Dr. Dennis Gross. Murad. ZO Skin Health. What do all of these brands have in common? They were all founded by dermatologists. One brand that people may not know was started by a dermatologist is SkinMedica.
Dermatologist Dr. Richard Fitzpatrick was one of the co-founders of SkinMedica, a brand that’s been around since 1999. Here’s an interesting fact about this brand: SkinMedica created the first topical Growth Factors solution back in 2001, pioneering the creation of the entire category. Today, the brand has an entire line of products that include growth factors to promote healthy, more youthful-looking skin.
In this review, we’ll cover the 10 best SkinMedica products, including the key ingredients in these products and the research that supports (or doesn’t support) their use in skincare. We’ll also share some SkinMedica reviews so that you can get an idea of what customers really think of these products.
What Are The Top 10 Best SkinMedica Products?
SkinMedica offers everything that you would need to create a complete skincare routine, including cleansers, moisturizers, serums, masks, sunscreens, and more. Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 best SkinMedica products.
SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.5
Just as the name suggests, retinol is the star ingredient in SkinMedica Retinol Complex (the “0.5” in the name refers to the strength of retinol in this formula; it’s also available in strengths of 0.25% and 1%).
This retinol treatment is claimed to enhance skin tone and texture while reducing the appearance of fine lines and coarse wrinkles. We believe this product will provide all of these benefits and perhaps even more thanks to the combination of retinol with antioxidants like niacinamide and vitamin E, barrier-replenishing ceramides, and collagen-stimulating peptides.
Bottom Line: This is a very well-formulated retinol treatment that combines 0.5% retinol with antioxidants, ceramides, peptides, and several more beneficial ingredients.
SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator
All skin types can benefit from a hyaluronic acid serum, especially those with oily and acne-prone skin. That’s because hyaluronic acid draws in a ton of moisture; in fact, hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water! This gives your skin a hydration boost without feeling sticky, greasy, or heavy.
We like that SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator contains a blend of 5 different molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, which helps to deliver hydration to multiple layers of skin while also smoothing the appearance of wrinkles.
However, we aren’t fans of the price tag — $178 USD for 2 ounces! In our opinion, we think the HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator is overpriced, especially considering there are very similar hyaluronic serums on the market for a fraction of the cost.
The first that comes to mind is The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (which costs less than $7 btw). A couple other excellent options include Formulyst Hyaluronic Boosting Serum and CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum.
Bottom Line: While we think the SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator is formulated well, we don’t recommend this product simply because there are very similar hyaluronic serums on the market for a fraction of the cost!
SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum
One of SkinMedica’s most buzzed-about products is the TNS Essential Serum, which is claimed to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as skin tone and texture. The bottle contains dual chambers with the renowned growth factor formula, TNS Recovery Complex, in one chamber and APS Corrective Complex in the other.
The TNS Recovery Complex (human fibroblast conditioned media) is a physiologically balanced, naturally secreted and stabilized growth factor blend.
Growth factors are messenger proteins that are inherent in our bodies and are capable of stimulating cellular growth, proliferation, healing, and cellular differentiation. Growth factors play an important role in maintaining healthy skin, and topical application may help improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, skin tone, and texture.
The APS Corrective Complex is a patented mixture of peptides, antioxidants, and other beneficial ingredients that improve the overall appearance of skin.
There’s a particularly high concentration of alpha-arbutin, a glycosylated hydroquinone that has the ability to inactivate tyrosinase. Thus, alpha-arbutin is known to help fade dark spots and promote a brighter complexion.
In addition, there’s plenty of antioxidants in this formula to help prevent the formation of dark spots, as well as reduce fine lines and wrinkles. For instance, the formula includes vitamins C and E, ergothioneine, ubiquinone, green tea leaf extract, and blackberry leaf extract.
One thing to know about this formula is that it includes several synthetic fragrance ingredients, which have the potential to cause skin sensitivity reactions.
