Skinbetter Science is a luxury cosmetics brand that partners with dermatologists to sell their products. The brand has won awards from beauty publishers like Allure, and describes itself as “A New Paradigm In Skincare.”
But are Skinbetter Science products worth the high cost, or are they a waste of money? Are they really better than cheaper alternatives? Does Skinbetter Science use any questionable additive ingredients? And how do real customers rate and describe their experience with this brand?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in Skinbetter Science’s best sellers (AlphaRet Overnight Cream and Alto Defense Serum) based on medical studies to give our take on whether the brand is worth the money or not.
We’ll feature unsponsored customer reviews and share our thoughts on the model of requiring customers to purchase through a dermatologist.
Ingredient Analysis – AlphaRet Overnight Cream
The ingredients in AlphaRet Overnight Cream are shown above.
This formulation contains a large number of research-backed active ingredients, which one would hope given that 1.7 fluid ounces (oz) retails for $195.
Glycolic acid is described as a “topical therapy” that can improve skin texture, tone and sheen in a clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.
Niacinamide is clinically shown to have a hydrating effect in skin.
Superoxide dismutase is an enzyme that was shown to have an anti-aging effect when applied topically in a 2021 clinical trial.
Camellia sinensis leaf extract was clinically shown to have significant moisturizing effects, as we documented in our Tatcha Dewy Skin Cream reviews article.
Portulaca oleracea extract was found to protect skin cells from sun-induced damage in a clinical trial published in the Journal of Food Biochemistry.
There are a number of other research-backed ingredients in this formulation. There is only one inactive ingredient we can identify that may be questionable from a health perspective.
Phenoxyethanol was shown in a 2020 clinical trial to be toxic to human cells.
Overall, we consider AlphaRet Overnight Cream to be one of the most potent and effective skin creams we’ve reviewed to date on Illuminate Health.
It contains anti-aging, sunscreen, hydrating and barrier-protecting ingredients. We don’t currently recommend this cream due to the inclusion of one synthetic preservative, but we definitely consider it to be better-than-average and worth the price from an efficacy standpoint.
But before analyzing the ingredients in another Skinbetter Science best-seller, we’ll feature some unsponsored customer reviews.
Real People Try Skinbetter Science
A YouTube creator named “No BS Beauty” shares her experience using several Skinbetter Science products:
A YouTube creator named “Dr. Ania Marie, MD” explains why AlphaRet Overnight Cream is one of her favorite cosmetic products:
Ingredient Analysis – Alto Defense Serum
Like AlphaRet Overnight Cream, Alto Defense Serum contains an unbelievable number of ingredients.
Many of the active ingredients are the same, and are clinically shown to be effective, including niacinamide, sodium hyaluronate, ceramide NP, tocopherol and more.
There are also some ingredients unique to this formulation with clinical backing.
Olive fruit extract provides a strong antioxidant effect when applied topically, according to a 2018 medical review.
Phytosphingosine is an endogenously-produced fat (meaning it’s produced naturally by the body), shown to enhance moisture in the skin barrier in a 2017 clinical trial.
Shea butter supports optimal skin barrier function, as we discussed in our review of Fièra Cosmetics.
Beyond phenoxyethanol as a questionable inactive ingredient, this formulation also contains sodium hydroxide, which is clinically shown to be irritating to the skin in some cases.
We do not currently recommend this cream due to the inactive ingredients stated above, although these are relatively minor considerations, and like the previous Skinbetter Science product, we consider this one very likely to improve skin quality.
Dermatologist Reviews Skinbetter Science
A dermatologist with a popular YouTube channel called “Dr Dray” reviewed Skinbetter Science’s most popular product in a video with over 100,000 views:
Is Skinbetter Science's Model Broken?
As referenced in the intro to this article, Skinbetter Science disallows customers from purchasing directly from their website, and requires customers to order from "authorized skinbetter professionals."
This approach has pros and cons.
The good thing is that working with dermatologists to select appropriate and individualized skincare products may improve patient outcomes.
Dermatologists can also explain proper use of skincare products, as documented in a medical review published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, which may further enhance skin improvements.
However, requiring patients to go in-person is a major inconvenience that we're not sure is worth the slight advantages.
We input our ZIP code into the "Find a Professional" page on Skinbetter Science's website, and the nearest dermatologist was around 10 miles away, which would be nearly an hour round-trip as there are no highways between the two locations.
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 or unsafe.
Pros and Cons of Skinbetter Science
Here are the pros and cons of Skinbetter Science in our opinion:
- Very effective formulations
- Many research-backed ingredients
- Should have anti-aging effect
- Should improve skin quality generally
- Should help to hydrate skin
- We can’t find published clinical research on these products
- Very expensive
- Can’t purchase directly online