Thursday, 14 February 2013

Epidermal Growth Factors - EGF - Updated September 2014

EGF - short for Epidermal Growth Factor, is part of the family known as growth factors. They are used for stimulating growth and healing of damaged or dead skin. Which makes it - on paper - the perfect ingredient for an anti-ageing product.

It has the ability to stimulate cells (read: collagen) and increase the thickness of the epidermis - so perfect for ageing skin yes?

Well, no. The problem is that among its contra-indications are, among others, people suffering from psoriasis - psoriasis is caused by the body sending out a faulty signal to overproduce new skin cells - so the last thing you want to do is stimulate it. That, however, is not life-threatening.

More worryingly - is the suggestion that it should not be used on anyone with 'pre-cancerous cells or cancerous lesions'. The obvious fear being that growth factors are mitogenic - meaning while they do not cause cancerous cells, they absolutely will cause cancerous cells to multiply. That's their job. To stimulate cells. Scientifically proven to do so. 

It's not clever enough to distinguish between fibroblasts and cancer.

Therein lies the problem. How do you know if that mole on your face/back/leg is pre-cancerous? 

In the case of my Mum we didn't know her mole was cancer until she almost lost her leg.

Bio Effect - who are based solely on EGF - have no warnings on their external packaging relating to contraindications  In fact it says 'Suitable for all skin types'. *

Revive - the brand whose entire identity was based around EGF - have recently - and very quietly dropped all mention of EGF and now contain 'Renewal Epidermal Science' - I have no idea what that means - I've asked them for clarification. And until they are crystal clear on their website about what RES is?

I can tell you this.

No growth/renewal factor is going anywhere near my Mum's - or my skin.

I have asked Revive and Bio Effect if they would like to comment. *see BioEffect update below*
I'm all for being fair. I'll keep you posted.

More info:


*BioEffect do not source their EGF from human cells. It is copied from human dna and grown in barley therefore making it unrecognisable to cancerous cells. More info here:

Still no word from Revive.


  1. I've always been dubious about the use of mitogens in skincare. I have similar reasons for avoiding lash growth stimulators too. Cell proliferation isn't always a good thing! I do wonder if the lack of warning or need for prescription is indicative of the fact that the actives are not all that effective in topical creams?!

  2. Has this any relation to REN 'Bio Acive' skincare? Or is that a ridiculous question?

  3. This is scary stuff! Just goes to show you can't blindly follow/believe the marketing hype these people give us. And most importantly, to always research what you decide to put on your face and body. Thanks for keeping us informed Caroline. One more reason I love this blog and keep coming back to it.

  4. Interesting. I received a sample of the Bio Effect EGF thingie in my LIB Advent Calendar. I did a bit of background reading (I'm a nurse and a generally curious person) and after about 5 minutes I chucked the little bottle in the bin. Don't care how expensive it is, it's not going on my skin either!

  5. This is hugely interesting and I will await with anticipation to see what kind of response you receive.

    I received the Bio Effect EGF Serum in the Selfridges box. After reading the various warnings on the leaflet, I threw it in the bin - anything that needs that many warnings isn't going on my skin! It is why I like to stick to natural skincare, far safer.

  6. In Space NK at the weekend I was looking for a really good anti-aging line & this is what they were recomending! Thank you Caroline because I would have been talked into it unaware of what EGF was and with some health issues I really don't want this on my skin.

  7. I work for space.nk and weirdly enough a few months ago I asked the revive trainer if any of the EGF comments were true and she said no why would we sell something that does that.. but it was a very touchy subject with her. So im still reluctant to even mention revive to a customer :( x

  8. What about the Knu Anti-Aging Face Lift from Michael Todd? Would it be recommended or should I try something else? Is it harmful? It has Matrixyl3000 and Bio-fermented Organic Seaweed Extract in it. It says those are used to provide an immediate gentle lift and tightening to the skin. I am very confused as I DO NOT want it to cause bad things to spread. Especially if I don't know if I have any skin issues that are bad or harmful.

  9. Thank you so much for this post. There is not enough information about this! I'm on a mission to tighten my skin. I'm considering using EGF products. I just wanted to say thanks for the post and to share another site, skin tightening, which has a few similar products listed. I thought people may be interested. Thanks again :)

  10. Thanks again Caroline. Saw this on the QVC website and started to do some internet research to see if there were any potential issues around EGF. All I could really find was all the positive hype and some UCLA dermatologist backing it (who is also linked to promoting it - kerching?) until your article popped up with some sage advice. This will not be going in my basket, thanks doll x