Product Review: Miracle Skin Transformer SPF 20

Cosmetics, Reviews, Skin Care

If you have skin that is in good to great condition and are looking for a solid BB cream, then the Miracle Skin Transformer SPF 20 ($48.00, may quickly become one of your favorites, so long as you are looking for a matte finish and don’t mind reapplying during the day.  It lasts about 3-4 hours, so long as you don’t touch your face during the day.  (It does rub off on cell phones).

If your skin is in sub-par condition, then you may want to use the Miracle Skin Transformer SPF 20 as a primer.  Its silicone base means that it is light enough to wear under makeup.

Why You Should Never Use a BB Cream as Your Only Anti-Aging Treatment

While beneficial skin care ingredients can have some documented effects in cosmetics with a silicone base, the effects will not be as profound as if the ingredients were in creams or serums with other delivery systems.  This makes sense, but I was never sure until I read reports micronized zinc oxide cannot penetrate the skin if it is presented in creams with silicones (Dermatologic Therapy, 2007).  If micronized zinc oxide cannot penetrate the skin, then I wouldn’t imagine many other cosmetics ingredients embedded in silicones could either.

Still, even though ingredients in silicone-based BB creams can’t penetrate the skin well, I’d still rather have them there than not at all.  I just wouldn’t depend on the BB creams as my only source of beneficial skin care ingredients.


Of all the ingredients in Miracle Skin Transformer SPF 20, I’m most impressed with ubiquinone.  Ubiquinone levels have been documented to decrease upon UV exposure, according to the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.  But ubiquinone is an important, powerful, naturally-occurring antioxidant in the skin.  Ubiquinone is what is called a network antioxidant, meaning that it can regenerate other antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q-10, and alpha lipoic acid.  This may all sound like a science experiment, but in truth, it’s real – and I’m a huge fan of the antioxidant.  Now, if only it weren’t in a silicone base…

Retinyl Palmitate

Despite outlandish reports from the Environmental Working Group in 2010, retinyl palmitate in sunscreens was later proven NOT to cause cancer.  In an August 2011 review titled Safety of retinyl palmitate in sunscreens: A critical study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology,  it was explained retinyl palmitate is safe and there is no evidence to prove retinyl palmitate increases the risk of skin cancer in humans.

On the other hand, I’m iffy about using retinyl palmitate during the day.  I’ll do it if I have to – i.e., if the product is great otherwise – but I’m not a huge fan.  Not because I believe it causes skin cancer (I don’t), but because retinol makes the skin photosensitive.  Now, retinyl palmitate has been shown to be 20 times weaker than retinol, so any sensitization should be low.  But still.

Bottom Line

Miracle Skin Transformer SPF 20 is a miracle for those with pretty good skin to begin with, and a solid primer for those who desire a little more coverage.  I wish it came in more than seven shades and had a complementary serum you could use under it – too many women are under the impression that BB creams are equivalent to treatment creams and serums, when in fact much of the key ingredients will just rest on top of your skin, rather than be absorbed into the skin.

Still, it’s better to get these ingredients where you can – just don’t make BB cream your only source of them.  Overall, I like Miracle Skin Transformer SPF 20 for its natural, mildly mattefying, temporary softening and cosmetic effects, but I wouldn’t use it thinking it will transform fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, or other signs of hyperpigmentation anytime soon.

Product Rating:  8/10

  • High or optimized concentration of key ingredients: 3/3
  • Unique formulation or new technology:  2/3
  • Value: 2/3
  • Sunscreen: 1/1

Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 5.0%, Oxybenzone 2.0%, Zinc Oxide 1.5%. Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Caprylyl Methicone, Cyclohexasiloxane, Water/Eau, Dicaprylyl Ether, Boron Nitride, Octyldodecanol, Passiflora Edulis Seed Oil, Glycerin, Dimethiconol, Ubiquinone, Tapioca Starch, Mica, Physalis Angulata Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Caprylyl Glycol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Polysorbate 80, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Potassium Sorbate, Hydrated Silica, Serenoa Serrulata Fruit Extract, Hexylene Glycol, Silica, Isoceteth-10, Retinyl Palmitate, Benzyl Alcohol, Phytonadione, Cholecalciferol, Tocopherol, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides.


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  • Jeanne

    I am in the process of ordering this product. Thank you for all of this information. I would think that the issue would be whether the Coenzyme Q-10 and other antioxidants and vitamins would penetrate into the skin for protection and repair. That is my concern. I hope that the silicones stay on the surface. Has enough research been done to determine if it is safe for silicones to be absorbed into the skin? The vitamins and antioxidants are natural building blocks of the body–silicone is not. What do the experts say about that? Also, what is the ingredient that gets rid of sun spots? Or is it just a masking effect? thank you

  • @Kyra – Yes, you are right, ubiquinone is coenzyme Q-10. Typo on my part, with my apologies.

  • @Jack – I have seven years of laboratory experience in biomedical sciences, as well a degree in biological sciences and physics and a minor in chemistry (plus three years of medical school under my belt). We have three physicians on our staff and so the assertion that we are not chemists stings a little, I must say.

