A riddle for you: what do skincare and breath strips have in common?

I came across something called Pepha Tight whilst testing a product by Skin Perfections Liquid Face Lift and remembered Julie Kay had also mentioned it when she told us all about her current skincare routine. Liquid Face Lift gave my skin a strange tight feeling and I eventually worked out that this came from Pepha Tight, an ingredient that forms a film over the skin to give it an instant tight feel. I was immediately curious to find out more.

Pepha Tight is a combination of an alga called nannochloropsis oculata and polysaccharides with three preservatives (phenoxyethanol, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate). What really got me was that the inci name is Pullulan. I know about Pullulan. It is used to make breath strips!

Pullulan is a film former and binder and, as well breath strips, it also appears as an ingredient in cosmetics and beauty products because of its solubility in water, adhesive properties and (small drum roll) it’s ability to quickly form a sheer film that temporarily improves skin’s texture and appearance and provides an instant skin-tightening effect as it adheres to the skin.

Not surprisingly, pullulan tends to be used by companies who want to get the word “lift” into their product’s name (like Liquid Face Lift, or for that matter Kinerase Extreme Eye Lift).

The manufacturer of Pepha Tight explains in the product description that it fulfills a market demand for people who “don’t have the patience” to wait for an antiaging cream to do its thing. But it also suggests that Pepha Tight is more than just instant gratification. Apparently, it does this by providing a “protective shield” against oxidative stress. I don’t really buy this. After all, its not a sunscreen.

Mind you, there is the alga. Perhaps that does something. Pentapharm, the company behind Pepha Tight says that nannochloropsis oculata’s main constituents are polysaccharides. A Google search on said alga and polysaccarides brings up Pentapharm and not much else. Indeed, there is a study that says that nannochloropsis oculata contains vitamin C and B12 and has a “positive influence on collagen-1 synthesis”. But it has been conducted by guess who. Yep Pentapharm. Nannochloropsis oculata does contain vitamin E, but it seems to be a bit volatile and, according to research, depends on factors such as the growth phase the algae are in. Ditto vitamin C, according to an Australian study. More convincing is that it is rich in amino acids and these make it a powerful antioxidant, according to research from the Philippines.

Fair enough then, there is some good that may come of Pepha Tight, but I’ll take my antioxidant algae without the breath strip part.