Fashion is all about what’s in and what’s out, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should have noticed that in the past year, anti-aging creams in the beauty department have been coming out left and right – all promising to restore your skin’s vitality and firmness with breakthrough science and technology. Right now, there could be nothing more “in” than trying the newest cream to maintain your skin’s youthful appearance and reverse aging. And lucky for you, my research has uncovered the technology and science behind these creams, their claims, and how they may be affected by legislation hoping to curb their “too good to be true” promises.
We begin by hitting the common ingredients found in most creams:
- Plant and fruit stem cells: mainly grapes, apples, and pomegranate. Technology has allowed scientists to obtain viable tissue from a these fruits, make small cuts, and develop powerful anti-oxidants to eat up free radicals on your skin.
- Enzymes: like roxisomes, photosomes, and ultrasomes. Scientists can easily grow these ingredients in test tubes or petri-dishes, but what the “bad boys” use for growing enzymes for commercial use are fermenters, very large vessels equipped to deliver a steady balance of oxygen, carbohydrates, nitrogen, and ammonia to speed up enzyme growth. These enzymes help to repair broken-down collagen, sun damage, and reduce wrinkles.
- Peptides: as in amino acids. This is the stuff found naturally occurring in your body, and with computers helping to code specific amino acid chains, the peptides put in creams can signal to your skin which cells to produce and not to produce.
- Bacteria: probiotics and bio-lysat. From watching yogurt commercials, we know the good stuff of probiotics, but hand it to technology to give us bio-lysat, a lactobacillus harvested in a lab, but generally found in the gastrointestinal tract of a woman’s vagina. Yeah, pretty interesting stuff, right? You don’t have to think about that last part the next time you reach for your anti-aging cream.
Next are the claims. According to the pulse of the beauty market, the hype is all around Lancome’s Genifique and Visionnaire creams. Like many other creams, Genifique and Visionnaire not only promise to stimulate “the production of youth proteins,” but also “fundamentally re-create more beautiful skin.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds amazing – and at about $80 per ounce, it better be amazing. Even with any or all of the above active ingredients at work, the latter statement would be truly difficult to prove.
Whether Lancome’s or other products claims bear truth or not, the beauty industry’s $60 billion annual sales have garnered the attention of state and federal legislation, hoping to crack down on misleading claims and promises. Moreover, the FDA also hopes to better effectively regulate beauty product ingredients. Compared with Europe’s ban on almost 1,200 ingredients, the United States has only banned 10 . . . which leaves much wiggle room for potentially toxic ones. On that note, I also urge you to look carefully at your nail polish’s ingredients before application.
As much as technology has made beauty goals ever more so attainable, there could be pitfalls in the amount of non-regulation in the beauty industry. Until the law catches up with laboratory innovations, I suggest you do your research before purchases, and if you want to try something new, always request samples. That’s the low-down on anti-aging creams. Stay beautiful, San Francisco.
Photo credit: Lancome