Review: Cosmedix Defy Age Management Exfoliator

By Voxy  

I have become so in love with the Cosmedix line of skincare over the last few weeks that I am considering running away and eloping with it. I have several products from the line but will review them one at a time so as not to overwhelm you with a 20,000-word post.

The hook behind the Cosmedix skincare line is that it is “chirally correct.” For the non-scientists among us (and I include myself in this category, of course), this means the following: Many biologically important molecules exist in two mirror-image isomers, each containing the same atoms but arranged in a perfectly reversed, non-superimposable order. The most common example of chirality is human left and right hands — identical in composition, but reversed in structure, and no matter how you try to twist and turn them you cannot successfully superimpose one on top of the other. This concept was first explained to me by my GP when he was discussing why he wanted to switch me from one medication to a very similar one: he said that the left isomer of the active ingredient caused fewer side effects than the right isomer, so the meds made with the left isomer were a better choice. In skincare, you might have seen ingredients like L-ascorbic acid or D-alpha tocopherol; I won’t go into the naming of things but the letters L and D indicate that they are the left and right isomers, respectively, of whatever substance we’re talking about. As with the medication example above, one isomer might be helpful but the other might produce negative side effects, be ineffective, or damage the body. (Wearing a left glove on your left hand is useful. Wearing a left glove on your right hand impedes your ability to use your hand correctly.) The premise of “chirally correct” products is that they only include the helpful isomer of important or active ingredients.

I might have scoffed at this as yet another example of skincare companies touting a tenuous connection to vague scientific principles except that my GP was right — the second med, based on the other isomer, did work better than the first and had fewer side effects. So I was disposed to give it a shot.

Like Adam, who did not know he was naked until he had eaten of the forbidden fruit, I did not know my skin was not as nice-looking as it could be until I tried this line of products. Seriously, my skin is good. In polite company, it’s the thing I get complimented on. But now! Oh, the shame, the shame.

Defy is an exfoliating cream that I use at night in alternation with other Cosmedix products (which will be reviewed shortly). It is a rich, thick cream that is non-irritating but effective and that has a touch of a mild lemony scent. As with most of the other products in the line, it is so rich that you really need only a pea-size amount to cover the whole face. No, really.

Its claim to fame is that it has three chirally correct AHA exfoliating acids: L-lactic, L-malic, and L-tartaric, as well as some other chirally correct ingredients. It also has a lot of moisturizing ingredients: glyceryl stearate, glycerin, cetyl alcohol, stearic acid, olive oil, aloe leaf extract, sweet almond oil, lecithin (an emulsifier), grapefruit peel oil, ylang-ylang flower oil, and peach kernel oil.

The additional chirally-corrected ingredients are D-alpha-tocopherol (chirally correct Vitamin E isomer), and L-alpha-bisabolol (a chirally-correct anti-inflammatory ingredient derived from chamomile). I am not a skincare chemist, but there is nothing in this moisturizer that I can find that is not full of awesome. I’m using it in conjunction with other Cosmedix products, so it’s hard to tell exactly which product is responsible for what, but I’m really pleased with what’s happening with my skin — my pores are smaller, skin tone is more even, skin is firmer and more resilient and has more color.

The Cosmedix line used to be available only in spas, but has recently become available online. Let me warn you now that the line is not cheap. (However, it is also not insanely, outrageously, astronomically priced like La Prairie, La Mer, or SKII.) Defy is listed at $66 for 1 oz., but since you really do need such a tiny amount and probably will not use it every night, it should last quite awhile. (Skin-Etc. has it for $52.80, and I don’t think they are supposed to be doing that since the prices are fixed everywhere else.) If you buy through Dermstore, you can take advantage of Bing cashback savings through 7/31/10.


Cosmedix Defy Age Management Exfoliator: $66

Provenance: Purchased.

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. It’s awesome, but I can’t imagine ever waving the “excellent” flag for a $66/oz. cream. I don’t know, maybe I’m being too harsh.

Purchase again? Yes.

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

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  1. avatar Susan James
    Posted March 22, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve been using Defy for about 6 months, most nights. It took about 10 days before my skin started to exfoliate and now it seems to exfoliate at about 7 to 10 days intervals. At one point I put Defy on top of recently red exfoliated skin and it went hard, like paper and peeled off like sunburn. Needless to say I left this part of my face un creamed for a while. So yes, it works, it exfoliates. Sometimes it stings a bit on application, possibly after I’ve given my face a good clean, a pleasant sting though and I know my face is going to exfoliate when it itches.I have no idea if my skin looks better, I don’t have the sort of friends who give a monkeys. I’m 60 by the way.


  2. avatar Tatyana
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 2:22 am | Permalink | Reply

    I just got this product and I’m kind of confused by how I am supposed to use it. Is it for daily use instead of a moisturizer?


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted April 30, 2012 at 7:13 am | Permalink | Reply

      Hi Tatyana,

      You could use it as a night cream. Because it has some strongish exfoliating agents in it, I wouldn’t use it as a day cream since AHAs make your skin more photosensitive. You will probably also want to start off using it just a few times a week until you see how your skin reacts.

      I hope you like it!


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