#3 TNS by SkinMedica


Expert Ratings & Stem Cell Skin Care Review Summary

  • Stem Cell (fibroblast in this case) Science
  • Formulation Science
  • Measured Benefits
  • Impact & Lack of Concerns

  • SkinMedica (now part of Allergan) pioneered the notion that a mixture of “physiologically balanced growth factors” could be really good for skin. They were right, and TNS’s long track record of success (and safety) helps to prove the point. Of interest, it has nothing to do with stem cells.  Stem cell science was still in it’s infancy when this product was initially researched & formulated. Instead, it is based on human fibroblasts, grown in cell culture, with harvesting of conditioned medium which contains cytokines and growth factors. Rather than just grow on plates or in flasks (flat cultures) they grow the cells in three dimensions. This, it is claimed, makes them work a whole lot harder and produce more of the good stuff. However, studies (done by university scientists) have shown that certain stem cells are far more proliferative than fibroblasts in producing these signaling chemicals. It may be that the success of notable TNS in the marketplace has made the company reluctant to change the product. Also notable is a quite high concentration of conditioned medium (97% says one source) and a resulting fishy odor (common with certain types of amino acids).  This is a drawback according to some consumers.  There are good papers published on the basic and clinical science (see bibliography).  Expert reviewers give high marks for both.

  • In addition to the TNS part of the product, it is combined (in a 2 chamber container) with high quality peptides and an excellent collection of antioxidants, as well as alpha arbutin as a whitening agent. It would be helpful to see a publication of levels of key cytokines, rather than just mention of which ones e.g.  VEGF, PDGF-A, G-CSF, HGF, IL-6, IL-8, and TGF-beta

  • Statistically Significant Clinical Study Results

    In a  clinical study, 37 women aged 32-55 with mild-to-severe wrinkling used TNS Essential Serum twice-daily for three months. Study participants were evaluated monthly, using physician assessments, digital photography and patient self-assessment. 97% saw improvements in the elasticity of their skin and 92% rated their skin as looking healthier and more youthful. In addition, TNS Essential Serum demonstrated statistically significant improvements in the following physician-evaluated clinical endpoints:

    • Textural roughness
    • Fine and coarse wrinkles
    • Skin radiance and elasticity
    • Protection from UV exposure and resulting skin damage


  • “Scientists and medical professionals have known for years that Growth Factors and proteins help rejuvenate skin.  What exactly is a growth factor and how does it work?  Growth Factors are proteins that regulate cellular growth as well as the activity of skin cells, and are naturally present in the skin to maintain healthy skin structure.  Normal aging however decreases the levels of certain growth factors and results in fine lines and wrinkles.  Growth factors play an integral role in skin’s natural ability to repair damage caused by the effects of aging.  SkinMedica® utilizes a combination of stable growth factors called TNS, which stands for Tissue Nutrient Solution – a physiologically balanced mixture of growth factors, cytokines and other essential substances for skin rejuvenation.  Derived from human fibroblasts using a patented, highly effective process, this solution contains highly concentrated growth factors for the ultimate in cellular repair”

    “TNS Essential Serum is an unprecedented combination,” stated Richard Fitzpatrick, MD, the founder of SkinMedica. “This formulation marries the potent growth factor serum in TNS Recovery Complex with the protective, antioxidant properties of APS Corrective Complex, providing our customers with comprehensive anti-aging care and protection. SkinMedica continues to deliver on its commitment to physicians and consumers to use leading-edge science to develop the most advanced, professional skin care products available today.”

  • Key Ingredients

    Chamber 1: TNS Recovery Complex® = Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media (TNS®) → A physiologically balanced, naturally secreted and stabilized growth factor blend that helps improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, skin tone and texture.

    Chamber 2:  APS Corrective Complex™ = Peptides help support skin:

    • Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5
    • Hydrolyzed Silk (Sericin)
    • Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline

    Antioxidants that help prevent free radical damage:

    • Ergothioneine (EGT) → An antioxidant with free radical scavenging properties.
    • Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10) → An antioxidant that helps to counteract free radical damage and works synergistically with vitamin E.
    • >Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract → A natural antioxidant rich in polyphenols.
    • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate → A stable form of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), a proven antioxidant.
    • Tocopheryl Acetate → A form of vitamin E, an antioxidant and free-radical scavenger.
    • Rubus Fruticosus (Blackberry) Leaf Extract → A natural antioxidant rich in polyphenols
    • Saccharomyces Ferment Lysate Filtrate → A bio-optimized yeast extract that helps prevent free radical damage.

    Specialty Ingredients

    Alpha-Arbutin → Brightens skin.

    Hyaluronic Filling Spheres → Dehydrated filling spheres, containing hyaluronic acid, help trap water on the surface of the skin like a sponge.


    Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media, Water/Aqua/Eau, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Olea Europaea Fruit Unsaponifiables, Alpha-Arbutin, Isoceteth-20, Arachidyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Ethoxydiglycol, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Ergothioneine, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Hydrolyzed Sericin, Phospholipids, Ubiquinone, Rubus Fruticosus Leaf Extract, Saccharomyces Ferment Lysate Filtrate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Aminobutyric Acid, Phytosterols, Tocopherol, Tocotrienols, Squalene, Oryza Sativa Bran Cera, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Polyacrylate-13, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Behenyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Steareth-10, Steareth-20, Butylene Glycol, Maltodextrin, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Xanthan Gum, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Ethylparaben, Parfum/Fragrance, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool, Coumarin, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Geraniol, Isoeugenol

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User Rating  & Reviews / Comments  

5 reviews


  1. Pilar on

    Great moisturizer, and I have sensitive skin. But I have now used it for a few years and must say it has not changed my brown sun spots. Good moisturizer, but nothing much else. I have used it for nearly two years. Thinking of a change.

  2. Grace g. on

    This product came recommended by a plastic surgeon. I’m 62 years old, but my skin looks considerably younger. I have used it for 3 months. Of course the surgery helped a lot (wrinkles gone), but my skin texture and tone is also better. My husband doesn’t like the smell, but I don’t care.

  3. Mary R. on

    I dread getting older and having my face show me many wrinkles and age-spots when I look in the mirror. I have used the TNS Essential Serum for about a year , andI have noticed fewer lines on my face. My face looks better than it did five years ago. Firmer, brighter, healthier looking. My husband compliments me all the time.

  4. Suzi B. on

    Love this product. Have used many many product but nothing has compared to Skin Medica
    Would highly recommend this product.

  5. Betsy61 on

    I did not find the TNS to be better than some other less expensive products I have used. I do like the feel when you first put it on. It also has a smell, as others have noticed, but not all that bad and it wears off after an hour or so. Also, it is expensive. I only used it for 6 weeks. Just couldn’t afford it after that.

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