This is an intriguing daytime moisturizer with sunscreen. Broad-spectrum protection is assured thanks to the blend of zinc oxide with a synthetic sunscreen active, and this also contains a range of ingredients known to fade brown skin discolorations. These skin-lightening ingredients don’t have the amount of compelling research that gold standard hydroquinone has amassed, but the combination of them in this product stands a good chance of providing improvement. Plus, daily use of sunscreen discourages new brown spots from appearing.
Although there’s much to like about this product for normal to dry skin, we have concerns about the amount of alcohol as well as the presence of the potent irritant grapefruit peel oil. The latter isn’t present in a high amount, but given it has no established benefit for skin, why include it at all? The alcohol isn’t present in a large amount either, but it’s disappointing there’s more alcohol present in this product than there is beneficial skin-lightening and antioxidant ingredients. Please see More Info for details on the problems irritating ingredients present.
Ultimately, this is a daytime moisturizer with sunscreen to consider carefully. We recommend consulting our list of Best Moisturizers with Sunscreen and Best Skin-Lightening Products for options that present your skin with benefits without the potentially troublesome formula.
- Provides broad-spectrum sun protection that includes zinc oxide for UVA (think anti-aging) screening.
- Contains some good antioxidants.
- Has a blend of plant extracts that should help reduce brown skin discolorations.
- Contains a potentially irritating amount of alcohol.
- Grapefruit peel oil is a fragrant irritant with no established benefit for skin.
Alcohol in Skin Care
Alcohol causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin’s ability to heal. The irritation it causes damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse. None of this is what you want from an exfoliant, and there are plenty of products that provide benefits without including problematic ingredients.
Why Irritation is Bad for Skin
Irritation, whether you see it on the surface of your skin or not, causes inflammation, and as a result impairs healing, damages collagen, and depletes the vital substances your skin needs to stay young. For this reason, it is best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to known skin irritants, especially when there are brilliant formulas available that do not include these types of problematic ingredients.
A revolutionary sunscreen with a unique blend of ingredients that help reduce existing skin discoloration. The potent sunscreen and 5 melanogensis inhibitors combine with powerful antioxidants to prevent further damage and hyperpigmentation.
Active: Zinc Oxide (9.8%), Octinoxate (7.5%) Other: Water, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isononyl Isononanoate, Cetearyl Alcohol, SD Alcohol 40-B, Polyacrylate-13, Dimethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Lactic Acid, Kojic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Morus Alba Root Extract, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Caffeine, Silybum Marianum Extract, Arginine, Microcrystalline Cellulose, C20-22 Alkyl Phosphate, C20-22 Alcohols, Polyisobutene, Cetearyl Glucoside, Caprylyl Glycol, Cellulose Gum, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium PCA, Sodium Hyaluronate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol
PCA Skin is a product line you may have seen at your spa, salon, or dermatologist's office. Founded by an aesthetician in 1990, the brand became relatively popular after developing a series of professional alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) peels marketed as "medical clinical aesthetics"; in other words, these products are sold to dermatology practices offering cosmetic services such as facials. More recently, PCA Skin has teamed up with a dermatologist and other medical professionals to develop skin-care products. The peels are for professional use only and, in fact, except for a facial scrub, PCA Skin does not sell exfoliants that consumers can use at home.
Not surprisingly, PCA Skin's medical and aesthetics background is supposed to be rooted in science. The company states that "we use rigorous research and science to develop safe, highly effective products that deliver healthy, beautiful skin." Although PCA Skin products contain many beneficial, research-supported ingredients, they also contain numerous problematic ingredients that cause irritation; somehow, that "rigorous" research overlooked those. Irritation is always a problem for skin, causing inflammation and collagen breakdown, and impairing the skin's ability to heal.
Chief among the irritants you'll find throughout the PCA Skin line are witch hazel, citrus and numerous other fragrant oils (whether synthetic or natural, fragrance is almost always a problem for skin), drying cleansing agents, and alcohol (we mean, really, alcohol?!). In our Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary, we provide detailed information on why each of these ingredients is a problem; for all of their talk about science, chemistry, and research, PCA Skin should know better.
If you remain intrigued by this brand (or find the sales pressure from your aesthetician too intense to ignore), there are some worthwhile products. It’s great that every SPF-rated product from PCA Skin includes reliable broad-spectrum sun-protection ingredients, and fans of facial scrubs should know this brand does offer a gentle option. Also, their eye cream and retinol serum are worth a look, and several products are fragrance-free, although you need to choose carefully because many of their products contain fragrant plant extracts or oils despite being listed as fragrance-free.
PCA Skin's science-based mission is admirable, but just because an aesthetician and doctor teamed up, the results for these products aren't going to be spectacular, or even all that helpful.
For more information about PCA Skin, call (877) 722-7546 or visit www.pcaskin.com.