Bottom Line: The combination of growth factors, peptides, antioxidants, and alpha-arbutin in the TNS Essential Serum should help to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, skin tone, and texture.
SkinMedica TNS Advanced Serum is similar to the TNS Essential Serum as it also features a dual-chamber system; chamber 1 includes TNS-MR and chamber 2 consists of Renessensce (RSC) Advanced.
TNS-MR includes human fibroblast conditioned media, the growth factor blend that helps to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, skin tone, and texture. It also features a peptide complex.
Renessensce (RSC) Advanced is specifically designed to support the results of
the growth factor blend, with a blend of botanicals, marine extracts, and peptides that include french flax seed, marine extract, and green microalgae. This blend supports repair functions and renewal processes, while also supporting collagen and elastin levels.
Bottom Line: Similar to the TNS Essential Serum, the SkinMedica TNS Advanced Serum includes growth factors, peptides, and antioxidants, as well as a few extracts to further support the skin.
SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair
SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair is packed with beneficial ingredients, including antioxidant vitamins C and E, growth factors, peptides, soothing botanicals, and plenty of hydrating ingredients.
Sadly, the brand chose to package this excellent formula in a jar. This is a problem because delicate ingredients like botanicals and antioxidants will break down and lose efficacy over time due to exposure to light and air.
Keeping that in mind, you’ll still gain benefits from the emollients and hydrating ingredients in this eye cream. Plus, the formula includes boron nitride, a mineral that optimizes the optical diffusion effect of light thereby lessening the visibility of dark circles and discolorations to enhance skin appearance.
Bottom Line: SkinMedica TNS Eye Repair is packed with beneficial anti-aging ingredients, however, the jar packaging will cause many of them to degrade over time.
SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
The name “AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser” is slightly misleading as there aren’t actually alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) in the formula. Rather, the formula includes extracts from lemon, orange, apple, and sugar cane, which are natural sources of AHAs.
While it’s true that AHAs can be derived from sugar cane and fruit, these extracts don’t perform the same as when pure glycolic acid (or any other AHA) is used in a product. There’s actually a big difference between the extracted, pure ingredient (i.e. glycolic acid) and the original plant material (i.e. lemon, orange, apple, and sugar cane extracts).
Fortunately, the cleanser includes pure salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) that’s excellent for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
Salicylic acid works by exfoliating the pore lining, which loosens clogged dirt and oil. It also has the ability to dissolve keratin, the protein that acts as a “glue” to keep dead skin cells together in the stratum corneum. This is effective because dead skin cells can build up on the surface of your skin, leaving it looking dull and also possibly clogging pores.
Bottom Line: SkinMedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser contains sugar cane and fruit extracts for their natural AHAs, as well as the BHA salicylic acid to help unclog pores.
SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum
Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum is formulated to address the appearance of stubborn skin discoloration regardless of skin type or genetic makeup. Unlike many pigment correcting serums on the market, Lytera 2.0 does not contain hydroquinone or retinol. Rather, the Lytera 2.0 ingredients include a blend of brightening agents, peptides, and hydrating ingredients.
We love that Lytera 2.0 contains a decent amount of niacinamide, which is one of our favorite skin care ingredients. Here’s why: niacinamide has been shown to repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture, as well as reduce inflammation, blotchiness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkling, according to a publication in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.
There’s also a few ingredients in Lytera 2.0 that inhibit tyrosinase, such as phenylethyl resorcinol and tetrapeptide 30. Tyrosinase is the key enzyme involved in melanin synthesis. Melanin is a pigment that gives our skin color, but too much of this pigment can lead to undesirable dark spots called hyperpigmentation. Thus, by inhibiting tyrosinase, these ingredients help to reduce hyperpigmentation.
Another way Lytera 2.0 tackles hyperpigmentation is with tranexamic acid. It is believed to work by inhibiting plasmin, which means that it helps to break down proteins in the skin that contribute to melanin production. Research has demonstrated that tranexamic acid at a concentration of 3% can work as well as hydroquinone, the gold standard of skin-lightening treatments.
