Bioelectricity and You: Can a Cream "Recharge" Your Skin?

aveeno, neutrogena, roc, anti-aging, explanation, brillance, e-pulse, electricity, currents, skin
I know by now you've likely seen the commercials, the ads in your magazine or even read famous dermatologists discussing this new breakthrough in skin care in a magazine (I think I've seen it in 3 at last count).

"Bioelectricity", just hearing that term makes me think... well, not that it's amazing. Honestly, that term makes me think of those copper bracelets they sell in the in-flight catalog or on late night television. You know the one, they show some guy wearing it while he's golfing and then they claim that the bracelet cured his diabetes? I thought of that immediately when I heard about these products. Then I did a pubmed search. Nothing. There was some nonsense about everyone knowing the electricity in your skin decreases as you age. I didn't learn that in med school. Obviously this was all nonsense.

Or, was it?

What exactly is electricity? It's a current. A current is movement of charged particles. Which means you just need some charged things moving around. Oh yeah, I did learn that in medical school. And I use it everyday in my ICU. We just don't call it electricity, we call it shifting.

A lot of things in our bodies are charged, and in order for our cells to function properly they need to be kept at certain levels in different compartments. Things like Sodium, Potassium and Calcium. They're all charged ions, kept at different levels in cells, out of cells, in different ares of the body. And they move around. That's current, and therefore electricity. If they can't move cells not only can't function properly, they actually die.

So, there is electricity in our bodies. Now what's this that Johnson & Johnson is doing? And, more importantly, does it actually work?

So, J&J hasn't really exactly said in any of their press releases or released clinical information how this new technology works. I have gotten more info from the PR reps, and this is all what I can deduce from reading the information they've sent me. Mostly I've seen clinical result data, more on that later.

aveeno, neutrogena, roc, anti-aging, explanation, brillance, e-pulse, electricity, currents, skin, ion channel
So, I hope you like this picture, I made it last week while watching American Idol. I think it's pretty. What is it? It's a simplified cross section of the outer membrane of a human cell. See those pink things with the tails? That's the lipid bilayer that basically acts as a gate keeper, determining what can get in and out of the cell. Things that can "dissolve" into the layer will cross easily, things that don't, well, they stay put. That means that water, ions (because they are charged, see them there in their little bubbles?) and large molecules are all unable to cross without extra help.

Luckily, there are things like channels (yes, that big blue thing). Think of them like tunnels just stuck in the lipid membrane. These channels don't just willy-nilly let anything through. Otherwise, what would be the point of the lipid bilayer? I've shown this channel as generic (see how it is letting both + and - ions through), but in reality they are highly specialized. They will work for just sodium, make sodium and hydrogen exchange across the layer, let just water through, or even expend energy every time something goes through. They're different in different cell types throughout the body and they're used in very specific instances. And if they're not working right, things will be out of balance. In nerve cells there are channels like this connecting cells, and the movement of ions through the channels sends a specific message, telling the receiving cell to act in a certain way and to send the message on.

So, how did J&J manage to get these channels to increase their activity? Within the products are zinc molecules with copper particles. Once the particles hit water, a charge is produced and this somehow activates the channels, sending a message to the cells.

As the message is spread amongst the cells, they get the message to increase collagen and elastin production. Over time with the increased production of both of these you have fewer wrinkles, smoother skin and improved elasticity.

The clinical results that I've seen are pretty amazing, but I'll go into them more when I review each product. Stay tuned, reviews are coming soon!

Update, 5/2/2010
I thought links to the Products I reviewed with this technology in the post might make life a bit easier for some people.
Aveeno Ageless Vitality SPF 30
ROC Brilliance Eye Beautifier
Neutrogena Clinical NIght Facial Lifting Wrinkle Treatment


  1. I can't wait for the reviews since I love Aveeno and thank you so much for making incomprehensible science easy to understand!

  2. Wow, very interesting. Thanks for breaking it down for us. I'll be patiently waiting for the reviews.

  3. I find myself coming to your blog more and more often to the point where my visits are almost daily now!


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