Dr. Dennis Gross. Lancer. Murad. ZO Skin Health. What these brands have in common is that they were all created by dermatologists. It makes sense. Not everyone has the opportunity to make an appointment with a dermatologist, so by creating their own product lines, the theory is that the dermatologist is coming to you. One brand that people may not know was started by a dermatologist is SkinMedica. Here’s a closer look at the SkinMedica collection, what the products are meant to do and is it right for your skin?
What Is SkinMedica?
SkinMedica launched in 1999 and one of the co-founders was the dermatologist Dr. Richard Fitzpatrick. The San Diego-based doctor was known for pioneering the use of lasers to resurface the skin, and his work with photoaging. Dr. Fitzpatrick passed away in 2014.
One of SkinMedica’s first products was the Dermal Repair Cream, a rich moisturizer. Over the years SkinMedica expanded its collection and focused on anti-aging. In 2012 SkinMedica became part of Allergan; the company is best known as the maker of Botox (and is now part of Abbvie).
Today SkinMedica is available at dermatologist’s offices, alongside brands such as ZO Skin Health, Obagi and SkinCeuticals.
What is the SkinMedica Philosophy?
One of SkinMedica’s mottos is “results rooted in science” with the goal of improving the skin’s appearance. As the company states on its website, “You can’t go back in time, but SkinMedica will continue to develop products that work with your skin to correct the signs of aging. Our science is complex, but the results are simple.”
SkinMedica products are formulated to hydrate the skin, soften the look of fine lines, and help to fade the appearance of dark spots and discoloration. Other products, such as sunscreen and serums, are focused on defense and prevention. Some of the brand’s signature ingredients are retinol, and TNS (Tissue Nutrient Solution), a growth factor. What’s a growth factor? It’s not the same thing as a growth hormone. As DermNet NZ explains, growth factors are proteins that regulate cellular growth. “They are natural substances made by the skin cells that support the repair of damaged skin, as a result of ageing or environmental factors. They promote the formation of collagen and elastin to provide firmness and elasticity.”
What Are The Most Popular SkinMedica Products?
SkinMedica offers an extensive collection of products. Some of its best selling products contain TNS (growth factor) and HA5, which contains five types of hydrators, including hyaluronic acid; and Lytera, for discoloration. SkinMedica also formulates professional peels administered by skincare professionals.
SkinMedica’s best known product may be the TNS Essential Serum, which is designed to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, skin tone and help skin look smoother. The bottle contains dual chambers and has TNS Recovery Complex in one chamber and APS Corrective Complex in the other. Some of the key ingredients include vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha arbutin (a skin lightener) and hyaluronic acid, which holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water.
The Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum is meant to help fade discoloration and dark spots in conjunction with other treatments. SkinMedica says the serum is meant to “optimize results of multiple treatment approaches, including chemical peels, laser therapy, microdermabrasion, and prescription skin care products, such as hydroquinone.” It can be applied twice daily. The AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser can be used twice a day, if the skin can tolerate it. The cleanser pulls double duty by also exfoliating the skin. It’s powered by alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids to dissolve dead skin cells. The Retinol Complex 1.0 contains encapsulated retinol which is designed to help minimize irritation that is common with retinols. SkinMedica recommends starting off slowly by using it twice a week at night and building up frequency.
The Lumivive system contains two products to help protect and repair the skin. The Damage Defense serum should be worn in the day to help protect the skin from environmental aggressors such as pollution and blue light, while the Night Revitalize Repair Complex is meant to help skin “recharge” and repair. The TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream is a rich moisturizer formulated for dry skin and can also be used after a procedure. According to the company, the cream contains TNS, peptides and a patented ceramide technology. SkinMedica also offers mineral sunscreens and an acne product containing benzoyl peroxide.
How Much Do SkinMedica Products Cost?
SkinMedica products are expensive, and are sold individually as well as in kits. The three piece Award Winning System contains TNS Essential Serum, HA Rejuvenating Hydrator and the Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum and sells for $520. The TNS Essential Serum alone is $281. The Lumivive system, which includes two products, is $265. The Instant Bright Eye Cream is $88, and the two lowest priced products are the AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser and the Instant Bright Eye Mask, which both sell for $48.
Is SkinMedica Cruelty Free?
No information is available on the company website, Cruelty Free Kitty, PETA or Leaping Bunny.
What Ingredients Are in SkinMedica?
SkinMedica’s products contain a mix of tried and true skincare ingredients as well as more exotic ones. For example, the key ingredient in the Retinol Complex 1.0 is that anti-aging gold standard, retinol. Retinol has been used for decades to help soften the look of fines lines and discoloration. This vitamin A derivative works by encouraging cell turnover to reveal fresher, smoother looking skin.
