03.25.2015
2
2
Photo Plasma Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Rating
2 fl. oz. for $69
Last Updated:03.25.2015
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

This daytime SPF moisturizer's chief selling points are its gentle, mineral (titanium dioxide)-based sunscreen, lightweight cream texture, and the soft, healthy-looking glow it leaves on skin. Moisturizing without feeling greasy, it's best for normal to dry or combination skin. The claim that this is "extremely light" isn't entirely accurate but that can be a bit subjective depending on your skin type.

Although you'll get broad-spectrum protection from this product, we need to mention the price. Expensive sunscreens tend to discourage liberal application, which is necessary to achieve the SPF rating stated on the label. So, think twice about spending this much for sun protection if you don't think you're likely to slather this on.

Another issue, and the reason for this product's less-than-stellar rating, is the jar packaging. Perricone added some very good antioxidants to this formula, but these delicate ingredients won't remain stable when constantly exposed to light and air—and that's exactly what happens when jar packaging is used (see More Info for details).

Note: The inactive ingredients for this product are listed in alphabetical rather than descending order. This is permissible because this product is regulated as an over-the-counter drug in the United States. The problem is it doesn't make it any easier for consumers to determine how much of any given ingredient is present in the product.

Pros:
  • Provides gentle, broad-spectrum sun protection.
  • Fragrance-free.
  • Leaves skin with a soft, healthy-looking glow.
Cons:
  • Expensive, which may discourage you from applying this liberally.
  • Jar packaging won't keep the antioxidant ingredients stable during use.
More Info:

The fact that this daytime moisturizer is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria which further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818-829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271-288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314-321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197-203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1-32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).

Claims
This luxurious oil-free moisturizer cream creates an invisible shield against environmental aggressors and guards against UVA and UVB damage. Extremely lightweight in texture, it glides on skin smoothly and evenly, leaving it soft, hydrated and radiant. Formulated with powerful anti-aging benefits and mineral sunscreens, it derives its natural color from antioxidant-rich, Astaxanthin. No tackiness or heaviness, it is the ultimate moisturizer with SPF.
Ingredients
Titanium Dioxide 4.2%. Inactive ingredients: Aluminum Hydroxide, Astaxanthin, Benzyl Alcohol, Bisabolol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cyclopentasiloxane, Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate, Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Methoxycrylene, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Hydrogenated Phosphatidycholine, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Pentylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Polyester-8, Polyglyceryl-3 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Polysilicone-11, Polysorbate 60, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Stearic Acid, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Thioctic Acid, Water, Xanthan Gum.
Brand Overview

Perricone MD Cosmeceuticals At-A-Glance

Strengths: A handful of good cleansers; a couple of worthwhile moisturizers for the eye area; several fragrance-free products; a few impressive makeup products.

Weaknesses: Expensive; long on claims not supported by evidence-based science; use of controversial ingredients throughout the line; several antioxidant-rich products are packaged in jars, which renders those beneficial ingredients less effective.

This dermatologist-developed line is perhaps the best known in an increasingly crowded field. The frenzy began with Nicholas Perricone's first book, The Wrinkle Cure, and continued when he appeared on PBS to discuss his book and namesake products, all of which seemed incredibly legitimate to consumers worried about how to look younger longer. PBS reaped a financial windfall from his appearance, netting millions of dollars between 2001 and 2002 (Source: www.quackwatch.org). Originally all the fuss centered around vitamin C and alpha lipoic acid, but as his success continued, Perricone wrote half a dozen more books and expanded his product line to include other over-hyped ingredients, each with claims (and price tags) more inflated than the last round.

We sourced the Web site Quackwatch.org because they have an excellent, unbiased report on the Perricone phenomenon. This non-profit site is operated by consumer advocate Dr. Stephen Barrett, and, to quote the Quackwatch Mission Statement, their purpose is "to combat health-related frauds, myths, fads, fallacies, and misconduct." That's where Perricone comes into play. According to Quackwatch, Perricone's books "contain many claims that are questionable, controversial, fanciful, unsupported by published evidence, or just plain wrong. Although he mentions standard skin-care treatments, sometimes favorably, his books provide little guidance about when they might be appropriate or sufficient. Although he provides long lists of references, practically none of them directly support what he promises." Those sentiments are exactly what we felt and wrote after reading The Wrinkle Cure.

The site goes on to state: "Perricone's books are sprinkled with statements that his ideas are based on his own research. However, the extent and quality of this research is unclear. A PubMed search for his name brought up only six citations, of which only two appear to be original research, both on topical glycolic acid. His books describe situations in which he tested various ideas in a few patients, usually over a short period of time, but he provides few details and apparently published none of those findings in medical journals." Does that sound like the kind of products you'd like to spend (a lot of) your money on?

