15 June, 2006

More Lies

...it's a mystery! - Tom Stoppard, Shakespeare In Love

From Paula Begoun's Beauty Bulletin:


Creme de la Mer The Essence: The High Cost of Aging Gracefully?

I wonder sometimes if the cosmetics industry simply has a sardonic sense of humor or whether it’s possible they merely don’t like women very much. How else can you explain a colossal company like Estee Lauder (which owns La Mer, along with an assortment of other skin-care companies, from Aveda to Clinque, which in combination sell an almost endless assortment of antiwrinkle and anti-aging products) launching a product that costs $2,100 and whose primary ingredient is seaweed? Or at least according to the ingredient list, it has a lot of seaweed—well, as much as 1.5 ounces can contain—along with a huge list of other ingredients.

Seaweed extract is the primary ingredient in this nonaqueous serum but which type of seaweed is unknown (there are endless types of possible seaweed extracts) so there is no way to evaluate its benefit for skin. Actually, I wonder how the FDA lets Lauder get around this generalized ingredient identification because it is definitely not part of the regulation. This product also contains silicones, emollients, more seaweed (the type is listed for this one), ingredients that mimic the structure of skin, an assortment of antioxidants, a tiny amount of niacin (in the form of vitamin B that can cause flushing, which is actually a problem for skin), and acetyl hexapeptide-3. This last is the ingredient that’s supposed to work like Botox, but of course it can’t; even Botox can’t work like Botox when applied topically to skin.

And just in case you weren’t sure the product was doing anything for your skin, they included a few irritating, skin-tingling plant extracts, including eucalyptus, lime, and citronella, to create the impression that it is doing something on your face. For this kind of money it should be doing something, but exactly what that is can’t be ascertained. Lauder has no published studies and offers no clinical evidence (other than press releases, which fashion magazines use as if they were factual information) to support the value of the product or the efficacy of the claims.

Along with seaweed, The Essence also contains an assortment of yeast extracts, saccharomyces lysate, micrococcus lysate, artemisa extract, and bifida ferment lysate. But whether or not seaweed or yeast in any form can affect wrinkles is still not known. Indeed, it is something ingredient manufacturers claim, but it is not supported by published or substantiated double-blind studies showing this to be true. Research from ingredient manufacturers is interesting, but obviously self-serving; somehow all their ingredients are always miracles. Trying to find independent research about these substances is difficult, and what does exist involves in vitro or animal studies (Sources: Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation, March–April 1999, pages 155–162; and Wound Repair and Regeneration, January 2002, page 38).

I could carry on about how these various ingredients are theoretically supposed to affect skin, but at some moments in my career I just have to throw my hands up in the air and say I give up, the cosmetics industry is just crazy and I have no words left to explain why. I think I’ll go get a Starbucks latte…I can’t say I understand $5 for a cup of coffee either, but at least I know exactly what I’m getting!
-Paula Begoun,
  • Cosmetics Cop



  • You wonder whether some people have more dollars than brain cells.

    On second thought, wondering is probably unnecessary.

    3 comments:

    Paul said...

    There was a question of this in your mind? Here. Wonder no more.

    Cybele said...

    Yes, but Paul, does the honey cost $2,100.00?

    I didn't think so.

    The Retropolitan said...

    I didn't know Maharishi Honey globalized all nations and created world peace. I should start reading the paper again.