DeVita's Optimal Rejuvenation contains an interesting and beneficial mix of antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-identical ingredients. Our concerns are about the other ingredients it includes, such as the controversial ingredient DMAE bitartrate, as well as about what it doesn't include—it apparently lacks any broad-spectrum preservative agents. DeVita's "all-natural" claims for the Optimal Rejuvenation are, at best, inaccurate.
First, let's take a closer look at why DMAE bitartrate, also known as dimethylaminoethanol, is controversial. DMAE research has conflicting results in terms of its anti-aging effectiveness and subsequent risk to skin. It seems to offer an initial benefit that improves the skin, but these results are short-lived and eventually give way to destruction of the substances in skin that help build healthy collagen (Sources: Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, November-December 2007, pages 711–718; and American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, volume 6, 2005, pages 39–47). Interestingly enough, DeVita found this ingredient acceptable, but indicates numerous times on their site and product packaging that parabens (which have plenty of global safety research data) are somehow a health risk. Talk about cherry-picking the research!
DeVita repeatedly claims they use only natural ingredients to make their products. The reality is that many of the ingredients in Optimal Rejuvenation, such as DMAE bitartrate, palmitoyl oligopeptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3, l-carnosine, and retinol are lab-produced synthetics. For example, retinol and l-carnosine occur naturally only in animals, but animal-derived forms are rarely, if ever, included in skin-care formulas because they are not very stable and they are not as effective as synthetic versions. Either DeVita isn't being accurate with their "all-natural" claim, or they aren't being accurate with their "no animal-derived ingredients" claim.
This natural, chemical-free posturing from DeVita, as well as from many other companies, gets so tiring. The truth is there are good and bad natural ingredients, just as there are good and bad synthetic ingredients. Natural isn't inherently better and synthetic isn't inherently evil, but by DeVita's questionable definition of "natural," any skin-care brand could rightly say their products are all natural, too!
The apparent lack of effective preservatives also is a concern. DeVita claims that Citrus paradisi (grapefruit) seed extract is their preservative agent in Optimal Rejuvenation, but research demonstrates this isn't a broad-spectrum preservative—which means it can't protect you or your product from exposure to potentially harmful bacteria and mold, even in sealed, pump-style glass packaging. Yes, citrus extracts can have antibacterial benefits, but they're simply not strong enough to defend a product like this from a broad range of pathogens (Sources: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 53:7630–7636; and Journal Pharmazie, 1999 June, 54(6):452–456).
Bottom Line: Despite the many beneficial ingredients included in Optimal Rejuvenation, we can't get past its flaws—the controversy surrounding DMAE bitartrate and a misleading ingredient list that makes this a hard product to trust (See More Information for additional details). In addition, you have no way to know how long you can safely use this without risking exposure to bacteria or mold because research demonstrates that grapefruit extract is not a reliable broad-spectrum preservative. Rather than take this risk, consider any of the well-formulated alternatives from other brands in our list of Best Serums.
As is the case with every DeVita product we've examined, the ingredient list doesn't comply with FDA or INCI ingredient labeling standards. For example, "Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola)" isn't a recognized ingredient name. They may mean "Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola) Extract," or leaf water, or root, or flower, or cell culture, but we (and you) don't know for certain. They repeat this error multiple times; for example, NaPCA should be "Sodium PCA," if that's the ingredient they use, and DMAE bitartrate should be "Dimethylaminoethanol," and on and on.
This lack of ingredient transparency is important to mention, as DeVita goes to great lengths to indicate their compliance with INCI regulatory requirements (INCI is the ingredient labeling standard used in Europe), and, of course, because you reasonably want to know what's ingredients are in (or not in) your skin-care products.
This Revolutionary Age Defying Product Combines DMAE (Helps To Lift) And Alpha Lipoic Acid (Super Anti-Oxidant), With Active Amino Peptides, Nutrients And Enzymes To Create A Powerful Free-Radical Scavenger And All-Over Anti-Aging Super Serum.
Aloe Barbadensis (Certified Organic Aloe Vera Gel), Camellia Sinensis (Japanese Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Vegetable Glycerin, Lecithin Phospholipid, Hyaluronic Acid (Vegan Source), Squalane (Olive), Palmitoyl Oligopeptide-Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Ascorbyl Palmitate (Vitamin C), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Centella Asiatica (Goto Kola), Rosa Moschata (Rose Hips) Oil, Ubiquinone (Co-Enzyme Q10), L-Carnosine, DMAE Bitartrate, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Thioctic Acid (Alpha Lipoic Acid), NaPCA, Retinol (Vitamin A), Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Lactic Acid (Natural Fruit Acid), Salix Alba (White Willow) Bark Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Seed Extract.
