As you know, I love trying and reviewing premium skin care products from different luxury brands. Through the years, I’ve come to realize there are brands where you get only science-based ingredients (FutureDerm, Paula’s Choice, Skinceuticals, Medik8, NEOVA). Then there are brands where you get primarily trendy ingredients (Josie Maran, Tata Harper, Nude Skin Care, tarte). There is seldom a brand where you get both (Peter Thomas Roth), but Epicuren Discovery is certainly one of them.
In this “Science Meets Sassy” group, Epicuren Discovery stands out because they run the gamut on everything from ingredients I love and swear by, like zinc oxide and peptides, to ingredients I never recommend, like colostrum. Nevertheless, the line does a sensational job separating the “no-no’s” from the “must-haves”. Below, I pick a few of my favorites.
The Best Epicuren Discovery Products
Epicuren Discovery Bio Peptide Complex Serum ($98, Skin Care by Alana.com)
As you all know, different peptides work in different ways. Epicuren Bio Peptide Complex Serum contains three amazing peptides, including Palmitoyl tripeptide-5, Acetyl octapeptide-3, and Dipeptide diaminobutyroyl benzylamide diacetate. Together, these peptides have both collagen-building and mild muscle relaxant properties.
Epicuren Bio Peptide Complex Serum contains palmitoyl tripeptide-5 (Syn-Coll), which can actually stimulate collagen production over time, like only retinoids, AHAs, and certain other peptides have been shown to do. Specifically, palmitoyl tripeptide-5 has been shown in The International Journal of Cosmetic Science to be a synthetic signal peptide. For you science geeks, this peptide mimics a peptide naturally found in your system, the thrombospondin I tripeptide, to activate TGF-β, an anti-inflammatory factor that promotes collagen production. (As a science geek myself, I am hugely excited by this).
In a controlled trial, 60 healthy volunteers received 2.5% Syn®-Coll cream vs. 10% palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 cream vs. placebo cream twice daily for 84 days, and Syn®-Coll significantly decreased average and maximum relief by −22 and −36 μm respectively. Considering that Epicuren Bio Peptide Complex Serum is one of the few products offering palmitoyl tripeptide-5, I love it!
Acetyl octapeptide-3 is a “freeze” and anti-redness peptide. Also known as SNAP-8, this peptide is most often reported to reduce wrinkles from repetitive facial expressions, though this claim is based upon injecting the ingredient, not topically applying it. However, acetyl octapeptide-3 does have the known benefit of reducing skin redness in patients with rosacea (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2012), though other anti-redness ingredients were used at the same time.
Dipeptide diaminobutyroyl benzylamide diacetate (DDBD) is believed to cause facial muscle relaxing, similar to acetyl octapeptide-3. Unfortunately, the research is still somewhat limited. One study using DDBD found that the ingredient mimics SY-NAKE, a peptide found in snake venom (I know the name looks like “snake,” what can I tell you, scientists are crazy!), and causes mild muscle relaxation (Journal of Clinical Aesthetics in Dermatology, 2009). On its own, I would call DDBD a “try and see” ingredient. As a part of Epicuren Bio Peptide Complex Serum, it makes the product a must-try.
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Pullulan, Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Acetyl Octapeptide-3, Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, Sorghum Bicolor Stalk Juice, Algae Extract, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin.
Epicuren Discovery Active Sport Treatment Sunscreen ($44, Skin Care by Alana.com)
Zinc oxide is basically a rockstar amongst sunscreen ingredients. It’s a physical mineral sunscreen that physically blocks both UVA and UVB rays, and it blocks more than it’s cousin titanium oxide (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology). Like all oxides in sunscreen, zinc oxide sits on top of your skin and actually bounces UV rays off your skin to prevent you from absorbing them (Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Society).
In Epicuren formulas, the zinc oxide is transparent. It’s also photostable, which means it won’t break down in the sun, unlike some sunscreen ingredients, like avobenzone, can degrade within 15 minutes of being in the sun (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology).
Physical sunscreens are not associated with as many allergic reactions. There are some criticisms about whether they can cause oxygen free radicals on the skins surface when exposed to light — but texts on cells showed titanium oxide is more photoactive zinc oxide. Many companies coat these particles in dimethicone or silicone for this reason, but in order to actually cause damage, the particles would have to penetrate beyond the first layer of skin — which they don’t (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology). A study using electron microscopy found it didn’t penetrate beyond the first layer (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology).
