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Dr Mercola Organic Sea Buckthorn Serum

Is a Solution for:
Sagging Skin
July 16, 2011 Reviewed by Marta 18 Comments
After a lengthy email to and fro with a Truth In Aging reader, my correspondent asked me what I thought of Dr Mercola’s skincare products. This was ironic since we’d been discussing skincare products and Dr Mercola, who is notoriously controversial, has said that he thinks sunscreen causes cancer. Amongst his other, shall we say unorthodox, views is the opinion that HIV does not lead to AIDS. The FDA recently upbraided him for making claims for supplements he sells (such as chorella “will help to virtually eliminate your risk of developing cancer in the future"). I wondered if Dr Mercola’s organic skincare would be characterized by hubris as well.

I have before me Dr Mercola’s Organic Sea Buckthorn Serum ($22) and, surprisingly, it is modest in price and formula. Dr Mercola claims that the key ingredient, sea buckthorn, has over 100 nutrients. I’m not so sure about that, but it is a powerful botanical. The fruit that grows from sea buckthorn plants provide (per 100 grams) 600 mg of vitamin C, 180 mg of vitamin E, 80 mcg of folic acid, 35 mg of carotenoids (beta carotene, lycopene, etc.), 6 – 11% omega fatty acids, and up to 1% of flavonoids. What does all that mean from a beauty perspective? Wrinkle and hyperpigmentation reduction, protection against photoaging, collagen stimulation and more. Apparently, palmitoleic acid, an ingredient in the oils from the fruits’ seeds, nourishes skin with antioxidants. Sea buckthorn oil may also protect you from UV rays and serve as an emollient.

Dr Mercola’s Organic Sea Buckthorn Serum also has antioxidant green tea and soothing calendula. It should be commended for including nothing nasty at all, although an almond oil base might be pore clogging and I would prefer a product that is more emollient.

For comparison, I thought it would be worth reminding myself of Tilvee’s sea buckthorn cream. It costs a little more: $35. However, it is likely to be more moisturizing and there is certainly more going on with the inclusion of shea, mango and cocoa butter, the aloe base, argan oil, plus antioxidant avocado and carrot.

It would be interesting to see how they compare in use. If anyone is interested in a Tilvee/Mercola face off and writing about it for us, let me know and I’ll send them your way.

Ingredients in Dr Mercola

Prunus dulcis (almond) oil*, hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn berry) oil*, camellia sinensis leaf (green tea) extract*, rosmarinus officinalis extract*, calendula officinalis extract*, matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract*, citrus sinensis (sweet orange) oil*, tocopherol.

Ingredients in Tilvee

Aloe barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Juice*, Rosa damascena (Rose) Distillate, Butyrospermun parkii (Shea) Butter*, Calendula o­cinalis (Calendula) Extract*, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) Butter, Emulsifying Wax NF, Persea americana (Avocado) Oil, Hippaophae rhammnoides (Sea Buckthorn) extract*, Argania spinosa (Argan) Oil*, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Daucus carota (Carrot) Oil, Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Garcinia indica (Kokum) Butter, Mangifera indica (Mango) Butter, Palm stearic acid, (Polysaccharide gum) Xanthan Gum, Essential oils of Vanilla (Vanilla) planifolia, Citrus limonum ( Lime), Citrus bergamia (Bergamont), Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang), Lavendula (Lavender) angustifolia, Citrus reticulata (Mandarin)
  • March 28, 2016

    by Adrienne

    I wish I could respond to jc. Orange oil isn't phototoxic.

  • July 24, 2015

    by Carol Smith-Blum


    I feel Dr. Mercola, has good intentions, and for the most part, delivers
    natural products, that are good quality . In my opinion, there are too many
    ingredients in many of these skin cream, and serums, that are unnecessary, and can also cause adverse reactions when in the sun. I read that one reviewer felt that essential oils, can cause photo toxicity , when exposed to the sun.

    Dr. Mercola, feels, many of the ingredients in sunscreen, can cause cancer, and
    apparently some, feel that Dr. Mercola, is advocating that skin protection from the sun, is not necessary. From everything, I have read about Dr. Mercola, he does
    promote, good preventive sun care from the sun, but, feels zinc, in higher quantities, applied to the skin, is healthier for the skin. Actually, many doctors
    agree with his logic, and feel there are properties in the sunscreen creams, that .
    if used on a regular basis, can cause adverse skin reactions. Dr. Mercola, also
    feels, that some exposure to the sun without sunscreen would be beneficial to
    the body as a whole, so, some natural vitamin D, can be absorbed. I have also
    heard this as well, from other doctors too.

