Pigment Gel HQ Free

by PCA Skin  
Price:
$50 - 1 fl. oz.
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Category:
Skin Care > Retinol Products > Lighteners Without Hydroquinone
Last Updated:
1/5/2012
Jar Packaging:
No
Tested On Animals:
No

This skin-lightening gel is formulated without the gold standard skin-lightening ingredient hydroquinone, which is fine because some people cannot use this ingredient or find that it doesn’t work as well as they hoped. Instead of hydroquinone, PCA Skin includes azelaic and kojic acids, both of which are viable alternatives with compelling research on their ability to lighten discolorations.

Unfortunately, this fragrance-free skin lightener isn’t free of irritating ingredients. The witch hazel water and alcohol that serve as the backbone of this formula make it too drying and irritating for all skin types. See More Info for details on the problems alcohol and irritation present for all skin types.

Pros:
  • Contains two ingredients with research indicating they’re effective for lightening brown spots.
  • Fragrance-free.
Cons:
  • Expensive.
  • Main ingredients of alcohol and witch hazel are potent skin irritants.
  • Formula lacks other anti-aging ingredients to help skin look and act younger.

More Info:

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 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.

The hydroquinone-free formula contains inhibitors that help even out skin discoloration. An excellent choice for sensitive skin types that irritate easily or cannot tolerate hydroquinone. In addition to treating hyperpigmentation, the antimicrobial benefits help to calm and clear breakout-prone skin.

Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Alcohol Denat., Water, Propylene Glycol, Azelaic Acid, Lactic Acid, Kojic Acid, Citric Acid, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose

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.

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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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