Any good dermatologist or aesthetician will school you on the importance of antioxidants in any skin-care regimen: To maximize your protection from UV damage and other environmental aggressors like pollution (leading to the generation of aging free radicals), apply them underneath your sunscreen as an extra layer of defense. One product we love that is particularly rich in antioxidants is skinbetter science’s Alto Defense Serum, which launched five years ago and has become one of the most favored free-radical fighters by skin-care pros. However, in true skinbetter fashion, the brand sought out newer, more powerful antioxidant technology—think of it as an amped-up version of the OG formula, which isn’t going away—and created Alto Advanced Defense and Repair Serum ($185), launching this week.
“This product is all about reducing oxidative stress so our skin can function optimally,” New York dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD explains. “In other products, the antioxidants are just working to scavenge free radicals, but this one also works from the inside out, on intrinsic factors, which is the really unique part of this product. How it’s able to do that is because it delivers a patented new antioxidant molecule called Allyl PQQ through TAP technology that we’re using topically to protect our mitochondria, the energy of our body. Our skin is constantly turning over and creating free radicals—a natural part of aging—and this quiets those free radicals; it’s very similar to how people take CoQ10 orally in their diets to protect their mitochondria. The inherent irritation and instability of PQQ previously made it unsafe to use topically, so this is a very interesting and exciting technology.”
The formula combines this internal PQQ protection with skinbetter’s WEL technology, which provides external defense. “WEL is a collection of 19 different antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, for a powerful external force,” says Dr. Henry. “The two proprietary technologies work synergistically together, and are paired with barrier-boosting ceramides, brightening and strengthening niacinamide, and other efficacious ingredients for even more benefits.”
In a 12-week clinical study conducted by the brand with 39 patients with varying skin types, impressive results were seen at four weeks (one subject’s before-and-after images are shown below), when the serum was used twice a day. “We see a nice reduction in redness, which is great because there’s not much we can do for redness without a prescription,” says Dr. Henry.
“At 12 weeks of twice-daily use, we see a significant improvement, about 60 percent, in solar elastosis—damage to elastin from UV exposure—for long-term changes to the skin,” says Dr. Henry. “I like to think of antioxidants as insurance to sunscreen, because UV rays will inevitably penetrate. We also see improvements in pigment, like dark spots, as well as skin texture and dullness, for brighter, healthier-looking skin.”