    I feel, it is beneficial to get at least 15 minutes of morning sun, without any sunscreen at all. But , I still wear a hat, and I won't stay out any longer than 15 minutes, without zinc, at a higher percent of 18 - 22%, at least.

    Dr. Mercola, does sell suntan oil, which, I am not a fan of. Dermatologists, do feel, that tanned skin, is burnt skin, and the cancer risk is considerably higher, when skin is tanned. So, I would not purchase Dr. Mercola's sun oil products, unless solely for moisturizing the skin, after a shower, or a bath.

    I like Dr. Merrcola's powdered greens, and feel, on the whole, his supplements
    are good quality, and would purchase them. I also like Life Extension, and Purity as well. Feeding our bodies with healthy foods, and drinking lots of green tea, and even a little coffee, is the best options, we have to keep our immune systems
    healthy, so, we can fight cancer and keep our cells healthy. There is no quick fix.


  • May 5, 2012

    by nmbrown716

    So, what was the outcome? Did anyone do the testing? I am really interested in learning the Mercola skincare system all that it's advertised to be me. I've never been into "natural" things, but since becoming a mother it has become of GREAT interest to me in so many different realms. I'd really like to get more input on the Mercola products.

  • September 13, 2011

    by J.Alex

    I am familiar with Dr. Mercola (not personally). ANYONE who tells people that HIV doesn't cause AIDS just wouldn't get my money nor even a product evaluation.
    Whilst not with the most perfect of ingredients I would rather use SIBU sea buckthorn serum.

  • July 22, 2011

    by jc

    i wouldn't use either of these products because of the 'essential' oils in them that are phototoxic(wearing them in the sun can do nasty things to them and then to your skin) as well as potential sensitizers...but i WOULD purchase a straight up sea buckthorn oil via amazon, google or ebay to use as a final step in my evening regimen

  • July 21, 2011

    by Linda

    Mercola's Organic Sea Buckthorn Serum 1 oz. is listed on his website for $61.60 on sale for $39.60 for a savings of $22.00. I don't find it anywhere selling for $22.00. I opted for the Tivlee Sea Buckthorn Cream 2 oz. for $34.99 - more in my price range. I hope it works as described. Would love to try Mercola's serum to compare.

  • July 20, 2011

    by Marta

    Hi Sandy

    I appreciate the distinction you make and, as it happens, I agree with a number of points he makes on sunscreen.

    Unlike many other websites, I do not impose limits on lengths of comments. However, as a courtesy to other members of the community, do ask that contributions are kept to a reasonable length and that wholesale cut and paste of very long items are not included - you can always provide a link to the full webs site page that readers who are interested enough can check out. Thank you.

  • July 20, 2011

    by Linda Warden

    I have been searching for a good organic face serum. I would love to be a tester of the two you suggested. Thanks for the tip.

  • July 20, 2011

    by Sandy

    Did Mercola actually say sunscreen causes skin cancer or did he say it can increase the risk? Also, was he saying all sunscreen or only certain kinds?

    I think it's important to make such a distinction or he may have been misrepresented.

    Dr. Mercola actually sells a sunscreen, or at-least he did the last time I checked. I do not think from what I read he is opposed to sunscreen, but he is opposed to the over use of it as well as using the ones with questionable chemicals. I follow him and do not read every single email I receive, but I have felt he has always encouraged a safe amount of sun per day so that our bodies can make vitamin D. Vitamin D may help our bodies to fight off cancer or at least prevent it. Not sure of what the exact research says on that. I know that because of the chemicals amongst other things, he feels using your clothing as sunblock is the best way. In that he does approve of sunblock. It's all in moderation as far as he is concerned.

    Here is something he has said on the subject:
    The Case Against Sunscreen

    Few health recommendations have had as damaging an effect as the advice that you should never leave your house without sunscreen. Wearing sunscreen effectively blocks your body’s production of vitamin D, which happens naturally when your skin is exposed to sunlight. In fact, sunscreens reduce vitamin D production by as much as 97.5 to 99.9 percent.

