I am innately suspicious of a cosmetic that is based on a "technology", doubly suspicious when the technology's name is a meaningless acronym and positively paranoid when the acronym has been trademarked and carries no explanation. So I didn't look too kindly on Vivite, the new skincare regime from Allergan (the makers of Botox) with GLX Technology.

Allergan's Vivite is formulated to treat photodamage and age spots and claims to be more effective than hydroquinone (an ingredient that, while known to work, can be extremely harsh on all but the toughest hides). All the Allergan website has to say about GLX is that "it is an advanced fusion of the clinically demonstrated benefits of glycolic acid and natural antioxidants". Glycolic acid is an effective and fairly gentle exfoliant, but it is far from being a technological breakthrough and you will have no trouble finding it in a multitude of products. So there is nothing for it but to pick our way through the ingredients and see if they add up to anything worthwhile.

I looked in detail at the Vivite Daily Antixodant Facial Serum ($100). The relatively hefty dose of 15% glycolic acid is paired with ammonium glycolate. This is a fairly common combo since this synthetic form of glycolic acid is used as a pH adjuster to better allow exfoliation. There are various emollients and silicones before getting to an interesting botanical, cassia angustifolia seed, used in Ayurveda against skin disorders.

Green tea and pomegranate antioxidants are welcome additions as are anti-inflammatories such as licorice, chamomile and aloe. There is the intriguing inclusion of stevia rebaudiana. Aptly named sweetleaf, this plant is 300 times sweeter than sugar and is used as a sweetening additive in Japan. Like other sugars (including honey) it speeds up the healing of wounds.

It seems that Allergan's formulator has something of a sweet tooth because another kind of sugar has been incorporated as well: trehalose, which is found in plants and is particularly abundant in shrimp and insects. Its molecular structure makes it highly stable and I have read claims that it is supposed to protect against loss of moisture and protein damage. Mostly, however, it seems to be used as a preservative. Mannitol is a sugar alcohol that is found in algae and is used in sweeteners. In cosmetics it acts as a humectant.

And that is really about it. Not too shabby, but nothing remarkable. If anything, Vivite has merely vindicated my suspicious nature.

Ingredients in Vivite Daily Antioxidant Facial Serum

Purified water, glycolic acid (and) ammonium glycolate, isononyl isononanoate, glycerin, phenyl timethicone clyclomethicone, phospholipids, dimethiconol, polyphosphorycholine glycol acrylate, cassia angustifolia seed, polysaccharide, bis-hydroxyethoxypropyl dimethicone, C14-22 alcohols, C12-20 Alkyl glucoside, butylene glycol, camellia oleifera (green Tea) leaf extract, punica granatum (pomegranate) extract, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root extract, anthemis nobilis (charmomile) flower extract, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, stevia rebaudiana extract, sodium PCA, urea, trehalose, polyquaternium-51, sodium hyaluronate, xanthan gum, cetearyl alcohol, ceteareth-33, mannitol, clyclodextrin, yeast extract, disodium succinate, disodium EDTA, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben.