Dr. Dennis Gross, a dermatologist in New York City, believes he has come up with a new approach to anti-aging skin care by treating what he calls “tired skin.” There’s much more to this theory than being washed out after a bad night (or a really good night, for that matter), and he is introducing a new line of products with the brand’s proprietary vitamin C technology and a collagen-boosting complex. Is he really on to something new? To find out, I tested the C+ Collagen Brighten and Firm Vitamin C Serum ($78 in the store).
This review is being written after 30 days of testing, but I have to say that after only two weeks I was noting a very different look to my skin. It was the opposite of tired. It was actually glowing. I couldn’t believe how refreshed my skin looked. Two weeks later, lines were minimized and my skin felt firm. I’m actually putting that to the test as I write this by tapping and pinching my lower cheek. Tight as a drum. Dr. G has come up with something that really does move the needle, which leads me to the inevitable pun that with this serum, you can put off the needle.
So, before I run through the ingredients with you, a quick reprise of the tired skin theory. As Dr. Gross puts it, skin has a battery and it runs down. This battery is, in fact, mitochondria. “The powerhouse of the cell” has become the focus of a new frontier in the science of aging. As we get older, the mitochondria in our cells develop genetic mutations that cause them to either degenerate or kick the bucket. With our diminished ability to fix these mutations, the mitochondria die and thus our cells die.
C+ Collagen is the solution, according to Dr. Gross. Vitamin C has long been one of the good doctor’s favorite ingredients, as it is the only antioxidant that also helps collagen production. Indeed, vitamin C is a precursor to collagen and our bodies can’t make collagen without it. One of the vitamin C derivatives used in the formula is 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid, a stable form that has also been credited with halting the melanin-biosynthesis pathway in skin, hence it can prevent hyperpigmentation.
The collagen aspect of the formula is in the collagen amino acids and carnitine. The amino acids arginine and carnitine form something called creatine, which in turn stimulates the skin to produce more collagen and elastin. The “energy complex” also includes the powerful antioxidants niacinamide, CoQ10 and superoxide dismutase.
Also worth a shout out is turmeric, an antioxidant and skin brightener. There’s also a flavonoid called quercetin, which is abundant in onion leaves and papaya shoots, as well as in guava. The thing about quercetin is that it may be a much more of a powerful antioxidant than was previously thought. Cornell University has a new way of measuring antioxidant potency called cellular antioxidant activity (CAA) that tests the antioxidant activities of a compound inside the cell itself. This is an approach that is deemed to be more accurate. Of all the flavonoids, quercetin had the highest CAA value.
There are the usual suspects in the form of harsh preservatives and denatonium benzoate, a bitter substance used in denatured alcohol. Nonetheless, my skin tolerated this serum perfectly well. Overall, I do think that Dr. Gross has come up with a breakthrough product that I will be keeping as part of my beauty arsenal. I intend to use the bottle until done (another couple of months, I should think) and will be interested to see if I keep my new-found glow while continuing to pass the tap and pinch tests. So far, C+ Collagen Brighten and Firm Vitamin C Serum is highly recommended.