Urban Skin Rx: The Science Review



Urban Skin Rx Review

Urban Skin Rx produces a line of clinical skin care products with a goal to, “recognize, represent and advocate for accessible clinical skincare for diverse skin tones.” Rachel Roff—a licensed medical aesthetician and founder/owner of Urban Skin Solutions Med Spa in Charlotte, NC—launched the line of Urban Skin Rx clinical skin care products in 2010.

Early in her career as a laser technician, Roff noticed the shortage of services and products available to people with darker skin tones. Her medical spa was founded to fill that void and quickly became widely acclaimed for that expertise. The Urban Skin Rx line was developed as a way of expanding her expertise beyond North Carolina.

Urban Skin Rx: The Claim

Urban Skin Rx claims to be, “the melanin experts.” In addition to standard skin care, products are sold to correct and prevent uneven skin tone—one of the most common skin care concerns among women of color. 

The brand also touts their product line as “clinical strength,” and markets everything from bars to serums as “innovative scientific formulas.” Three of Urban Skin Rx’s brand values are even listed as innovation, quality, and knowledge.

Is it true?

Beauty bloggers and Urban Skin Rx reviewers testify that it is, but we wanted to take a deeper look. The Derm Review brought in our own team of biochemists to review the Urban Skin Rx line from a purely scientific angle.

Urban Skin Rx Review: The Science

One reason that Urban Skin Rx products stand out is because they include higher concentrations of active ingredients. Three of the most common, and most important, key ingredients used throughout the product line are kojic acid, salicylic acid, and retinol.

Kojic Acid for Even Skin Tone

Kojic acid is a naturally occuring agent produced by certain species of fungi. It can be used to inhibit the production of melanin in the skin, which halts and reduces dark spots and discoloration.

“Melanin” is a group of pigments, produced by cells called melanocytes, in the lower level of the epidermis that determine the color of skin and hair. Uneven skin tones develop when excess melanin is produced in the skin:

  1. Exposing skin to the sun’s UV rays for a prolonged period of time activates the enzyme tyrosinase. 
  2. Tyrosinase stimulates skin cells, called melanocytes, to produce excess melanin, which creates dark pigment in the skin. 
  3. An even distribution of extra melanin presents as tanned skin, but the overproduction of melanin can also disperse upward in clumps that appear as dark spots and uneven skin tone. 

Kojic acid prevents the catecholase function of tyrosinase in the skin—the most important step in the production of melanin. By inhibiting the ability of tyrosinase to make melanin, kojic acid is able to prevent skin pigmentation. 

Kojic acid can be found in many Urban Skin Rx products, such as the Even Tone Cleansing Bar, Even Tone Night Treatment, and more.


Salicylic Acid for Deep Exfoliation

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that is oil soluble, which means it can penetrate deep into the pores of the skin. After entering the pores, salicylic acid exfoliates the pore lining, which loosens clogged dirt and oil and helps to wash these impurities away. 

Salicylic acid can also dissolve keratin, a 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 the skin, leaving it dull and possibly clogging pores. 

Salicylic acid is a key ingredient in the Urban Skin Rx Clear Skin Cleansing Bar, Clear & Even Tone Clarifying Glycolic Pads, and more.


Retinol for Youthful Skin

Retinol is one of the many different types of retinoids (the umbrella term for all vitamin-A derivatives) that can be found in skin care products. 

When retinol is absorbed into the skin, it is converted to retinoic acid (its active form). Retinoic acid interacts with receptors to increase the production of collagen and promote healthy cell turnover. Increasing cell turnover prevents excess dead skin cells from accumulating on the skin’s surface, which can cause a dull complexion and clogged pores. Once these dead cells are removed, new healthy cells are revealed. 

In addition, retinol is a potent antioxidant that can protect the skin from free radical damage. 

Numerous studies have proven that retinol can minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone, restore skin firmness, and shrink the appearance of enlarged pores. 

Retinol is a key ingredient in the Urban Skin Rx Even Tone Night Treatment.

