This skin-lightening product is sold as an alternative for those who cannot (or do not wish to) use hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is widely considered the gold standard for treating brown spots and discolorations, but has its share of controversy (please refer to our Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary for details).
Instead of hydroquinone (which NeoStrata Canada includes in many of their HQ products), this HQ product contains Gigawhite for skin lightening. Gigawhite is not an ingredient per se; it’s a trade name for a mixture of plant extracts. Among the plants in Gigawhite are peppermint and melissa, two irritants that lack impressive research proving they lighten skin discolorations. On the other hand, research does show that the irritation these plants cause can hurt your skin’s healing process and impair healthy collagen production.
Perhaps most important is that published research has not shown that the ingredients in the Gigawhite blend are better than hydroquinone, or even moderately exciting (Source: Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews: Interventions for Melasma, volume 7, July 2010). In the end, there’s no compelling reason to consider this product for improving skin discolorations.
Gentle alternative for highly reactive skin since it contains Gigawhite, a natural plant-derived and preservative-free extract.
NeoStrata Canada At-a-Glance
Strengths: Effective AHA products with glycolic acid and, in some instances, the polyhydroxy acid gluconolactone; good, but pricey self-tanner; some well-formulated moisturizers and vitamin C serums.
Weaknesses: Irritating anti-acne products; the AHA with sunscreen products do not provide sufficient UVA protection, leaving your skin vulnerable to the sun's aging rays; most of the skin-lightening products contain an irritating amount of alcohol; jar packaging; some of the products contain such large amounts of anti-aging ingredients that they tip the scales toward irritation rather than toward youthful benefits.
NeoStrata Canada is not associated in any way with the NeoStrata brand sold in the United States, and the product selections are completely different. We asked NeoStrata Canada's owner, Canderma Pharma, Inc., why many of the products are completely different, but no one would tell us, so it remains a mystery.
What NeoStrata Canada and the U.S.-sold NeoStrata products do have in common is an abundance of well-formulated AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) exfoliants at effective concentrations and at the correct pH levels. The prices are all over the place, but for the most part you can be assured that any AHA product you purchase from NeoStrata Canada will exfoliate your skin and provide additional benefits such as improved skin texture and tone.
Exfoliants are both lines' key selling point, but they're not perfect. For example, the AHA products with sunscreen do not provide enough critical UVA protection (meaning they lack the UVA-protecting active ingredients of avobenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, Tinsorb, ecamsule, or Mexoryl SX). That lack is a disappointment for those who were hoping that an AHA plus sunscreen would be a convenience.
NeoStrata Canada has several other intriguing products that include impressive ingredients such as peptides, retinol, vitamin C, and the company's patented AHA alternative, the polyhydroxy acid known as gluconolactone. Despite including some great ingredients, the formulas suffer from the inclusion of irritants (alcohol is a big one) and/or packaging that won't keep the beneficial ingredients stable during use.
The serums with vitamin C are worth a look, if you're curious about vitamin C. However, you'd do better looking for vitamin C in a product that also treats your skin to a variety of beneficial ingredients because one antioxidant is never enough; your skin requires much more (just like your diet) to be healthy so it can look and act younger.
Because NeoStrata Canada's products are not associated with the NeoStrata brand sold in the United States, our team called NeoStrata Canada's customer service to get additional consumer information about their products. Unfortunately, NeoStrata Canada's customer service phone number was perpetually set to voicemail, and our numerous messages (all left as regular customers, not as investigators) were never returned. After two weeks, the one email reply we did get in response to a question concerning active ingredients said simply that they couldn't give us any information. Their solution was to tell us that we would have to locate the product on store shelves to answer our own question. Either our question was too probing or NeoStrata Canada's strength is not customer service.
For more information about NeoStrata Canada, call (800) 636-3664 or visit www.neostrata.ca.
Note: All prices are in Canadian currency.
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.