C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum
Dr. Dennis Gross continues his streak of creating intriguing anti-aging serums with his C+ Collagen Brighten & firm Vitamin C Serum. This water-based, vitamin C-laced fragrance-free serum is suitable for all skin types.
Housed in a see-through plastic bottle with an opaque inner container to hold the amber-colored serum and keep it protected from light and air, the formula contains B vitamin niacinamide plus a very good mix of antioxidants, including three types of vitamin C. We're glad Dr. Gross took this approach, because as good as vitamin C is for skin, it's not the only ingredient skin needs to thrive.
As for the negatives, the only one of note is the presence of denatured alcohol (the kind that can dry out skin and cause free radical damage). In use, this serum doesn't have alcohol's initial scent, nor does it feel drying immediately but it's still disappointing to see so many beneficial ingredients for skin listed after the skin-hurting alcohol.
Although this does contain collagen amino acids, these cannot bind to and shore up your skin's own collagen; however, the combination of vitamin C and numerous antioxidants can help increase skin's firmness (assuming your routine also includes a broad spectrum sunscreen that you apply daily).
Based on what research has shown vitamin C, niacinamide, and the specific antioxidants in this serum can do for skin, the claims of it being able to "improve imperfections like dullness, dark spots, rough texture, and expression lines" are true; however, this cannot lift sagging skin to take it from "slack to tight". Sadly, this benefit is beyond the capability of even the best skincare products.
C + Collagen Brighten & firm Vitamin C Serum almost crosses the anti-aging finish line with an overall impressive formula all skin types can use to improve multiple signs of aging. The weightless texture and stable packaging are excellent, but the questionable amount of denatured alcohol remains a sticking point that keeps this from being among today's best serums.
- Contains a very good mix of ingredients to improve uneven skin tone and discolorations.
- Very good mix of antioxidants, including three types of vitamin C.
- Capable of making good on all but one of its claims.
- Fragrance free.
- Amount of alcohol poses a risk of irritation.
- Won't take skin from "slack to tight", at least not if sagging is significant.
Dr. Dennis GrossSkincare At-A-Glance
Strengths: Almost all of the products are fragrance-free; several serums and moisturizers contain a brilliant assortment of beneficial skin-care ingredients; all of the sunscreens contain sufficient UVA protection; almost all of the antioxidant-rich products are packaged to ensure stability and potency.
Weaknesses: Expensive; no effective AHA or BHA products (including the at-home peel the line is "known" for); problematic toner; incomplete selection of products to treat acne, and whats available is more irritating than helpful; a few "why bother?" products.
As you may have gleaned from the name, dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross created this skin-care line. Based in New York City, he claims that all of his products provide "maximum results without side effects," a statement any doctor should know better than to make. For instance, a consumer would logically assume, especially coming from a doctor, that "maximum results" means the products in question really will firm, lift, tighten, plump, or peel the skin. ButDr. Dennis GrossSkincare products don't provide maximum results, not in the least, and definitely not in any of the ways suggested by the marketing copy. In fact, although Gross includes some very impressive ingredients in his products, they cannot make good on the most enticing claims he makes for them.
As for the promise of "no side effects," that is easily refuted with a simple overview of his underachieving products. A quick summary: lavender oil can cause skin-cell death, sulfur is extremely irritating and drying to skin, ascorbic acid can be sensitizing, as can retinol, and the synthetic active sunscreen agents he uses can also present their share of problems. That's not to say that all of these ingredients are bad for skin (only the sulfur and lavender oil qualify for that description), but it's foolish to make a blanket statement that your cosmeceutical-type products are free of side effects. How could he possibly know what a person may react to?
Gross also asserts that he uses cutting-edge technology in his products, a point which I concede given the number of superior moisturizers and serums he offers, all of which compete nicely with other well-formulated products. His products are expensive, but if you're going to spend a lot of money on skin-care products, you should be purchasing state-of-the-art formulas, and these do rate. Of course, this technology (read: efficacious ingredients) doesn't extend to everyDr. Dennis GrossSkincare product, but overall this is one line whose formulas have improved considerably since the previous edition of this book, and that is excellent news!
Several of the products in this line contain emu oil. While there is research indicating that emu oil is a good emollient that can help heal skin, it is not that different from other oils that offer the same benefit, such as grape or olive or even mineral oil for that matter (Source: Australasian Journal of Dermatology, August 1996, pages 159161).
Last, please ignore the tired claim that these products are your alternative to surgical procedures and that they use medical-grade ingredients. Concerning the latter, there is no such thing; Gross uses the same cosmetic and over-the-counter active ingredients found throughout the cosmetics industry. And although his line offers some remarkable products, none of them can provide results equivalent to Botox, dermal fillers, chemical peels, or laser treatments (and definitely not a face-lift).
Note: Unless mentioned otherwise, all MD Skincare products are fragrance-free.
For more information about Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, call (888) 830-7546 or visit the Web site at www.dgskincare.com.
NOTE: In Spring 2010, MD Skincare became Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare.
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.