AQ Skin Solutions Active Serum
AQ Skin Solutions

Active Serum

Active Serum contains patented Growth Factor Technology (U.S. Pat. 8,518,879) to promote the natural growth, organization and maintenance of your own skin cells. Active Serum contains high-purity of fibroblast growth [more] [more] factors – which are genetically similar to the growth factors that are naturally made by the body. As we age, the production of these growth factors decreases, resulting in the inability of the skin to rejuvenate. Supplementing the skin with the Active Serum can help the skin naturally rejuvenate itself, returning the skin to it’s youthful state. [less]
Uploaded by: klkxinci on 01/08/2017

Ingredients overview

Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient
Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media (HFCM) essentially means a "Growth Factor Cocktail" for your skin. We have written more about the most common GF used in skincare, the Epidermal Growth Factor here, so if you are new to the topic head over there to catch up. [more]
,
Water (Aqua)
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
Glycerin
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A real oldie but a goodie. Great natural moisturizer and skin-identical ingredient that plays an important role in skin hydration and general skin health. [more]
,
Polysorbate 20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 
,
Cellulose Gum
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A cellulose (the big molecule found in the cell wall of green plants) derivative that is used as an emulsion stabilizer and thickener. 
,
Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening
A stable, oil-soluble form of Vitamin C, that might have (in-vitro results) all the magic abilities of pure vitamin C (antioxidant, collagen booster, skin brightener). [more]
,
Tocopheryl Acetate
what‑it‑does antioxidant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A form of vitamin E that works as an antioxidant. Compared to the pure form it's more stable, has longer shelf life, but it's also more poorly absorbed by the skin. [more]
,
Lactic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | moisturizer/humectant
A superstar AHA that not only exfoliates skin but is also a very good moisturizer. In higher concentration (10% and up) it can even improve skin firmness, thickness, and wrinkles. [more]
,
Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil
what‑it‑does perfuming
The essential oil coming from the fruit (probably the rind) of the bergamot orange.  It's a common top note in perfumes and contains (among others) fragrant compounds limonene (37%), linalyl acetate (30%) and linalool (8.8%). A well-known issue with bergamot oil (apart from the fragrance allergens) is that it contains phototoxic  [more]
, [more]
Phenoxyethanol
what‑it‑does preservative
Pretty much the current IT-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, and can be used up to 1% worldwide. [more]
,
1,2-Hexanediol
what‑it‑does solvent
A multi-functional helper ingredient that acts as a humectant and emollient. It's also a solvent and can boost the effectiveness of preservatives. [more]
,
Caprylyl Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient
A handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel and also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives. [more]
[less]

Highlights

Key Ingredients

Antioxidant: Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening
A stable, oil-soluble form of Vitamin C, that might have (in-vitro results) all the magic abilities of pure vitamin C (antioxidant, collagen booster, skin brightener). [more]
,
Tocopheryl Acetate
what‑it‑does antioxidant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A form of vitamin E that works as an antioxidant. Compared to the pure form it's more stable, has longer shelf life, but it's also more poorly absorbed by the skin. [more]
Cell-communicating ingredient: Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media
what‑it‑does cell-communicating ingredient
Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media (HFCM) essentially means a "Growth Factor Cocktail" for your skin. We have written more about the most common GF used in skincare, the Epidermal Growth Factor here, so if you are new to the topic head over there to catch up. [more]
Exfoliant: Lactic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | moisturizer/humectant
A superstar AHA that not only exfoliates skin but is also a very good moisturizer. In higher concentration (10% and up) it can even improve skin firmness, thickness, and wrinkles. [more]
Skin brightening: Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate
what‑it‑does antioxidant | skin brightening
A stable, oil-soluble form of Vitamin C, that might have (in-vitro results) all the magic abilities of pure vitamin C (antioxidant, collagen booster, skin brightener). [more]
Skin-identical ingredient: Glycerin
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A real oldie but a goodie. Great natural moisturizer and skin-identical ingredient that plays an important role in skin hydration and general skin health. [more]

Show all ingredients by function

Other Ingredients

Emollient: Caprylyl Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient
A handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel and also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives. [more]
Emulsifying: Polysorbate 20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 
Moisturizer/humectant: Glycerin
what‑it‑does skin-identical ingredient | moisturizer/humectant
irritancy, com. 0 0
A real oldie but a goodie. Great natural moisturizer and skin-identical ingredient that plays an important role in skin hydration and general skin health. [more]
,
Lactic Acid
what‑it‑does exfoliant | moisturizer/humectant
A superstar AHA that not only exfoliates skin but is also a very good moisturizer. In higher concentration (10% and up) it can even improve skin firmness, thickness, and wrinkles. [more]
,
Caprylyl Glycol
what‑it‑does moisturizer/humectant | emollient
A handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel and also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives. [more]
Perfuming: Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil
what‑it‑does perfuming
The essential oil coming from the fruit (probably the rind) of the bergamot orange.  It's a common top note in perfumes and contains (among others) fragrant compounds limonene (37%), linalyl acetate (30%) and linalool (8.8%). A well-known issue with bergamot oil (apart from the fragrance allergens) is that it contains phototoxic  [more]
Preservative: Phenoxyethanol
what‑it‑does preservative
Pretty much the current IT-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, and can be used up to 1% worldwide. [more]
Solvent: Water (Aqua)
what‑it‑does solvent
Normal (well kind of - it's purified and deionized) water. Usually the main solvent in cosmetic products. [more]
,
1,2-Hexanediol
what‑it‑does solvent
A multi-functional helper ingredient that acts as a humectant and emollient. It's also a solvent and can boost the effectiveness of preservatives. [more]
Surfactant/cleansing: Polysorbate 20
what‑it‑does emulsifying | surfactant/cleansing
irritancy, com. 0 0
It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 
Viscosity controlling: Cellulose Gum
what‑it‑does viscosity controlling
A cellulose (the big molecule found in the cell wall of green plants) derivative that is used as an emulsion stabilizer and thickener. 

