Is SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Cream the new Créme de la Mer?

When I was younger, I never understood why anyone would pay hundreds for a cream that couldn’t possibly contain more sun protection than Neutrogena SPF 100 or retinoids than Retin-A.  Yet after sampling a few New York Fashion Weeks, high-end restaurants, and, well, Whole Foods in the past few years, I started to get it:  You’re paying as much for the VIP experience as you are the product itself.

That said, this is a “beauty from a scientific perspective” kind of blog, and there’s no way that I’m going to let a reader leave here without at least getting the most from her investment.  The new SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Cream ($320.00, Amazon.com) is a delightful indulgence, with a rich cream of 15 ingredients enveloped in a gold casing.  The ingredients make it best suited to those with dry and/or aging skin:

PiteraTM

Beer fermented by brewers' yeast. Unlike other yeasts in many skin care products, Pitera is not ferment from beer.

PiteraTM is an anti-aging ingredient derived from yeast. PiteraTM is believed to work in four different ways:

  • By hydrating the skin;
  • By increasing skin’s production of hyaluronan, one of the extracellular matrix proteins in skin that help to keep skin flexible and hydrated;
  • By acting as an antioxidant, reducing the production of oxidative species within the skin;
  • By increasing skin’s production of proteins called polygalacturonases.  One common polygalacturonase in skin care is allantoin, which is soothing for the skin.

While many skin care formulations include by-products of yeast fermentation, PiteraTM is supposedly different.  According to Takashi Yoshii, senior manager for Global Technical Marketing at the Procter & Gamble Kobe Technical Center, “PiteraTM [...] uses an exclusive yeast while other skincare brands are based on yeast from beer.”

Unfortunately, with all due respect, little published research thus far demonstrates that different sources of yeast make a difference in the quality of fermentative by-products.  What’s more, PiteraTM  is from Saccharomycopsis, which is technically from the same family as the Saccharomyces uvarum used in beer.  Still, telling a customer who spends $350 for SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Cream that the active ingredient comes from beer may be somewhat of a deterrant, so I understand why SK-II included Saccharomycopsis fermentation by-products instead.

Three Different Peptides

Structure of fibronectin, via the Protein Data Bank (PDB)

SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Cream also contains three different peptides, including hard-to-find fibronectin peptides.  Originally proposed as a treatment for wound healing, fibronectin has gained some popularity in cutting edge skin care products due to the fact that it is a chemotactant, attracting other cells to the site of injury to help aid in repair (American Society for Clinical Investigation2000).  Unfortunately, the action of fibronectin peptides on fine lines and wrinkles in the skin has yet to be documented in any independent, peer-reviewed scientific journal.  Still, this type of therapy holds great promise for the future.

Other peptides work predominantly by stimulating collagen production within the skin over time.  Palmitoyl oligopeptide is a sequence of six amino acids that reads valine-glycine-valine-alanine-proline-glycine combined with a palmitic acid in order to increase penetration through the epidermis. A 2007 study in Dermatologic Therapy confirms that palmitoyl oligopeptide significantly stimulates human skin collagen production in fibroblasts, which may slow the degradation of collagen over time.  On the other hand, palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 was shown in a 2005 study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science to significantly improve the appearance of fine lines + wrinkles, as well as overall moisturization levels.  Given that this was 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, split-face, left–right randomized clinical study, it’s one of the best I’ve read regarding peptides to date.

Noble Rose Oil and Rich Humectants

A lot of skin care creams contain plant oils, which tend to be rich in antioxidants and hydrating ingredients.  Yet SK-II takes this a step further, guaranteeing SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Cream contains extracts from roses distilled the very same day.  It is a well-known fact that plants start decaying and lose antioxidant capacity, as well as vitamins, once they are picked.  Though the difference in antioxidant and nutrient content between SK-II noble rose oil and other companies’ is likely to be small as roses decay quickly and must be distilled promptly anyway, it is still another selling point for those who want to have the “best of the best.”

Rose oil is coveted because it is a natural source farnesol, a bacteriostatic (bacteria-binding) ingredient that binds well to the skin.  For this reason, in ancient times, rose oil was used in the underarm and genital regions as a type of primitive deodorant.  In SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Cream, the noble rose oil helps the cream bind well to the skin.

Bottom Line

SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Cream not only makes a sumptuous treat for anyone who wants a high-end luxury cream, but also works, with collagen-stimulating peptides and extracellular matrix protein-stimulating yeast ferment (PiteraTM ), and a slew of rich hydrators.  Due to the high content of humectant ingredients in SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Cream, which bind water closely to the skin, I would recommend this most for those with very dry or aging skin.  Definitely not recommended for those with oily or acne-prone skin! At any rate, if you are in the market for a real luxury, SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Cream will not disappoint.

Product Rating:  7.5/10  (High or optimized concentration of proven ingredients:  3/3.  Unique formulation or new technology: 3/3.  Value for the money: 1.5/3.  Sunscreen: 0/1).

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One thought on “Is SK-II LXP Ultimate Revival Cream the new Créme de la Mer?

  1. Kristi says:

    With all of the good things that went into the cream, why did they package it in a jar? Why not use an airless pump or even a tube to help maintain the integrity of the ingredients?

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