Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery

Dermalogica is a skincare line developed in 1986 by the International Dermal Institute, and is a product line free of common irritants and ingredients that could cause breakouts (including lanolin, SD alcohol, mineral oil, artificial colors and fragrances) and will improve skin health. The emphasis of the company is on skincare education, and if you have ever received a Dermalogica face-mapping analysis from one of their trained estheticians (like I have), then you know what I am talking about. In a face-mapping session, a trained skin therapist will closely examine your face and determine skincare needs based on your skin. It is a custom-made, personal experience that takes time and money, but is very enlightening.

Their product line reflects the need for a guide – it is not intuitive. They do not spend money on marketing or packaging, and you really do need to speak with one of their specialists before purchasing any Dermalogica products, as the wrong product could do more harm than good. And while Dermalogica says their products are only available from their skincare specialists, you can purchase it online from sites like for less than you would spend at a high-end Dermologica spa.

Dermalogica has a whole line devoted to treating signs of aging. Their focus is on anti-oxidant vitamins A, C, and E, rich moisturizers, peptides, and botanical extracts. To fully treat all the signs of aging, you must use several products at different times a day. They did not have one particular product that exactly fit the “wrinkle cream” mold, but the Dynamic Skin Recovery spf30 was the closest I could find to review here.

Dynamic Skin Recovery is a medium weight moisturizer that retails $61 for 1.7 oz., but if you shop around, you can find it for less. I did not find any return policy on their website, but I checked with an authorized online Dermalogica retailer, and they do give refunds if you return the product. You can also request lots of free samples.

Product Claims:

  • Achieve absolute hydration and help defend against the internal and external causes of skin aging with this medium-weight, emollient daily moisturizer with SPF30.
  • A patented polypeptide combined with Glucosamine and Soy stimulates collagen synthesis, enhances the skin’s natural ability to fight skin-aging free radicals (Reactive Oxygen Species) and helps prevent the signs of aging caused by sugar reacting with proteins in skin (AGEs).
  • White Tea polyphenols regulate the formation of collagen-degrading MMPs brought on by UV rays while tripeptides, stabilized Vitamin C, Yeast Extract and Phytoestrogens help catalyze the skin’s natural collagen production to enhance skin firmness.
  • Advanced sunscreen technology provides critical protection from daylight exposure, yet blends smoothly into skin to create a perfected finish.
  • Contains no artificial fragrance or color.

Cross Examination:

Active Ingredients

Avobenzone (3.0%), Octinoxate (7.5%), Octisalate (5.0%), Oxybenzone (5.0%).

Inactive Ingredients

 Water, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Butylene Glycol, Arachidyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Arginine/Lysine Polypeptide, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Glucosamine HCI, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycine Soja Protein, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Colloidal Oatmeal, Allantoin, Algae Extract, Squalane, Arachidyl Glucoside, Urea, Chrysanthemum Parthenium Extract, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7, Polyacrylamid, Cocamidopropyl PG-Dimonium Chloride Phospate, Glycerin, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polysorbate 60, Nylon-02, Disodium EDTA, Benzyl PCA, Phenoxyethanol, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Farnesol, Geraniol, Hydroxycitronellal, Isoeugenol, Limomene, Linalool, Acrus Calamus, Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil, Eugenia Caryphyllus Flower Oil, Helianthus Annus Seed Oil, Pelargonium, Graveolens Flower Oil, Rose Flower Oil, Citrus Medica Limonum Peel/Oil Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Titanium Dioxide

In reviewing this particular product, I thought it useful to educate the consumer, you, on the difference between “active” and “inactive” ingredients.

Active ingredients are components of a chemical product which (irrespective of their relative quantity) help directly in achieving its performance objectives.

Inactive ingredients are components which (irrespective of their relative quantity) do not help directly in achieving a product's performance objectives. They may, however, facilitate acceptance, application, stability, handling or marketing of the product, or delivery of the active ingredients. Not all inactive ingredients are safe and, in some cases, are more dangerous than the active ingredients.

For Dynamic Skin Recovery, I find it interesting that the only active ingredients listed are sunscreens. There is nothing listed under “active” that suggests wrinkle reduction, only protection against further photoaging. Their wrinkle fighting ingredients are buried in the list of “inactive” ingredients”.  Oh well. Let’s review them anyways.

Dynamic skin recovery does include two peptide complexes: arginine/lysine polupeptide and palmitoyl tri-peptide-5. Both of these are effective in helping to reduce further collagen degradation and promote new collagen growth resulting in firmer skin, but are not the most powerful collagen stimulators out there.

Hyaluronic acid (sodium hyaluronate) is included, which is a powerful hydrator, and will help to prevent further wrinkling and improve skin appearance, as will glucosamine.

There are several botanical extracts in this formulation, which may sound inviting, but most of them have little to no scientific research, and a couple (lemon oil and clove oil) which may be irritating. Two extracts, evening primrose oil and Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Extract do have research to back them up. Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is their highly touted yeast extract, was reported by researchers from University of Sao Paulo in Brazil in 2008 to be effective in preventing skin water loss and providing free radical protection and skin micro-relief (not sure what this is). HOWEVER – the study was not blind or placebo controlled, which is an important factor (trust me).

Two other factors about this formulation and the claims behind it bother me. One – there is no mention of stabilized vitamin C in the ingredient list, yet, the product labeling claims there is. Now granted, there are hundreds of patented names for vitamin C, but unless it is hidden in the lemon peel extract, I am not seeing anything that looks even remotely familiar. Any feedback into this?

Secondly, I am struggling with the company’s claim that they do not use common irritants or synthetic ingredients, because this ingredient list is chock full of synthetic and potentially irritating substances. For example, polyacrylamid is a polymer formed from acrylamide. Polyacrylamid is not toxic, but unpolymerized acrylamide can be present in it, and it is recommended to be handled with caution. Why? Acrylamide is a neurotoxin. So even though the polyacrylamid form is considered safe, why would a company that strives to avoid such poisons use them in their formulations?

The Bottom Line:

I use Dermalogica products. I love their rice bran exfoliant and their redness relief moisturizer. I find that they are competitively priced and work well to care for my skin, which is not wrinkly…yet. They use top quality botanical extracts, anti-oxidants, and moisturizers that work to promote overall skin health. I think Dermalogica has the right idea in their research and skincare regimen, but I think this company’s products are better formulated to help prevent wrinkles vs. eliminate and treat wrinkles you already have.

Furthermore, the price you pay for the one product is just the tip of the iceberg – Dermalogica’s skincare regimen includes buying several products and using all of them in conjunction to fight all the signs of aging. When you look at it in this light, you are spending a lot more time and money. It would be nice to see Dermalogica come out with one product that is more consumer friendly and comprehensive in fighting all the signs of aging, including age spots, wrinkles, uneven skin tone and texture, and sagging skin.

Dynamic Skin Recovery is a good sunscreen and moisturizer, but that is about it. In this price range, you can find other anti-aging creams that are better suited to treat the problems you already have, in addition to preventing more problems in the future.