Ingredients explained

Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media (HFCM) essentially means a "Growth Factor Cocktail" for your skin. We have written more about the most common GF used in skincare, the Epidermal Growth Factor here, so if you are new to the topic head over there to catch up. The TL;DR version is that a Growth Factor is a medium long amino acid sequence (= small protein = big peptide) that works as a cell signaling molecule to stimulate cell growth, proliferation, healing and/or differentiation

Ingredients called "Conditioned Media" cover not one but a mix of Growth Factors derived from some cells grown in a lab. In the EU, human cell-derived ingredients are illegal, so GF products available in the EU usually use a plant source (e.g. barley). In the US, human-derived GFs are all OK, and Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media is derived, as its name suggests, from human fibroblast cells (VIP skin cells for collagen production). 

Expand to read more

The company Skinmedica was a pioneer in using GFs in cosmeceutical skincare, and their version of HFCM contains a "proprietary mixture of growth factors, cytokines, and soluble matrix proteins secreted by cultured neonatal human dermal fibroblasts during the production of extracellular matrix (ECM)". It is claimed to be a physiologically balanced mix of GFs that are ideal for skin cells to regenerate themselves. More specifically, it contains growth factors that can promote angiogenesis (VEGF and hepatocyte growth factor), modulate inflammation (IL-6 and IL-8), and enhance ECM deposition (TGF-β1 and platelet-derived growth factor-A). 

Skinmedica has pretty convincing research showing that their products containing GFs (TNS line) work and have great anti-aging benefits. Multiple clinical studies show that the TNS Recovery Complex improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, skin tone and texture. The benefits are even greater when GFs are combined with tried and true anti-aging actives such as antioxidants and retinol.

This all sounds really good, however, GFs in skincare are somewhat controversial. As potent mitogenic (= stimulates cell proliferation) molecules, you should not use them if you have any of the skin cancer risk factors high or if you have psoriasis. We have written more about the concerns at EGF

Overall, Growth Factors have increasing evidence (both proper clinical studies as well as some GF products with a cult following) showing that they have great anti-aging benefits. Whether you are comfortable with using human-derived ingredients or not or if you feel like the cons outweigh the pros or not, is up to you. If you are a better safe than sorry type, daily SPF + retinol is still the golden standard of anti-aging.

 

Also-called: Aqua | What-it-does: solvent

Good old water, aka H2O. The most common skincare ingredient of all. You can usually find it right in the very first spot of the ingredient list, meaning it’s the biggest thing out of all the stuff that makes up the product. 

It’s mainly a solvent for ingredients that do not like to dissolve in oils but rather in water. 

Expand to read more

Once inside the skin, it hydrates, but not from the outside - putting pure water on the skin (hello long baths!) is drying. 

One more thing: the water used in cosmetics is purified and deionized (it means that almost all of the mineral ions inside it is removed). Like this, the products can stay more stable over time. 

Glycerin - goodie
Also-called: Glycerol | What-it-does: skin-identical ingredient, moisturizer/humectant | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0
  • A natural moisturizer that’s also in our skin
  • Super common, used for more than 50 years
  • Not only a simple moisturizer but plays an important role in keeping the stuff between our skin cells healthy
  • High-glycerin moisturizers are awesome for treating severely dry skin
Read all the geeky details about Glycerin here >>

What-it-does: emulsifying, surfactant/cleansing | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

It's a common little helper ingredient that helps water and oil to mix together. Also, it can help to increase the solubility of some other ingredients in the formula. 

Also-called: Carboxymethyl Cellulose | What-it-does: viscosity controlling, emulsion stabilising

A cellulose (the big molecule found in the cell wall of green plants) derivative that is used as an emulsion stabilizer and thickener

Also-called: Form of Vitamin C, Ascorbyl Isotetrapalmitate, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, ATIP | What-it-does: antioxidant, skin brightening

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate is a stable, oil-soluble form of skincare big shot Vitamin C. If you do not know, why Vitamin C is such a big deal in skincare, click here and read all about it. We are massive vitamin C fans and have written about it in excruciating detail.