    The widespread acceptance and adoption of this faulty doctrine has contributed to severe vitamin D deficiency on a grand scale, which in turn claims about one million lives a year from 16 different types of cancer and other common diseases such as:

    Heart disease
    Inflammatory bowel disease
    Rheumatoid arthritis
    Multiple sclerosis and osteoporosis

    However, that’s not to say that sunlight can’t be harmful. Of course it can be. Anyone who has ever gotten a sunburn knows that sunlight, at a high intensity over a long enough period, most certainly can damage your skin.

    But how can you protect yourself from overexposure SAFELY?

    From the research by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), we now have further proof that a very large portion of commercially available sunscreens are NOT safe to use, do NOT last as long as promised, and may NOT protect you from the most damaging rays of the sun.

    In fact, many of them give you a false sense of security that encourages excessive sun exposure and can lead to skin damage. They’re also likely carcinogens all by themselves!

    Wow. Triple health hazards for the price of one!

    To Prevent Skin Damage You Have to Protect Against the Most Damaging Rays

    Ultraviolet light from the sun comes in two main wavelengths – UVA and UVB. It’s important for you to understand the difference between them, and your risk factors from each.

    Consider UVB the ‘good guy’ that helps your skin produce vitamin D.

    UVA is considered the ‘bad guy’ because it penetrates your skin more deeply and causes more free radical damage. Not only that, but UVA rays are quite constant during ALL hours of daylight, throughout the entire year -- unlike UVB, which are low in morning and evening, and high at midday.

    If you’ve ever gotten a scorching sunburn on a cloudy day, you now understand why; it’s from the deeply penetrating UVA!

    Since UVA’s are inherently more damaging, AND persistently high during all daylight hours, wearing a sunscreen that doesn’t protect you from UVA is going to give you virtually no benefit, and be detrimental to your overall health.

    Two non-toxic ingredients that scatter both UVB and the more damaging UVA rays are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They’ve been used all over the world for over 75 years as safe sunscreens. These two natural minerals form the base of my Natural Sunscreen, which is based on a secret recipe from Acapulco natives.

    What Makes Sunscreens Toxic?

    A study in the April 2004 Journal of Chromatography found that there was significant penetration into the skin of all sunscreen agents they studied. And slathering a carcinogenic agent onto your skin may in fact be worse for your health than ingesting it, as it goes straight into your blood stream.

    By following experts' recommendations to apply generous amounts of sunscreen every few hours to prevent skin cancer, you are likely absorbing a fair amount.

    Making matters worse, scientists are not even sure whether sunscreen prevents against melanoma in the first place. They’ve suggested that sunscreen may prevent sunburn, but may fail to actually protect against cancer because most sunscreens only screen out UVB, which makes vitamin D, not the UVA that causes most of the damage.

    Some studies have even found a link between melanoma and the use of commercial sunscreen! Additionally, potentially harmful chemicals such as dioxybenzone and oxybenzone are some of the most powerful free radical generators known to man. And yet other studies have linked specific chemical UV filters with the transsexualization of male fish and coral reef degradation.

    In light of that, I believe it’s imperative to do your homework, and to ONLY use a natural sunscreen with safe, non-toxic ingredients, so as to not add to your toxic load, and perhaps still not be protected from damaging UVA.

    As you can see from this list, compiled from the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website, there are lots of potential dangers lurking in your sunscreens:

    Octinoxate (Octyl Methoxycinnamate)

    The most widely used sunscreen ingredient, known for its low potential to sensitize skin or act as a phototallergen. Estrogenic effects are noted in laboratory animals as well as disruption of thyroid hormone and brain signaling. Has been found to kill mouse cells even at low doses when exposed to sunlight!

    Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3)

    Associated with photoallergic reactions. This chemical absorbs through your skin in significant amounts. It contaminates the bodies of 97% of Americans according to Centers for Disease Control research. Health concerns include hormone disruption and cancer.


    Octisalate is a weak UVB absorber with a generally good safety profile among sunscreen ingredients. It is a penetration enhancer, which may increase the amount of other ingredients passing through skin.

    Avobenzone (Parsol 1789)

    Primarily a UVA-absorbing agent, sunlight causes this unstable ingredient to break down into unknown chemicals, especially in the presence of another active, Octinoxate.


