As beauty editors — especially ones of Allure lineage — our proverbial antennae are always scanning for the next big thing. So when an award-winning brand with a track record for breakthrough formulas offers us an exclusive sneak-peak at its latest discovery, we’re all but vibrating with excitement (because, you know, that’s what antennae do, vibrate).
From the crackerjack team at SkinBetter Science — makers of AlphaRet Overnight Cream, the Best of Beauty champ that contains dermatologist-beloved ingredients like retinoids and lactic acid — comes SkinBetter Science Alto Defense Serum, a groundbreaking formula, with 19 antioxidants, designed to deliver broad-spectrum environmental protection to help stall premature aging.
In the skin realm, “broad-spectrum” is a term typically reserved for sunscreens, but researchers are now using it to describe diverse antioxidant blends engineered to defend against a wide variety of free radicals, because — who knew? — they’re not all created equal. Now, bear with us, if you will, as we take the tiniest detour into free radical theory to help you more fully comprehend the magic of this new product....
Free radicals, simply put, are unstable, electron-stealing molecules that harm our cells. The resultant damage, if unaddressed, or repaired imperfectly, accumulates over time, giving rise to wrinkles, brown spots, and skin cancers. While we often associate free radicals with UV rays, they can arise from miscellaneous sources and inflict distinct kinds of damage. “The type and intensity you’re exposed to depends largely on your lifestyle,” explains David H. McDaniel, an anti-aging researcher, co-director of the Hampton University Skin of Color Research Institute and an adjunct professor in dermatology at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. Those living in major cities, for example, may routinely encounter high concentrations of ozone, “shown to cause disturbingly rapid and significant skin damage,” he says. The rural farmer or small-town construction worker, on the other hand, may have more exposure to ultraviolet rays and visible light. With bakers and glass blowers, notes McDaniel, “there’s data to show that chronic doses of infrared radiation [from heat sources] cause their wrinkles.” Crazy. Interesting. Stuff.
To counter free radicals, “there are a myriad of antioxidants, but individual ones generally do not protect against all free radicals — some only impact one type,” says McDaniel. “So, we need a comprehensive defense system that can guard against all versions of free radical damage.” While both our bodies and our skin are smartly outfitted with innate antioxidant networks — thank you, evolution — they can easily be overwhelmed by the barrage of environmental assaults most of us suffer 24/7 as a consequence of modern living. And when the hits start stacking up, we begin to look older than our years. “This is what prematurely ages our skin — the inadequate immediate repair of environmental damage,” says McDaniel, citing UVA and UVB rays, infrared A, visible light, ozone, particulate air pollution, and second-hand tobacco smoke among the biggest offenders. While sunscreen can help on the UV front — if you’re actually wearing it, in a sufficient amount, and reapplying it regularly — antioxidants are crucial for neutralizing all other threats.
Which brings us back to SkinBetter Science Alto Defense Serum. What makes it remarkable, setting it apart from even the gold standards dermatologists have long lauded, is its impressive medley of antioxidants — vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q10, grape seed extract, cocoa, tumeric, green tea, coffee, superoxide dismutase, and more — working in synergy to provide skin with a sort of blanket protection. This combination alone is considered “somewhat of a milestone for antioxidants,” says McDaniel says, who received funding from SkinBetter Science to conduct the clinical trial. He explained that “broad-spectrum formulas with effective concentrations of numerous actives are very difficult to formulate and keep stable.”
In a separate company-funded study of the product, skin treated twice daily with Alto Defense Serum encountered up to 53 percent less free radicals than skin treated with a top-selling antioxidant, “demonstrating its greater capacity to counteract incoming oxidative stress,” says McDaniel. Delivering this “invisible benefit,” as he calls it, is every antioxidant’s primary goal: “Even the most ideal, superpotent antioxidant may not make a visible improvement in the skin — or give the wow effect of, say, a retinoid — but it will have a massive impact on preventing premature aging.”
The serum’s unique coalescence of antioxidants — a formulary achievement — almost relegates its auxiliary anti-agers to footnote status. Which is entirely unjust, really, since it’s these peptides, ceramides, fatty acids, and brighteners that help elicit that aforementioned wow — the obvious boost we all long to see when trying a new potion. Consequently, beyond the measurable hike in protection, what most stood out to McDaniel during testing was the apparent reduction in redness and wrinkles in subjects’ skin after four weeks, the continued improvement over time, and the serum’s tolerability, even for those with rosacea, who generally can’t use products containing multiple actives without experiencing some degree of stinging. “To see these kinds of results so early on,” he says, “is quite significant.”