Note: Before I begin this post, I would like to apologize for not updating the site over the course of the last week. There was a family emergency: My mother (with whom I am very close) had a health crisis that required two emergency surgeries last week, and I wanted to be able to give her my full attention. She is doing much better now and returned home recently. Thank you for understanding!
Over the course of my time as a beauty blogger (and skin care junkie), I have encountered many high-end skin care lines in fancy packaging with professional-sounding promises and absolutely no science to back them up. Fortunately for iS Clinical by Innovative Skincare, the line – available exclusively through selected dermatologists and other skin care professionals – is rich not only in appearance, but also in clinically-proven ingredients.
The system is based upon a four-step process: 1.) cleanse; 2.) treat; 3.) hydrate; 4.) protect. In addition, there are different treatment regimens recommended for six different common skin ailments: acne, dry skin, oxidative stress, pigmentary disorders, rosacea, and skin aging. While iS Clinical certainly does its customers a service in demonstrating which of its products are appropriate for each skin ailment, it is always best to check with your dermatologist first, who can recommend specialized care for your skin ailment, whether prescription, from the iS Clinical line, or otherwise.
iS Clinical Youth Complex
My favorite product in the line is the iS Clinical Youth Complex (shown above, $56.00 for 0.33 oz, $135.00 for 1.25 oz., retailers found here), which features an impressive array of ingredients, including 10% hyaluronic acid. One of the most highly water-binding ingredients on the skin care market, hyaluronic acid has been demonstrated to hold up to 1000 times its volume in water, as documented in the textbook Cosmetic Dermatology. In addition, iS Clinical Youth Complex contains a fairly high concentration of mixed fruit acids (a source of glycolic acid, to promote cell turnover and stimulate collagen production), as well as soy isoflavones (to stimulate collagen production), and white willow bark extract (to combat inflammation).
The iS Clinical Youth Complex proved to stimulate collagen production in human fibroblasts cultured in vitro in one of the company’s own published studies. While lower concentrations of iS Clinical Youth Complex did not affect collagen production, the as-marketed formulation of of iS Clinical Youth Complex stimulated collagen production in cultured human fibroblasts in a statistically significant manner. However, as with many products on the market, there are no independent (non-company-affiliated) studies to validate these claims, though the methods seem sound and the results were reviewed by several parties on the site.
After using iS Clinical Youth Complex at night for 20 days, my mother (who is in her sixties) absolutely loved the look and feel of her skin. In application of the product, the formulation was smooth and drank in quickly. In addition, the hyaluronic acid immediately made her skin look better, while the combination of slower-acting ingredients actually improved her skin, albeit gradually. Her only complaint was the price ($56.00 for 0.33 oz, $135.00 for 1.25 oz). Product Rating: 8/10 (High concentration of proven ingredients: 3/3. Unique formulation or new technology: 3/3. Value for the money: 2/3. Sunscreen: 0/1).
iS Clinical Active Serum
A second popular product in the iS Clinical line is the iS Clinical Active Serum ($120.00, retailers found here). While very few over-the-counter ingredients have been proven to help fight hyperpigmentation, iS Clinical Active Serum contains sources of four of them: glycolic acid, lactic acid, arbutin, and kojic acid.
That said, I personally didn’t like iS Clinical Active Serum, for two reasons. One, the product contains plant extracts described as sources of glycolic acid, lactic acid, arbutin, and kojic acid, rather than the ingredients themselves. While the plant extracts are certainly sources of these ingredients, using 2% sugar cane (as a source of glycolic acid) to deliver the ingredients is less potent than adding 2% glycolic acid itself. That said, I would say that this may make iS Clinical Active Serum a better choice for those with sensitive skin, except that it has a high concentration of SD Alcohol 40 (ethyl alcohol). The iS Clinical website supports its use of SD Alcohol 40 on the skin: “For example, it is common to be advised never to put alcohol on your skin…However, SD Alcohol 40 is ethyl alcohol, which we commonly drink and has useful functions in a cosmetic preparation.” Which are both definitely true. That said, ethyl alcohol consumption is not good for the skin (it depletes skin’s levels of vitamin A and promotes inflammation), and its topical application can be drying or irritating to those with sensitive skin. In fact, according to dermatologist Dr. Audrey Kunin, M.D., the seven alcohols that are acceptable in skin care formulations (and which iS Clinical has in many of its other products) are cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, cetostearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol 40, C12-15 alcohols, stearyl alcohol and lanolin alcohol. (Best way to remember: the 7 C’s + stearyl + lanolin!)
Indeed, I really do like iS Clinical and the vast majority of its products…I am just not a fan of the Active Serum in particular. Product Rating: 6/10 (High concentration of proven ingredients: 1.5/3. Unique formulation or new technology: 3/3. Value for the money: 1.5/3. Sunscreen: 0/1).
After reviewing numerous skin care lines over the years, I very much like the quality and message of the iS Clinical line, and I absolutely love the iS Clinical Youth Complex. If the company would stop using ethyl alcohol in some of its products and have a few more independent (i.e., non-company-affiliated) studies and write-ups, this could be amongst my all-time favorite lines. It not only looks and feels good, it is pretty dang good! 🙂