Perricone MD Pre:Empt Skin-Perfecting Serum

Dr. Nicholas Perricone, MD, is known for his anti-inflammatory approach to aging. Although some might be put off by his exhortations to eat salmon for breakfast, his skin care formulas are a cut above the department store’s usual suspects. So I was interested to read that he has just launched a new line, Pre:Empt Series, aimed at millennials. The preventative products — a cleanser, serum, moisturizer and eye cream  contain a special complex called Nrf2 that is said to treat early signs of aging.

Millennials notoriously live in the present and are more likely to accept their looks compared to us baby boomers, according to the research company NPD Group. So it remains to be seen whether college debt-burdened men and women will dish out $90 for a youth-preserving serum. Anyway, I was curious enough to look into the line a little more.  

While the target customer might be a skincare rookie, this formula is far from unsophisticated. Nrf2 is an antioxidant complex based on turmeric, olive leaf, green tea and cress sprouts. Scanning the ingredients in the Pre:Empt Series Skin Perfecting Serum ($90), I saw epigallocatechin gallatyl, one of the four major catechins in green tea, and three versions of a synthetic form of curcuminoids, the antioxidant compound in turmeric. One of them is tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane, which is used in cosmetics to lighten skin. The other key ingredient in the serum is cress sprouts, another skin-lightener; however, it should be noted that cress is an antioxidant-rich phytonutrient called sulforaphane.  

Aside from the complex, Perricone kicks off the formula with an ingredient that must be in just about every potion to his name: DMAE . This has been his signature collagen-boosting ingredient for decades, but the research surrounding it is scant and contradictory.

Perricone has not stinted with his choice of peptide palmitoyl tripeptide-5, otherwise known as Syn-Coll. It is supposedly more powerful than Matrixyl at boosting collagen and the immune defenses. Thioctic acid, also known as alpha lipoic acid, is believed to act as an anti-inflammatory by preventing the activation of specific proteins and cytokines from forming. Also worth calling out are two potent — and stable — forms of vitamin C.

Pre:Empt isn’t for purists, though: A dominant ingredient is hexylene glycol, a solvent and possible irritant, as is polysorbate 20 and the two preservatives inside. Still, anything that gets millennials to think seriously about skincare gets my vote. At least Perricone hasn’t taken the patronizing approach of Estee Lauder, whose millennial capsule range Estee Edits includes kohl and a “late night eraser” (hmm?).