Dermatologist Review of Cellex-C
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Cellex-C International, Inc., the manufacturer of the entire Cellex-C line of skin care products, is considered the pioneer in active topical vitamin C based skin care. Based in Toronto, Canada, Cellex-C International was founded in 1990 and released its now classic Cellex-C Serum in 1994. This one Cellex-C product has literally led to a revolution in skin care that continues to this day. The reasons for the success of Cellex-C International and its products are many but in the end it is clear that these vitamin-C based formulations provide visible benefits to the skin.
Dermatologists, of course, are clinical scientists and, when possible, prefer to review scientific data in order to determine if a product’s claims are legitimate. Cellex-C does have data to back up Cellex-C's claims regarding skin rejuvenation from these products as do some of the newer companies in the vitamin C skin care market. When these studies are reviewed critically they do suggest a scientifically verifiable benefit to Cellex-C. The biologic mechanisms by which these results are achieved are also postulated by these studies.
Among the clinical studies performed on active vitamin C products, the one perhaps most often sited is the 1998 study of Cellex-C by Dr. Traikovich which was published in a credible peer reviewed medical journal. This split face double blinded placebo controlled study of nineteen subjects utilized a method of scientifically measuring skin surface roughness and wrinkles topographically. This method of topographic analysis had been previously used to investigate tretinoin’s effects on the skin and played a role in the development and FDA approval of Retin-A’s sister product Renova. In addition, the Traikovich study evaluated the investigators' findings and patients' double blinded findings regarding subjective cosmetic skin improvement. In the study, one side of the face received active Cellex-C product and the other side received non-active product that looked and felt the same. Over the three month term of the study, objective scientific measures of surface roughness as well as subjective investigator and patient evaluation all showed an impressive and statistically significant improvement on the treated side. Keep in mind that this study was ‘double blinded’ which means that neither the patients nor the investigators knew which side had been treated until the study was over and the data compiled.
Regarding the biologic mechanism for the results described above, it is noteworthy that vitamin C is an antioxidant and in theory reduces oxidative damage to the skin via free radical suppression. This antioxidant effect is thought to result in calming anti-inflammatory benefits in persons at risk for environmentally induced erythema (redness) and early rosacea related redness. Vitamin C also has a theoretically beneficial effect on collagen balance via direct and indirect stimulus of collagen synthesis. Vitamin C is degraded by ultraviolet light in such a way that oral vitamin C may not always provide adequate cutaneous vitamin C levels for optimum skin health. Topical vitamin C application is able to increase the levels of vitamin C in the skin by a factor of twenty – a level which appears to generate clinically significant benefits with ongoing application.
Cellex-C’s vitamin C formulations all utilize L-ascorbic acid which is widely considered to be the only form of vitamin C with significant cutaneous activity. Cellex-C has combined L-ascorbic acid with zinc sulfate, bioflavinoids, acetyl tyrosine and sodium hyanluronate into a patented mixture that the company believes provides skin benefits that even go beyond those achieved by vitamin C alone.
Over the years Cellex-C International has extended their product offerings to provide a wide range of skin care solutions for virtually every skin type. The thrust of product development has been towards providing specific product selections that facilitate development of a complete skin care regimen for those with differing skin types and concerns.
Today, the Cellex-C line is comprised of five main component lines. The Cellex-C ‘Core Formulations’ line includes a wide assortment of vitamin-C based serums and creams. The Cellex-C Betaplex line incorporates both botanicals and hydroxy acids to add another dimension to skin care via botanically enhanced skin exfoliators and rejuvenators. The Cellex-C ‘Correctives’ line contains stronger and more targeted formulations assist with rapid exfoliation, acne-prone skin management and under-eye issues. The Cellex-C ‘Enhancers’ line consist of primarily of speciality moisturizers. The line also contains Hydra5 B-Complex with high levels of hyaluronic acid that work very well as a moisture enhancer when used in conjunction with vitamin C products and other moisturizers. Cellex-C understands the importance of sun protection and thus sports a Cellex-C ‘Sun Care’ line which consists of a few sunscreens and a self-tanner.
Cellex-C has become a dramatically successful product line. Their products appear to provide clinical benefit. The formulations are generally pleasant and cosmetically elegant. The packaging set the bar for this market segment and still functions well and looks smart. Cellex-C’s vitamin C products do oxidize somewhat with time and take on a tan or brown coloration. This is normal for the vitamin C formulation utilized by Cellex-C and does not significantly affect the product’s effectiveness or potency. This color may be of concern to new converts to Cellex-C but once the phenomenon is explained people generally adjust immediately. Cellex-C’s product line extensions have also done very well in recent years and have been well received. As a dermatologist, I’d certainly like to see more attention paid to broadening the line of Sun Care products that Cellex-C offers.
While Cellex-C has certainly thrived over the years, the brand has spawned numerous competitors. Some of these competitors have been very aggressive in product development and promotion. Cellex-C on the other hand has kept a stable profile and has only very slowly expanded their product offerings and marketing presence in recent years. I suspect that the philosophy at Cellex-C may reflect their confidence in the superiority of their products over those of the competition. It will certainly be interesting to see how things continue to develop in the vitamin C skin care arena over the coming years. For now, though, I believe it is safe to conclude that Cellex-C products have set the standard for quality, packaging and marketing in the vitamin C skin care arena and continue to enjoy great popularity. When considering the choices available for vitamin C based products, Cellex-C products are always right at the top of the list.
Craig Kraffert, MD
Review posted 5/24/2005.Add Comment »
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