Rejuvenating Serum
1 fl. oz. for $80
Category:Skin Care > Serums
Last Updated:01.06.2012
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

This serum isn’t rejuvenating in the least—not with alcohol as the second ingredient! Although this contains some excellent antioxidants, the alcohol makes this a no-go for all skin types due to its strong potential to cause dryness, irritation, and free-radical damage. Please see More Info for details on alcohol and irritation.

If the alcohol didn’t present enough of a risk, this serum also contains irritating amounts of peppermint and citrus oils, none of which are good for skin of any age, but especially not for sun-damaged, wrinkled skin. The irritation these fragrant oils cause hurts healthy collagen production and keeps skin from looking its healthy, youthful best.

What about the epidermal growth factors referred to in the claim? The ingredient in question is rh-oligopeptide-1. It’s considered a growth factor peptide, but there are risks associated with topical use of growth factors. Because growth factors influence cell production, via a complex bodily process, the concern is that topical application can interrupt this carefully calibrated process, leading to uncontrolled cell growth (which is the blueprint for cancer). For all intents and purposes, though, it’s likely that growth factors applied topically to healthy, intact skin have no effect at all—although they do make for good marketing copy!

  • Contains an impressive range of proven antioxidants.
  • Includes skin-repairing ingredients such as glycerin, sodium PCA, and squalane.
  • Expensive and far from “rejuvenating.”
  • Alcohol is a main ingredient and is known to cause irritation and free-radical damage, which is what the antioxidants are supposed to reduce.
  • Contains a trio of fragrant plant oils known to be irritating.
  • Use of epidermal growth factors in skin-care products is controversial.

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.


Contains epidermal growth factors to help stimulate cell division and proliferation, leading to faster wound healing and overall healthier skin. For all skin types and conditions, especially maturing skin.


Water, SD Alcohol 40-B, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Aminomethyl Propanol, Glycerin, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Acrylates C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, rh-Oligopeptide-1, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, Fructose, Glycine, Niacinamide, Urea, Inositol, Epigallocatechin Gallate, Glutathione, Phospholipids, Isomalt, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Cell Extract, Lecithin, Squalane, Phytosterols, Tocopherol, Tocotrienols, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax, Bisabolol, Polysorbate 20, Menta Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, 1,2 Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Tropolone, Gluconalactone, Sodium Benzoate

Brand Overview

PCA Skin At-a-Glance

Strengths: Every SPF-rated product provides reliable broad-spectrum sun protection; several products are fragrance-free; good eye cream and retinol serum.

Weaknesses: Way too expensive for what you get; several products contain irritating fragrant oils; the toners contain irritants; there are too many serums and many contain irritating ingredients; the acne products contain problematic ingredients.

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.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments

No members have written a review yet. Be the first!

Enter a title for your review
First Name, Last Initial
Email Address
How would you rate this product on the following:
500 characters left

Terms of Use

585632-IIS4 v1.0.0.405 7/30/2015 11:12:35 AM