kind of fatty acid that attracts water and holds on to it. There’s also palmaria palmata extract, a seaweed known as dulse or sea lettuce and a proven antioxidant (source).
I especially like the inclusion of thermus thermophillus ferment, a marine extract. Being heat activated (eg when the skin is exposed to the warmth of the sun), it will activate the body’s natural antioxidant enzymes. Thermophilus emzymes are very interesting to scientists as it is believed they have a “fundamental role in DNA replication and repair".
There are a couple of potential irritants in the formula, although my skin has been spared any reactions: pentylene glycol and disodium EDTA. These aside, I recommend Apothederm Firming Serum as a decently priced anti-ager that does what it says on the tin, as well as imparting a nice glow and hydrating. Just be prepared for a lingering romance.