Of all the new skin care lines premiering at Sephora this summer, few are as popular as Algenist. Sold exclusively at Sephora and on QVC, Algenist features the algae derivative alguronic acid to regenerate skin cells, boost UV protection, and smooth pigmentation. The story behind it is lovely as well: a lab physicist has scars on his skin, seeks to find a solution, discovers a microalgae that heals his skin, and forms a company (and a nice alliance with Sephora and QVC).
In laboratory tests, alguronic acid-treated cells increased regeneration by 55% – higher than hyaluronic acid, retinol, vitamin C, vitamin E, palmitoyl pentapeptide, palmitoyl oligopeptide and coenzyme Q10 (Algenist.com, 2011). Those studies also showed alguronic acid stimulates collagen production by 32% and reduces melanin production by 26% (Sephora.com, 2011). That’s the good news.
The Bad News
However, most of the studies supporting alguronic acid are in vitro, or cell culture. Although in vitro studies can be used to suggest how an ingredient may be working within the skin, it does not demonstrate how well it will work on the skin. While the parent company of Algenist, Solazyme, suggests 78% of users had a decrease in deep wrinkles and 81% had lifted skin after 4 weeks’ of daily use (Sephora.com), these results were not said to be statistically significant in press materials. Still, company vice-president of research and development Dr. Tony Day, Ph.D., reported to The New York Times the results were statistically significant, though not stated as such in the press release.
A True Alternative to Retinoids?
My other qualm with the Algenist studies is that the percentage of customers who experienced any reduction in wrinkles or any lifting of the skin was reported, rather than the amount by which the wrinkles were reduced or the skin was lifted. For instance, there is a 51% decrease in wrinkles and 41% increase in firmness after 4 weeks use of one of my favorite retinoid alternatives, Origins Plantscription, not 51% and 41% of women noticing an improvement in wrinkles and firmness, respectively. There’s a big difference.
Your Best Bet: Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum
If you must try Algenist products, the Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum contains the highest concentration of the active microalgae ingredient. Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum also contains the highest concentration of niacinamide of any of the Algenist products. Considering niacinamide has been clinically proven to do everything from soften skin to treat hyperpigmentation to eliminate mild cases of acne, it makes Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum your safest bet.
Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum has a light, quickly absorbing consistency, so it’s perfect for daily wear under sunscreen, especially since Solazyme research suggests it boosts UV protection.
Ingredients in Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum: Water/Eau (Aqua), Dimethicone, Isononyl Isononanoate, Pentylene Glycol, Glycerin, Saccharum Officinarum Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, Hydroxyphenoxy Propionic Acid, PEG-100 Stearate, Niacinamide, Algae Exopolysaccharides, Tetrapeptide-21, Beta-Glucan, Algae Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Malus Domestica Fruit (Apple) Cell Culture Extract, Inula Crithmoide Extract, Bambusa Vulgaris (Bamboo) Leaf/Stem Extract, Glucosamine HCL, Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract, Ergothioneine, Cetearyl Alcohol, Lecithin, Sorbitol, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylyl Glycol, Ceteareth-20, Sclerotium Gum, Propanediol, Sodium Hydroxide, Hexylene Glycol, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA, 1,2-Hexanediol, Benzoic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Citral, Fragrance (Parfum), Phenoxyethanol.
My bottom line? Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum is worth a shot if you’re dying to try alguronic acid, but the data is not glowing enough for me to make it an all-time favorite. Maybe Solazyme will produce more research and I will happily do a re-post at that time, but until then, I’m going to hold off on giving this one a glowing review. Based on the data, I personally will stick with my antioxidants/sunscreen/niacinamide by day, retinoids/peptides/niacinamide at night, and will stay on the lookout for more new ingredients!
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