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Bliss newcomer Dr Bragi Age Management looks a bit fishy

Is a Solution for:
Sagging Skin
July 21, 2009 Reviewed by Marta 4 Comments
The Icelantic antiaging line Dr Bragi recently arrived in the US via Bliss World. Three things immediately struck me about Age Management Marine Enzyme, an antiaging serum. First the price: $240 for 1.6fl oz. Secondly, the list of ingredients that was both simple and mysterious. Thirdly, marine life.

On the last point, I can't be the only person who has noticed that marine extracts seem to be the new black. Not long ago, it was Argireline. Then Matrixyl, now its anything - seaweed, algae, fish collagen, cold water enzymes - that can be associated with life on the ocean wave. Even sea water. Perhaps it's because most fish are close to extinction and full of mercury that the fishing industry is obliged to come up with some other harvest. Anyhow, Dr Bragi's offering from the oceanic depths is something called penzyme. That's the mysterious part. And since there is precious little else in Age Management, I was obliged to get a sample and put it to the test.

Before I tell you about my experience with Dr Bragi's potion, let me tell you about penzyme. It took a bit of digging around on some Icelandic blogs to discover that penzyme or penzim comes from cod guts. The enzyme apparently lives happily in cod intestine breaking down proteins. It seems to have some sort of actibacterial role as well. In fact, Icelanders have been buying penzim over the counter for years to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis.

All this fish enzyme extraction is done by a small Icelandic company called Zymetech. And guess who's listed as a member of the management team? Yes, our very own Dr Jon Bragi. Zymetech says that its enzymes are "useful for treating pain, inflammation, acute or chronic inflammation, arthritis, inflamed joints, bursitis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, septic arthritis, fibromyalgia, systemic lupus erythematosus, phlebitis, eczema, rash, psoriasis, acne, wounds and candidiasis". There's not much in the way of research to back this up and there's no mention of wrinkles. Still you can't blame Dr B for trying to get into the profitable antiaging market.

Now to my four week trial. The package says that one pump of Age Management Marine Extract is enough for the entire face. And this is absolutely right. Use anymore and you will feel like human fly paper - this is one thick, tacky, sticky gel. Despite this, I didn't hate using this serum. I just didn't love it. Nothing untoward happened, but nothing positive either. I was promised a radiant glow and after four weeks, I'd say my skin actually looks duller - certainly compared to the side of my face where I have - happily - been trying out a combo of Medik8 Firewall and YBF's new Boost.

Dr B makes much of his refusal to use fragrance, preservatives or petrochemicals. Strange then that he should be OK with hydrochloric acid, which is pretty harsh to say the least and could be carcinogenic. And I'm not sure what sodium hydroxide is doing there if not as a preservative.



Glycerin, aqua, sorbitol, urea, penzyme, alcohol, carbomer, sodium hydroxide, tromethamine, chitosan, hydrochloric acid.
  • January 30, 2014

    by Heather

    I have used Penzim Gel for around two years. I suffer from arthritis in both knees.
    A friend recommended the product to me. It was very painful for me to rise from a chair as my knees were stiff and I had to stand for a while until the pain eased.

    I used the gel twice a day for two weeks and realised that my movement was so much better and pain free. I was rather shocked at the rise in the cost - from around £15 to £25. I have also been unable to find this product to be available in the UK. Is it still being produced and, if so, can you advise me of your contacts in the UK. Thank you.

  • December 17, 2009

    by Keri - Psoriasis Cream

    As good as this cream/serum may be, $240 for a "maybe" just isn't reson enough for me to run out and purchase a bottle.

  • July 24, 2009

    by marta

    Thank you Dr Bragi tech team for taking the time to write such an informative response. The fact that the enzyme can only live in a very strict environment is fascinating and seems obvious now that you say it. The future addition of hyaluronic acid sounds like a very good idea - I felt that it needed a moisture boost. And I'd love to try the mask!
    My best, Marta

  • July 24, 2009

    by Dr Bragi Technical Team

    Dear Marta,

    Thank you for showing an interest in our brand, it’s always good to see that our products have caught people’s attention.

    After reading your blog we felt inclined to write back and correct you on a few points you made about our product. Our customers opinions and comments mean a lot to us and we appreciate your honesty however we thought we would explain a few things that perhaps were misunderstood during your research.

    Firstly, let us tell you a little more about Penzyme. Indeed, this is a marine enzyme and obtained from through a strict purification process from sustainably fished organic Icelandic cod, however, no animals are killed in the name of our products - the ingredient is obtained a s a by product from cod used to obtain Omega-3 supplements which are consumed in abundance all over the world.

    The cod used comes from the North Atlantic, which is extremely pure and contains absolutely no mercury or other heavy metals.

    Secondly, you are absolutely right about Penzyme being made by Zymetech and used in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr Bragi is Iceland’s most respected biochemist and produces the enzyme at the University of Iceland and sells this through Zymetech which is his research and manufacture company. Dr Bragi dedicated his life to the study of marine enzymes and as you pointed out, it has been sold over the counter for a while for the treatment of various conditions. The efficacy is backed by a plethora of empirical research data which we will happily provide for anyone that may be interested. Moreover, Penzyme holds a global patent for its efficacy. Obtaining a patent is an extremely complicated and extensively vetted procedure; this is why we are so proud to produce a product containing a scientifically backed ingredient. The enzyme used in our skincare line is the same, however, it is formulated in different percentages. It is not mass produced but made in small batches by Jon Bragi himself and we are very careful with our ingredients adapted for use on the face.

    The discovery of Penzyme’s efficacy on wrinkles, rosacea, acne and so on was an unexpected discovery during clinical trials on wound healing, this then lead on to more successful research which again, we will happily provide to our customers. Due to the concentration, formulation and sheer net weight, the Age Management Moisturiser is expensive but lasts a very long time and we encourage our customers to use as little as possible. This brings us to another of your points, the ‘thickness, tackiness and stickiness’ of the product. The formulation contains no oil; it is based purely on glycerine and sorbitol which may occasionally feel sticky. The enzyme can only survive in a very strict environment, which means we can only use those two base ingredients however we will soon be adding Hyaluronic Acid, which will not only make the product far less sticky but also even more efficient. Ingredients like urea (obtained from plants) and hydrochloric acid are also needed to balance out the correct pH for the enzyme, these are present in negligible percentages of 0.01%. Sodium hydroxide is used in the process as a buffing agent, only 0.15% is used.

    We hope this helps you understand our product more and we are always here to answer any questions, as is Dr Bragi himself. We try to be as transparent and possible and offer all information available in order to help our customers understand the science behind our brand. We are sorry to hear the product did not work for you and we will happily send you a complimentary sample of our award winning Intensive Treatment Mask, perhaps that will change your mind and you will join the many satisfied Dr Bragi customers around the globe.

    Sincerely yours,

    The Dr Bragi Technical Team

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