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Talking of Evidence: Proctor and Gamble Get Serious with Pro X

February 18, 2010

I have had my head in clinical papers all day as I try to work out whether to get all excited about a couple of new product launches that are making headlines at the moment. One is from Nu Skin who’s new and improved range talks about how it works on gene expression  to reduce the signs of ageing and secondly there is the new range from Proctor and Gamble.  I am going to tackle the Nu Skin research later this week but for now, what is going down at P&G?

Proctor and Gamble have just launched Pro X with the tag-line “Potent. Proven. Professional”  that has been proven to work as well as Tretinoin ( a brand name for a vitamin A derivative) for improving the appearance of facial wrinkles.  One product is a cosmetic, the other a prescription medicine.

So I guess it would be rude not to have a better look (picture sourced from Media Post Publications)


Well it’s a great word but what does that mean in the skin care sense?  For an ingredient to be potent in the formulation it would have to be used at concentrations high enough to give a measured effect.   It is normal  for  ingredient manufacturers to test their actives in laboratory trials on fake skin or other media to see if they have an effect – in vitro testing.  They may even carry out panel testing (in-vivo) to see if there is a visible effect with the ingredient.  Companies such as Proctor and Gamble would use this data to help select ingredients. They would probably then carry out their own tests to make sure it does what it says it does as nobody’s data is as good as your own 🙂

The Potent ingredients in this new range are:

Niacinamide – a water-soluble vitamin B  derivative that has been clinically proven to reduce skin irritation.

Palmitoyl Dipeptide-7 –  Exclusive to Olay, this peptide has been shown to reduce the appearance of fine lines.

Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4 –  (used to be known as Matrixyl before the manufacturers gave P&G exclusive use)  This is another synthetic peptide that boosts Collagen, fibronectin and elastin  production

Retinyl Propionate – An ester of retinol that releases Vitamin A upon contact with the skins enzymes.  Vitamin A stimulates cell growth which helps to counteract the visible signs of ageing. This is one chemical that everyone agrees is for combating the signs of ageing.

Plus the sunscreen actives for the day moisturiser which has an SPF of  30.

And a few other goodies such as panthenol, elastin and vitamin E.

So is it potent?  Well P&G can buy in bulk and certainly know a thing or two about creating highly active products so yes, I would say that this range is very potent for the price.  The range contains a blend of clinically proven actives with some newer technology (the peptides) to give a multi-layered approach to skin management so I see no reason why this product shouldn’t be effective for some people. However, the evidence supporting the use of peptides in topical products such as this is mixed with some getting great results while other products fail to hit the target. This is due to a number of factors which include peptide size, ability of the base to penetrate the skin and peptide stability in the formulation. I am sure that with P&G’s in-house knowledge they would have a good grip on all of these factors.


Is it enough to just have good ingredients in your product?  The answer is tending towards a NO. Evidence is key and by evidence we mean some good science to back up those fancy claims.   We want to know:

  • How were the claims tested?
  • Is that test method robust enough to give accurate results?
  • What are you comparing against?
  • How do your results relate to the marketing message?
  • Is it good value for money.

Evidence has been critical in the pharmaceutical world since forever but now that cosmetics are getting serious more and more people are seeing the need for rock-solid back up data.  In the world of evidence the gold standard is a randomized controlled trial with lots of people testing something against the market leading product- often with the view to finding out if it is as good as the alternative (comparator) or has an effect (against a placebo).  In the pharma world this would mean getting hundreds of people, for cosmetics it is frequently less than 100 with studies generally only lasting between 4-12 weeks (1 -3 skin cycles).

The might and power that is Proctor and Gamble can certainly afford to do the right thing and put on a trial and so that is what they did. They got 196 women with wrinkles to try out a regimen containing three of the Pro X products.  The trial was randomized and measured the skin before and after treatment using a variety of methods – machinery, visual assessment and professional opinion.  The trial was split into two with half receiving the Pro X and the other half Tretinoin at 0.02% – a standard treatment for improving the appearance of wrinkles (but more often prescribed for treatment of acne).

