Futurederm’s Ultimate Peter Thomas Roth Guide: What to Buy, What to Pass By

Skin Care

Peter Thomas Roth is admittedly one of my favorite brands:  The ingredients are often highly concentrated, the delivery systems unique, and the formulations exquisite. But over the past few years, as the company’s chemists changed, their concoctions became a bit more trendy.  So while I still like the brand very much overall, there are a few products I would avoid.  Here goes:

Worth a Buy:  Peter Thomas Roth Unwrinkle Peel Pads ($25.36, Amazon.com)

Between the glycolic acid and the lactic acid in this product, plus the soothing green tea, chamomile, and witch hazel, this product is a definite buy – especially for the price you can get it for online and at retailers like NY Skin Spa.  It’s definitely a win!



Pass By:  Peter Thomas Roth Laser Free Resurfacer with Dragon’s Blood

No, no, just no.  “Dragon’s blood” is a viscous bright red resin that has catechins may decrease neurogenic inflammation in the skin (Experimental Dermatology) and an alkaloid that may improve wound healing (Planta Medica).

You can read my entire review of this product here, but in short, I would not buy a cream for the Dragon’s blood.  For one, there are creams like Topix Replenix that have high concentrations of catechins from green tea.  For another, wound healing is not the same as wrinkle repairing:  Wounds come quickly and send a very strong “damage alert signal” within cells, whereas wrinkles form slowly and there such signals are comparatively weak.  There also is just not enough evidence for me to switch from proven antioxidants, retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, niacinamide, and peptides for this product.  So while it won’t damage your skin, it won’t help as much as many other $75 products would.  Product Rating:  7/10

Worth a Buy:  Peter Thomas Roth Unwrinkle Night Turbo ($150.00, Amazon.com)

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this on FutureDerm.com before, but I’m a huge Sex and the City fan.  My response to the first time I encountered Peter Thomas Roth Unwrinkle Turbo reminds me of the SATC episode where Mr. Big first meets Aidan:  “Oh, he’s a big ‘un.”  And Peter Thomas Roth Unwrinkle Turbo is a big ‘un:  high concentrations of 15 different peptides (some well-proven, some not), vitamins C and E (a personal favorite), and hydrating sodium hyaluronate.  It’s a dream under sunscreen and can be used over a retinoid at night, provided that you wait about 30 minutes, as retinoids work better at a higher pH than vitamin C (Toxicology and Industrial Health, 2006; Journal of Biological Chemistry, 1993).

This product works.  The price tag is admittedly not for everyone, but it’s one of the best creams I’ve encountered in the $150-200 sector.   Full FutureDerm review of Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Turbo

Pass By: Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion AM Moisturizer SPF 30 ($67.00, Amazon.com)

No, no, again, just NO.  Retinoids make your skin more sensitive to the sun.  This is because they slough off the top layer of skin, increasing its reflective surface area.  If this doesn’t make sense to you at first, think of how tanning oil works, or why you get more tan whenever you’re laying by the ocean at the beach – more reflection!

So why you would want to put 1.5% retinol in a daytime moisturizer is beyond me.  Nighttime = great, unreal, wonderful results.  Daytime = risky, even with a sunscreen.  I avoid retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, and any other agents that increase sun sensitivity like the plague, and I strongly encourage you to do so as well.  On the other hand, the Retinol Fusion PM 1.5 is worth a buy, so long as you work up slowly – either start with a weaker retinol product, or with once every 2-3 day use.  (It’s strong, but it works!)

Buy:  Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Cream ($72.90, Amazon.com)

I’m a huge fan of this eye cream – but not for use alone.  A 2004 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that a combination of vitamin K, vitamin C, and retinol provided improvement of dark circles better than any other formulation of those tested.  I’ve eliminated my dark circles from late nights studying with this product by cleverly using it with a little bit of vitamin C serum during the day, and together with a little bit of retinol under my eyes at night.  It’s incredible when combined with other ingredients – and considering vitamin K is very hard to find, I’m quite pleased, despite the admittedly exorbitant price tag.  Product Rating:  8.5/10

Bottom Line

I swear by Peter Thomas Roth Unwrinkle Peel Pads and Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Cream, but I stay far away from the Dragon’s Blood products (not worth it) or the retinol products for day (why increase photosensitivity?)

Overall – still a solid brand I recommend regularly.  🙂


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  • @Jeff – Retinol works best at a pH greater than 4.5. So I don’t like the Peter Thomas Roth Unwrinkle Peel Pads because they’ve got retinol. Rather, I like them because they have high concentrations of glycolic acid and lactic acid. Would this product be even better if they didn’t have retinol? Absolutely. But are they effective as-is? You bet.

  • @Nicholas – That’s interesting, I haven’t tried those yet. Thanks for the heads-up, I’ll be sure to (discreetly) pick those up next time I’m at Sephora for review!

  • jeff

    the unwrinkle pads contain AHA and retinol…how can that be?

  • Nicholas

    I think the Uber Dry spf 30 is fantastic for days I don’t get much exposure (though some on the internet say it’s unstable, I didn’t get any color sitting in direct sunlight late in the day). I also like the powder spf for touch ups.

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