    Produces oxygen radicals when exposed to UV light.


    Research indicates it is a weak hormone disruptor, forms toxic metabolites, and can enhance the penetration of a toxic herbicide.

    Micronized Titanium Dioxide

    Sunscreens with micronized titanium dioxide may contain nanoparticles. Micronized TiO2 offers greater sun protection than conventional (larger) particles. These small particles do not penetrate skin but may be more toxic to living cells and the environment. Inhalation of powders and sprays is a concern.

    Micronized Zinc Oxide

    Same as Micronized Titanium Dioxide, above.

    Titanium Dioxide

    Appears safe for use on skin, due to low penetration but inhalation is a concern.

    Ensulizole (Phenylbenzimidazole Sulfonic Acid)

    Known to produce free radicals when exposed to sunlight, leading to damage of DNA, this UVB protector may have the potential to cause cancer.

    Nano Zinc Oxide

    Nano zinc oxide offers greater sun protection than larger zinc particles. Comparatively little is known regarding potential health effects of nanoparticles. They do not penetrate healthy skin, and thus appear to pose a low health risk in lotions. Inhalation of powders and sprays is a concern.

    Nano Titanium Dioxide

    Same as Nano Zinc Oxide, above.

    Zinc Oxide

    Zinc has a long history of use in sunscreen and other skin care products; little absorption and no adverse health effects are reported.

    Padimate O (Octyl Dimethyl PABA / PABA Ester)

    A derivative of the once-popular PABA sunscreen ingredient, research shows this chemical releases free radicals, damages DNA, has estrogenic activity, and causes allergic reactions in some people.

    Menthyl Anthranilate

    1 study found that it produces damaging reactive oxygen species when exposed to sunlight.

    Mexoryl SX

    2 hours of sunlight can degrade as much as 40% of this active ingredient. Low skin penetration.

    Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol

    Not an approved active ingredient in the U.S. Few studies exist on this chemical. It is photostable and does not absorb through your skin.

    Sulisobenzone (Benzophenone-4)

    Can cause skin and eye irritation. Does not penetrate your skin to a large degree, but enhances the ability of other chemicals to penetrate.


    Not approved for use in United States sunscreens. Concerns about hormone disruption.

  • July 19, 2011

    by debs

    i would love to give it a try also

  • July 19, 2011

    by Jaysie

    This would be a very interesting comparison test. I went through a Tilvee Sea Buckthorn sample very quickly because I liked it so much. Despite its many butters & moisturizers, it wasn't too rich for my skin and I didn't have a reaction to the oils. Whenever I went to the site to order it, it was out of stock and then I kind of forgot about it. I'd love to do a side by side test, but I'm really looking forward to a comparison review by anyone, especially if it includes how sea buckthorn stacks up to astaxanthin.

  • July 17, 2011

    by Jennifer

    I'd be happy to test these 2 products! The Dr. Mercola product is a serum, which would imply that a moisturizer be used on top of it, & the Tilvee product is a moisturizer, so I am not sure how to actually compare them...but I'm willing to try!

  • July 17, 2011

    by rae

    Hey Ms Marta, I'd love to take this on! I follow Dr. Mercola, and I have been wanting to try his products, but I was on the fence. Thanks so much once again for everything you guys do for us :)

  • July 17, 2011

    by tee

    Very interested in trying!
    If you haven't found your guinea pigs yet...

    Thank you for the detailed article none-the-less. I'm also interested in ingesting sea buckthorn in supplement form as I've likewise heard it could have tremendous benefits.

  • July 17, 2011

    by colinmack

    I would LOVE to take this challenge. I have used Tilvee before and liked it. I am also using sea buckthorn soap and supplements. Please let me try. I am very interested is Sea Buckthorn.

  • July 16, 2011

    by Dennis

    I'd be willing to take the challenge. Also? I'm patiently waiting for my ReLuma sample. Did you get my address? Thanks ;)

  • July 16, 2011

    by Heidi

    I would like to try these 2 out.

  • July 16, 2011

    by Amy D.

    Wow! I am so excited you posted this as I have recently decided I wanted to add a serum to my routine and have been casually looking for seabuckthorn since I have read great things about it. I would love to do the comparison testing, if you are soliciting new testers (though I am NOT new to your site/blog. I LOVE it and have been a follower for a while.) Thanks for the post!

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