Pro-X Even Skin Tone Spot Fading Treatment

by Olay  Pro-X
$29.99 - 1.3 fl. oz.
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Skin Care > Retinol Products > Lighteners Without Hydroquinone
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This lightweight lotion is packaged in a sleek bottle outfitted with a dropper applicator that reinforces its treatment-based nature. Spot-treating discolorations can work, but chances are good that you've got more discolorations that haven't become visible yet. In that sense, you're better off treating the entire face with a skin lightening product—and this product is one of many excellent options to consider. As with any skin-lightening product, daily sun protection is a non-negotiable must. If you know you won't be good about sun protection, there's no sense bothering with a product like this; it simply won't work well, if at all—because sun damage is the root and ongoing cause of almost all dark spots.

The pigmentation-fighting ingredients included in this skin-lightening product are niacinamide and an Olay-developed skin-lightening agent known as undecylenoyl phenylalanine. Olay's parent company Procter & Gamble has some published research on the latter ingredient, and it is emerging from some other sources, too, indicating there's promise (Source: The British Journal of Dermatology, June 2012, Supplement 2).

Pro-X Even Skin Tone Spot Fading Treatment has a silky texture and fragrance-free formula that's suitable for all skin types. We like that it contains some good soothing agents and the amount of niacinamide is likely to improve brown spots and uneven skin tone, though you can find workable amounts of this B vitamin other skin-lightening products (and some moisturizers) for less money.

  • Fragrance-free formula has a silky-smooth texture.
  • Contains ingredients that can improve brown spots and uneven skin tone.
  • Able to hydrate skin, though those with dry skin will still need a moisturizer.
  • Fairly priced.
  • None.

The gentle yet powerful Pro-X Spot Fading Treatment reduces the look of dark spots and discolorations caused by years of sun damage, while hydrating skin for a brighter, more even tone.

Water, Niacinamide, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Methyl Gluceth-20, Glycerin, Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine, Polysorbate 20, Panthenol, Aminomethyl Propanol, Glyceryl Acrylate/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Acrylates/Vinyl Isodecanoate Crosspolymer, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Benzyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Laureth-4, Allantoin, Dimethiconol, Sodium Benzoate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Propylene Glycol, PVM/MA Copolymer.

Olay offers a fairly large selection of skin-care products sold at drugstores and mass-market stores. Although Olay's products are not as diversified as Neutrogena's or as attractive as L'Oreal's, Olay has come a long way from its star product being a soft pink lotion designed to make skin younger (yet it was and is just a badly formulated product that was out of date almost from the moment it was launched). Today's Olay lineup for those concerned about staving off the effects of aging skin is impressive, comprising their Regenerist, and Total Effects lines. All of these (and several other Olay products) contain the B vitamin niacinamide. As you might expect, the claims made for it are inflated, but, as explained in the various reviews below, niacinamide is a very helpful ingredient for all skin types, capable of exerting multiple benefits. It isn't the best ingredient out there (no single ingredient has that title yet, and it's unlikely that just one ever will be) and as such doesn't deserve the prominence Olay gives it (a bit of variety would have been far better, such as a mix of antioxidants and skin-identical ingredients).

Olay's sales are expected to reach $4 billion annually in the next few years, and given their global presence in stores and constant advertising in magazines and on television, that's not surprising. Much of this advertising is focused on their best products, which is attention well deserved. Just to give you an idea of the expenditure involved for these ubiquitous ads, Olay spent over $50 million to promote Regenerist in 2003. The good news is that each new range of Olay products generally improves on what came before it, offering results that, while not as impressive as the claims, are noticeable in the mirror.

For its ongoing commitment to understanding consumers and formulating products that, while not perfect, definitely offer more proof than puffery, Olay deserves consideration by any savvy skin-care shopper. And it also deserves mention that Olay is one of the few lines in this book whose entire collection of products with sunscreens provides sufficient UVA protection! (Sources for the financial figures above: The Rose Sheet, July 10, 2006, page 5; September 11, 2006, page 4; and January 1, 2007, page 5).

Olay began 2009 with the launch of Pro-X, their most expensive products to date. Not only are these products considerably more expensive than any others from Olay, the packaging, color scheme, advertising campaign, and claims have all been turned up to "max" on the cosmetics marketing dial. The amount of hype and budget thrown at these products easily explains why our Beautypedia product request e-mail inbox has been inundated with requests for me to review these products!

Whenever something this sleek-looking and pricey debuts in the mass market, lots of consumers wonder whether the extra expense is worth it. They also want to know if Olay's "Professional" designation makes these products a cut above the numerous other products they sell, including those with similar claims.

It turns out we had the same question after surveying the ingredient lists for all of the Pro-X products: How are they different from those available in Olay's Total Effects and Regenerist? Supposedly, all of those other sub-brands also have the answer to improving the telltale signs of aging, from dryness and wrinkles to loss of luminosity and unwanted discolorations. In fact, the claims on the label of these three lines are virtually identical.

