I was watching QVC with my mom on a recent visit when I heard Peter Thomas Roth announce that his wife, Mrs. Peter Thomas Roth, loves the Laser-Free ResurfacerTM serum the most. The product, which is relatively new on the market, claims to help accelerate skin damage repair. With 33.5% of dragon’s blood – and tons of Red 33 coloring – the formulation looks like you just robbed a fresh vial from the nearest Blood Bank. Yet it glides on smoothly and dries clear and quickly, thank heavens.
What is Dragon’s Blood?
“Dragon’s blood” is a viscous bright red resin extracted from Croton lechleri, a tree that is found in many regions of South America. According to a review published by the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Center in New York, Croton lechleri resin contains potent antioxidant extracts called catechins, similar to those found in green tea. This may aid in preventing free radical-induced oxidation within the skin, as well as treating inflammation, as it has been proven to decrease neurogenic inflammation in the skin, as mentioned in the journal Experimental Dermatology.
Another effective component in Dragon’s blood is Taspine, an alkaloid. Taspine has been found to promote wound healing via increase in migration of fibroblasts to the wound site by acting as a chemotactic factor for fibroblasts, as published in Planta Medica. However, it is important to keep in mind that a wrinkle heals differently than a wound. When a wound (i.e., an opening through the epidermis) occurs, there is a “damage signal” and a number of cytokines and chemotactic factors are released, causing fibroblasts to increase collagen production, amongst other cellular processes. However, wrinkles are usually formed slowly over time, mostly from UV damage, but also environmental damage, internal stressors, repetitive motion, etc. So when a wrinkle is induced in the skin, not as many cytokines and chemotactic factors are released, because the “damage signal” is not as strong all at once. Furthermore, repetitive motion over the same site tends to keep a wrinkle intact, as opposed to a wound, which doesn’t usually form on such commonly moved locations. Bottom line: the fact that an ingredient accelerates wound healing to given level doesn’t mean that it will necessarily enhance wrinkle eradication to the same extent.
Other Ingredient Concentrations Need to be Disclosed Better
So when I was looking at the rest of the ingredients list, I was kind of mad at Peter Thomas Roth and company, because only Niacinamide PC™ was recognizable as an ingredient. The others translate as follows: (the reported functions are from the Peter Thomas Roth site, while the disclosure of the ingredient is from my best guess only):
- Phytomoist Qusome™ (10%) – Designed for moisturization. Probably phospholipids and sphingolipids? Not entirely sure.
- Aquafill™ (5%) – For skin’s natural skin barriers. I’m going to go ahead and assume from the ingredient’s list this is sodium hyaluronate plus some other ingredient(s), probably silicones.
- DRC Qusome™ (4%) – Rebuilds and repairs damaged skin. I’m guessing retinyl palmitate and vitamin E together make up 4% of this formulation, though there is likely another ingredient in there as well.
- A blend of Derm SRC™ (collagen and elastin production), Chromocare™ (evens skin tone) Niacinamide PC™ and Alistin® (9.5%). I’m guessing vitamin C, glucosamine, niacinamide (not sure there…) and maybe mushroom extract, respectively.
Here’s the thing. One of my favorite properties of Peter Thomas Roth products is that they disclose the concentrations of the active ingredients. But if you’re disguising what the ingredients are, that’s taking away the point of disclosure entirely. I mean, including 4% niacinamide would make me press the “buy” button for this product almost immediately. But including 4% of cleverly trademarked ingredient names like “DRC Qusome™”?! I have no problem with companies not disclosing their concentrations of ingredients, but I don’t like the idea of advertising a high percentage of two or more ingredients put together under the heading of a clever name.
Dragon’s blood may have promise in its antioxidant activity in particular (I would expect results similar to green tea). The relatively high concentration of other antioxidants, niacinamide, and potent hydrators (phospholipids, sphingolipids, sodium hyaluronate) suggests to me that this would be a good serum to apply after a retinoid cream at night, which can be harsh and drying to the skin anyway. However, I certainly wouldn’t replace my retinoids with Dragon’s blood, nor would I go so far as to say it is as potent an antioxidant as Coffeeberry or idebenone, at least not until more studies are conducted. Bottom line: I like it, but I wouldn’t call it a “must-buy,” at least until comparative studies with other ingredients out there on the market are conducted. I’ll keep you posted!
Product rating: 7/10 (High concentration of potent ingredients: 2.5/3, with a deduction for the unclear and somewhat misleading trademark names of certain ingredients. Unique formulation or new technology: 3/3. Value for the money: 1.5/3. Sunscreen: N/A).
Ingredients (the real deal): Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Peg-8 Dimethicone, Peg- 12 Glyceryl Dimyristate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Isododecane, Bambusa Vulgaris Leaf/Stem Extract, Niacinamide, Decarboxy Carnosine Hci, Ethyl Perfluoroisobutyl Ether, Ethyl Perfluorobutyl Ether, Carbomer, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Croton Lechleri (Dragon’s Blood) Resin Extract, Siegesbeckia Orientalis Extract, Rabdosia Rubescens Extract, Tremella Fuciformis (Mushroom) Extract, Hordeum Vulgare Extract, Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract, Angelica Polymorpha Sinensis Root Extract, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Phospholipids, Acetyl Glucosamine, Glucosamine Hci, Hydroxyproline, Polysilicone-11, Glycosphingolipids, Sodium Hyaluronate, Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Hexylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Alcohol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Mica, Red 33 (Ci 17200), Brown 1 (Ci 20170), Blue 1 (Ci 42090).