I am always intrigued, but invariably disappointed when beauty products boast a “technology.” Estee Lauder’s relatively new Cyberwhite HD Advanced Spot Correcting Essence ($110) is full of itself with “HD 90 Technology” that is supposed to “eliminate dullness from deep within the skin’s surface” and “dramatically brighten” dark spots. Of course, Estee Lauder doesn’t add anything that would be helpful to understanding what this actually means, so I was on my own to try to figure it out.

In scouring the ingredients for clues as to what HD 90 Technology might be, I wasn’t too thrilled to find that one of the top ingredients in Estee Lauder Cyberwhite HD is polyacrylamide, a film former and thickener, and a controversial ingredient because of its potential ability to secrete acrylamide, a neurotoxin.

I then found that there are some dark spot faders that aren’t exceptional, but combined might amount to Estee Lauder’s mysterious “technology”. First up is acetyl glucosamine, a derivative of glucose that can reduce the amount of melanin in skin cells, at least according to Procter & Gamble. Glycyrrhetinic acid may inhibit the skin’s tyrosinase activity and melanin production, making it a potential lightening/brightening agent that prevents hyperpigmentation. And laminaria saccharina extract is a kind of kelp that may make a contribution as there are a couple of patent applications claiming that it also is a tyrosinase inhibitor.

There are some interesting botanical extracts in Cyberwhite. Skullcap contains flavonoids including baicalin, an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Gentian root is also anti-inflammatory, while pueraria may help control glycation, which leads to the “cross-linking” that contributes to aging skin. Estee Lauder has also included whey proteins that contain all the essential amino acids and bioactive proteins (specific proteins that have an impact on body functions), including immunoglobulins and growth factors.

Unfortunately, Estee Lauder’s Cyberwhite also has a few more things on top of the aforementioned polyacrylamide that would put me off buying this. O-cymen-5-ol is a neurotoxin that is restricted in Japan and Europe. C13-14 isoparaffin is petroleum derived with some evidence that it may be toxic. Propylene glycol is classified as an irritant, as is sodium hydroxide.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua, Dimethicone, Polysorbate 40, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Polyacrylamide, Yeast Extract/Faex/Extait de Levure, Myristyl Alcohol, Pentylene Glycol, Acetyl Glucosamine, Glycine Soja (Soybean Seed Extract), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Laureth-7, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract/Extrait d’Orge, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Bran Extract, Gentiana Root Extract, Plankton Extract, Hypnea Musciformis (Algae) Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, Algae Extract, Sucrose, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Pantethine, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Whey Protein/Lactis Protein/ Proteine du Petit Lait, Lecithin, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Sorbitol, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Caffeine, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, O-Cymen-5-OL, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Sodium RNA, Phytosphingosine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hydroxide, Silica, Fragrance/Parfum, Citric Acid, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Gellidela Acerosa (Algae) Extract