Microdermabrasion Renewal System
Last Updated:07.05.2010
Jar Packaging:Yes
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

This two-step system is a very expensive, completely unnecessary way to exfoliate your skin. Step 1 is the Microdermabrasion Renewal Creme. Although most microdermabrasion-in-a-jar products use a gritty substance, this one contains rounded polyethylene beads as the abrasive agent. That makes this scrub shockingly similar to those from the drugstore that cost around $10, not to mention it’s less of a “potent” scrub because it doesn’t contain the same kind of abrasive agent used in microdermabrasion treatments. Overscrubbing isn’t the best, but spending this much money is just silly.

Microdermabrasion Renewal Creme is a fairly gentle scrub for normal to dry skin, although it does contain a small amount of fragrant citrus oil (fragrance of any kind is bad news for skin).

After using the scrub, you’re directed to immediately apply Step 2, Gelee Calme (not sure what the “e” at the end of the word calm is about, but I suppose that makes it seem more elegant than it is). Gelee Calme is a moisturizer that contains some great soothing ingredients and antioxidants, all in a silky base formula. That’s why it’s such a shame that jar packaging was chosen, because it undermines the efficacy and stability of these ingredients. Antioxidants, plant extracts, vitamins, and other brilliant ingredients in skin-care products deteriorate in the presence of air. Once the lid is off, the beneficial ingredients are history. Jars also are unsanitary because you’re dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria, which further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients.

Like almost all ReVive moisturizers, Gelee Calme contains epidermal growth factor (EGF). Topical application of growth factors is controversial for many reasons (see the brand summary of ReVive for detailed information), but the primary concern is that they may stimulate the proliferation of cells to the point where their normal, healthy growth goes haywire. Such uncontrolled growth is the blueprint for cancer, and that’s not a good tradeoff for lifted skin (which this product doesn’t provide).

It’s somewhat reassuring to discover that growth factors are not expected to have much, if any, effect when applied topically, because, according to the textbook Cosmetic Dermatology (2nd Edition, 2009, by Dr. Leslie Baumann MD), it is unknown if growth factors in skin-care products (which don’t have to prove their claims) “are stable, can be absorbed adequately, or exert a functionally significant outcome to induce dermal remodeling and reverse photoaging” due to the lack of well-controlled studies. Still, it is precisely the unknowns surrounding topical application of various growth factors that warrant a cautionary approach to their use, if you even use them at all.

In the case of this two-step system, the moisturizer’s inclusion of EGF is questionable and the scrub itself is easily replaced by one from the drugstore or, even better, with a damp washcloth, or even better than that, with a well-formulated AHA or BHA product that has a good deal of research showing how vital they are for skin.


Microdermabrasion Renewal System is an intensive, two-part facial resurfacing treatment that retextures the skin. While erasing the appearance of surface damage and the visible effects of aging, it simultaneously renews and restores skin to a radiant, youthful glow when used as a system.


Microdermabrasion Renewal Crème: Water, Polyethylene, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, PEG-4, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polyacrylate-13, Cetyl Alcohol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Allantoin, Hydroxycinnamic Acid, Panthenol, Carnitine, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopheryl Acetate, Polyglycerin-10, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Xanthan Gum, Cetearyl Glucoside, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Limonene, Linalool, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil

Gelée Calme: Water, Glycerin, Cyclopentasiloxane, Recombinant EGF Butylene Glycol, Boerhavia Diffusa Root Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Retinyl Palmitate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein, Jojoba Oil PEG-150 Esters, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Aminomethyl Propanol, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Limonene, Linalool, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil

Brand Overview

Revive At-A-Glance

Strengths: Good cleansers; and, well, that's about it.

Weaknesses: Very expensive; potential unknowns and concerns about how epidermal growth factor (EGF) functions when applied topically on intact skin; not all of the sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection (how did Dr. Brown miss that one?); no products to address the needs of adults with acne.

Without a doubt, the founder of ReVive, Dr. Gregory Bays Brown, has some impressive credentials. He is a board-certified general and plastic surgeon who trained at Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Emory Universities, and received his medical degree from the University of Louisville. Realizing there was considerable money to be made in the realm of doctor-designed skin care, he launched the ReVive brand in the late 1990s, and it is now known as "A Plastic Surgeon's Non-Surgical Approach to Beauty."

It is nothing less than perplexing that there are so many doctors, from Fredric Brandt to N.V. Perricone, Drs. Murad and Sobel, and Patricia Wexler, to name a few, all claiming that their skin-care products are the answers for aging consumers who are concerned about "going under the knife" or about making an appointment that involves use of a needle. Can every doctor cure your wrinkles? And which one is telling the truth? Simply put: None of them. What they are doing, to one degree or another, is misleading the consumer as to what their products can really do, and every physician on the planet knows this to be a fact.

Brown does have one point of difference from his competition because he is the only one who uses growth factors (GF) in all his products. He was originally all about Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), explained below, but now also offers products with Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF) and Keratinocyte Growth Factor (KGF), each explained in their respective product reviews. With all the company's talk about speeding up cellular renewal via growth factors and promises of luscious, dewy, youthful-looking skin, you may be wondering if this is a group of ingredients worth paying (a lot of money) for.

Growth factors are produced by the body to regulate various types of cell division. EGF stimulates cell division, primarily cell division of skin cells. There is quite a bit of research showing EGF to be helpful for wound and burn healing (Sources: Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation, March-April 2002, pages 116–125; Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology, July 1992, pages 604–606; Journal of Anatomy, July 2005, pages 67–78; International Wound Journal, June 2006, pages 123–130;and Tissue Engineering, January 2007, pages 21–28).

However, there is also research showing the effect EGF has is no different from that of a placebo, that it may not be effective at all, and that too much of it can actually prolong healing (Sources: Wounds, 2001, volume 13, number 2, pages 53–58; and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, August 1995, pages 251–254, and September 1997, pages 657–664).

One study showed that EGF had anti-inflammatory properties when applied to skin (Source: Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology, January-April 1999, pages 79–84), though it has also been noted that it may promote tumor growth (Source: Journal of Surgical Research, April 2002, pages 175–182).

In general, the potentially frightening consequences of growth factors can come into play when they are taken internally, as in certain cancer treatments (Interleukin and Interferon are GFs), because they can be highly mitogenic (causing cell division), and at certain concentrations and lengths of application can cause cells to overproliferate. This overabundance of cells causes problems, one result of which is cancer. No one is exactly certain what happens when EGFs are applied to healthy, intact skin, but there is concern that with repeated use EGFs can cause skin cells to overproduce, and that's not good (psoriasis is an example of what happens when skin cells overproduce).

All of the research that does exist on EGFs has primarily studied their short-term use for wound healing. ReVive's products aren't about wound healing or short-term use, but rather about ongoing application for wrinkles, and working against the reduced cell-turnover rate that occurs as we age. Moreover, what established research has shown (including most of the sources mentioned above) is that growth factors, including EGF, do not work alone. Rather, their function is part of an intricate symphony that requires the playing of several "notes" for the "concert" to be a success. Adding a tiny amount of EGF to skin-care products in the hopes that it will work like it does when applied to a wound is sort of like thinking you can frame a house with wood and use nothing to hold the beams together except wishful thinking. We suspect the EGFs that Brown uses are most likely not the active form of the "drug," because if they were the risk to skin would be scary (and the company admits the ingredient is engineered in a lab, which means it's not identical to the naturally occurring EGF).

For more information about ReVive, call 1-866-986-7083 or visit www.reviveskincare.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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