So now, you know that Vitamin C is great and all but, it's really unstable and gives cosmetics companies many headaches. To solve this problem they came up with vitamin C derivatives, and one of them is Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (let's call it ATIP in short).

Expand to read more

It's a really promising candidate (see below), but while reading all the goodness about it in a minute, do not forget that derivatives not only have to be absorbed into the skin but also have to be converted to pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid or AA) and the efficacy of the conversion is often unknown. In addition, vitamin C's three magic properties (antioxidant, collagen booster, skin brightener) are all properly proven in-vivo (on real people), but for the derivatives, it's mostly in-vitro studies or in the case of ATIP, it's in-vitro and done by an ingredient supplier.

With this context in mind let's see what ATIP might be able to do. First, it is stable (if pH < 5), easy to formulate and a joy to work with for a cosmetic chemist.

Second, because it's oil-soluble, its skin penetration abilities seem to be great. So great in fact, that it surpasses the penetration of pure vitamin C threefold at the same concentration and it penetrates successfully into the deeper layers of the skin (that is usually important to do some anti-aging work). There is also in-vitro data showing that it converts to AA in the skin. 

Third, ATIP seems to have all three magic abilities of pure vitamin C: it gives antioxidant protection from both UVB and UVA rays, it increases collagen synthesis (even more than AA) and it has a skin brightening effect by reducing melanogenesis by more than 80% in human melanoma cell cultures.

So this all sounds really great, but these are only in-vitro results at this point. We could find Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate mentioned only in one published in-vivo study that examined the anti-aging properties of a silicone formula containing 10% AA and 7% ATIP. The authors theorized that the 10% AA is released slowly from the silicon delivery system and probably stays in the upper layer of the skin to give antioxidant benefits, while ATIP penetrates more rapidly and deeply and gives some wrinkle-reducing benefits. The study was a small (10 patients), double-blind experiment, and the formula did show some measurable anti-aging results. However, it is hard to know how much pure vitamin C or ATIP can be thanked.

Bottom line: a really promising, but not well-proven vitamin C derivative that can be worth a try especially if you like experimenting (but if you like the tried and true, pure vitamin C will be your best bet).

Also-called: Vitamin E Acetate | What-it-does: antioxidant | Irritancy: 0 | Comedogenicity: 0

It’s the most commonly used version of pure vitamin E in cosmetics. You can read all about the pure form here. This one is the so-called esterified version. 

According to famous dermatologist, Leslie Baumann while tocopheryl acetate is more stable and has a longer shelf life, it’s also more poorly absorbed by the skin and may not have the same awesome photoprotective effects as pure Vit E. 

Lactic Acid - superstar
  • It’s the second most researched AHA after glycolic acid
  • It gently lifts off dead skin cells to reveal newer, fresher, smoother skin
  • It also has amazing skin hydrating properties
  • In higher concentration (10% and up) it improves skin firmness, thickness and wrinkles
  • Choose a product where you know the concentration and pH value because these two greatly influence effectiveness
  • Don’t forget to use your sunscreen (in any case but especially so next to an AHA product)
Read all the geeky details about Lactic Acid here >>

Also-called: Bergamot Fruit Oil | What-it-does: perfuming

The essential oil coming from the fruit (probably the rind) of the bergamot orange.  It's a common top note in perfumes and contains (among others) fragrant compounds limonene (37%), linalyl acetate (30%) and linalool (8.8%). 

A well-known issue with bergamot oil (apart from the fragrance allergens) is that it contains phototoxic compounds called furanocoumarins, but more and more commonly furanocoumarin-free versions are used in cosmetic products. Still, if you have sensitive skin and prefer fragrance-free products, bergamot oil is not for you.

What-it-does: preservative

It’s pretty much the current IT-preservative. It’s safe and gentle, but even more importantly, it’s not a feared-by-everyone-mostly-without-scientific-reason paraben.

It’s not something new: it was introduced around 1950 and today it can be used up to 1% worldwide. It can be found in nature - in green tea - but the version used in cosmetics is synthetic. 

Expand to read more

Other than having a good safety profile and being quite gentle to the skin it has some other advantages too. It can be used in many types of formulations as it has great thermal stability (can be heated up to 85°C) and works on a wide range of pH levels (ph 3-10). 

It’s often used together with ethylhexylglycerin as it nicely improves the preservative activity of phenoxyethanol.

What-it-does: solvent

A really multi-functional helper ingredient that can do several things in a skincare product: it can bring a soft and pleasant feel to the formula, it can act as a humectant and emollient, it can be a solvent for some other ingredients (for example it can help to stabilize perfumes in watery products) and it can also help to disperse pigments more evenly in makeup products. And that is still not all: it can also boost the antimicrobial activity of preservatives

It’s a handy multi-tasking ingredient that gives the skin a nice, soft feel. At the same time, it also boosts the effectiveness of other preservatives, such as the nowadays super commonly used phenoxyethanol

The blend of these two (caprylyl glycol + phenoxyethanol) is called Optiphen, which not only helps to keep your cosmetics free from nasty things for a long time but also gives a good feel to the finished product. It's a popular duo.

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