One of the joys of working at Truth in Aging is being recognized as a bonafide ingredients guru. In all honesty, this appellation is not entirely deserved, since I often need to summon the wiki-gods of the web and dig through piles of rubbish before I uncover the truth. Even so, a close friend enlisted my help in deciphering the label of Perricone MD Face Finishing Moisturizer after it was recommended for her skin during a beauty consultation at Sephora.

Dr. Perricone's philosophy is that aging is the result of inflammation on the cellular level, which may be triggered by a weakened immune system, environmental stressors, UV exposure, hormonal changes, diet, and stress. Besides adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet and taking nutritional supplements, the most efficient means of reversing the body's trend towards inflammation is through the application of topical nutrients with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers. Perricone has isolated key ingredients that he believes can improve the appearance of skin synergistically: alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C ester, DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol), coenzyme q-10, L-carnitine fumerate, N-acetyl carnitine, neuropeptide, phosphatidyl-E, pycnogenol, omega-3, and astaxanthin.

Though Perricone strives to incorporate these substances in his formulations, the Face Finishing Moisturizer strangely boasts only two. But that doesn't mean the rest of the moisturizer is a wash. You may already know alpha lipoic acid as the "universal antioxidant," but its benefits cannot be understated. The only antioxidant that can boost cellular levels of glutathione, which is critical to overall health and longevity, alpha lipoic acid also helps optimize glucose metabolism (defending against free radical damage), regulate nitric oxide production (increasing blood flow to the skin), and protect the mitochondria in nerve cells (preventing degeneration of the brain). Topical use of alpha lipoic acid has shown significant improvements in wrinkles (especially in high doses) and is known to to have an excellent safety profile.

The moisturizer's other five-star Perricone standard is DMAE. A naturally-occurring element in fish, DMAE is believed to help improve facial muscle tone, encourage skin cell renewal, and reduce wrinkles. But there is some suspicion that DMAE produces these effects at the expense of fibroblasts (the most common cells of connective tissue). A 2007 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that applying DMAE to cultured rabbit and human skin cells led to a thickening of the epidermal layer, subsequently halting cell division and even killing some cells after 24 hours of exposure. Though the jury is still out on the exact toxicology of DMAE, it is fairly unanimous that the quantity in any skincare solution should not exceed 3%. As the fifth ingredient in Perricone's potion, DMAE's concentration is probably below the danger threshold.

Regarding the rest of the moisturizer's formula, glycolic acid is the most prevalent ingredient after water, a sizeable amount for skin not adjusted to AHAs. Due to the gentle chemical peeling action of glycolic acid, a sunscreen should be worn on top. At number three, L-tyrosine is the amino acid that initiates the production of melanin and is critical to the structure of almost all proteins in the body, but there is no evidence that these functions can be activated via topical application.

The formula contains plenty of emollients, including isopropyl palmitate, hydroxylated lecithin, cetearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, glycosaminoglycans, and even a tiny trace of sodium hyaluronate, one of the skin's natural moisturizing factors. Besides well-hydrated skin, the moisturizer provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection through green tea extract. Additionally, bisabolol, which can be either extracted from chamomile or derived synthetically, possesses anti-irritant and skin-healing properties,  while allantoin delivers skin-soothing benefits.

On the downside, there's a good deal of TEA (triethanolamine), an irritant and potential carcinogen, as well as cyclopentasiloxane, phenoxyethanol, and BHT. So, what will I tell my friend about her prospective purchase of Perricone's super-moisturizer? Before she forks over $65, I'd make sure she's aware of the possibly negative aspects and the need for an extra layer of SPF. Even though the Face Finishing Moisturizer lacks the bulk of Perricone's prized ingredients, it incorporates enough quality moisturizing and nourishing components to be worthy of a trial. Then I'd make sure she doesn't set her expectations too high.

Related Posts:

DMAE: anti-ager or cell killer?

What is it: DMAE versus retinol

Five Best moisturizers June 2008

My regimen for the face October 2008

UPDATED Five Best anti-aging serums

Five Best products without phenoxyethanol

Ingredients:

Aqua (water), Glycolic acid, L-Tyrosine, Thioctic Acid (Alpha-Lipoic Acid), Dimethyl MEA (DMAE), Isopropyl Palmitate, Triethanolamine, Hydroxylated Lecithin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Urea, Glycosaminoglycans, Ceteareth-20, Cyclopentasiloxane, Polysorbate 60, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Bisabolol, Zinc sulfate, Dimethicone, Allantoin, Disodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Pyridoxine Hcl, Citric acid, Pantethine, Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, BHT, Tocotrienols, Sorbic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Copper Gluconate


 

Aqua (water), Glycolic acid, L-Tyrosine, Thioctic Acid (Alpha-Lipoic Acid), Dimethyl MEA (DMAE), Isopropyl Palmitate, Triethanolamine, Hydroxylated Lecithin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Urea, Glycosaminoglycans, Ceteareth-20, Cyclopentasiloxane, Polysorbate 60, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Bisabolol, Zinc sulfate, Dimethicone, Allantoin, Disodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Pyridoxine Hcl, Citric acid, Pantethine, Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, BHT, Tocotrienols, Sorbic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Copper Gluconate