After last year’s consumer research data revealed women cite age spots as one of their top three skin concerns, there’s been a rush to treat hyperpigmentation (NPD, 2011). Origins jumped on the boat in February with their brand-new Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum ($55.00). In accordance with Dr. Weil’s belief that most premature signs of aging result from uncontrolled inflammation as a result of improper diet, exercise, environmental factors, and toxic agent exposure, Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum contains an anti-inflammatory essential oil blend (rose, jasmine, ylang, sweet orange, geranium, tuberose, violet and clove), as well as the new Rosa Roxburghii complex.
About Rosa Roxburghii
Also known as the “Chestnut Rose,” Rosa Roxburghii originated in Canton, China in 1824 and has been cultivated there ever since. In Chinese medicine, Rosa Roxburghii is also called “Long Life CiLi,” believed to be anti-inflammatory and soothing to the skin. It has been employed for decades as both a topical ointment and beverage infusion for treating flare-ups of rosacea, psoriasis, and inflammatory acne. In western science, this makes sense, given that Rosa Roxburghii contains antioxidant powerhouses superoxide dismutase (SOD), vitamin C, and vitamin E, hydrating polysaccharides, and trace elements zinc and magnesium (Mechanisms of Aging and Development, 1997).
In treating age spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation, it has been suggested that Rosa Roxburghii may inhibit tyrosinase in a similar fashion to hydroquinone and other skin-lightening agents, but this has not been confirmed. Instead, it is likely that the skin-lightening effects are the result of resorcinol in Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum.
What You Need to Know about Resorcinol
Even two years ago, you would’ve been hard-pressed to find a beauty product in the U.S. with resorcinol. Nowadays, everyone from Origins to Clarins to Philosophy is making a new skin-brightening product with it. The reasons? Well, first of all, hydroquinone has wrongly gotten a bad rap for one reason or another. (You can read more about that in my post, “5 Little Known Facts Every Hydroquinone User Needs to Know – Immediately!”) For another, preliminary in-house research at Clarins has demonstrated 0.5% hexylresorcinol to be four times as effective as 2% hydroquinone in treating dark spots, making this a possible commercial powerhouse. It would be even better if non-company-affiliated research substantiated these claims in randomized, controlled, published studies, but who knows? Perhaps it will happen in the future.
Resorcinol is a type of alcoholic compound known as a phenol. You’ll never see it listed on an ingredients label as “resorcinol,” as it always must be bound to other compounds in solution. For instance, Clarins uses hexylresorcinol, whereas Origins includes dimethoxytolyl propylresorcinol. They all work in the same manner, inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme essential for skin’s production of pigment (melanin). Decrease the tyrosinase, decrease the pigment, lighten your age spots. Presto! Simultaneously, you are also preventing new age spots from forming.
The irony of the situation here is that one possible side effect of resorcinol is the same as that of hydroquinone: a rare condition called ochronosis, a rare paradoxical darkening of the skin (Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 1997; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2001). The effect typically appears after six months continued resorcinol use, with the highest reported incidence in South African Blacks. It is almost never seen in patients with lighter skin. The mechanism involves inhibition of homogentisic acid oxidase, resulting in local deposition of homogentisic acid, a dark pigment, in the skin (Dermatology Online Journal, 2008).
Luckily, this effect is extremely rare, even for those with darker skin. It should be noted, however, that ochronosis is much more common when a patient combines use of resorcinol with hydroquinone. This is because as the hydroalcoholic (phenol) lotion increases the bioavailability of hydroquinone within the skin. Untreatable ochronosis resulting from resorcinol/hydroquinone combination formulations was well-documented in South Africa before 1984 (Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 1997), so I definitely would not recommend using any products containing resorcinol with hydroquinone!
Who is Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum Recommended For?
Technically, Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum is suitable for all skin types. It’s light enough to be non-aggravating for acne yet hydrating enough not to be harsh for dry skin. Ultimately, I like Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum for those with sensitive skin.
The reason? There are certainly stronger treatments for hyperpigmentation, like those with 2-4% hydroquinone or 15-20% vitamin C. Yet those with very sensitive skin can find these treatments to be harsh or drying, due to the fact that these often contain an alcohol-rich base as delivery systems. Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum manages to deliver vitamin C and resorcinol in a mild, light, hydrating formula, which I cannot imagine would aggravate anyone’s skin unless they had an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients.
Plus it still may be enough to be effective: Although these results are from Origins and the sample size is small, a recent study demonstrated 92% of subjects showed brighter, more even skin tone in just four weeks and 83% showed a visible reduction in the appearance of dark spots in four weeks (Rebecca Mann, 2011).
Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Bright Skin Tone Correcting Serum is admittedly not the most concentrated treatment for age spots on the market today, but it is both gentle and effective, making it suitable for sensitive skin. Within 4-6 weeks of daily use, you should notice a difference in your sun spots. I personally would use this if my skin were not able to handle concentrated vitamin C serums or hydroquinone, which typically contain high amounts of alcohol.
Another bonus? With its combination of vitamins C and E, Mega-Bright will also boost sun protection when used under sunscreen (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 1998). So I give this one a firm 8/10.
Product Rating: 8/10 (High or optimized concentration of proven ingredients: 2/3. Unique formulation or new technology: 3/3. Value for the money: 2/3. Sunscreen or sunscreen booster: 1/1).
Water, Dimethicone, Isododecane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Polysilicone-11, Butylene Glycol, Ascorbyl Glucoside, PEG-10 Dimethicone, PEG-6, Citrus Aurantium (Orange) Peel Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Oil, Canaga Odorata Flower Oil, Eugenia, Caryophyllus (Clove) Bud Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Oil, Viola Odorata Flower/Leaf Extract, Polianthes Tuberosa Extract, Citronellol, Geraniol, Benzyl Benzoate, Eugenol, Rosa Roxburghii Fruit Extract, Paeonia Albiflora (Peony) Root Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Gentiana Lutea (Gentian) Root Extract, Horderum Vulgare (Barley) Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Bran Extract, Salicylic Acid, Cholesterol, Squalane, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polysorbate 20, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dimethoxytolyl Propylresorcinol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Di-C12-18 Alkyl Dimonium Chloride, Tromethamine, Polysorbate 60, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Hexylene Glycol, Silica, Phenoxyethanol, Titanium Dioxide, Mica.
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