This serum’s name may make you think you’ve found a face-lift-in-a-bottle, but that’s not what you’ll actually get from using this product. This rather lackluster formula’s second ingredient is a starch that, when dry, makes skin feel smoother and a bit tighter. Making skin feel tighter is not the same as actually tightening it, which is where the ingredient tetrahydroypropyl ethylenediamine comes into play, as discussed below.
RoC’s parent company Johnson & Johnson did a double-blind study that examined topical application of a moisturizer containing 2.5% THPE on 41 women. Not surprisingly, the results showed the skin treated with THPE looked firmer, “more lifted,” and younger compared with skin that received a placebo moisturizer without this ingredient. This may be due to the effect THPE has on surface skin cells: It is believed to modify the cell surface and increase cell tension. In theory, this would “pull” skin cells tighter and result in skin that gets a lift, but the study results showed that after 8 weeks of use, skin treated with THPE was lifted only by 14%. That’s not much of an improvement, and what we don’t know is whether or not THPE’s effect on skin is more detrimental than helpful. After all, causing skin cells to become tense is what most astringent, drying ingredients do, and it’s not the healthiest approach (Source: Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, October 2011, pages 1102–1105).
Using products with high amounts of THPE on a daily basis may not be the best idea if the result of making skin cells tense is irritation. Right now, we don’t know if that’s the case or not, but we do know that irritation hurts skin’s healing process and its ability to look and act younger. Plus, the small sample of only 41 women is not exactly a sweeping assessment of effectiveness.
Ultimately, the unknowns associated with THPE, along with the amount of starch in this serum (which can feel uncomfortable), make it an iffy option. If you’re going to spend this much, your skin will do better with a serum loaded with antioxidants, skin-repairing ingredients, and cell-communicating ingredients proven to help it look and act younger, without potential irritation. You’ll find those options from brands such as Paula’s Choice and others on our Best Serums list.
- The lifting and anti-gravity claims stretch what’s possible from skin-care products.
- The “Lifting” ingredient tetrahydroxypropyl ethylenediamine (THPE) doesn’t produce very impressive results, even measured by RoC’s own research.
- Formula lacks an impressive range of anti-aging ingredients.
Many skin-care products claim they can firm and lift skin, but none of them work, at least not to the extent claimed. A face-lift-in-a-bottle isn’t possible, but with the right mix of products, you will see firmer skin that has a more lifted appearance—and that’s exciting! To reap these youthful benefits, you must protect your skin from any and all sun damage every day, use an AHA (glycolic acid or lactic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant, and use products that have a wide range of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. This combination of products (remember, one product doesn’t do it all) has extensive research showing how it can significantly improve many of the signs of aging, such as firming skin, reducing wrinkles and brown spots, and eliminating dullness. You’ll find such products on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products.
Fights the multiple signs of your aging caused by the downward pull of gravity, revealing beautifully firmed, younger-looking skin. This highly concentrated, satiny-smooth formula absorbs quickly and visibly lifts and sculpts facial contours.
Water, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethylenediamine, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Citric Acid, Arachidyl Alcohol, Sclerotium Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Behenyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Fragrance, Methylparaben Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Butylene Glycol, Copper Gluconate, Ononis Spinosa Root Extract, Red 40, Yellow 5
Originally the brainchild of a French pharmacist, RoC does its best to convince women concerned with wrinkles that using RoC products will erase those pesky lines and, of course, that RoC is the only company that keeps its promises. That doesn't bode well for the other J&J product lines Aveeno and Neutrogena—wouldn't that mean they must be lying about the promises they make for their products? Regardless, the promises RoC makes, including all of the same old same old "you will look younger too" rubbish, aren't viable and don't hold up under closer scrutiny. None of what they assure you their products can do is possible beyond a cosmetic extent, and moreover the majority of RoC's U.S.- and Canada-sold formulas are either boring or one-note. They don't even come through with distinctive or interesting moisturizers.
For example, RoC is big on retinol, and includes it in products with and without sunscreen in the United States. Retinol is a cell-communicating ingredient as well as an antioxidant, and its benefits for skin are many (Sources: Archives of Dermatology, May 2007, pages 606–612; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, March/April 2005, pages 81–87; and Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, December 2005, pages 237–244). However, for the most part, the amount of retinol in RoC's U.S.-sold products is barely a dusting, and so your skin won't receive much, if any, benefit from it. Ironically, although RoC promotes retinol much more than Neutrogena and Aveeno (all are J&J-owned companies), the latter two lines sell better retinol products! Several of the moisturizers with retinol sold by RoC in Canada also have much better formulations.
Another ingredient RoC has been touting lately is DMAE (dimethyl MEA). This ingredient is described in detail in the reviews below, but suffice it to say that DMAE isn't a panacea for wrinkles or skin that has lost firmness. Lastly, soy is promoted by RoC as an anti-aging powerhouse. Soy has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits for skin, but once again RoC shortchanges the consumer by including barely any of it. And it's probably no surprise that sister company Aveeno (and, to a lesser extent, Neutrogena) offers better (and less expensive) options if soy is what you want to try.
Taken together, isn't it interesting how all of these Johnson & Johnson brands offer similar products to different target audiences? Neutrogena is the all-encompassing line, going after consumers battling acne and wrinkles; Aveeno stresses its "Active Naturals" and plays on its oat heritage; RoC is made to appeal to consumers who want to take a serious, more clinical-minded approach to fighting the signs of aging. None of these lines have all the answers, but all of them have a few worthwhile products. It's just that with RoC, those looking for state-of-the-art options beyond retinol have the fewest choices—and that's a promise made clear by the reviews that follow!
For more information about RoC, call (800) 762-1964 or visit www.rocskincare.com. And for a better selection of state-of-the-art retinol products from RoC, see the reviews for RoC Canada.