Another reason to try Epicuren Discovery Sport Treat SPF 30 Sunscreen? Tetrahexydecyl ascorbate. This stable form of vitamin C is known more for collagen-stimulating (and hence wrinkle-fighting) than exfoliation, like the traditional form of vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid. But tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate still works: In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, participants applied a solution with ten percent ascorbic acid and seven percent tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate to one side of their face and a placebo to the other half. The side with the vitamin C had a statistically significant improvement in the signs of photodamage, including the smoothing of wrinkles (Dermatologic Surgery).
As far as application goes, Epicuren Discovery Sport Treat SPF 30 Sunscreen is a medium-to-thick formula that wears for a long time. When applying, it glides on the skin and absorbs fairly well. It wears well under makeup and doesn’t leave a fake white residue.
Bottom line: This is a fantastic sunscreen product, and I highly recommend it.
Ingredients: Water(Aqua), Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Cyclomethicone, Phenyl Triethicone, Laurylmethicone Copolyol, Butylene Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Chloride, Aleurites Moluccana (Kukui Nut) Seed Oil, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Allantoin, Sodium PCA, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methyldibrome Glutaronitrile, Fragrance. Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 10%,Octyl Methoxycinnamate 7.5%.
Most of the time, I love a product because it has truly superior ingredients. Sometimes, though, I enjoy a product because it just feels nice on the skin
One of my favorite skincare ingredients is sodium hyaluronate, which is one of the natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) found in the skin. Other notable NMFs include glycerin, urea, alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, propylene glycol, and hyaluronic acid, which all prevent evaporation of products in the bottle. Natural NMFs maintain moisture in the skin, even under low humidity, and provide an optimal environment for enzymatic functions (Baumann).
All of these NMFs are humectants, meaning that they are able to attract water from the atmosphere if atmospheric humidity is greater than 80 percent. However, when atmospheric humidity is low, NMFs may actually cause dryness, as they extract water from the deeper layers of the skin; for this reason, NMFs work best when they are combined with occlusives like dimethicone or paraffin, as they are in Kiehl’s Super Corrective Eye-Opening Serum and most skincare formulations.
That said, sodium hyaluronate is a little different from other NMFs, in that sodium hyaluronate is a particularly effective humectant because it is effective in both high and low humidity conditions (Borba Age-Defying Skin Balance Water). In other words, sodium hyaluronate is hydrating alone or with occlusive agents, in high and low humidity, unlike glycerin, urea, alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, and propylene glycol, which require occlusive agents to be hydrating at low humidity.
And yes, there is a difference between sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid: Sodium hyaluronate, with similar water-binding abilities, is commonly used instead of hyaluronic acid in skincare products due to its greater chemical stability (Kewpie).
That said, Epicuren Discovery Moisture Surge Hyaluronic Acid Gel feels great on the skin. It is lightweight, and is perfect for normal to dry skin after applying a retinoid or alpha hydroxy acid treatment nightly.
Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Water (Aqua), Sodium Hyaluronate, Pentylene Glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Tetrasodium EDTA, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid.
As far as amazing luxury skin care lines go, Epicuren Discovery is certainly unique. Premium beauty products generally either have science-based ingredients or very trendy ones, not both. That said, I think you get the best of both worlds with Epicuren Bio Peptide Complex Serum, Epicuren Discovery Sport Treat SPF 30 Sunscreen, and Epicuren Discovery Moisture Surge Hyaluronic Acid Gel.
If you wish to use these products, there are certainly simple and easy ways to incorporate them into your routine. For best results, cleanse and tone (optional) in the morning, followed by an antioxidant-rich serum and Epicuren Discovery Sport Treat SPF 30 Sunscreen. At night, use a concentrated retinoid (0.5% or higher) or alpha hydroxy acid treatment (10% or higher), followed by Epicuren Discovery Moisture Surge Hyaluronic Acid Gel, then Epicuren Bio Peptide Complex Serum, in that order. You don’t have to use both at once to get results, however.
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