Pros and Cons of Urban Skin Rx


  • Key ingredients are primary ingredients
  • Formulas based on biochemistry
  • Founded on real-life, medical spa experiences


  • Clinical strength products can be harsh on skin at first

Urban Skin Rx Cleansing Bar Review

The Urban Skin Rx Clear Skin Cleansing Bar is a three-in-one solution for oily skin. The enclosed sponge creates a lather on the bar, which exfoliates and cleanses skin, and is then left on the skin, as a mask, for up to two minutes.

The Clear Skin Cleansing Bar’s effectiveness comes from ingredients like salicylic acid and sulfur, which are known to help clear excess oil from the pores. It also contains a blend of ingredients proven to reduce dark spots and even skin coloration. 

Not recommended for individuals with dry or sensitive skin.


Urban Skin Rx Serum Review

The Super C Brightening Serum is a brightening and anti-aging serum for individuals suffering from dark marks, uneven skin tone, and blemishes. A few drops are applied directly to the skin after a morning cleanse and gently smoothed over the face and neck.

In addition to kojic acid, this Urban Skin Rx serum includes two other primary ingredients that work synergistically to reduce dark spots and even the skin tone: 

  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), applied topically, has been proven to impede melanin production, fading dark spots and creating a more even complexion
  • Ferulic acid is a plant-based antioxidant that (like kojic acid) inhibits the production of tyrosinase. Additionally, ferulic acid improves the stability of vitamin C, increasing their effectiveness as well.

The Super C Brightening Serum also contains hyaluronic acid to improve skin hydration and peptides to reduce the appearance of fine lines while encouraging a fuller, brighter look.

Not suitable for women who are pregnant or nursing and those with sensitive skin.


Urban Skin Rx Even Tone Night Treatment Review

The Even Tone Night Treatment is an overnight cream for individuals suffering from uneven skin tone, dark marks, hyperpigmentation, and/or aging concerns. A small amount of cream is applied to clean skin, just before bed, for two to three months.

In clinical trials, 90% of participants agreed that skin tone was even after two weeks of use.

In addition to kojic acid and retinol, the third primary ingredient in the Even Tone Night Treatment is hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a de-pigmentation agent that reduces the formation of melanin in the skin. It is widely considered a key treatment for hyperpigmentation, melasma, and other dark spots or discolorations in the skin.

Not suitable for women who are pregnant or nursing, individuals with sensitive skin, or anyone who does not have issues with dark marks and/or uneven skin tone

Urban Skin Rx Review Summary

The Urban Skin Rx product line has an outstanding reputation, and for good reason. 

Urban Skin Rx has received several awards and has been featured in many popular magazines, such as Cosmopolitan, Shape, and The Oprah Magazine. The reviews on the brand’s website, and on products on third-party vendor sites, are very positive and many of them validate the brand’s claim to be “the melanin experts.”

Now, we know with certainty that the science behind the products backs up these claims as well.



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Urban Skin Rx Even Tone Super Glow Serum Review

Urban Skin Rx Even Tone Super Glow Serum is a brightening, anti-aging, and antioxidant serum that is said to improve the appearance of dark spots, sun damage, fine lines, and wrinkles. One of the key ingredients in this serum is ascorbic acid (10%), the most active form of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. Vitamin C also has the ability to stimulate collagen production, decrease the appearance of dark spots, and improve uneven skin tone.

Another key ingredient in the Urban Skin Rx Even Tone Super Glow Serum is kojic acid (2%). Kojic acid helps improve skin brightness and reduce discoloration by inhibiting the effects of tyrosinase, a key enzyme involved in the synthesis of melanin. Melanin is what contributes to the tanning of skin as well as the formation of undesirable dark spots and discoloration. Therefore, by inhibiting the ability of tyrosinase to make melanin, kojic acid is able to prevent skin pigmentation. Niacinamide is included in this serum because it has the ability to repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture, as well as reduce inflammation, blotchiness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkling. Overall, Urban Skin Rx Even Tone Super Glow Serum provides your skin with 3 key ingredients that can fade dark spots, even out skin tone, and promote a more firm, youthful complexion.


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