    That said, I know you didn’t mean it as a personal attack, so I apologize if I seem overly defensive. You are right – The study mentioned states that zinc and titanium oxide do not penetrate the skin significantly on their own. However, amongst cosmetic chemists, it is also well-known that silicones can help to prevent processes of penetration into the skin further. So if 2 micrograms of zinc oxide applied at 2 mg/cm^2 of skin can penetrate the skin without silicones, even less could penetrate with it.

  • Kyra

    “Ubiquinone is what is called a network antioxidant, meaning that it can regenerate other antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q-10, and alpha lipoic acid”

    Nicky, ubiquinone IS coenzime Q10…

  • Kyra

    “Ubiquinone is what is called a network antioxidant, meaning that it can regenerate other antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q-10, and alpha lipoic acid”

    Nicky, ubiquinone actually IS coenzyme Q-10…

  • Jack

    I find it remarkable that no one checks a source cite before jumping on bandwagons. It’s the EWG effect. The study cited here from Derm Therapy 2007 actually doesn’t say that silicone prevents zinc oxide from penetrating the skin. It does say that neither micronized or nano-sized titanium dioxide or zinc oxide penetrates to a significant extent, citing a 2006 Derm Clinics paper, “Human Safety and Efficacy of Ultraviolet Filters and Sunscreen Products” of which assesses multiple bases, oil, oil/water, etc. that all showed the same conclusions. The focus isn’t the vehicle, the focus is the fact that in multiple compositions neither zinc oxide nor titanium dioxide penetrates the stratum to a notable extent.

    Also, let’s have perspective, as interesting as these discussions are, this isn’t a chemists’ page. I think these discussions are good opportunities to evaluate concepts in skin care, but it would be more helpful if our hosts understood their limitations when evaluating the chemistry of skin care products. I, for example like to think of Cyn’s apropos quote from Working Girl in moments like these, “Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn’t make me Madonna. Never will.”

  • @Erin

    You are absolutely correct. Physical or inorganic sunscreens function be reflecting light, so they certainly work by just sitting on the skin. Not to mention that you wouldn’t want zinc oxide particles to be in contact with living tissue, coated or uncoated.

  • Erin

    Thanks for the reply John. It does kinda make sense. 🙂
    However, is it really necessary for the zinc oxide to penetrate into the skin to work? From my understanding, physical filters, unlike chemical sunscreens are designed to basically sit on the skin and act as UV reflecting particles. Kinda like forming a barrier on top.

  • Oh and ubiquinone and Coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ10) are the same compound. 🙂

  • @NIcholas and @Erin

    You know, when Nicki mentioned this idea of silicone “entraption,” I kind of stopped and wondered, “Hm, maybe that has some merit to it.”

    From personal experience I’ve definitely seen improvement in my skin from silicone-based serums, like the Paula’s Choice RESIST one Nick mentioned. However, without proper examination tools, I can’t histologically attribute these improvements to specific ingredients, because I can’t witness the exact interaction mechanism. Perhaps my skin’s improvement was just from being more moisturized, or maybe it’s something completely else, like glycolic and salicylic acid.

    But here’s some food for thought, and I’d love to see some real documentation about this intriguing topic. Maybe I’ll do some research myself and write a follow-up post… We’ll see. xD

    Now, many prescription medical products employ silicone-derived vehicular bases as delivery systems for topical drugs. So that at least, gives some weight to the fact that silicone-based products are not completely ineffective. Obviously, a water-based serum with chemical penetration enhancers would be (on a case by case basis) preferred.

    As for the “micronized” zinc oxide not being able to penetrate into the skin, concept… try to think of it in another one. Silicone is used a suspending agent; basically it holds all the other ingredients in place. So if you think of the silicone molecules as people, collectively holding up a heavy object such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the smaller the object, the easier (or less strength) is required to hold it up. So something as small as micronized zinc oxide would be very easy to hold, since it’s so small.

    So something like EGCG or a lipid-soluble palmitic-acid based vitamin C derivative, such as ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate AKA tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, would require a LOT of additional “strength” to hold up, or to prevent from penetrating the skin. So naturally, these much larger molecules would slowly “fall” through the silicone suspension, eventually reaching the skin. Think of it passive transport through a semi-permeable membrane, or something.

    But again, this is a very general, simplistic, and slightly over-reaching analogy, but just think about it. It does make (a little) sense. So yeah, I hope that puts some of your minds to ease. If you’ve been using silicone-based serums, know that it wasn’t ALL in vain. 🙂

  • Erin

    Hi Nicki,

    Thanks for all the great reviews. 🙂
    Just a question… you were mentioning that skin care ingredients like micronised zinc wouldn’t penetrate the skin well if it were in a silicone base. What would happen then if I were to use a silicone based antioxidant serum, then top it off with a moisturiser and a zinc oxide or chemical sunblock? Would the initial silicone serum prevent the moisturiser and sunblock from exerting its effects as well?

    Thanks lots for any input

  • Nicholas

    Hi Nicki,

    Love the blog!

    Speaking of the antioxidants embedded in silicones, have you reviewed any of the Paula’s Choice Serums? I’m using the Resist Antioxidant Serum and I’d like to know your opinion on that one. Thanks!


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