Phloretin CF
1 fl. oz. for $155
Category:Skin Care > Serums > Serums
Last Updated:12.02.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

This water-based serum comes complete with claims on its years of research, patents, and new cosmeceutical buzzwords such as "biodiverse" and "broad-spectrum treatment." Aside from the company's exemplary marketing efforts, the product does deserve some discussion in terms of its single unique ingredient, phloretin (because other than that this is one boring ordinary, potentially skin-damaging product). Phloretin is a white crystalline flavonoid that results from the decomposition or hydrolysis of phlorizin. Naturally, your next question is: What's phlorizin? It's a bitter substance extracted from the root bark of apple trees and from apples, so phloretin does have a natural origin (though what it takes to get phlorizin out of the apple tree to turn it into phloretin is hardly a natural process; you're not going to use phloretin to flavor pie). As for phloretin's value for skin, in vitro and animal research has shown that it has antioxidant ability, can interrupt melanin synthesis to potentially reduce skin discolorations, inhibits the formation of MMP-1 (which breaks down collagen), and also serves as a penetration enhancer, which, as you'll see below, is not a good thing in the case of this product (Sources: The FEBS Journal, August 2008, pages 3804-3814; Phytochemistry, April 2007, pages 1189-1199; Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, April 2006, pages 740-745; European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, March 2004, pages 307-312; and International Journal of Pharmaceutics, April 2003, pages 109-116).Although there are compelling reasons to consider phloretin as another potent, beneficial antioxidant to improve skin's appearance and healthy functioning, in the case of this product it is completely wasted. Why? Because the amount of denatured alcohol in this serum negates any antioxidant benefit of the phloretin. The inclusion of alcohol is extremely disappointing because alcohol causes free-radical damage, cell death, and irritation (see the Appendix for details). Phloretin may be the antioxidant du jour, but not in this product. Please keep in mind that despite the published research for phloretin and SkinCeuticals’s claims, it is not the best antioxidant to "attack damage on every level." There are lots of brilliant antioxidants in skin-care products, but there isn't a miracle or magic bullet out there.

Note: This serum is dispensed via a dropper applicator. Even if we did recommend Phloretin CF, this isn't the ideal method to dispense a serum that contains light- and air-sensitive ingredients, sometimes this type of packaging is necessary due to formulary requirements. When that’s the case, the goal is to keep the bottle opening as small as possible, the bottle should be opaque or specially coated to protect the contents from light, and you should use the serum up within three months of opening.


Phloretin CF represents a new class of preventive and corrective topical antioxidant treatment. After five years of extensive research, SkinCeuticals developed this patent-pending breakthrough technology combining the newly-discovered, broad-range power of phloretin with vitamin C and ferulic acid in a biodiverse formulation to divide and conquer sources of damage at every level. Phloretin CF, a broad-spectrum treatment, protects against not only free radicals, but the range of other reactive molecules known to cause damage and DNA mutations among the integral cell types. In addition, it corrects existing damage by stimulating the synthesis of essential proteins and fibers and accelerating cell turnover. The result — a strengthened support structure on the inside and a more youthful, firm, radiant appearance on the outside.


Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Alcohol Denaturated, Ascorbic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Triethyl Citrate, Phloretin, Ferulic Acid

Brand Overview

SkinCeuticals At-A-Glance

Strengths: Great line to shop if you're looking for well-formulated vitamin C and retinol products; some outstanding sunscreens (including for sensitive skin), and every one provides sufficient UVA protection; one effective AHA product; good self-tanner; several fragrance-free products.

Weaknesses: Mostly problematic cleansers and toners; fruit and sugar extracts trying to substitute for AHA products when the real deal is much better; ineffective BHA products; jar packaging.

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.

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
Summary of Member Comments
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Phloretin CF is Amazing

Skinceuticals has the best serums.. hands down!

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Reviewed by
John M
Don't Understand the Poor Rating

I'm floored this product didn't get the best rating. I've used it for over 6 months and I'm amazed at how great my skin looks and feels. I'm 43 with combination/oily skin and started out using SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic in October of 2013 before switching to Phloretin CF for Summer. BOTH products are incredible. They brighten & smooth the skin and this one in particular has helped cease my oil production. If stranded on an island, this is the product I'd most want to have!

Reviewed by
Rachel D
Beautypedia Team Response

The review is pretty clear about why it got the rating it did. This is an exceptionally basic, one-note, overpriced serum whose two antioxidants are undermined by the amount of pro-aging alcohol the formula contains. Why spend so much on a serum with mixed result ingredients when there are lots of great serums for under $50 packed with a range of proven ingredients, and no alcohol? At least, that's our logic!

Exceptional product, write up not true

This article couldn't be further from accurate. I have used this product for three months, and have never seen such positive results. I take very good care of my skin and have tried many products. This is by far, one of the best. Within the first two weeks of using it, people were commenting on my skin being so bright and perfect. My skin has never looked better. I've never received as so many compliments. For certain, the person who wrote this article hasn't used this. Try it, worth it!

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