Glycolics and AHAs are regarded by many in the cosmetics industry as one of the anti-aging miracles of the past 30 years. These (relatively) gentle exfoliators slough off dead skin cells and help to reveal a brighter (although perhaps not wrinkle-free complexion). Why then would a brand new anti-aging cosmetic line boast that it is free of glycolics and AHAs, putting them in the same basket as formaldehyde? Wel,, that is exactly what new kid on the block, Dermagenics has done.

Turn a jar of Dermagenics Anti-aging Moisturizer ($85) to reveal its underside and you will read that it doesn’t contain alpha hydroxys, glycolic acid, formaldehyde, alcohol and harmful oils. Dermagenics says that these ingredients actually accelerate skin damage and aging.  With regard to glycolics and AHAs, I would cautiously agree with this. I do use a glycolic mask (La Vie Celeste’s) once or twice a week and believe that some exfoliation is helpful, even necessary. However, I’ve always been mindful about overkill and concerned that sloughing off cells at an accelerated rate might hasten the Hayflick Limit (the number of times a cell reproduces itself before croaking).

When I emailed Dermagenics on the glycolic question, they came back with this response: “We only put “safe” ingredients into our products. And because glycolic acid is fairly new to the skin care game, and we feel like there hasn’t been enough testing on it to make sure it would not have long-term consequences for either the skin, or the body as a whole, we have not included it in our products.”

While Dermagenics’ say no to glycolic approach certainly got my attention, there were also a couple of other things about it that I noticed. Dermagenics has launched with only three products and one of them is a potion for the much-neglected men’s market (Mark has a sample to test and will be reviewing it in a few weeks).  Secondly, the Anti-Aging Moisturizer claims to be a comprehensive solution – apparently it will work for all areas of my face and I’ll never need to purchase another eye cream, wrinkle serum, or toner.

For a woman who (according to her husband) has a different cream for everything including the tip of my nose (hasn’t he heard of open pores!), this could be a stretch. We’ll see, as I’ll be trying out a sample over the next few weeks. In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview of what’s in Anti-Aging Moisturizer.

Well, although Dermagenics says on its website “that there will never be harmful ingredients in any of our products”, this pledge is unfortunately not quite fulfilled by the Anti-Aging Moisturizer, which has two parabens and phenoxyethanol (both of which can be irritants and, more controversially, could be toxic).  Everything else is benign, although there is a little too much silicone for my taste. On the plus side, there are phospholipids high up the list. This ingredient is a veritable workhorse that retains moisture, helps other ingredients penetrate and imparts antioxidants.  There’s also quenching squalane and sodium hyaluronate.

An intriguing ingredient is hexapeptide-9. This is often marketed under the name Collaxyl and is widely touted as a repairer of acne scars. A relatively new peptide, hexapeptide-9 is supposed to boost collagen synthesis, although I couldn’t find any studies that back this up.  On the other hand, artemia comes with a better pedigree. According to researchers this alga is pretty impressive. It boosts the effects of other anti-aging ingredients, protects DNA against UV and free radicals. In addition, there is a powerful and stable form of vitamin C, tetrahexydecyl ascorbate, and antioxidant green tea.


Purified water, squalane, ceresin, sodium acrylates copolymer, hydrogenated polyisobutene, phospholipids, polyglyceryl-10 stearate, sunflower seed oil, hexapeptide-9, cyclopentasilioxane, dimethicone, vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, glycerin, ethoxydiglycol, jojoba oil, sodium hyaluronate, artemia extract, sodium pca, green tea extract, tetrahexydecyl ascorbate, allantoin, phenoxyethanol, mixed tocopherol, methylparaben, propylparaben.