Comparing Skinceuticals’ Cell Cycle Catalyst Serum and Formotopia’s High Strengh AHA At-Home Facial

Skinceuticals Cell Cycle Catalyst Serum and Formotopia BFFECT AHA 30% + Mandelic Acid 4% Serum

Published on April 04, 2024

By Terry

We recently added the new Skinceuticals Cell Cycle Catalyst serum to our SKINSKOOL database and we got a little pleasant surprise. Our always 100% objective INCI list tracker algorithm has identified a more affordable alternative to the Skinceuticals daily-use exfoliating serum – in the form of an occasional-use at home facial. Formotopia BFFECT AHA 30% + Mandelic Acid 4% Serum is the product with the MOST ingredients from the Skinceuticals’ ingredient list out of the whopping 6457 serums in our database. That is pretty wild! It also has a serious price advantage to boot. The Formotopia serum is only $18.30 for 30mL while Skinceuticals is $115 for the same volume.

SKINSKOOL search result for Formotopia Bffect AHA Treatment

The major difference between the products is the usage. While the Skinceuticals Cell Cycle Catalyst serum is marketed as a daily use serum, the Formotopia product is a rinse-off treatment formula that is recommended to be used 1 to 2 times a week.

Skinceuticals Cell Cycle Catalyst vs. Formotopia BFFECT AHA 30% + Mandelic Acid 4% Serum

Who are these products for?

When comparing the Skinceuticals Cell Cycle Catalyst and Formotopia BFFECT AHA 30% + Mandelic Acid 4% Serum, both products aim to revitalize the skin and achieve antiaging effects through exfoliation but with slightly different approaches and ingredient concentrations.

Let's Compare

Claims and Function:

  • Skinceuticals Cell Cycle Catalyst claims to boost anti-aging results by enhancing cellular turnover to smooth skin texture, improve the appearance of discoloration, and the look of visible lines. It is positioned as an anti-aging serum that also maintains hydration to support a healthy skin barrier.
  • Formotopia BFFECT AHA 30% + Mandelic Acid 4% Serum is focused on refining skin texture, boosting radiance, and improving moisture retention. It includes an antibacterial component and is designed for an at-home exfoliating facial.

Ingredient Analysis:

  • Similarities: Both products contain a blend of AHAs including glycolic, lactic, and mandelic acids, which are known for their exfoliating properties. Glycerin is a shared ingredient as well, acting as a humectant to retain moisture.
  • Differences: The Skinceuticals serum features a 7.7% multi-acid complex and 1% Taurine, ingredients that are known for their peeling and hydration effects respectively. In contrast, Formotopia's serum contains a higher concentration of AHAs (30% AHA blend) for a more intensive exfoliation experience and includes additional soothing and skin-conditioning ingredients like aloe vera and chamomile extract, along with Tasmannia Lanceolata fruit/leaf extract which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.


  • Skinceuticals Cell Cycle Catalyst is designed for once daily use and does not require rinsing off, indicating a milder formulation suitable for continuous wear.
  • Formotopia BFFECT AHA 30% + Mandelic Acid 4% Serum is intended to be used as a rinse-off treatment due to its higher acid concentration, making it more of a periodic treatment rather than for everyday use.

What are the shared ingredients?

The shared ingredients between the Skinceuticals Cell Cycle Catalyst and the Formotopia BFFECT AHA 30% + Mandelic Acid 4% Serum are:

  • Aqua/Water: Acts as the solvent in which all the other ingredients are dissolved.
  • Glycerin: A humectant that attracts water, helping to hydrate the skin.
  • Glycolic Acid: An alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that exfoliates the surface of the skin, helping to improve texture and tone.
  • Lactic Acid: Another AHA that offers mild exfoliation and also improves moisture levels in the skin.
  • Mandelic Acid: An AHA known for its larger molecular size, providing a gentler exfoliation and helpful for treating acne.
  • Chlorphenesin: A synthetic preservative with antimicrobial properties


Both products are aimed at those who wish to improve their skin’s appearance through chemical exfoliation, though the Skinceuticals serum might be preferred by those looking for daily anti-aging treatment, while the Formotopia serum suits those who prefer a more intense, treatment-focused approach. It’s important for users to consider their skin sensitivity and tolerance to AHAs when choosing between the two, as well as their specific skin concerns and desired frequency of use. It appears to us that the Formotopia at-home facial delivers a steep price advantage ($18.30 vs $115) as well as a saving of time since you only do their rinse-off treatment at most 2 times per week. The efficacy of each product of course needs to be assessed in real life. Hopefully our analysis helps you make a choice.

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Co-Founder of SKINSKOOL, the world’s first & only IP-protected, tech-driven beauty marketplace dedicated to empowering consumer discovery, comparison and purchasing based on objective ingredient and pricing information.