Bottom Line: SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 combines niacinamide with tyrosinase inhibitors and tranexamic acid, giving you a serum that should help to reduce the appearance of dark spots and brighten the complexion.
SkinMedica Total Defense and Repair SPF 34 Tinted
This SkinMedica sunscreen contains both physical (mineral) sunscreen ingredients and chemical sunscreens, which together provide broad-spectrum SPF 34 protection.
We’re pretty impressed with the rest of the ingredients in this formula. For instance, there’s antioxidants like niacinamide, ubiquinone, and vitamin E, and there’s hydrating ingredients like glycerin, snow mushroom extract, and betaine.
There’s also lightweight emollients, like caprylic/capric triglyceride and squalane, which give this sunscreen the ability to moisturize and soften skin without feeling greasy or heavy.
And we can’t forget to mention that this SkinMedica sunscreen has an ultra-sheer tint that works best on light to medium skin tones. Plus, the tint also helps offset the white cast from the mineral sunscreens.
Bottom Line: This tinted SkinMedica sunscreen provides broad-spectrum SPF 34 protection while also hydrating and brightening the complexion.
SkinMedica Vitamin C + E Complex Age Defense
A base of cyclopentasiloxane makes up this antioxidant serum, which includes two forms of vitamin C and vitamin E. Cyclopentasiloxane is a lightweight silicone that gives this serum a silky texture and excellent spreadability.
The two forms of vitamin C include Ascorbic Acid (pure vitamin C) and Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (stable, lipid-soluble ester form of ascorbic acid). Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that protects skin from free radical damage while also stimulating collagen production and reducing the appearance of dark spots.
The two forms of vitamin E include tocopherol (natural form of vitamin E) and Tocopheryl Acetate (stabilized ester of vitamin E). Vitamin E is a “chain-breaking” antioxidant because it can hinder the chain reaction induced by free radicals, according to a publication by Dermatology News.
Another function of vitamin E is to help the skin retain moisture by strengthening the skin’s barrier function. When vitamin E is delivered to your skin through the sebaceous (oil) glands, it improves water-binding capacity and hydrates the stratum corneum (the uppermost layer of skin).
What’s interesting is that the antioxidant activity of vitamin E can actually become more powerful when combined with vitamin C. For this reason, vitamins C and E are referred to as “network antioxidants”.
A publication in the journal Dermatologic Therapy explains, “because vitamin C regenerates oxidized vitamin E, the combination in a cosmeceutical formulation is synergistic – particularly in UV protection.”
Bottom Line: Antioxidant vitamins C and E are combined in a base of cyclopentasiloxane in the SkinMedica Vitamin C + E Complex Age Defense, giving you a serum that protects, strengthens, and brightens skin.
SkinMedica TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream
Formulated for those with dry, mature skin, the TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream combines human fibroblast conditioned media with ceramides and peptides, creating a moisturizer that helps restore your skin’s barrier function and balance.
Ceramides are a family of waxy lipid molecules that are naturally found in the stratum corneum (the upper layer of skin that is referred to as the skin barrier).
According to a publication in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, ceramides are important for skin barrier function, and exogenously applying ceramides may help to improve skin barrier function.
The two peptides in this cream — palmitoyl oligopeptide and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7 — help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Bottom Line: TNS Ceramide Treatment Cream combines human fibroblast conditioned media with ceramides and peptides, creating a moisturizer that helps restore your skin’s barrier function and balance.
What Are The Key Ingredients in SkinMedica Products?
We noticed that SkinMedica products include a variety of ingredients that have research to support their benefits, such as:
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Salicylic Acid
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
All of these ingredients have research to support their benefits when applied to the skin.
The brand also features their TNS Recovery Complex, also known as “human fibroblast conditioned media”, in each SkinMedica TNS product.
