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Cosmetic Skin Care Products – Fact or Fiction?

Sunday, January 7th, 2007

Dr. Rob Oliver’s Plastic Surgery 101 Blog has an interesting post on the boom in skin care products on the market today. There are many celebrities hawking their new elixir or lotion of youth, including Victoria Principal and Courtney Cox. Do any of these products actually work? What’s the big deal with Copper, or Squalene, or whatever the heck is in Strivectin? From I’ve seen, there is no big deal.

According to a recent New York Times article:

“People are spending $450 on a jar of cream just because it is made out of something exotic like salmon eggs or cocoons,” Dr. Brademas said. “But the cheapest products work just as well as the more expensive ones.”

A study of wrinkle creams published last month by Consumer Reports concluded that there was no correlation between price and effectiveness. The study, which tested nine brands of wrinkle creams over 12 weeks, also concluded that none of the products reduced the depth of wrinkles by more than 10 percent, an amount “barely visible to the naked eye.”

The Consumer Reports study found, for example, that a three-step regimen of Olay Regenerist products costing $57 was slightly more effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles than a $135 tube of StriVectin-SD or a $335 combination of two La Prairie Cellular lotions.

“I am seduced by fancy packaging as much as the next person,” Dr. Brademas said. “But I have a theory that all these skin-care things come out of the same vat in New Jersey.”

Here’s my summary of the whole skin care trade:
1. Any over-the-counter products do little except moisturize the skin. The FDA does not allow medically-active products to be sold in department stores. In addition, cosmetics companies are not rash enough to allow a product which actually changes the fundamental structure of the skin to be sold by someone not trained in skin care. It would be a liability nightmare.
2. Sunscreen is the most important skin care product, followed by a retinol product. Retin-A is the only skin care product I know of that is actually scientifically proven to decrease fine lines and reverse early pre-skin cancers. Hydroquinone can actually remove age spots and pigmented lesions over the span of several weeks.
3. I’ve tried and studied many different skin care lines, and the only one I have found to create visible results in the majority of patients is Obagi. It can be hard to tolerate, but it does actually work for those who stick with it.
4. I’m sure that there are products that people use which work for them, but I’ve found that many of the really expensive cosmetics, whether sold by a department store, TV show, or pyramid scheme salesperson, do little overall.

For more information on skin care, visit my skin care website at http://www.dryoun.com

Thanks for reading.
Michigan-based Plastic Surgeon

Anthony Youn, M.D.