When Copley wrote about dragon’s blood in 2009, she noted that it was relatively rare in American cosmetics. At long last, it has shown up in Peter Thomas Roth’s Laser Free Resurfacer ($75) and that is what initially got me to take a look at this potion. However, as we shall see, there was some very strange marketing speak that, as always, got my BSometer to register.

But first, Dragon’s blood deserves center stage here. It is a dark red, sappy resin, or latex, dragon’s blood oozes from a particular species of South American tree when its trunk is cut, giving the impression that it is bleeding. When applied topically, the sap dries quickly to form a barrier, much like a second skin. This protective shield helps regenerate the skin and prevents further damage with its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and antioxidant qualities. Defending the skin against oxidative free radicals, dragon’s blood may ward off genetic alteration within the DNA of the skin cells.

So what about the BS part? The blurb that accompanies Laser Free Resurfacer says: “This serum is also formulated with Phytomoist Qusome™ (10%), Aquafill™ (5%), DRC Qusome™ (4%), plus a blend of Derm SRC™, Chromocare™, Niacinamide PC™ and Alistin® (9.5%).” I set about trying to find out what they were.

The first of these mysterious trademarked names turns out to be nothing more than sodium hyaluronate and it appears a long way down the ingredient list. It certainly seems to be hardworking. It is on double duty in the trademarked Aquafill, which is water, alcohol, glycosphingolipids, hordeum vulgare extract and hyaluronic acid.

The most interesting of them is Chromocare, made by Sederma. It is butylene glycol, water, siegesbeckia orientalis extract (a botanical from Madagascar) and rabdosia rubescens extract (used in Chinese medicine for sore throats. Sederma extracted two molecules from them, darutoside and oridonin. The two together are supposed to protect the skin from the UVB damage that can cause broken veins and redness. Unfortunately, we don’t know how much is used in Laser Free Resurfacer, but Sederma’s clinical trials were at a 3% concentration and, if I have read the research correctly, at only 2% it was outperformed by alpha arbutin.

I am not sure why anyone felt the need to dress up decarboxy carnosine Hci as “Alistin”. Carnosine is an ingredient that has always interested me because it purportedly extends the life of cells, potentially beyond the Hayflick Limit. In researching Alistin, I have finally come to understand how. At the final stage of a cell death, fatty acid hydroperoxides are released. Carnosine (or Alistin) reduces the fatty acid hydroperoxides and stops further oxidative propagation.

While I found that Derm SRC is bamboo, pea extract and Glucosamine Hci, I never did crack the code of DRC Qusome. Anyway, now that I’ve mostly cracked Peter Thomas Roth Laser Free Resurfacer’s code, was it worth it. I’d say this is most definitely worth a try. There are plenty of botanical and other actives with a track record and there aren’t too many fillers or things to dislike as long as you are prepared to overlook a fair amount of silicone, solvents such as the skin irritant Peg- 12 Glyceryl Dimyristate and the usual suspects in the preservative department.

Ingredients in Peter Thomas Roth Laser Free Resurfacer

Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Peg-8 Dimethicone, Peg- 12 Glyceryl Dimyristate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Isododecane, Bambusa Vulgaris Leaf/Stem Extract, Niacinamide, Decarboxy Carnosine Hci, Ethyl Perfluoroisobutyl Ether, Ethyl Perfluorobutyl Ether, Carbomer, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Croton Lechleri (Dragon's Blood) Resin Extract, Siegesbeckia Orientalis Extract, Rabdosia Rubescens Extract, Tremella Fuciformis (Mushroom) Extract, Hordeum Vulgare Extract, Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract, Angelica Polymorpha Sinensis Root Extract, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Phospholipids, Acetyl Glucosamine, Glucosamine Hci, Hydroxyproline, Polysilicone-11, Glycosphingolipids, Sodium Hyaluronate, Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Hexylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Alcohol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Mica, Red 33 (Ci 17200), Brown 1 (Ci 20170), Blue 1 (Ci 42090)