Ossential Growth Factor Serum
1 fl. oz. for $145
Last Updated:12.31.2014
Jar Packaging:Yes
Tested on animals:No
Review Overview

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.

Brand Overview

Zo Skin Health

Strengths: Company provides complete ingredient lists on the Zo Skin Health Web site; good cleansers and scrubs; very good fragrance-free mineral sunscreen; all of the body-care products; the sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection and include a mineral-based formula for those with sensitive skin or rosacea; some very good moisturizers and serums.

Weaknesses: Can be expensive; some products contain fragrance chemicals known to cause irritation; some jar packaging.

The ZO in ZO Skin Health is the initials of this line's creator, dermatologist Dr. Zein Obagi. It’s not the first skincare line for the Beverly Hills-based doctor; you may recall Obagi, his original namesake skin-care line, which initially was sold only in physicians' offices. After several years with the brand, Obagi left and founded a new line, ZO Skin Health.

This newer line actually makes improvements upon Obagi’s initial foray into skincare, with distinctly better formulas than similar products in the original Obagi line. 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 they’re not the easiest 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 was offered in his original line.

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

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