Strengths: Very few. While a few products contain beneficial ingredients, they are overshadowed by the many other ingredients that present significant concerns and by the questionable preservative systems.
Weaknesses: Ingredient label doesn’t comply with FDA or (global) International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) cosmetics regulations so you really don’t know what you are putting on your face; products appear to lack adequate preservatives to keep you safe from mold and bacteria (if they’re in the products, the company doesn’t list them); misleading to outlandish claims; some products contain multiple potent irritants.
It seems strange that the tagline for the Arizona-based DeVita Skin Care is "Guided by Nature, Driven by Science" because they take a decidedly unscientific route to promote their products, using consumers' fears of chemicals (describing them as "poisons and toxic" on their website) to the fullest degree. If this company was driven by science, we would expect more than just the same old scare tactic—"all chemicals are bad but all plants are good." In fact, all the ingredients in any cosmetic, including water, are chemicals.
DeVita makes the claim that their products are "all natural," vegan, and paraben-free, despite the fact that parabens come from natural ingredients and there is no research showing they are a problem for the body. Their all-natural claim is easy to debunk because their products contain decidedly synthetic ingredients, such as retinol, l-carnosine, palmitoyl oligopeptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, and polymethylsilsesquioxane, to name a few.
Regarding the l-carnosine and retinol, they are found naturally in animals, but they do not occur in plants. However, because the natural, animal-based versions aren't very stable or effective in skin-care formulas, l-carnosine and retinol in cosmetics are (with rare exceptions) synthetic. Therefore, either DeVita isn't being straight about being a vegan line, or they have their own definition of what "all-natural" means. That may very well be the case, because the "all natural" claim is not beholden to any sort of cosmetic regulation anywhere in the world.
All of this natural, chemical-free posturing gets so tiring—the truth is that there are good and bad natural ingredients, just as there are good and bad synthetic ingredients. Natural isn't inherently better and synthetic isn't inherently evil. One problem with DeVita products is that you can't be sure what you're really putting on your skin because DeVita takes liberties with how they list product ingredients, which is a regulatory no-no. For all the DeVita products we reviewed (without exception), not a single one had an ingredient list that complied with FDA or (global) INCI standards.
For example, "De-Ionized Water" isn't a recognized name, nor is "Aloe Barbadensis." In the latter case, the designation doesn't tell you if they're using aloe leaf, aloe flower extract with alcohol, aloe leaf juice diluted with water, or just a plain aloe extract. Listing the full ingredient is important information because different forms of an ingredient can mean different things to a formula and can have different effects on your skin.
We admire DeVita in that they don't resort to alcohol-based formulas (a rare quality for a natural brand); unfortunately, it seems they ignored, or simply overlooked, the research on the potent irritant potential of essential oils and fragrances.
They also seem to ignore the risks inherent in not using an effective preservative system. Many of the products we reviewed had questionable preservative systems (see individual product reviews for details), which is bad news (for you and your skin) because you won't know how long you can safely use a product before it's overrun by bacteria and mold. We raised our concern about the preservatives with a representative from DeVita and were told that their products were preserved by the use of aloe, allantoin, grape seed extract, grapefruit seed extract, and "others," depending on the product. To be clear, none of these ingredients has any research demonstrating an ability to work as broad-spectrum preservatives; that is, they won't keep your product free of mold, fungi, or bacteria.
It is true that some ingredients have natural antibacterial benefits, but that doesn't mean they are a good substitute for tried-and-true preservatives. For example, vitamin C has antibacterial and antioxidant benefit, but are you willing to drink from a container of 100% fruit juice that's been sitting on the counter for a month or two? There are plenty of options for effective preservatives, no matter if your preference is for natural skin care or not, but aloe, allantoin, grape seed, and grapefruit seed extract aren't counted among them.
We understand the appeal of DeVita as a brand for those who are enamored with the concept of 100% natural products. However, the reality is that DeVita presents this appearance of "all natural" by fudging the details, devising their own definitions of "all natural," and providing inaccurate information about the source of their ingredients (vegan plant-based l-carnosine and natural silicone—Really?). In many of the products we reviewed, DeVita either omits the source of their preservatives, or (more dangerous to imagine) uses ineffective preservative systems. We are not against naturally derived ingredients by any means, but if you're looking to use natural products, you can do better than this brand, which ultimately leaves you questioning what exactly it is you're putting on your skin.
For more information on DeVita, visit www.devitaskincare.com or call 1-877-233-8482.
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