This growth factor blend helps to promote healthier, more youthful-looking skin because aging and sun-damaged skin require growth factors to maintain itself. However, cells in aging skin make less growth factors than cells in youthful skin.
According to Dr. Rahul Mehta, Head of Research and Development at SkinMedica, one approach to support the levels of skin rejuvenation is to regularly use skincare products with a high concentration of stable growth factors.
Thus, the application of SkinMedica TNS products may help to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, texture, and discoloration.
How Much Do SkinMedica Products Cost?
SkinMedica products are quite expensive when compared to other brands in the industry. For example, the SkinMedica TNS Advanced Serum costs $295 USD for just 1 fl oz.
Where to Buy SkinMedica Products?
SkinMedica products are sold on the brand’s website, as well as through third party online retailers such as Dermstore.com, Skinstore.com, and others.
What is The SkinMedica Return Policy?
The SkinMedica return policy states, “We are committed to offering high-quality, scientifically proven products and want to ensure you are completely satisfied with your order. If you are not satisfied for any reason, we will accept returns within 30 days of your original purchase date.”
Is SkinMedica Cruelty-Free?
It is unknown if SkinMedica is cruelty-free as there isn’t any information available on the company website, Cruelty-Free Kitty, PETA or Leaping Bunny.
Unfortunately, this brand does not display SkinMedica reviews on their website, so we went over to Dermstore.com to get an idea of what customers really think of these products.
One product that has received plenty of positive feedback is SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator, which has earned an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars after nearly 500 customer reviews.
The positive reviews for the SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator mention how well it hydrates and plumps the complexion.
For example, one review says, “This hyaluronic acid formula is definitely superior to any others that I have tried. There is an immediate feeling in the skin of increased firmness and hydration. I have been using it now for at least 2 years, almost daily in the morning and will continue for as long as its available because it has such positive effects on my skin.”
And another 5-star review says, “This product goes on smoothly and makes my skin feel hydrated and more plump. Love this product.”
However, there are a handful of negative reviews for the SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator. Some of these negative reviews comment that the texture is too thick and sticky. Others mention side effects like redness, irritation, and even acne breakouts.
For example, one review says, “The texture is smooth due to the silicones so it slides over the face. Not what I wanted. It pills if you put another product over it. Would not recommend it. I will try another brand next time. So disappointed as I was hoping to love it.”
Another 1-star review says, “I wanted to love this product as I have very dry skin. While I love the way it made my skin feel and it definitely did its job in terms of hydration it started to clog my pores (and I don’t have acne prone skin at all). I did some research and found that the ingredient ‘Algin’ in this product is quite comedogenic which is probably why it didn’t work for me.”
Overall, we think that SkinMedica products are formulated well with a combination of evidence-based ingredients and innovative ingredients.
- Formulas contain many evidence-based ingredients
- Many positive SkinMedica reviews
- Unknown if SkinMedia is cruelty free
- Some SkinMedica products contain synthetic fragrance ingredients
What Are Some Alternatives to SkinMedica Products?
If you’re looking for skincare products to address the signs of aging, one brand we recommend is Formulyst. Formulyst maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones, resulting in clinically advanced skin care solutions that help promote healthy, more youthful-looking skin.
One Formulyst product we recommend is the Ultimate Youth Concentrate. The formula combines plant cells with a concentrated combination of five unique peptides that can stimulate the production of Epidermal Growth Factors (EGF). EGF is a protein naturally found in cells called fibroblasts, which are responsible for producing collagen. It is thought that EGF signals to fibroblasts to produce more collagen, which leads to cell growth, proliferation, and wound healing.
As we age, our ability to produce EGF decreases, resulting in the key signs that contribute to aging skin. Applying products that increase EGF production, such as the Formulyst Ultimate Youth Concentrate, may help increase skin strength, integrity, and youthfulness.
Another brand that balances the power of plants with cutting edge science is Carrot & Stick. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals commonly found in skincare products.