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Spotlight On: Activin and the New Avon Reversalist Line

Posted Dec 06 2009 2:08pm
Just when you think you’ve got a handle on all the newest in skin care technology, Avon comes out with its new Reversalist line ($42.95, $76.00 retail) featuring activin-stimulating molecules.  According to research published in Nature, the inhibition of activin in skin cells called keratinocytes leads to impaired collagen production and healing, whereas increased stimulation of activin production over basal levels lead to hyperthickening of the epidermis.  Clearly, then, activin plays a key role in the growth and regeneration of collagen during wound healing.  It was this finding that encouraged Avon researchers to discover compounds that stimulate activin for the new Reversalist line.  

What is Behind “Activin-Stimulating” Technology?

For years, skin care companies used to annoy me by putting extra-large molecules into skin care creams (like collagen, for example) and then marketing it as the latest miracle cream, even though the large molecules just sat on your skin like a lazy ex-boyfriend on your sofa – useless.  Thankfully, Avon researchers are far too advanced for nonsense, and put small, absorbable activin-stimulating molecules (not the large activin molecule) into their Reversalist line.   Specifically, the active molecules used in the complex are Amorphophallus, a plant-derived phytochemical that has been proven to increase activin production, and Sesbania, which sounds like a country in the Middle East but is really another phytochemical stimulating activin production in skin cells.  Together, Amorphophallus and Sesbania are the active ingredients in Avon’s patented Activinol Complex.

Does it work?

I tend to be skeptical about a lot of “new technology” marketed in the beauty industry, but I must say, activin stimulation shows promise for wrinkle repair.  If a wrinkle is viewed as a type of skin wound, and considering that activin receptors are present in both new and healed wounds (as reported in the journal Developmental Biology), theoretically, you could stimulate activin production and increase collagen production to help repair wrinkles somewhat.  

To what extent activin is able to repair wrinkles is the true question.  According to Avon, in a self-conducted 4-week consumer study of 161 women:

  • Overnight, 75% of women felt like they had new looking skin
  • In 2 weeks, the formula dramatically reduced the look of wrinkles and left skin looking and feeling dramatically tighter** 
  • Over time, 88% of women agreed skin looked dramatically younger

In a separate study, also conducted by Avon, 100% of 91 participants felt that their discoloration had improved after 12 weeks.   Further, as Dr. Ava Shamban, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA, states in Allure: “It’s an interesting idea, and activin is an exciting molecule.  If it helps boost collagen production, which is so crucial to the skin’s structure, it could help” skin look firmer and smoother.

The Bottom Line

I love, love, love it.  I think it’s a great wrinkle treatment with a reasonable price tag for all the recessionistas out there who are extending their time between injectable fillers.  I give this one an enthusiastic 9/10.


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