Salmon Egg Enzyme Skincare: Now At Your Derm’s Office

Usually, getting skincare from your dermatologist’s office means retin-A, acids, or other medical grade ingredients, but a new line on the market isn’t made from any of these things—it’s made from salmon eggs. Salmon egg enzymes, to be exact. And no, you won’t find it in your local green beauty store: you’ll find it on the shelves of your derm’s office. 

A quick refresher on physician skincare: you can’t get these products at Sephora, Barney’s, or Blue Mercury. They’re sold strictly through your dermatologist’s office or medical spa, because while they’re not quite prescription-strength, they’re too strong to be sold over-the-counter and should be used under the guidance and instruction of your doctor.

Enter Restorsea Pro, which launched earlier this year, about 4 years after the launch of the original line. (If you’re not familiar with Restorsea’s story, there’s a quick refresher at the end of this article.) Restorsea’s core active ingredient is salmon egg enzymes which are protected by a $25mm patent, and yes, the new line is considered medical grade because it has 10x the enzyme level of the original line. And top dermatologists believe this enzyme is more effective (and gentler) on sun damage and photo-aged skin than using some of their traditional products, like glycolic acids or other AHAs. Needless to say, I was interested to learn more. 

SO WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

clinical study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology conducted by Dr. Anne Chapas at Mount Sinai came out with results that the enzyme is more effective than AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids). Here’s why: the salmon enzyme only eats through dead skin cells, but then shuts itself off once it gets to the skin’s living layers. Meanwhile, other acids will not. They’ll continue to kill all cells, dead or live. So the salmon egg enzyme has a natural way of keeping the skin youthful because it more gently removes dead skin cells, similar to acids, but without the chemical harshness.  

Because of this unique ingredient and its potent strength, Restorsea Pro is being marketed as the first naturally-derived medical grade skincare line. “The line is formulated with ingredients found in nature, free from chemical peptides and does not contain parabens, PEGs, phthalates, silicone or mineral oil. The purity of our ingredients is what makes Restorsea not only effective, but ideal for every skin type, including extremely sensitive skin,” says founder Patti Pao. 

DESIGNED WITH SENSITIVE SKIN IN MIND

So if you’ve been afraid of trying more aggressive lines because you want to fall in the “natural” skincare camp or simply because you have sensitive skin, this line might be perfect for you. Dr. Vic Narurkar, a San Francisco-based dermatologist who carries the Restorsea Pro product line adds, “The product was clinically studied on all skin types, making it unique in its type of cosmeceuticals.” Dr. Mary Lupo, a New Orleans-based dermatologist who also carries Restorsea Pro, confirms Pao’s assertion regarding sensitive skin: “This gentle formula is perfect for any skin type and especially suited for those with sensitive skin, intolerant of many anti-aging products.”

IT TREATS FINE LINES, ROSACEA, PIGMENTATION & KP

After speaking with several derms and some of our own Charlotte’s Book testing, the line’s eye cream seems to be emerging as the hero product. Says Dr. Lupo, “While synergy of an entire line is always useful, in my practice, the PRO Firming Eye Serum has been the ‘hero,’ the most popular product. The eye serum helps fine lines, puffiness and darkness, which are the trio of unwanted eye aging signs.”

Dr. Narurkar explains that you don’t need to use the entire line to see results—he agrees with Dr. Lupo that that the PRO Firming Eye Serum really stands out. He says it’s a great product “for patients with crepiness and discoloration under the eyes. This has become one of our most popular, safe and effective treatments. We also do a combination of Restorsea PRO Foaming Facial Cleanser and PRO Rebalancing Lotion in rosacea patients who seek improvement of texture, fine lines and pigmentation and cannot tolerate other products.”  In addition, he uses it following Clear + Brilliant, Fraxel, or peel treatments to accelerate healing, and he even uses the Restorsea PRO Intensive Hand Treatment for the treatment of keratosis pilaris.

In addition to the eye cream, the Charlotte’s Book team is particularly in love with with the line’s foaming cleanser. It gently and magically wipes away all traces of dirt and makeup, but it’s not too drying. And after a month of use, we think it’s made our skin brighter and helped with pigmentation.

$25MM IN PATENTS + THE STORY BEHIND RESTORSEA

If you haven’t heard of Restorsea before, it was founded by Patti Pao in 2012 after an eye-opening journey she took to Norway. (You may have remembered seeing Gwyneth Paltrow’s glowing skin in their ads—she was once the spokeswoman.) Patti was touring a salmon hatchery in Western Norway when she noticed the hands of the women who worked in the hatchery: their hands looked significantly younger than their faces. Their hands had been in the hatching water every day, picking out egg shells after the salmon fry (babies) hatched.

After further investigation, Patti (with some help from a local professor) isolated the cause of these youthful-looking hands to an enzyme salmon fry release in order to escape from their shell. Patti, who at the time had no intention of launching a skincare company, soon founded Restorsea on this discovery.

Patti’s story is reminiscent of the discovery of Pitera, the ingredient in cult skincare line SK-II: scientists noticed the elderly workers in sake breweries had wrinkled faces but smooth, clear and younger-looking hands. Their hands were in constant contact with the yeast fermentation process, and eventually researchers discovered that the sake fermentation process created a natural by-product. They called it Pitera and slapped a trademark on it.

But what makes the Restorsea story different and a bit more interesting is that Patti and a large group of investors found that this enzyme was so potent and so powerful that not only did they need to sell it through physicians offices, they needed to spend an astounding $25mm to keep it all to themselves. They secured two patents and just secured global rights to the ingredient for 20 years. So now Restorsea is the only skincare line that will use this salmon egg enzyme as their core ingredient.

SO WHERE DO I GET IT?

At your dermatologist’s office! (Of course we hope they’re a Charlotte’s Book-approved doctor.) If they don’t carry Restorsea, ask about it. We put together this list of doctors in our main readership areas who carry Restorsea:

New York
Dr. Anne Chapas
Dr. Diane Berson

Los  Angeles
Dr. Rebecca Fitzgerald
Dr. Ray Jalian
Dr. Vivi Stafford
Dr. Debra Stafford

Orange County
Dr. Lorrie Klein

Houston
Dr. Jennifer Segal

Miami
Dr. Debra Price

Image: Kristina Emma Hultkrantz

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Here are some other great products for exfoliating oily and sensitive skin.
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