DeVita's High Performance Glycolic Acid Blend actually does contain some beneficial ingredients, including antioxidants, anti-irritants, and lightweight emollients; it feels light on the skin, and it's formulated at an effective pH range for the glycolic acid to work as an exfoliant. It's even housed in a pump-style glass bottle to keep the ingredients protected.
Despite the beneficial ingredients, we have serious concerns about this formula: There is no listed broad-spectrum preservative system and the ingredient list (at the time of this review) isn't compliant with FDA or (global) INCI labeling standards (see More Info for details). That means you don't know how long it's going to remain free of bacteria and mold once opened, and you don't really know what you are putting on your skin. Those concerns aside, DeVita makes several claims that aren't accurate about where the ingredients are obtained and how they are used in a skin-care product.
High Performance Glycolic Acid Blend says that the glycolic, lactic, and maleic acids it contains come from natural sources, but that isn't possible, as we discuss below. Although sugarcane and some fruits contain tiny amounts of glycolic acid, adding sugarcane or fruit to a skin-care product won't make it work like an AHA exfoliant. The same is true for lactic acid and milk. But in this case, the ingredients are glycolic acid and lactic acid, not sugarcane extract and milk. These ingredients are produced synthetically in a lab through a process that isn't remotely natural. (That doesn't make them bad, it just makes DeVita's information misleading.) One minor point: The ingredient label says it contains maleic acid from fruit, but maleic acid is not in fruit. Malic acid is found in fruit, possibly one more oversight?
The most significant concern we have is the questionable preservative system as evidenced by the ingredient list. In a water-based product, a broad-spectrum preservative is critical to protect the product from developing bacteria and mold, and it's necessary, even in a glass bottle. You don't want to apply a product that is overrun by potentially harmful bacteria, and this risk is compounded with products that are naturally derived. (Think about how long a head of lettuce lasts in your refrigerator.)
Although some ingredients have inherent antibacterial properties (for example, salicylic acid, aloe, and citrus extracts), that doesn't mean they are a substitute for an adequate preservative system. For example, vitamin C has antibacterial and antioxidant benefit, but are you willing to drink from a bottle of orange juice that's been sitting on your kitchen counter for a month or two? There are plenty of options for effective preservatives, no matter whether your preference is for natural skin care or not, but this product seems to be missing all of them.
Bottom Line: Given that you really can't know what this product does and doesn't contain, there is no good reason to consider it, but plenty of reasons to avoid it. Instead, try any of the well-formulated AHA/BHA exfoliants from other brands recommended in our Best Products section.
The ingredient list for High Performance Glycolic Blend isn't compliant with FDA or INCI standards. For example, "De-Ionized Water" isn't a recognized ingredient; the same for "Aloe Barbadensis"? Is that leaf, flower extract, leaf juice, or leaf juice extract? You don't know because DeVita doesn't list the name of the full ingredient, and different forms of an ingredient can mean very different things to a formula and to your skin.
Reveal your inner beauty with our natural Glycolic Acid Blend formula. Glycolic acids have long been shown as the best anti aging results to promote rapid change in rough, listless skin by encouraging the rate of cellular turnover which can bring the appearance of smoother, younger looking skin, reduced pore size, and gives a blushed, healthy glow. Assists in minimizing break-outs, and milia, reduces the appearance of fine lines, deeper wrinkles and darkened areas on the face.
Aloe Barbadensis (Certified Organic Aloe Vera Gel), De-Ionized Water, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Camellia Sinensis (Japanese Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Lactic Acid (Natural Fruit Acid), Maleic Acid (Natural Fruit Acid), Glycolic Acid (Natural Fruit Acid), Allantoin, Chitin (Mushroom Sourced), Zinc Stearate, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Silybum Marianum (St. Mary's Thistle), Hydroxymethylcellulose, Squalane (Olive), Sodium PCA, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Lecithin Phospholipid.
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.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!