The key ingredient in the Acne Treatment Lotion is 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. According to WebMD, it works by “reducing the amount of acne-causing bacteria and by causing the skin to dry and peel.” Other key ingredients in the product are willow bark extract – a source of aspirin and acne fighting salicylic acid, along with witch hazel (a natural astringent) and sage leaf extract.
SkinMedica describes the Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum as a “non-hydroquinone, retinol-free, paraben-free, fragrance-free, noncomedogenic formulation” that “contains innovative ingredients that are specifically designed to address skin discoloration.” Those ingredients include marine extract; tranexamic acid which helps to lighten discoloration; phenylethyl resorcinol, a whitening agent; and niacinamide which helps to reduce inflammation.
Arguably SkinMedica’s buzziest ingredient is TNS (Tissue Nutrient Solution). The company says that TNS is formulated from “growth factors, antioxidants, soluble collagen, cytokines and matrix proteins.” What makes SkinMedica’s different (according to the company) is that it’s the “first topical cosmetic made almost entirely of stabilized human growth factor (93.6%).” Growth factors are a buzzed about skincare ingredient. As a 2016 paper in the Clinical Cosmetic Investigational Dermatology notes, “Several cosmetic products intended for skin rejuvenation contain growth factors and cytokines to promote collagen and elastin synthesis.” Kim Chang, a licensed medical aesthetician with Baylor College of Medicine, explained them in this way. “Research has been substantial on growth factors when it comes to reducing lines and wrinkles. They also work by adding hydration and decreasing tactile roughness in the skin.”
Where Can I Buy SkinMedica ?
SkinMedica is available to purchase from the company website or through affiliated doctor’s offices and medical spas. They are also sold on the Dermstore.com and the Skinstore.com.
Does SkinMedica Work?
Perhaps you have seen SkinMedica in a doctor’s office, or you’re tempted to try a dermatologist backed brand if you can’t make it to a dermatologist yourself. When it comes to deciding if a skincare brand might work for you, it’s important to remember that beauty is never a one size fits all approach. Some research and trial and error always helps.
SkinMedica has been around for a long time and has received write ups in top publications including Elle, O, Harper’s Bazaar, New Beauty, In Style and Town & Country, where the products are often recommended by dermatologists. Lytera Skin Brightening Complex won “Best Overall Face Brightener” in 2016 from New Beauty magazine, and Men’s Fitness named Ha5 Hydrator “Best Instant Gratifier” the same year.
The writer behind Wardrobe Oxygen sampled the SkinMedica line and initially fell in love. “After a month my skin was truly transformed. Wrinkles were reduced, the creases in my forehead became more shallow, my pores shrunk, my skin seriously looked years younger.” But seven weeks into using SkinMedica, the writer developed an allergic reaction and had to stop using the products.
HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator gets a 5 out of 5 star rating from about 50 reviews on the Dermstore, and a 4.4 out of 5 star rating from Amazon. Fans write that it plumped up their skin and made their faces feel smooth. “I was skeptical, but this stuff is amazing! I use this after applying retinol at night, and my skin is GLOWING in the morning.” One user noted that it smelled like “paint remover” while others said there were no real changes.
On Influenster, the TNS Essential Serum gets a 4.7 out of 5 star rating based on about 55 reviews. Amazon customers gave it 3.9 out of 5 stars. One reviewer called it “.. go to, HOLY GRAIL product! No more mixing and buying 10+ different serums to combat multiple things, this serum does it ALL!” Others found it gave quick results. “My skin was pretty bad when I started using this, so I can genuinely say that I saw a big difference after using it 3 days am/pm.” Customers that gave it a low rating felt that it did nothing for their skin, and many complained that it was too pricey. “Have been using for 3 weeks and haven’t seen any changes in my skin yet.”
What Are Some Alternatives to SkinMedica ?
Although SkinMedica has its fans, it may not work for everybody, or may simply be too expensive. Consider another brand, such as Formulyst.
Formulyst makes it easy to create your own skincare routine. Each skincare concern is assigned a number, and your personal combination will be just as unique as you (and your skin) are. All you have to do is find your formula, and follow the numbers.
Formulyst’s Anti-Aging Night Cream contains that ant-aging superstar retinol. It does a little bit of everything, from addressing fine lines, crow’s feet as well as dark spots. The night cream contains a high dose of retinol along with skin soothing safflower seed oil and jojoba.
Formulyst’s Active Serum is packed with good for you ingredients, such as nourishing vitamins B and E, and vitamin C, which helps skin look brighter. Rounding out the all-star list are ferulic acid and niacinamide which help stabilize the formula and boost the potency of vitamin C.
Arbutin is a common alternative to skin lightening hydroquinone, and is the star ingredient in Formulyst’s Luminous Skin Serum, which zeroes in on skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation. The serum is powered by Triple Brightening Technology, a powerful blend of naturally derived alpha arbutin, rumex extract (a plant that helps stop the production of melanin) and a biomimetic peptide.