Back in May I consigned DermaDoctor’s Phytodynamic Therapy to Truth In Aging’s Dept of Daft for claiming that a plant extract that it contains could behave like LED  light therapy. I was contacted by a nice lady from DermaDoctor who, determined to get me to see the light, sent me a bottle to try out and so I agreed to test Phytodynamic Therapy.  Well, it almost won me over and I found that I had some good reasons to like this product. Unfortunately, there are some things that would prevent me from buying a replacement.

Phytodynamic Therapy is supposed work like this: it contains morinda citrifolia extract (noni fruit), which has a special polyphenol that, according to DermaDoctor, “captures the sun’s rays then converts and emits this energy as a highly focused visible red wavelength of light (648nm)” that happens to be equivalent to that of a red LED. Result: firmer skin. Although when I first saw this, I thought it was mostly BS. Well, I have to say that after two or three weeks of using Phytodynamic Therapy daily I feel that my skin is firmer to the eye and touch.

I decided to test DermaDoctor Phytodynamic Therapy on the backs of my hands for three reasons. The skin there could do with some thickening and firming, I use actual LED light from time to time on my hands anyway and  (given this noni fruit thing requires sunlight to work) I thought the product should be given a sporting chance where most exposure would be likely.  The backs of my hands really do look rather good – firmer, plumper, smoother.

But the thing that I can’t really reconcile with Phytodynamic Therapy is that it has sunscreen in it. First, it seems counter-intuitive to add chemical sunscreens that absorb the sun’s rays to a product in which the key ingredient depends on the sun in order to work. Secondly, the chemical sun protectors used include some that I generally prefer to avoid using including oxybenzone, a photocarcinogen that has – speculatively - been associated with the recent rise in melanoma cases with sunscreen users (more research is needed) and octinoxate, which is easily absorbed through the skin, can produce estrogen-like effects and is unstable – even more so when combined with avobenzone as it is here.

I wish DermaDoctor had simply left out the sunscreen, freeing me to get my SPF some other way, because there are plenty of good things going in Phytodynamic Therapy including amino acids from yeast, antioxidant botanicals in the form of white and green tea, pomegranate and shiitake mushroom. A curious addition is anacyclus pyrethrum, a plant that looks like chamomile but isn’t and induces heat, tingling and redness when applied to the skin. There’s also sodium hyaluronate for moisturizing and the potent antioxident ubiquinone.

Whilst these are all very welcome and I like what Phytodynamic Therapy has done for my skin, DermaDoctor has been a little heavy handed with silicones and preservatives (there are eight of the latter, nine if I include butyloctyl salicylate). Phytodynamic Therapy has certainly redeemed itself to escape from Dept of Daft, but this LED in a jar hasn’t quite earned a permanent place in my bathroom cabinet.

Ingredients: Avobenzone 3.0%, Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 5.0%, Oxybenzone 6.0%

Other Ingredients: Aqua (water), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Yeast Amino Acids, Polysorbate 20, Glycerin, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Methyl Methacrylate / Glycol Dimethacrylate Crosspolymer, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Tricalcium Phosphate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Sorbitan Oleate, Benzylidene Dimethoxydimethylindanone, Morinda Citrifolia Extract, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Anacyclus Pyrethrum Root Extract, Lentinula Edodes (Shiitake Mushroom) Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ubiquinone, Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Carbomer,  Acrylates / C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben