NeocutisPerle Skin Brightening Cream with Melaplex
1 fl. oz. for $105
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Brand Overview
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If you’re paying top dollar for a skin-lightening product, you should expect to get a formula that relies on well-researched ingredients that have demonstrated effectiveness. Unfortunately, that isn’t what you get here—Perle Skin Brightening Cream is simply a fragrance-free blend of moisturizing ingredients, plant oils, and shea butter, along with thickeners suitable for normal to dry skin.

Despite the marketing claims, this (surprisingly) lacks proven skin-lightening agents. Instead of including any number of ingredients that have a demonstrated ability to lighten sun- or hormone-induced discolorations, Neocutis includes a series of potential lighteners that have almost no supporting research at all, such as leucine, undecylenoyl phenylalanine, aminopropyl ascorbyl phosphate, and phenylethyl resorcinol.

Aminopropyl ascorbyl phosphate is a relatively new derivative of vitamin C that has no research demonstrating any benefit for skin, and undecylenoyl phenylalanine and leucine are amino acids that have theoretical skin-lightening abilities; that is, there is no research on actual human subjects or in skincare formulas (Peptides, 2003; and Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 2007).

Neocutis also included the synthetic ingredient phenylethyl resorcinol, whose only supporting research seems to be what was paid for by the company (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2011). That’s not the worst thing, but it’s not as robust as we like to see, especially given the number of well-researched alternatives.

Even if these ingredients were well researched and had demonstrated skin-lightening benefits, Neocutis included only a tiny amount, as evidenced by nearly all of them being listed after citric acid, which typically is used at a maximum of 1% in cosmetics.

Perle Skin Brightening Cream with Melaplex earned its AVERAGE rating as a result of the questionable decision to rely entirely on unproven (at least on intact skin) skin-lightening ingredients, but charging an extraordinary amount for what is essentially an everyday moisturizer. Rather than take a gamble on this product, consider any of the (many) well-formulated alternatives recommended on our list of Best Skin-Lightening Products.

One more comment: Neocutis notes that the Melaplex Complex (containing the ingredients discussed above) is patent-pending. That sounds good, until you understand that this claim isn’t about effectiveness. Pending or not, a patent is simply legal protection for a unique idea for a specific time period, which means that others cannot use it during that period. Patents do not indicate that a product or ingredient works as claimed or that it is better than products that are not patented.

  • Fragrance-free.
  • Contains a few beneficial emollient ingredients for dry skin.
  • Packaged to protect its air- and light-sensitive ingredients.
  • Lacks proven skin-lightening ingredients.
  • Expensive for a (very) basic formula.
Last Updated:01.22.2015
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:No
Community Reviews

Dark spots and dull skin! PERLE Skin Brightening Cream contains patent-pending MELAPLEX®, a quadruple threat to uneven skin tone. This scientifically engineered complex targets skin with 4 cosmetic ingredients to help banish the appearance of those aging little dark spots.


Water (Aqua), Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Diisopropyl Adipate, Disodium Glycerophosphate, Caprylyl Methicone, Ceteareth-20, Glycerin, Leucine, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Dimethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citric Acid, Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate, Undecylenoyl Phenylalanine, Phenylethyl Resorcinol, Xanthan Gum, Chlorphenesin, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate / Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Metabisulfite, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol.

Brand Overview

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/.

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