Is Perricone MD Formula 15 Worth Its High Price Tag?

by Gio

perricone md formula 15

In 2012, Perricone MD, the high-end skincare brand created by dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, turned 15. To celebrate its anniversary, the brand launched Formula 15, “an advanced, professional-grade formulation that minimizes the length, depth, and width of wrinkles”. Its secret? Alpha Lipoic Acid and DMAE. Too bad DMAE is quite a controversial ingredient that can cause more problems than it solves…

What Perricone MD Says

A powerful anti-aging treatment to correct skin’s surface imperfections and reveal more even, youthful skin. Dr. Perricone combines the legacy of the past with the science of the future to create Formula 15. This potent, active and highly efficacious power treatment combines his patented sciences in a synergistic action to tackle the length, width and depth of a wrinkle.

Full Ingredient List

Water, Dimethyl MEA, Thioctic Acid, Isopropyl Palmitate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Tyrosine, Glycolic Acid, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Propanediol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Urea, Ceteareth-20, Cyclopentasiloxane, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Dimethicone, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Phosphatidylcholine, Caprylyl Glycol, Hydroxylated Lecithin, BHT, Zinc Gluconate, Magnesium Aspartate, Acetyl Tyrosine, Disodium EDTA, Pyridoxine HCl, Zinc Sulfate, Pantethine, Fragrance/Parfum, Sorbic Acid, Copper Gluconate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Limonene, Citral.

Ingredient Analysis


Dimethyl MEA (DMEA)

A 2005 study had found that Dimethyl MEA is effective at firming skin: “3% DMAE facial gel applied daily for 16 weeks has been shown to be safe and efficacious in the mitigation of forehead lines and periorbital fine wrinkles, and in improving lip shape and fullness and the overall appearance of aging skin. These effects did not regress during a 2-week cessation of application. Beneficial trends were noted in the appearance of coarse wrinkles, under-eye dark circles, nasolabial folds, sagging neck skin, and neck firmness.”

Sounds great, right? The problem is that DMEA does this by vacuolization (it fills up cells with water). Now, when too much water is present in a cell, this can die. Granted, other ingredients, when used in too high concentrations can have the same effect. But the question remains. Is it worth to spend more than a $100 on a product whose star ingredient firms skin by filling it up with water, which could be potentially risky?

Or useless. Because DMEA is stable and effective only at an alkaline PH (at least 10). Such a high PH can dry skin and increase bacteria proliferation, which is why skincare products are formulated at a neutral ph (5.5 or 6.5) that’s close to that of the skin. Therefore, unless the scientists at Perricone have found a way around this, the ph of the product is probably too low for DMEA to work properly, and its benefits will be minimal or nonexistent.


Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha Lipoic Acid, or Thioctic Acid, is an antioxidant present in pretty much every living cell in the human body. So, you would think that, when topically applied on the skin, ALA would provide immense benefits, right? Wrong. Although research on this antioxidant is limited, the results so far have been pretty disappointing. A 2003 study has shown that ALA can only decrease skin roughness, which is good, but not very exciting. I mean, surely an antioxidant should do more than that?


Glycolic Acid

In high concentrations, Glycolic Acid has exfoliating properties. It can loosen the glue that holds the skin cells together, allowing them to slough off. Thus, the brighter, smooth and even-toned skin underneath is revealed. This way, Glycolic Acid can fight hyperpigmentation and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. At low concentrations (less than 3%) Glycolic Acid acts as a water-binding agent.

However, Glycolic Acid is effective at a low ph (about 4). Remember that DMAE, instead, requires a high one? That means that, when used together, only one of these ingredients can work. In this case, however, neither does. Why? Because, if like I believe, the ph is neutral, then both won’t be able to function properly. Well, Glycolic Acid will still, even at a neutral ph, work as a water-binding agent, but that’s it. You don’t get any of its other benefits.

Final considerations on the formula

Perricone MD Formula 15 also contains a few silicones, such as Dimethicone, that allow the product to spread better on the skin, leaving it feeling silky smooth, and emollients, such as Cetearyl Alcohol that makes skin soft. Unfortunately, it also contains Isopropyl Palmitate, a comedogenic ingredient that never fails to break me out when used in a high amount. If you have oily, combination, or acne-prone skin you may want to avoid it as well.


Packaged in an opaque and airtight 59ml bottle with a pump dispenser, Perricone MD Formula 15 will set you back a whooping $125.00! If you really must try it, see if you can get your hands on a sample first. Or you can buy it on Amazon, where it is currently sold at $86.23.

The Bottom Line

The star, active, ingredients in Perricone MD Formula 15 don’t do much. The product may help to temporarily firm your skin, while also making it soft and smooth. But then, there are many other products on the market whose ingredients, such as Retinoids and Vitamins C and E, can do the same and more, and at a fraction of the cost too. Formula 15 is just average, and not worth its high price tag.

Have you tried this product? If so, how does it work for you?

Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping

Screenshot from 2017 04 30 11 51 35

Get access to the “Pro Skincare Library” for exclusive skincare routine “cheat sheets” and tricks to help you navigate the beauty aisles jungle like a pro and immediately know what to pick off the shelves to achieve the gorgeous skin of your dreams - even when you’re drowning in an endless sea of skincare products.

Powered by ConvertKit



MonicaP June 4, 2014 - 5:15 pm

I haven’t tried this product, but I’ve tried other Perricone products and they are .. meh. The one piece of advice that I read in a Perricone book which is solid is that products with vit c will heal a sunburn and this does work well (at least for me anyway).


Gio June 4, 2014 - 7:07 pm

Monica, I’m sorry you don’t like his line. I think he has some good products, but they are so overpriced! And that is great advice indeed. 🙂


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.