They go on to conclude (and we agree completely with the following text): "Dr. Perricone has mixed a pinch of science with a gallon of imagination to create an elaborate, time-consuming, expensive, prescription for a healthy life and younger skin. There is no reason to think his program is more effective than standard measures. Although some of his advice is standard, most of his recommendations are based on speculation and fanciful interpretation of selected medical literature. He makes lots of money by convincing patients and consumers, but he hasn't succeeded in convincing critical thinkers, doctors, scientists, or anyone who wants to see hard evidence. Perricone's prescription isn't science; it's creative salesmanship." And which ingredient is the answer for healthy skin? Perricone can't seem to make up his mind, because one group of products contains alpha lipoic acid, another group olive oil, another vitamin C, and still another neuropeptides. Come on, doctor, which is it?

One ingredient Perricone uses deserves some discussion because it is present in all of his products, and that's dimethyl MEA, also known as DMAE (chemically 2-dimethyl-aminoethanol). DMAE has been around for years as an oral supplement that's popularly believed to improve mental alertness, much like Ginkgo biloba and coenzyme Q10. However, the research about DMAE does not show the same positive results as the other two supplements. Because DMAE is chemically similar to choline, DMAE is thought to stimulate production of acetylcholine. And because acetylcholine is a brain neurotransmitter, it's easy to see how it could be associated with brain function. However, only a handful of studies have looked at DMAE for that purpose and they have not been conclusive in the least, while some have shown that DMAE may be problematic or not very effective (Sources: Mechanisms of Aging and Development, February 1988, pages 129–138; Neuropharmacology, June 1989, pages, 557–561; European Neurology, 1991, pages 423–425; and European Journal of Medical Research, May 2003, pages 183–191).

How does any of this translate into skin care, or, more to the point, suppressing the signs of aging? Perricone claims DMAE restores muscle tone to skin that has lost firmness and has begun to slacken, as well as conveying an antioxidant benefit. Johnson & Johnson uses DMAE in a few of their Neutrogena products, and a study they paid for appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (June 2005, pages 39–47). The conclusion was as follows: "the benefits of DMAE in dermatology include a potential anti-inflammatory effect and a documented increase in skin firmness with possible improvement in underlying facial muscle tone." The study examined topical application of 3% DMAE over a period of 16 weeks, but it was not done double-blind and was not placebo-controlled, which makes the results, at best, questionable. Moreover, the study didn't examine whether a 3% or lower concentration of other ingredients, such as green tea, glycolic acid, vitamin C, or myriad others (many of which Perricone has extolled in his other products, and the amount of DMAE he used varies widely from product to product), might have had the same or better results.

Is there any reason to get excited (and drain your pocketbook) for products with DMAE? Apparently not; a study published in The British Journal of Dermatology (May 2007) has shown contrary evidence that it may actually pose risks for the skin. In vitro tests of the pure substance, as well as creams that contained DMAE, demonstrated a fairly fast and significant increase in protective elements around the skin cell. However, a short time later the researchers observed an important reduction in cell growth and in some cases they found that it halted cell growth altogether. So, while you may initially experience a kind of swelling of the skin because of the expanding effect caused by topical application of DMAE, the long-term results appear to be far from desirable.

Interestingly, even though this ingredient is present throughout Perricone's line, he has yet to publish his own research discussing the claims and explaining how topical DMAE works. The bottom line is that as more research comes to light, DMAE may prove more problematic than helpful for aging skin. But in the meantime, Perricone is raking in lots of money by convincing consumers otherwise.

For more information about Perricone MD Cosmeceuticals call (888) 823-7837 or visit www.perriconemd.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.

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05.22.2015
Good for sensitive skin

I give this a 4 star rating, because it is one of the only sunscreens out there that has not irritated my super sensitive skin and does not cause me to break out. I wear it over creme de la mer, olay serum and PTR products. I wish it had zinc in the formula, so I'm still searching high and low for my perfect physical sunscreen. Not matte and has a slightly sticky finish, but due to frequent compliments like "your skin looks amaaaazing" I could seriously care less about that.

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rugarou x
12.21.2014
So close... disappointing

"WOW!" was my first reaction to the utterly beautiful whipped and light texture and feel of this - there is no other sunscreen that I have tried that means the texture, wear, and smoothness of this product. However... about two weeks in I saw that the product exposed to the clear glass sides of the jar was white but the center remained pinkl! Right before my eyes all the ingredients destabilized!! What a shame... if this were packaged stably it would be my end all be all sunscreen forever :(

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Max B.
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