It is clear from the get go that there are far more similarities than differences among Definity, Regenerist and Pro-X. All of them contain niacinamide, the B vitamin that has almost single-handedly re-energized Olay as a formidable skin-care brand. One of the Pro-X products contains acetyl glucosamine, just like several from Definity, and many Pro-X products contain peptides, just as Regenerist products do. Why should someone consider Pro-X over those other lines?

Interestingly, the folks we spoke with at Procter & Gamble didn't have a clear answer either, which isn't surprising, at least not from a formula superiority standpoint. Rather, their explanation was all about a marketing decision. This "cosmeceutical" –oriented line is supposed to give women who think that a line that looks medical must be better even if it's available at the drugstore. Pro-X was also designed to appeal to women who typically seek professional skin-care products, meaning those that are sold or recommended by a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon.

Of course there is no standardized definition for "professional skin care" and "cosmeceutical" is a bogus term. The dermatologists who consulted Olay about these new products are well-respected, but the formulas still come up short in terms of a cocktail of antioxidants and skin-identical ingredients that can repair damaged skin. As it turns out, despite the Alliance for Skin Care Innovation that Olay speaks of in their promotional materials for Pro-X, its creation had more to do with marketing than with bringing anything new to the cosmetics table.

Don't get me wrong: the Pro-X products have some commendable attributes and certainly offer multiple benefits for aging skin, but the truth is they're not different enough from Olay Regenerist or Definity products to warrant the higher price.

Pro-X's packaging is indeed sexier, the claims are more enticing, and the prices speak to a high-end consumer, but, to borrow a popular catchphrase from the 1980s, we were left wondering "Where's the beef?" The beef, as it were, is merely Olay creating products whose differences are much stronger from a marketing standpoint than from a formulary standpoint. That's not breakthrough news for your skin, and it's a fact that anyone considering Pro-X should know that other Olay products offer comparable benefits for less money. The only significant difference between Pro-X and Olay's other sub-brands is that Pro-X is fragrance-free; that's great, but you would think that leaving out an ingredient as opposed to adding one would lead to a price decrease rather than an increase. It's up to you if that point is enough to make the higher prices worthwhile.

For more information about Olay, owned by Procter & Gamble, call (800) 285-5170 or visit

Member Comments

Summary of Member Comments

  1. How would you rate the results? (4 = Best)

    2 / 4 Average
  2. Was this product a good value? (4 = Best)

    2 / 4 Average
  3. Would you recommend this product? (4 = Best)

    2 / 4 Average
Page of 1
  1. LS
    Reviewed on Monday, November 17, 2014
    • Recommend
      1 / 4
    • Results
      1 / 4
    • Value
      1 / 4
    Not for me
    • I bought this with the hopes that it would help my sun spots, but I didn't get any farther than one use. I had a bad allergic reaction, but I'm not sure from what ingredient. I applied it at night after my serum before my moisturizer. A few minutes after applying my face was bright red but didn't hurt. when I woke up, my face was puffy, red and peeling horribly. I washed it off and waited a few days. My skin went back to normal so I returned it at Ulta. The staff there was helpful.

  2. Gemma
    Reviewed on Monday, December 09, 2013
    • Results
      4 / 4
    • Value
      4 / 4
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    Impressed with Results
    • I received a 0.23 oz sample which lasted 1-1.5 wks. It was clear & odorless; the consistency was between a gel & liquid. I applied a thin layer 2x daily after using cleanser/toner/AHA by putting a pearl-sized drop on my finger & spreading over my full face. It sunk in with no residue in ~5 min. I noticed a lightening of old acne scars after a few days, and also experienced an overall reduction in pigmentation that I haven't been able to achieve with Vit. C serums. Will be purchasing!

  3. JV
    Reviewed on Monday, August 26, 2013
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    • Value
      4 / 4
    • Results
      4 / 4
    so far so good !
    • I love how this instantly takes away the redness from the skin. It also has a beautiful texture that sinks right in. I'm curious to know if you can use this over Retin-A Micro or any retinoid ....any suggestions ??

  4. Tracy
    Reviewed on Saturday, July 13, 2013
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    • Value
      4 / 4
    • Results
      3 / 4
    Slowly but surely
    • I am seeing significant results. I started to use Olay on April 5. My age spots are fading slowly and no new spots have appeared. The hyper-pigmentation on my chin from acne is lightening to the point where I am getting compliments on my skin. I have old dark marks (20 yrs +). From electrolysis treatment that have faded and are almost gone. This product is affordable enough for me to continue using. I am optimistic that I will get my face back!

  5. Pat
    Reviewed on Tuesday, May 21, 2013
    • Results
      1 / 4
    • Recommend
      1 / 4
    • Value
      1 / 4
    not for me
    • I am 56 with some age spots. This product didn't work for me. Very disappointed.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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