Ossential Growth Factor Serum

Price:
$145 - 1 fl. oz.
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Category:
Skin Care > Retinol Products > Serums
Last Updated:
8/15/2014
Jar Packaging:
No
Tested On Animals:
No

This lightweight, gel-textured serum is an intriguing but also a frustrating (at least from our perspective) product for those with normal to oily skin looking for the combined benefits of retinol and vitamin C along with some intriguing fatty acids and plant extracts with antioxidant ability.

Compared to the prior version of this formula, the latest incarnation contains more fragrance, thus is likely to pose a stronger risk of irritation. This is potentially more worrisome because the latest formula also contains the potent, synthetic menthol derivative menthol ethylamido oxalate. Although there's no research proving this cooling ingredient is a skin irritant, we know menthol is a skin irritant, and it stands to reason that this derivative would be, too—especially given it's touted as being several magnitudes stronger than menthol, and its cooling/tingling effect lingers.

Why add such an ingredient? The most probable reason is that when a person applies this serum, the intense cooling sensation reinforces that it's doing something. Well, it is doing something, but we suspect it's not something good, and question why a person would want to spend so much on a serum that could irritate skin when there are so many less expensive serums with more intriguing formulas?

The airless jar packaging isn't the best way to dispense a product with this texture (it can get messy), but at least it keeps the sensitive ingredients stable during use. This doesn't contain growth factors as the name states, but that's a good thing because the jury is still out on what effects topical application of growth factors may have on healthy, intact (meaning non-wounded) skin or when used on a regular basis.

So, we have a pricey serum in packaging to keep its light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable, and it contains some good anti-aging ingredients. Unfortunately, it contains enough problematic ingredients to make it a less compelling choice, and one we're no longer comfortable recommending.

A lightweight gel that strengthens skin, repairs aging skin, and protects against future signs of aging. Formulated for all skin types, even the most sensitive. Mild reaction.

Aqua (Water), Cyclopentasiloxane, Dipropylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, PEG-12 Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/ PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethiconol, Butylene Glycol, Beta-Glucan, Aminopropyl Dihydrogen Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Acetyl Tyrosine, Magnesium Sulfate, Phospholipids, Panthenyl Triacetate, Ethyl Linoleate, Sodium Phosphate, Fragrance (Parfum), Hydrolyzed Sericin, Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, Oleyl Alcohol, Proline, Retinol, Polysorbate 20, Buddleja Davidii Meristem Cell Culture, Angelica Polymorpha Sinensis Root Extract, Menthyl Ethylamido Oxalate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Adenosine Triphosphate, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Tocopherol, Caprylyl Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Disodium Acetyl Glucosamine Phosphate, Xanthan Gum, Hexylene Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, BHT, Sodium Chloride, BHA.

The "Zo" in Zo Skin Health are the initials of this line's creator, Dr. Zein Obagi. You may recall Obagi, this dermatologist's original namesake skin-care line, which initially was sold only in physicians' offices. Why he decided to create another line with an indirect and confusing association with his first brand is a question we couldn't get the company to answer to our satisfaction. We suspect this is just a way for him to sell his products to the mainstream market while also maintaining the exclusive dermatological bent for his earlier line. Actually, Obagi, the original line, is available online from lots of other skin-care sites as well, and there is no exclusive dermatology angle any more. In total, this adds up to ridiculous marketing nonsense that is neither medical nor good for your skin, and it’s all needlessly expensive. Whether or not women's interest will be sparked by the alleged formulary expertise, or by the blessing, of a dermatologist is yet to be seen.

The main differences between the original Obagi line and the Zo Skin Health line are that the Obagi line offers a couple prescription-only products that contain 4% hydroquinone and tretinoin. Curiously, some of the Zo Skin Health products have distinctly better formulas than similar products in the original Obagi line. The only other differences you'll find are packaging and the fact that Zo Skin Health products cost more.

As it turns out, despite a price point that's far from reasonable, there are more formulary victories than defeats in the Zo Skin Health collection. For the most part, this line does a good job of offering consumers formidable options to improve the appearance of skin and (in the case of sunscreens) to prevent further damage to aging skin. This is a worthwhile line if you're looking for products with retinol that also contain other state-of-the-art ingredients (most retinol products are one-note formularies).

The body-care products are also a cut above, though again, the prices are definitely not easy on the pocketbook. However, there are less expensive options, so there's no need to worry if you can't afford this line. Zo Skin Health is not one-stop shopping for all manner of sun-damaged or aging skin and it also isn't comprehensive enough to meet everyone's needs and preferences. However, formula- and appearance-wise it bests much of what Obagi touts as state-of-the-art in his original line. Ideally, he should've parlayed the best formulas devised for Zo Skin Health products into the Obagi line products because that would ostensibly give him reason to weed out the average to poor products that are still available.

For more information about Zo Skin Health, call 888-893-1375 or visit www.zoskinhealth.com.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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