Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Consumer Reports on Anti-Aging Serums

There is an excellent article in the May issue of ShopSmart magazine by Consumer Reports. Part of it is available online to non-subscribers, and subscribers can read the detailed ratings. You can find the magazine at well-stocked newsstands and book stores (even saw it at Safeway tonight). I was fascinated by the test results and had to share a summary with you - with permission, of course.

Consumer Reports had a mission: to find out how well many anti-aging products actually work. Their testers examined anti-wrinkle serums for aging skin, dyes for gray hair, and baldness treatments for those without much hair to dye. I'm going to tell you about the anti-aging serum tests.

"Nothing betrays a woman's age more than wrinkles, according to the 12,699 online subscribers who responded to a Consumer Reports survey about aging. For the many Americans determined to vanquish wrinkles, the market overflows with anti-aging lotions, potions, skin-care regimens, and even body washes that manufacturers claim work magic on your dermal layers—in weeks!"

Consumer Reports purchased nine face serums, anti-aging products that are more fluid than creams and usually absorb quickly. The products they tested range from $20 to $65 and are available at drugstores, department stores, and specialty retail sites like Sephora. Most claim to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Do they really do that? Not very well - or at all - according to Consumer Reports. Hours in the testing labs revealed that the anti-wrinkle serums they tested fell far short of their claims. While some test subjects saw minor improvements, others saw no improvement at all. There's a lot of hype out there.

The test participants used the products for six weeks, longer than the duration the manufacturers said would yield noticeable results. "Trained sensory panelists" analyzed the before and after photographs and scored each one on the length and depth of any visible facial wrinkles. The ratings were surprisingly bad (but were similar to previous tests on face creams).

The two serums that were rated as slightly more effective than the others were DermaSilk 5 Minute Face Lift ($40 per ounce) and Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle ($20 per oz). "Slightly more effective" than the others is hardly a stirring recommendation! You can see a DermaSilk "improvement" in the photograph above.

How did Consumer Reports define "slightly more effective"? Some participants (out of 79 in total) experienced a minor improvement in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. However, the same products that produced very minor improvements for some participants did absolutely nothing for others. Yikes!

Consumer Reports says that the dermatologists they consulted weren't surprised. The FDA, which oversees cosmetic safety and labeling, doesn't require manufacturers to test their products for efficacy. So, there are at least nine serums - a representative sample of well-known skin-care brands - that don't do much. Also disappointing, the natural product tested, Burt's Bees Naturally Ageless Intensive Repairing Serum, which was among the priciest products tested in terms of cost per ounce, didn't cut it at all.

You can read a summary of the test at this Consumer Reports link.

There's nothing like a real test to know where to spend your hard-earned money. Unfortunately, these test results told me a lot about what not to buy. The over-the-counter products tested so poorly, we don't know from the Consumer Reports' results what non-prescription products we should buy. So, I'll stick to the products I'm using. I think they work - for me. I'll keep testing too. Like many, I want that miracle product!

Photo at top courtesy of ShopSmart, a Consumer Reports magazine. You can subscribe at this link. I subscribe to ShopSmart magazine, and I have an online subscription to Consumer Reports. Love them both!


Bari said...

How disappointing, if not surprising. I just read - and sorry that I can't remember where - that a dermatologist said retinol in cosmetics is not effective, and only the prescription version helps diminish surface flaws, but that topical vitamins,especially C, and antioxidants do help protect and rejuvenate...along with actually consuming all those good fruits and veg. Thanks for passing on the Consumer Reports info!

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Bari,

Yes, there are many dermatologists who believe that only prescription Retin-A, Renova, and the like will diminish wrinkles. There are others, though, who believe that non-prescription products with "the right stuff" will help us.

There's a lot of literature to sort through, so it's no surprise you can't remember where you read that! :)

savvygreenmom said...

There are so many companies and products out there with giant claims when in truth I really wonder if 1. they even work and 2. are they healthy? I think it is critical to read labels because I just do not want to use anything that is loaded up with all kinds of chemicals that could be harmful! That's why my beauty routine is natural using pure olive oil for moisturizer and raw local honey as my mask. These work great and are healthy - plus I take my Vidazorb OPC daily age defense probiotic for extra benefits!

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks for the comment, Smiling Green Mom! I read labels too, and I encourage everyone to do that. Sometimes, you can see from the ingredients that the front of the package is all hype. Of course, you need to learn your chemicals, but that's not hard.

I'm going to go look up your Vidazorb OPC daily age defense probiotic. I'm always learning!

Unknown said...

Propylene Glycol is used as a moisturizing compound, fragrance and emulsifier, propylene glycol prevents healthy skin cells from growing and causes skin irritation. It also has the potential to damage the liver and kidneys and may cause cancer.

Anti Aging Cream