For a cosmetic trial this was certainly a stirling effort and one which gives good data to support the non-prescription Pro X over the prescribed Tretinoin.  Indeed, the Pro X was less irritating to participants than Tretinoin making it the preferred choice. The Pro X also provided visible results faster that Tretinoin which would be seen as many as a benefit.

So Proven, yes to a point it is proven to reduce the appearance of wrinkles which I guess gives us something to hang our hat on (the evidence, not the wrinkles)


As far as skin care goes you don’t get much more professional that Proctor and Gamble so I guess that goes without saying that this range should have been put together in a way that  preserves the actives, allows them to get to the part of the skin that is required and ensures that the product is safe (relatively) and easy to use. 

The range is preserved with Parabens which many people detest with a passion and does contain a variety of other chemicals (including silicones) which again, some people love to hate.  If you fit into that camp, you may like to consider some of the more natural anti-ageing products such as La Mav or Pure and Green.

From an environmental perspective the range does use a lot of ingredients (some natural some synthetic) which means that it is quite an energy intensive brand to manufacture.  This to me is more important than the above point as everything natural or not ends up in our waterways at some stage. It would be nice to see a product that gives these results in a simple way with minimal ingredients.  Now that’s a challenge!

But back to the question. Professional?  Yes. I would have to say that while P&G are not everyone’s cup of tea they invest heavily in research, develop effective and safety tested products and provide them globally at a price point that works. That has got to be worth something.

I would be interested to know what you think! Did it save your skin?  Do you like the smell? What about the companies ethics?  It’s good to talk!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2010 7:09 am

    Honest review of P&G’s Pro X.

    I’d like to address some of your comments in the last section under Professional.You say the product is safe (relatively); the ingredients are preserved with Parabens,silicones and other chemicals which people detest with a passion and,”it would be nice to see a product that gives these results (I am assuming good) in a simple way with minimal ingredients. Now that’s a challenge.”
    That challenge was met over 18 years ago in the professional industry. It’s called the Hydre-Surge 2 Step Facelift Massage.This product is now available to the consumer. They are the finest, most effective all natural facial oils available anywhere. There is no alcohol or water and every product is chemically free with no synthetic materials, preservatives or emulsifiers of any kind. 100% pure and naturally free from synthetic fragrances,colors and dyes.
    For more information on how this challenge was met go to and meet Virginia Brown who has pioneered the use of all natural products for the skin and advises all her customers to, “avoid junk food for the skin.”

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      March 20, 2010 8:57 am

      Hi Tom,
      That sounds interesting, I will have a look. I am an individual that doesn’t detest with a passion silicones, parabens and other chemicals as this seems like an awful lot of passion to put to such a fruitless end – silicone, parabens and the rest will never ‘love’ or ‘detest’ me whatever I think. I prefer to judge each technology or product on the evidence rather than on emotion: Is it safe to use on ME, do I ‘need’ this, has it been manufactured in a sustainable way utilizing ‘green’ chemistry, what will the cumulative effect of many people like me using this product and then releasing it into the environment via our showers / being outdoors, How will I dispose of the packaging AND does something more equitable exist that fits my needs?
      I am always happy to investigate different products from all spheres of the industry as I find the premis of acceptance first far better from a learning perspective.
      Just on one last note, it is impossible to have a ‘chemical free’ product. I would love to see this terminology replaced with something a little more meaningful.

      Thanks again.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      March 20, 2010 11:13 am

      Having looked at the site I have 2 comments: 1) The products look very appealing and contain a bevvy of exciting naturals which are all very yummy. 2) The ‘ugly truth’ section seems at odds with your nutruring and caring product philosophy. The information presented as ‘fact’ would be less disempowering if it was backing up with evidence so that readers can draw their own conclusions. I assume that your products are ‘cosmetics’ and therefore fall under the same legislation?

      PS: I would love for you to show me a cosmetic product that has ‘mercury’ listed as an ingredient. That would be something new.

      • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
        March 22, 2010 9:49 am

        Found the mercury products – a very small percentage of skin lighteners, most of which are being sold in developing countries from locally based manfacturers who may not be aware of the alternatives.

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