Agency Skincare Review: Personalized Anti-Aging?

Agency Skincare Review: Personalized Anti-Aging?


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Agency Skincare is a customized skincare brand led by dermatologist recommendations. The brand describes their offerings as “elevated essentials for your skin’s daily needs,” and suggests they have an anti-aging effect.

But does Agency Skincare use research-backed ingredients for anti-aging, or are these just marketing claims? Does the brand use any questionable additive ingredients? Is personalized skincare actually better than off-the-shelf cosmetic products? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of Agency Skincare?

In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in Agency Skincare based on medical studies to give our take on whether the brand is likely to be effective, or if it’s a waste of money.

We’ll share our thoughts on personalized skincare as a whole and whether it’s a gimmick, and feature unsponsored customer reviews of Agency Skincare.

Ingredient Analysis

We input test answers into the Agency Skincare website health questionnaire indicating our goal was to fight wrinkles.

The active ingredients prescribed are shown below:

Agency Skincare active ingredients

Azelaic acid is typically used for acne, but may also have an anti-aging effect. A 2010 medical review states that “Topical bleaching agents such as hydroquinone, kojic acid and azelaic acid can reduce signs of aging.”

Tretinoin is a derivative of vitamin A that appears highly effective against wrinkles.

A medical review published in the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology found that topical tretinoin was effective against wrinkles in all clinical studies analyzed, and concluded that the treatment “could significantly improve wrinkling.”

Niacinamide is clinically shown to reduce the visible appearance of wrinkles, as we documented in our review of Ambi Fade Cream.

Dexpanethnol promotes cell growth according to a 2021 clinical trial, which suggests it may also be effective against aging.

Tranexamic acid was shown to prevent photoaging in a 2020 animal study, which is a weaker standard of evidence than human studies.

We consider all of the active ingredients in Agency Skincare’s anti-aging formulation to have significant research backing.

Agency Skincare inactive ingredients

Polyacrylamide is a stabilizer described as a “demonstrated neurotoxin in humans” in a 2005 medical review. This review does not prove that this ingredient is absorbed through the skin, but we feel this information is worth highlighting.

BHT is a synthetic preservative that breaks down into BHTOOH, which was described as a tumor promoter in a clinical trial published in the Carcinogenesis journal.

Phenoxyethanol is another synthetic preservative that’s clinically shown to be toxic to human cells. 

Overall, we consider Agency Skincare highly likely to have an anti-aging effect given its prescription-strength active ingredients. We don’t currently recommend this product due to the inactive ingredients highlighted above.

But how do real users rate and describe the effects of Agency Skincare? We’ll feature some unsponsored customer reviews in the next section.

Real People Try Agency Skincare

A YouTube creator named Chris Gibson shared his experience after using Agency Skincare for four months:

A TikTok creator named Mary Margaret has an unsponsored video where she explains why she considers Agency to be a more convenient option than standard prescription skincare:

@mary_hayes Unsponsored honest review of agency’s retinol prescription service-i was gifted this but under no obligation to post this is my opinion after one month! #skincareroutine #tretinoin #tretinoinjourney #agencyskincare ♬ original sound - Mary Margaret

Is Personalized Skincare a Gimmick?

Personalized skincare is becoming more and more popular, and while we all have individual genetics and environmental constraints, we haven’t come across any convincing clinical evidence suggesting that this modality of treatment is better than standard off-the-shelf products or personalized skincare recommendations from a regular dermatologist.

There’s also the issue of data security. 

Agency’s website asks a variety of health questions including pregnancy status, gender and more. As we discussed in our Reverse Health reviews article on another personalized health brand, sharing this information with an online-first healthcare provider may increase the risk of data breaches compared to an in-person provider.

It is worth noting that personalized skincare may lead to better aging results at least in regard to sunscreen recommendations, according to a medical review published in the Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology journal.

Overall, we think that personalized skincare may have benefits, but isn’t worth significantly increased cost based on the current stage of research and our understanding of individual cosmetic factors.

Agency vs. Other Personalized Skincare Brands

A popular beauty vlogger named Abbey Yung compared four personalized skincare brands, including Agency Skincare, in a video with over 100,000 views:

Our Clean Skincare Picks

There are skincare products containing ingredients shown in clinical trials to be effective for reducing wrinkles and improving skin quality.

Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top anti-aging serum.

It contains hyaluronic acid which was described as a "skin-rejuvenating biomedicine" in a medical review due to its ability to reduce wrinkles and signs of facial aging.

HYDRAGLOW by CLEARSTEM is our top moisturizer pick.

It features bakuchiol as an active ingredient which was described in a 2014 clinical trial as "clinically proven to have anti-aging effects." 

Bulletproof Collagen Powder is our top skin supplement.

Collagen supplementation was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology to reduce visible signs of skin aging as well as improve skin elasticity and skin hydration.

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

Pros and Cons of Agency Skincare

Here are the pros and cons of Agency Skincare in our opinion:

Pros:

  • More convenient than a visit to a clinic
  • Prescription-strength
  • Likely to have anti-aging effect
  • All active ingredients have research backing
  • Very favorable online customer reviews
  • Personalized skincare may be optimally effective

Cons:

  • Contains synthetic preservatives
  • Contains polyacrylamide
  • Custom, proprietary formulations don’t appear clinically tested
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Agency Skincare is one of the more impressive personalized skincare brands we’ve reviewed to date on Illuminate Health.

This brand has an anti-aging focus, and our analysis of the active ingredients used in their anti-aging product(s) suggests they will be effective. All five of the active ingredients in our custom formulation had research backing for anti-aging effects.

We don’t currently recommend Agency Skincare due to the inclusion of three inactive ingredients that may be questionable from a health perspective.

Online customer reviews suggest that Agency is more convenient than an in-person dermatologist visit, and we would tend to agree. This company offers prescription-strength treatments from the comfort of the home.

Online customer reviews of this brand were more favorable than other personalized skincare brands we’ve reviewed.

We have our questions about the efficacy of personalized skincare based on online questionnaires over standard dermatological treatment, but at least one medical review suggests that personalized skincare may be useful for optimizing anti-aging efforts.