Age Control Brightening And Renewal Serum
Ahava Age Control Brightening And Renewal Serum can’t control your age (at least not if by “control” they mean “stop”…) but this is still an interesting hydrating serum for all skin types--and it definitely makes good on its brightening claim.
Housed in a translucent glass bottle that should be stored away from natural light (because ongoing exposure will weaken the light-sensitive ingredients), this lightweight serum is dispensed via pump. Its silky, thin texture glides over skin and you’ll notice that mineral pigments (chiefly mica) instantly brighten skin.
Although the instant brightening is a cosmetic effect, this serum also contains ingredients proven to reduce dark spots and uneven skin tone, including niacinamide and a form of vitamin C (ascorbyl glucoside). We’re a bit disappointed to see such impressive skin-improvers rather low on the ingredient list, but they’re still helpful.
This also contains a brightening peptide, oligopeptide-68, that research has shown can reduce melanin (skin pigment) production which in turn lightens dark spots. However, the 5% concentration of this ingredient used in studies isn’t the amount you’re getting in this formula. How do we know this? Because oligopeptide-68 is listed after the preservative phenoxyethanol, which is capped at a maximum usage rate of 1% in cosmetics.
Ahava claims this serum contains a natural form of retinol, Dunalliela salina, which is a type of microalgae that produces a high amount of beta-carotene. The claim is misleading because technically, beta carotene isn’t the same thing as retinol. We’ll explain…
There are two forms of vitamin A, preformed and vitamin A carotenoids. Pure retinol is the preformed kind, and it has numerous benefits for skin. Beta-carotene-- what the microalgae in this serum contains--is a vitamin A carotenoid. It delivers antioxidant benefits like retinol does, but does not work on skin the same way as pure retinol, sort of like how ice cream and sour cream have different flavors despite both being made from milk.
Interestingly, there’s some controversy about whether beta-carotene applied to skin can be converted by enzymes in skin to retinyl esters, the precursors to vitamin A (so it might eventually become retinol). It seems possible that this could happen and convey some amount of benefit, but we say if you want retinol, look for pure retinol, not a precursor that isn’t proven to deliver equivalent benefits.
Aside from that, the only other drawback here is the inclusion of fragrance and fragrance ingredients known to irritate skin. But on the plus side, all are present in low amounts and this serum doesn’t have a strong or lingering scent. Still, a fragrance free anti-aging serum is best.
- Lightweight, hydrating texture.
- Capable of improving uneven skin tone and dullness.
- Mineral pigments instantly brighten skin.
- The algae extract is a rich source of antioxidants.
- Contains some good plant-derived soothing agents.
- Contains fragrance and fragrant ingredients that can irritate skin.
- Does not contain a natural form of retinol as claimed.
Fight first signs of aging with help from an advanced serum that targets dark spots and uneven skin tone. Dunalliela Salina Algae, a natural form of retinol, along with vitamin C and niacinamide combine to boost cell renewal, brighten overall skin tone and improve the appearance of dark spots.
Strengths: Most of the cleansers are good.
Weaknesses: Expensive; several of the daytime moisturizers with sunscreen do not list active ingredients; Dead Sea mud is not the cure-all for anyone's aging skin; disappointing toners;lackluster moisturizers and serums; jar packaging; no AHA or BHA products; no products to manage acne; no products to lighten skin discolorations; average masks; irritating men's products.
Ahava is the Hebrew word for love, and this group has adopted it for these skin-care products imported from Israel. Other than the endearing title, the point of difference for Ahava is that their products contain salts and minerals from the Dead Sea in Israel. So, you ask, is your skin going to love these products because they contain Dead Sea water? Supposedly, Cleopatra did, and, of course, she must have had skin to die for, or else Mark Antony wouldn't have risked everything for her. Is that a good enough reason to consider these products for your own skin-care routine? We hope not. Aside from the folklore, there is little truth behind the hype, why would anyone believe that Cleopatra knew any more about skin care than she did about computers or cell phones, and skin care in this millennium is indeed akin to rocket science.
Keep in mind the Dead Sea in Israel is called "dead" because nothing can live in it (technically, there are some bacteria and fungi that can). There are many environmental factors that contribute to making the Dead Sea one of the saltiest lakes in the world, but we won't get into that discussion. A comparison should give you an idea of just how salty it is. The seawater in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans has a salt content of 34%, while the Dead Sea has a salt content of 32%, as well as a large concentration of minerals such as sulfur, magnesium, calcium, bromide, and potassium. If you haven't been to the Dead Sea, we can tell you the aroma of the sulfur in the water is overwhelming. It is hard to imagine that anything so noxious would be considered a desirable beauty treatment.
Despite the smell and the high mineral content, there are no clinical studies or research showing that Dead Sea minerals have any effect on wrinkles, discolorations, sagging skin, or acne. There are, however, several studies demonstrating that Dead Sea minerals can have a positive effect on psoriatic skin, a practice known as climatotherapy (Sources: International Journal of Dermatology, October 2007, pages 10871091; Journal of Dermatological Treatment, May-June 2005, pages 308313; and Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, September 2003, pages 451457). Psoriasis is a skin condition characterized by rapidly dividing, overactive skin cells. How the Dead Sea minerals and salts affect psoriasis is still being debated. One of the more popular theories is that the mineral content of the water slows down the out-of-control cell division. Some research indicates that the benefit is cumulative and that the results can last for up to five months. Immersing psoriasis-afflicted skin in Dead Sea minerals is also a treatment that is better-tolerated than many conventional medical options.
Studies by the Department of Medicine and Department of Epidemiology and Dermatology at the Soroka Medical Center of Kupat-Holim in Israel and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on psoriasis and other skin rashes noted that "improvement [in skin] was found when patients soaked in two pounds/one kilo for three baths per week, for a period of six weeks." Now that's a lot of Dead Sea water, and certainly not the amount you would get by using these products. Most important, however, if you are looking for Dead Sea water to heal wrinkles, think again, because wrinkles are completely unrelated to psoriasis or other skin rashes.
Even if Dead Sea salts could benefit normal skin in some way, the amount you'll find in the Ahava products and products from other Dead Sea-oriented lines are infinitesimally small in comparison with the amounts used in the published studies, and your skin deserves so much more than these one-note products can deliver. For more information about Ahava, call (800) 366-7254 or visit www.ahavaus.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.