At $235 for 1 ounce of product, you would expect the Bio Serum Intensive Treatment to be truly groundbreaking. Unfortunately, what’s housed inside this pump-style container is a shockingly average collection of amino acids, a few antioxidants, and a small amount of Neocutis’ trademarked PSP, or “Processed Skin Proteins” blend. There isn’t much to say about PSP, as on closer inspection there is scant research demonstrating it has much benefit at all for skin (check out the More Info section for additional details on this ingredient).
Adding to this serum’s allure are its strangely nebulous marketing claims—with a promise to “restore a youthful, firm and supple look to skin.” There is no explanation beyond this to indicate what results to expect, or how Bio Serum Intensive Treatment is actually going to accomplish those results. If one is going to pay this much, you would think Neocutis would be more specific about what you can expect to get in return. Maybe they’re hoping the brand’s medical positioning will be enough reason for most consumers to open their wallets.
What you shouldn’t expect in return is for your wrinkles and sagging skin to vanish miraculously, as amino acids and antioxidants just aren’t capable of having that kind of effect on signs of aging. Amino acids such as those included here—arginine, proline, glycine, and glutamine—can help improve moisture content and speed the healing of damaged skin, but that’s a benefit shared by many cosmetic ingredients.
We should mention that Neocutis also sells this formula in a smaller, click-pen container at $94 for 0.13 fl. oz., but neither size is strongly recommended.
For the above reasons, this truly earned its AVERAGE rating—whatever intensive impact Neocutis is hinting will result from the use of Bio Serum Intensive Treatment isn’t supported by research, and certainly can’t compare with the benefits of many well-researched ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, and others.
If you truly wish to treat your signs of aging more aggressively, consider a potent retinol formula like those recommended on our list of Best Retinol Products.
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 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.
BIO•SERUM is super-charged with an unprecedented amount of PSP® and collagen fueling building blocks to help provide faster, more visible results. This exclusive combination of the highest available concentration of PSP® with targeted, nutrient rich ingredients work to help restore a youthful, firm and supple look to your skin.
Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Pullulan, Squalane, Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Acetyl Glucosamine, Arginine, Proline, Glycine, Glutamine, Processed Skin Proteins (PSP®), Trifluoracetyl Tripeptide-2, Algae Extract, Polysorbate 60, Dextran, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Chlorphenesin, Ethylene/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol.
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.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!