Bio-Gel Bio-Restorative Hydrogel is marketed for those with oily to combination skin types who may or may not be prone to breakouts. In that respect, this formula certainly lives up to its marketing claims—it’s light gel formula is irritant- and fragrance-free, lacking any commonly problematic ingredients for those battling blemishes. Unfortunately, it’s lacking in nearly all other categories as well. For $160+, you get a bottle that contains of 99% glycol, glycerin, and thickeners.
Such ingredients should serve as the beginnings of a well-formulated gel moisturizer for oily to combination skin, but it’s as if Neocutis decided to stop there! Bio-Gel Bio-Restorative Hydrogel is missing the proven ingredients—like antioxidants—that can help ward off free-radical damage, heal skin, and soothe inflammation.
It does contain hyaluronic acid and Neocutis’ trademarked PSP (“Processed Skin Proteins”), but that isn’t enough to redeem this formula, as they’re listed after the preservative phenoxyethanol in the ingredient list. Phenoxyethanol is to 1% in cosmetics, and that’s something to pay close attention to here because that means that the potentially beneficial ingredients included—hyaluronic acid and PSP—make up less than 1%. As there’s no research indicating how much PSP a product should contain to provide benefits, you’re left to guess that less than 1% is sufficient.
Their PSP, or “Processed Skin Proteins,” blend is in that group that makes up less than 1%, but even if it were present in greater amounts, PSP isn’t the miracle Neocutis makes it out to be (check out the More Info section for additional details on PSP).
Aesthetically, this will feel nice for those who are seeking a light gel formula with minimal moisture. However, BioGel Bio Restorative Hydrogel with PSP earned an AVERAGE rating because it is average—and handily outperformed by even the simplest drugstore moisturizer due to the near total absence of beneficial ingredients.
At this price, you really should expect far more—like what you will find in any of the well-formulated alternatives on our list of Best Moisturizers Without Sunscreen.
Processed Skin Proteins: “Processed Skin Proteins,” or PSP, is a blend of peptides, proteins, and other substances featured in many Neocutis products that they claim “….harnesses the power of human growth factors and cytokines.” You may have also heard that a component of this anti-aging blend is human fetal cell tissue—which is correct.
In 2006, a Swiss study published in Cell Transplantation found that biopsied fetal cell tissue could be used for tissue engineering—replacing elements of damaged tissue to aid in the healing process of injuries (Cell Transplantation, 2006). Those biopsied cells were stored in a cell bank, and today, Neocutis uses cell tissue grown from that original cell line; that is, no other fetuses have been biopsied for cells that are destined for use in the PSP blend in Neocutis products. Rather, they continue to grow cells in the lab from the original cell line.
Cellular reengineering of wounds does not translate into how the Neocutis PSP blend is used in their skincare products—and there isn’t much research on this proprietary blend. What does exist regarding skincare application of the Neocutis PSP blend was conducted on a small group of 12 patients, and only four showed improvement (8% or less is hardly impressive) in collagen production (Journal of the Academy of Dermatology, 2008). There was no comparative data on how PSP performed against other well-researched ingredients such as vitamin C, green tea extract, resveratrol, retinol, or niacinamide.
The bottom line: While some of the proteins and amino acids that make up PSP do have some benefit for skin, it’s minor in comparison to the benefits of well-researched alternatives that you’ll find in abundance in some products from other brands. There isn’t any reason to buy into the belief that PSP is the “miracle” ingredient you’ve been waiting for, and the research certainly doesn’t support the claims made around its use in Neocutis skincare products. Remember, skincare is never as simple as one ingredient, however great (or seemingly great) it may be.
Hydrogel formulation delivers the anti-aging benefits of PSP® in a lighter gel option for skin that is more prone to oil and shine.
Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Carbomer, PEG-8, Caprylyl Glycol, Carrageenan (Chondrus Crispus), Phenoxyethanol, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Processed Skin Proteins (PSP®), Butylparaben, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ethylparaben, Sodium Polyacrylate, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben.
Strengths: Fragrance-free products; use of pump or tube packaging protects the light- and air-sensitive ingredients; excellent vitamin C serum and retinol product.
Weaknesses: Many of the anti-aging moisturizers and treatments are disappointingly simple formulas; expensive; some products rely on unproven ingredients.
If you’ve heard of the Neocutis brand, it’s likely because a dermatologist or aesthetician recommended one of their moisturizers or treatments. Like many skincare brands catering to patients of dermatologists and so-called “medi spas,” the claims associated with their products play off the perception of “prescription results” via ingredients that have medicinal-sounding names such as “Processed Skin Proteins” and “Melaplex.” It’s all designed to make you think you’re getting something special along with the pedigree of the doctor or spa retailing this line. As you’ll see from the reviews, that’s not true, although there are some good products to be found here.
Now headquartered in San Francisco, California, Neocutis was founded in Switzerland in 2003 by a group of physicians and biologists who realized the [marketing] potential of human cells in skincare products—specifically, amino acids and proteins (which is where their trademarked ingredients with exotic-sounding names come into play).
Despite their beginnings and their initial exclusivity to dermatologists’ offices, today you can order Neocutis products from beauty sites and other online retailers. Their line includes a range of products that caters to those whose foremost concerns are treating and preventing signs of aging. As a result, you’ll find Neocutis offers moisturizers, eye creams, and targeted treatments, many of which are themed around their trademarked “PSP,” or “Processed Skin Proteins.” Note: They claim this blend of peptides, proteins, and other substances “harnesses the power of human-cell derived growth factors and cytokines.”
What Neocutis isn’t telling you is that this blend of cytokines and human-cell derived growth factors has little research demonstrating any benefit for skin, and certainly not in comparison to the numerous well-researched antioxidants and cell-communicating agents used in so many of today’s best anti-aging products (see the More Info section of the products reviewed here for more details on PSP).
We should also note that, at the time of this review, Neocutis does not universally adhere to cosmetics ingredient labeling regulations on some of their products. In some cases, they do not list individually the proteins and amino acids that make up their PSP blend, which violates International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) and
Unfortunately, despite the pomp and circumstance surrounding these products, most are extraordinarily overpriced and contain a surprisingly bland mix of basic moisturizing ingredients with a dusting of antioxidants. When we say “dusting” of beneficial ingredients, we really mean just that; in fact, one of their “remarkable” moisturizers is little more than a mix of glycerin, glycol, and thickeners, with a price tag topping $160!
On a positive note, Neocutis does have two outstanding products—one vitamin C serum and a retinol product—that are (like all of their formulas) fragrance-free and packaged to protect their light- and air-sensitive ingredients. What’s certain is that Neocutis doesn’t have enough going for it to make putting together an entire anti-aging skincare routine from their products a good idea, for your skin or for your budget!
For more information on Neocutis, call 1-866-636-2884 or visit http://www.neocutis.com/.
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.
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