I don’t think of Neutrogena as a company at the technological frontier of cosmetics. Truth be told, I don’t think of Neutrogena much at all. This month, however, the drugstore giant caught my attention with the newly launched Neutrogena Clinical range that uses bioelectricity to spark (pun intended) “targeted cell-to-cell communication”. Now what on earth could that mean?

The Neutrogena blurb doesn’t shed much light on the matter. The company has invented something called Cytomimic technology, designed to mimic the body’s electrical signals. This Cytomimic thing turns out to be mineral particles, specifically copper or zinc and Neutrogena calls them ‘miniaturized batteries’. It all sounded a bit far-fetched to me, but I had to take note that Neutrogena recently went to the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology to present its research.

“These bioelectric signals are used by the body in many ways, including neuronal messaging and initiating the heartbeat”, said Jeannette Chantalat, R&D manager at J&J (Neutrogena’s parent company). Now, as far as I have been able to discover, bioelectric signals have been studied for some time and are mostly, as Ms Chantalat says, active in the brain and the heart. I couldn’t find anything specifically on bioelectric signals and skin cells, or about them being activated by copper or zinc.

Nevertheless, Neutrogena Clinical is a two-part skincare regime that starts with Ion2Complex gel, containing the zinc and copper particles, followed by a day, eye or a night cream. And you can’t just get away with the ion2 stuff because the company says (why I am not surprised by this) it can only be activated by applying the cream.

This duo ($35.99 for the gel and eye cream) lacks sparkle to say the least. The ion2 Complex™ Gel Serum is basically silicone with zinc and copper powder. The eye cream is a lack luster concoction of emollients, thickeners, solvents and preservatives. The only things of any value are glycolic acid and saccharomyces lysate, a group of fungi that ferment sugars and a source of beta-glucan, which is a good antioxidant.

Ingredients in ion2 Complex™ Gel Serum:

Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Trisiloxane, Silica, Zinc, Divinyldimethicone/Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Tocopheryl Acetate, Copper Powder.

Ingredients in Eye Activating Cream:

Water, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Cetyl Alcohol, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethylenediamine, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Glycolic Acid, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Sclerotium Gum, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Disodium EDTA, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, DMDM Hydantoin.