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Granted the hefty price tag of $225.00 for 1.8 oz., Shiseido Future Solution Total Revitalizing Cream (Amazon.com) promises hydration “for hours without a hint of stickiness,” improved firmness and radiance, as well as fewer wrinkles and fine lines after each application. The product boasts its magic comes from a Marine Capsule Emulsion, Chai Hu Extract, and a Hydro-Infusion Complex. But is the product worthy of the high price tag?
What is Chai Hu (Bupleurum Root) extract?
According to Secara.com, Chai Hu, a hot-water extract derived from seven species of medicinal plants, was originally created by Dr. Zhang Jing-Yue in 1624 A.D. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Chai Hu has been In the skin, one study demonstrated that B. chinense derived from Chai Hu extract is an effective anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant. Unfortunately, no studies have been published comparing the efficacy of Chai Hu to other established anti-inflammatory agents or antioxidants. Further, according to Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop, “There is no research showing extracts of Bupleurum falcatum to have any benefit for skin, though it may have some wound-healing properties…It does contain glucoside and polysaccharide, but whether these can affect skin following topical application of the extract is unknown.” As such, based on the published research, it does not seem advisable to buy this or any product solely for its inclusion of Chai Hu extract.
What is ononis spinosa?
Ononis spinosa, found in higher concentrations than Chai Hu, is commonly known as spiny restharrow, or just restharrow. Found throughout Europe as far north as Scotland, ononis spinosa is used in skin care products as an astringent and an antiseptic. Independent scientific research on other uses of ononis spinosa is limited, but various web sources, including LifePharmacy.com, claim that ononis spinosa may provide a quote-on-quote “natural tan” by stimulating melanin production via increase of tyrosinase activity. This is interesting. If true, ononis spinosa has the opposite effect of hydroquinone, which is commonly used to treat freckles, melasma, and general brown patching by decreasing tyrosinase activity. At any rate, research on ononis spinosa, like Chai Hu extract, seems too limiting to determine if this ingredient is truly beneficial or not.
Why does the product contain amino acids and ATP?
Not for the reason you would think. Keratinocytes exposed to air have been demonstrated by Denda et. al. to induce an increase in intracellular calcium concentrations. In turn, the increase in internal calcium levels regulates the skin when it is exposed to a dry environment. Therefore, the ATP makes the product hydrating in a rather novel way. In addition, Begoun reports that topical application of amino acids can exhibit emollient, antioxidant, and wound healing properties.
Can amino acids and ATP in skin care products help to re-build wrinkles?
Based on current research, no. Serine, arginine, and glycine are amino acids (not to be confused with amino acid peptides), and ATP is adenosine triphosphate, the basic energy currency of the cell. The theory of infusing skin care with amino acids and ATP seems to come from the fact that the body undergoes anabolic processes, constructing (and re-constructing) new proteins from the amino acids, and consuming ATP in the process. However, according to Begoun, they have never been shown to have any effect on rebuilding wrinkles. Further, it has never been shown that ATP can diffuse through the skin to increase intracellular ATP levels. As such, ATP seems to be included as an emollient only.
What about the other ingredients?
The product contains vitamin C and vitamin E, network antioxidants that synergistically enhance the already potent antioxidant power of one another. The product also contains a strong amount of hydrating ingredients, including cyclomethicone, glycerin, squalane, dimethicone, niacinamide, and amino acids. Finally, the product contains sweet marjoram (Origanum Majorana) as another antioxidant source and Angelica Acutiloba (Dong Quai), which serves as an anti-inflammatory ingredient.
A good hydrating and antioxidant source, with some anti-inflammatory properties. Due to the inclusion of ononis spinosa and the suspicion that ononis spinosa may increase melanin production, I would not use the product if age spots or freckling was a concern. In addition, I would not buy this product because of the inclusion of Chai Hu (one of the most advertised ingredients) because of the lack of independent published scientific research on Chai Hu’s effects on the skin, as well as the low concentration of Chai Hu in this product. Further, there are many products with ingredients that are scientifically proven to be hydrating and excellent antioxidant sources that cost less money (some examples: Topix Replenix Cream with green tea, $45.45 for 1.0 oz, Amazon.com, Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, $103.70 for 1 oz., Amazon.com). Overall, a solid product, but it’s too expensive for what you can prove you are getting. Product Rating: 7/10.
Water, Cyclomethicone, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Cetyl Octanoate, Squalane, Dimethicone Copolyol, Dipropylene Glycol, Quaternium-18 Hectorite, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, PEG 150, Ononis Spinosa, Agar, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Serine, Potassium Ascorbyl Tocopheryl Phosphate, Glycine, Arginine HCI, Disodium Adenosine Triphosphate, Trisodium EDTA, Niacinamide, Polyquaternium 51, Angelica Acutiloba, Origanium Majorana, Bupleurum Falcatum, Polysilicone 2, Phenoxythanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Parfum, CI77492, CI77491