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exo Face Bio.digital Perfection Moisturizer has a certain number of things that intrigue me, and a certain number of things that, well, honestly and frankly, piss me off.
Although I never do reviews in bullet form, there’s a first time for anything.
Let’s kick it off with the pros:
- Exosome technology. Like microencapsulation or liposomal technology, exosomes help deliver skin care ingredients deeper into the skin, where they can best be utilized by the skin.
- Sodium hyaluronate, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), and vitamin E. All great additions to a skin care product. All covered in depth below, and all beneficial to the skin.
- Good early patient studies. Although the number of people and the ages of the people in the study have not been revealed to the public, a reported independent study center found the following results after use of exo Face Bio.digital Perfection Moisturizer twice daily:
- 95.5% reduction in wrinkles in just 28 days
- 17.19% acceleration in cell renewal
And the cons:
- Exosomes mentioned in passing — really? One of my pet peeves is whenever people use scientific terms to sound impressive or to sell you a product for more money. Here, the use of “Zen3 technology, with 150 million+ exosomes per bottle, adapts to your skin for bespoke anti-aging…” just kind-of ticks me off. And it might not be true.
- What exosomes really are doesn’t pertain much to skincare — yet. The average consumer doesn’t know that exosomes are made by the plasma membranes of cells. Exosomes are fluid-filled cell structures that are associated with blood coagulation, intercellular signaling, and waste management (Pharmacology, 2012). They are also used increasingly in anti-cancer technology. I’ll go into what is known with exosomes and skin care in more detail below.
- “150 million exosomes”. There is also little research to demonstrate what, if anything, exosomes do for the skin. Citing that there are 150 million exosomes sounds impressive, until you realize that there are 37.2 trillion cells in the body (248,000 times as many exosomes as in a bottle of exo Face Bio.digital Perfection Moisturizer), and most of the cell types in the body already produce exosomes (Biology Reports).
- Luminescence. The company goes on and on about a “133% increase in luminescence,” but what exactly is luminescence? I can put glitter on my face and have a 500% increase in luminescence. Without defining this parameter, it just sounds fancy and impressive, but I have no idea what it actually is.
- “Bio.digital.” It’s a cream in a bottle. Is it digital because you apply it with your fingers (digits)? This too pisses me off.
I’ll get more in-depth with each ingredient below.
Are Exosomes the Next Growth Factor or Plant Stem Cell?
Most cell types secrete exosomes. Basically, for about 30 years, most scientists assumed they were nothing more than “waste products” of the cell. Over the past few years, however, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that exosomes are not waste products at all, but little secreted cellular pouches that contain ultra valuable, cell-specific collections of proteins, lipids, and genetic material. These pouches are transported to other cells, where they impact the other cells’ physiology (Biology Reports).
Exosomes are of particular interest in the scientific community right now because a better understanding of exosomes could help scientists target and deliver drugs to certain cell types (Stanford.edu). The study of exosomes may also help researchers better predict, monitor, and understand a myriad of diseases (Stanford.edu).
To say that exosome technology in skin care is innovative is true. To say exosome technology in skin care is premature is also true, and perhaps more so. Like with the use of growth factors or stem cells in skin care, there are both pieces of legitimate therapeutic promise backed by the scientific community and the faint remnants of snake oil. Part of the issue is that over-the-counter skin care companies cannot make “structure/function” claims; if exosomes were to actually, say, signal your collagen and elastin-producing cells called fibroblasts to repair at the rate they did when you were a teenager, it’s not as if it would be legal to say it, much less for independent skin care companies to publish studies demonstrating this is the case.
And so it’s left much to the public to test these $100-and-up products and to try them for themselves. I personally have been somewhat enthusiastic about the TNS Essential Serum with human growth factors, and somewhat excited about products with plant stem cells. I, however, remain on the fence after trying exo Face Bio.digital Perfection Moisturizer.
As for the in-house surveyed data:
- 90% of users agreed that skin felt more hydrated after using the product
- 93.3% agreed that the product improved skin’s softness and smoothness
- 90% agreed that skin texture improved
One of my favorite skincare ingredients is sodium hyaluronate, which is one of the natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) found in the skin. Together with lipids, NMFs keep skin from losing water, maintaining skin’s young, smooth, non-flaky appearance. In fact, a 2000 study by Sakai et. al cited by Paula Begoun, “the Cosmetics Cop,” found that a decrease in the lipid and NMF content of the skin leads to surface roughness, flaking, fine lines, and a tight, uncomfortable feeling. Within the skin, biologically-formed NMFs are made of amino acids and their metabolites, and are found exclusively inside the cells of the uppermost layer of the skin (the stratum corneum). Natural NMFs maintain moisture in the skin, even under low humidity, and provide an optimal environment for enzymatic functions (Baumann).
Vitamins C and E
According to Dr. Leslie Baumann’s Cosmetic Dermatology textbook, vitamin C and vitamin E are network antioxidants that have been found to synergistically enhance the power of one another. (When one antioxidant is depleted, it can essentially “borrow” an electron from the other antioxidant to renew itself, and vice versa). Vitamins C and E as L-ascorbic acid and tocopheryl acetate have also been reported by Djerassi et. al. to prevent the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines. Vitamin C and vitamin E have also been shown to enhance the photoprotective effects of sunscreen, as vitamin C has been reported to enhance UVA protection, whereas vitamin E is more effective against UVB radiation.
Lastly, vitamin C has also been found to decrease hyperpigmentation, although a study in the International Journal of Dermatology found that 4% hydroquinone was more effective in treating melasma than vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid. However, a separate study, also in the International Journal of Dermatology, found that combination therapy of 4% hydroquinone, vitamin C, vitamin E, and 10% glycolic acid was effective in treating signs of hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin E is naturally produced in sites rich in sebaceous glands, as it is physiologically delivered to the surface via secretion of sebum, according to this article in the journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology. According to a second research study, this study by Packer and Valacchi, vitamin E may be the predominant natural antioxidant both in murine and human skin, and it shows a characteristic gradient with lower levels towards the outer stratum corneum layers.
I once went to an ultra-trendy restaurant where they were serving all of the trendy foods: Kale, quinoa, lemongrass, you name it. And, I’ll be honest, nothing was very good.
I feel like exo Face Bio.digital Perfection Moisturizer falls into a bit of that category. It is trying to do too much, with unproven exosome technology that reminds me of the early days of the growth factors found in TNS Skin Medica, but then has staples proven in scientific research studies (sodium hyaluronate, vitamin C, vitamin E), though they are all found in lower concentration than I’d like, and then adds on natural ingredients to be trendy. And I really hate the marketing claims here.
That said, if you want to try it, I recommend it for normal to dry skin. Despite what you may read elsewhere, such a high concentration of coconut oil is in fact a disaster for oily or acne-prone skin.
Ingredients in exo Face Bio.digital Perfection Moisturizer
Water, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Octyldodecyl Myristate, Dimethicone, Glycerin, PEG-8 Beeswax, Cetyl Alcohol, hASC Human Adipose Stromal Cell Exosome, Morinda Citrifolia (Noni) Fruit Extract, Agastache Mexicana Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Chondrus Crispus (Irish Moss) Extract, Ulva Lactuca (Sea Lettuce) Extract, Algae Extract (Kelp), Laminaria Digitata (Kombu) Extract, Undaria Pinnatifida (Wakame) Extract, Allantoin, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Ascorbic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate, Cholecalciferol, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grapeseed) Oil, Polysorbate 85, Propanediol, Glyceryl Stearate, Ceteth-20, Steareth-20, Acrylates/Acrylamide Copolymer, Mineral Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance