Tested on animals:Yes
This product’s name may make it sound like an active, multitasking product, but it isn’t. Based on the claims and ingredient list, this is essentially just an AHA-like exfoliant that contains a form of urea instead of conventional glycolic or lactic acids. Other than that, it contains absolutely nothing else that is beneficial for skin. For the money, that is just rude.
We have no idea what SkinCeuticals means when they refer to this exfoliant’s “paradoxal compound” in their claims, and no one at the company could tell us. “Paradox” refers to a contradiction in terms. What does that have to do with your skin or a product’s benefit? No one seems to know.
Marketing terminology aside, what this product contains is a high amount of urea. That’s good because it can exfoliate and soften your skin, but there is no research demonstrating that the hydroxyethyl urea, which is what this product contains, has the same benefit as plain urea.
What urea does is increase skin cell turnover the same way an AHA product does. You’d think SkinCeuticals would publish a study comparing their compound with standard exfoliant ingredients, but no such information exists; you simply need to take their word for it, and spend a lot money in the process.
We say “show us the proof!” before we spend our hard-earned money on this allegedly “revolutionary” product! Bottom line: You don’t have to spend anywhere close to this amount to get equal or better results from an exfoliant. There certainly isn’t any research proving urea in any form is superior to AHAs (e.g., glycolic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid).
Another issue to consider is the inclusion of the ingredient hydroxyethylpiperazine ethane sulfonic acid (also known as HEPES). It’s a buffering ingredient (typically used to establish a neutral pH) with research indicating it can generate free radical damage in the presence of oxygen (Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, August 2005, pages 1,653-1,660 and November 2004, issue 11, pages 1696-1702). That has us worried even though research on how this directly impacts skin hasn’t been done. Still, there are definitely other buffering agents that could have been used instead of this seemingly problematic one.
Although this is an option, think twice before trying this instead of less expensive exfoliants whose ingredients have lots of research attesting to their efficacy.
Note: This serum is dispensed via a dropper applicator. Although not 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.