02.28.2017
19
SkinCeuticalsH.A. Intensifier
1 fl. oz. for $98
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SkinCeuticals offers some intriguing products for anti-aging though this H.A. Intensifier ("H.A." meaning hyaluronic acid, a very good hydrating ingredient) isn't one of them. Although it does have some proven and novel ingredients that are quite good for skin, the amount of denatured alcohol it contains is cause for concern.

Adding to the problem is this formula also includes fragrant citrus oils and the fragrance ingredient limonene, all of which intensify irritation rather than improving your skin. This is doubly disappointing given SkinCeuticals products generally don't have these problems. See More Info for details about alcohol and fragrance in cosmetics.

H.A. Intensifier is housed in a dark brown glass bottle topped with dropper applicator. It contains hyaluronic acid in the form of sodium hyaluronate, along with Pro-Xylane, a hydrating ingredient developed by L'Oreal, now the parent company of SkinCeuticals. Also on hand is a licorice extract that provides soothing benefits, all in a lightweight, fluid base that's easy to apply.

The major claim is that H.A. Intensifier "amplifies" the natural amount of hyaluronic acid in skin. As we age (and especially as we accumulate more sun damage), our skin's natural supply of hyaluronic acid decreases, along with other vital substances like collagen and elastin.

You can apply hyaluronic acid or its derivatives to skin to enjoy their line-smoothing, plumping, and hydrating benefits—it's a truly fascinating ingredient. But don't mistake this benefit as being permanent because it isn't. Skin needs to be replenished with it every day.

There are reasons to add a hyaluronic acid-centered product to your routine, and we're happy that SkinCeuticals isn't relying on this ingredient alone; however, these beneficial ingredients can be enjoyed from other products that don't expose skin to the damaging effects of alcohol and fragrance. See our top-rated serums and boosters, including those with hyaluronic acid, here.

Pros:
  • Contains a good amount of licorice extract and sodium hyaluronate.
  • Includes a moisture-binding polymer that seals hydration in skin.
  • Packaging helps keep the formula's delicate ingredients stable.
Cons:
  • The amount of alcohol poses a strong risk of irritation.
  • Contains fragrant citrus oils known to sensitize skin.
  • Pricey for what you get.
More Info:

Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Research makes it clear that alcohol, as a main ingredient in any skincare product, especially one you use frequently and repeatedly, is a problem.

When we express concern about the presence of alcohol in skincare or makeup products, we're referring to denatured ethanol, which most often is listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat., denatured alcohol, or (less often) isopropyl alcohol.

When you see these types of alcohol listed among the first six ingredients on an ingredient label, without question the product will irritate and cause other problems for skin. There's no way around it—these volatile alcohols are simply bad for all skin types.

The reason they're included in products is because they provide a quick-drying finish, immediately degrease skin, and feel weightless, so it's easy to see their appeal, especially for those with oily skin. If only those short-term benefits didn't lead to negative long-term outcomes!

Using products that contain these alcohols will cause dryness, erosion of skin's protective barrier, and a strain on how skin replenishes, renews, and rejuvenates itself. Alcohol just weakens everything about skin.

The irony of using alcohol-based products to control oily skin is that the damage from the alcohol can actually lead to an increase in breakouts and enlarged pores. As we said, the alcohol does have an immediate de-greasing effect on skin, but it causes irritation, which eventually will counteract the de-greasing effect and make your oily skin look even more shiny.

There are people who challenge us on the information we've presented about alcohol's effects. They often base their argument on a study in the British Journal of Dermatology (July 2007, pages 74–81) that concluded "alcohol-based hand rubs cause less irritation than hand washing…." But, the only thing this study showed was that alcohol was not as irritating as an even more irritating hand wash, which contained sodium lauryl sulfate. So, the study is actually just telling you that one irritant, sodium lauryl sulfate, is worse than another irritant, alcohol.

Not all alcohols are bad. For example, there are fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be beneficial for skin. Examples that you'll see on ingredient labels include cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol, all of which are good ingredients for skin. It's important to differentiate between these skin-friendly alcohols and the problematic alcohols.

References for this information:

Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80

Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175

Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, pages 1–16

Dermato-Endocrinology, January 2011, pages 41–49

Experimental Dermatology, June 2008, pages 542–551

Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366

Alcohol Journal, April 2002, pages 179–190

Why Fragrance Is a Problem for Skin: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes a chronic sensitizing reaction on skin.

This reaction in turn leads to all kinds of problems, including disrupting skin's barrier, worsening dryness, increasing or triggering redness, depleting vital substances in skin's surface, and generally preventing skin from looking healthy, smooth, and hydrated. Fragrance free is always the best way to go for all skin types.

A surprising fact: Even though you can't always see or feel the negative effects of fragrant ingredients on skin, the damage will still be taking place, even if it's not evident on the surface. Research has demonstrated that you don't need to see or feel the effects of irritation for your skin to be suffering. Much like the effects from cumulative sun damage, the negative impact and the visible damage from fragrance may not become apparent for a long time.

References for this information:

Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419

Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175

Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80

Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821–832

Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, pages 191–202

International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement, pages 1–43

Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475

American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798

Last Updated:02.28.2017
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Community Reviews
Claims
H.A. Intensifier is a multi-beneficial corrective serum proven to amplify skin’s hyaluronic acid levels. This unique formulation contains a high concentration of pure hyaluronic acid, proxylane™, and botanical extracts of licorice root and purple rice to support skin’s hyaluronic acid levels and deliver surface hydration, helping improve the visible appearance of firmness, smoothness, and facial plumpness. This hyaluronic acid serum may be used as part of a home skincare regimen after dermal fillers; always consult with your physician for individual at-home advice.
Ingredients
Aqua/Water, Cyclohexasiloxane, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol (Pro-Xylane), Propylene Glycol, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Polysilicone-11, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dimethicone, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Octyldodecanol, Bis-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG 16/16 Dimethicone, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Dextrin, Oryza Sativa Extract/Rice Extract, Disodium EDTA, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sodium Hydroxide, Adenosine, Citrus Nobilis Peel Oil/Mandarin Orange Peel Oil, Limonene, T-Butyl Alcohol, Cellulose Acetate Butyrate, Polyphosphorylcholine Glycol Acrylate, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Sodium Chloride, Butylene Glycol, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate.
Brand Overview

SkinCeuticals At-A-Glance

With a strong presence in the professional (meaning spa and aesthetics) skincare market, SkinCeuticals has a mostly well-deserved reputation for producing serious-minded, research-driven products, several of which are centered on L-ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C).

There are many good reasons to shop this line; it boasts a lineup up impressive vitamin C products, as well as some good retinol options and sunscreens. Even better is that the majority of its anti-aging products are packaged in containers that will protect their contents from light and air. Focusing on what Skinceuticals does best (which is serums, sunscreens, and specialty products) will be money well spent for visible results. The main drawbacks of this line are some products that contain fragrance ingredients, as well as potentially-drying alcohol, though they represent the minority of the brand’s offerings.

For more information about SkinCeuticals, call 1-800-771-9489 or visit www.skinceuticals.com.

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