The A.G.E. in this product's name refers to advanced glycation end-products (AGE), which are not good for the body or the skin. AGEs are formed by the body's major fuel source, namely glucose. This simple sugar is essential for energy, but it also binds strongly to proteins (the body's fundamental building blocks), forming abnormal structures—AGEs—that progressively damage tissue elasticity. Once generated, AGEs begin a process that prevents many systems from behaving normally by literally causing tissue to cross-link and become hardened (Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, March 14, 2000, pages 2809–2813).
SkinCeuticals' theory is that by breaking these AGE bonds you can undo or stop the damage they cause. AGEs and free-radical damage may be inextricably linked (Sources: European Journal of Neuroscience, December 2001, page 1961; and Neuroscience Letters, October 2001, pages 29–32), but none of the studies indicate that there are any substances that can be included in skin-care products to affect this process.
Specific to this product, the only ingredient it contains that is known to inhibit the formation of AGEs in skin is one that L’Oreal did the research on. Because L’Oreal owns SkinCeuticals, this research can hardly be considered impartial. Surprisingly, the blueberry extract L’Oreal used in this study (and in this product) did not fare as well as aminoguanidine, another ingredient known to inhibit AGEs (Source: Experimental Gerontology, June 2008, pages 584–588). Knowing this, why would you want to purchase this SkinCeuticals product when the parent company's own research shows that what they're including to inhibit AGEs is not as effective as another ingredient that they didn't include?
If anything, this product is a big step backwards for SkinCeuticals. It's mostly slip agents, silicones, and wax, plus the questionable AGE-inhibiting blueberry extract, although even if this extract could help, it won't remain potent for long thanks to the jar packaging (not to mention that there's hardly any of it in this product). For $150, you have every right to expect a whole lot more than this no-better-than-average product provides.
Specifically formulated to improve the creping, thinning appearance of mature skin caused by intrinsic or internal aging processes such as glycation.
Water, Propylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol, Cyclohexasiloxane, Isohexadecane, Glycerin, Synthetic Wax, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Phenoxyethanol, Bismuth Oxychloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine, Acrylates Copolymer, Vaccinium Myrtillus Extract, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Coumarin
With a strong presence in the professional (meaning spa and aesthetics) skin-care market, SkinCeuticals has a mostly well-deserved reputation for producing serious-minded, research-driven products, several of which are centered on L-ascorbic acid. Company founder Dr. Sheldon Pinnell began the line after a falling out with the folks behind Cellex-C, a company for which Dr. Pinnell once served as spokesperson. The falling out had to do with both Cellex-C and Dr. Pinnell holding patents on L-ascorbic acid; Cellex-C held the patent on a formula with L-ascorbic acid (the original Cellex-C serum) while Dr. Pinnell's patent (now conspicuously absent from SkinCeuticals products) was only for the ingredient. The drama continued as, years later, the doctor who joined Pinnell to work on SkinCeuticals' vitamin C products began his own company, also selling products with vitamin C. Who needs Desperate Housewives when we have desperate doctors racing to be the authoritative word on the anti-aging properties of vitamin C?
The good news is that copious research has demonstrated that L-ascorbic acid (despite its stability issues, which, formula-wise, SkinCeuticals products do address) is a good, potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It has also been shown to provide photoprotective benefits when skin is exposed to UV light and is capable of stimulating collagen production - though don't take that to mean it is a cure for wrinkles (Sources: International Journal of Toxicology, 2005, supplement, pages 51–111; Experimental Dermatology, June 2003, pages 237–244; Dermatologic Surgery, March 2002, pages 231–236; Bioelectrochemistry and Bioenergetics, May 1999, pages 453–461; and International Journal of Radiation Biology, June 1999, pages 747–755). Of course, other forms of vitamin C have equally impressive research, and some forms, such as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, have better stability profiles (Source: Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis, March 1997, pages 795–801).
As we've mentioned before, vitamin C is but one of many good antioxidants, and it's not the best approach to select any one or two antioxidants and bank on them alone to provide every conceivable skin-rejuvenating benefit. Instead, go for products that offer a cocktail of antioxidants because you'll get a greater range of benefits. Plus, some antioxidants in combination have a synergistic effect that surpasses what occurs when any of the ingredients are used alone. SkinCeuticals clearly knows this, because their vitamin C products also contain the antioxidant ferulic acid, and some add vitamin E to the mix as well. Above all, remember that as multifunctional as antioxidants are, they cannot stop aging, they won't eliminate wrinkles, and they do not replace the need for daily sun protection.
L'Oreal purchased SkinCeuticals in May 2005, and, for the time being, seems to be letting them stay on their course. That's a good thing, because despite L'Oreal’s considerable financial reserves and global R&D team, the skin-care products their brands produce consistently lag behind what current research indicates are state-of-the-art options. As long as they continue to let SkinCeuticals retain its stature, there are many good reasons to shop this line; however, that said, this line is far from perfect in terms of being able to assemble a complete skin-care routine. Focusing on what they do best (which is serums, sunscreens, and specialty products) will be money well spent for visible results. Those who find the SkinCeuticals price tags to be a deal-breaker need to know that despite several notable products, they're hardly the only game in town; you can find equally superior products for less money, though not all of them follow the impressive concentration protocols of SkinCeuticals.
For more information about SkinCeuticals, call 1-800-771-9489 or visit www.skinceuticals.com.