Skin Care

By Andrea Toochin

To the average individual walking down the street, cream is cream. To a cosmetic junkie, no two lotions are alike. To a skin care editor, the cosmetic industry is an underground superpower – while Wall Street traders bank on financial mergers, telecommunications deals, and retail IPOs, the publishing community watches as average American women purchase at-home microdermabrasion with their Pampers, and metropolitan men delight in the relaxation of an occasional manicure. As the last month of flowy skirts and iced coffee days slip away, take a moment away from your barbeque plans to check out the best new lines, a testament to health-nut skin care treatments and doctor-developed, mass marketed potions.

The pioneer this fall has to be Estee Lauder’s risk-taking Origins, the line that serves upscale crunchies. Enlisting the skills of the renowned Dr. Andrew Weil, Origins releases a new line that includes both topical and ingestible items. Like many other lines, it bottles power of nature’s bounty, and hopes to improve skin’s clarity by combating the impact of stress. The topical Plantidote products include a serum made of mushrooms, ginger, holy basil, and turmeric; and a face cream made of mushrooms, Okinawan Seaweed, wheat and corn lipids, and yeast. The dietary supplements include a morning and evening formula; the Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Supplement helps improve the skin’s immunity to aging. The Nite-trition Restful Sleep Supplement contains lavendar, American Ginseng, Chamomile, and Melatonin; it’s meant to help relax, sooth and simultaneously restore the skin’s energy. What’s great about this line, beside the knowledge that an established doctor developed these products, is that they are meant to function with your current regiment not to replace it. In addition, 100% of post-tax profits go to The Weil Foundation.

Why did it take 25 years to get this incredibly delicious skin care line to the States? Perhaps they were waiting for the right moment. Though the market is competitive, it’s far from saturated and there’s always room for another nature-based line with a healthy approach to aging. You won’t find any lip plumpers or acid peels in Greek’s mainstay skin care line. The harshest sounding product in the line is the peeling Whitening Face Mask with Fruit Acids. Not only are all the products created with a plant base, but all are made with green tea water instead of regular water.

Most of the products come stacked with either an eye and a face cream, or a face cream and a specialty product. The masks come in boxes with individual use packages; a few of my favorites include the Deep Face Scrub with Olive and the Firming Face Mask with Grape Seed, which also contains Q10 and Centella, a firming agent also found in their Bust Firming Mask. They even have masks to relax the feet and legs, moisturize the hair (avocado), and to revitalize hair (tonic and ginseng). The best part of the line is that the individual packets ensure your regimen doesn’t go to waste every time you embark on a vacation. However, their best product now offered here is part of the Aromatherapy line, Euphoria. Euphoria Eau de Toilette is a light, sweet fragrance comprised of vanilla, ylang-ylang, green tea, and white chocolate. The latest bottle is an adorably girly cylinder that’ll perfectly adorn any fem-lady’s dresser.

What do doctors and celebs have in common? They are both celebrating the new millennium with cosmetics ventures. The latest in the line of skin care trends is the drugstore getting aboard the high-tech environment where consumers are told they can no longer can face the day with a cleanser and moisturizer – they must also incorporate a night cream, a serum, and this year, possibly a lip plumping stick too.

While I was initially excited by the mere fact that Dr. Jeffrey Dover put my suburban Boston hometown on the map, the real excitement came later, with Skin Effects, his lycopene-based skin care line sold only at CVS. In selling an anti-aging regimen to the masses of middle-class Americans, his approach is flawless. The line is aesthetically pleasing; the packaging instructs users how to apply products, even down to which rub in eye cream; it smells good; and is priced accordingly. The Lycopene functions by causing facial muscles to relax, preventing further signs of aging from forming. The Eye Effects Intensive Eye Cream also employs vitamin C to firm the skin, and the Lip Magnifier makes lips smoother and fuller with Gingko Biloba, vitamin K, and Ginseng, while vanilla adds a tasty scent. The best product here is the Cleaning Enzyme Scrub – it’s moisturizing enough to use everyday, with strong enough particle to reveal new skin, but the scent is what makes it the perfect start to a morning routine; while kaolin draws out impurities, aloe moisturizes, and allantoin, arnica flower extract and papaya extract exfoliate while the light green scent slowly awakens you.

Having been desensitized by the complexities of manufacturing, we’re perfectly content consuming products with unrecognizable ingredients and slathering on gobs of cream with byproducts we can pronounce. However, usually we welcome a product with a main ingredient we recognize – not so true when it comes to Placenta.

This may be a touchy subject for some of you, as it is for our leaders, which is why it comes as no surprise that Neo Plus is a Swiss company. Scientists use the bi-product of every pregnancy, which would otherwise be discarded, to form the base of a well-researched anti-aging product line, Regenereis with Placenten. The placenta cells are fused with amino acids and vitamins; the placenta is most effective because they force cells in the lower layer of skin to produce growth factors that promote collagen production. In addition to anti-aging, this line is also meant for use with treatments such as professionally administered peels and plastic surgery.

The Lixare line consists only of a serum, a finishing cream, and an eye cream. Also created by biochemists in their Zurich lab, peptide technology is used to lessen the depth of wrinkles in a mode similar to BOTOX. The amino-peptide complex prevents functions by limiting the release of a certain neurotransmitter (a brain chemical) to nerves that control facial muscles. Red algae, apricot oil and palm oil moisturize while caffeine reduces puffiness around the eyes.

This is another line developed by a European scientist who stumbled upon the anti-aging properties of skin healing products. But despite the growing number of European healing lines, the reality is that each scientist has a different approach to the same desired end result – how do we get the subcutaneous cells to start producing collagen?

The Italian amino acids specialist, Dr. Francesco Dioguardi, created the wrinkle-reducing line by discovering the four amino acids that, according to him, function best together; as a cluster these particular acids can permeate the skin’s surface to reach the cellular level.

Every day we’re told each new line is the best around. Although it’s a bit disconcerting that so many product lines boast a 30 to 80 percent reduction in wrinkles or visibility of lines when their sample size averages only 10 people, it’s easier to hear this from a man who spends his life in a lab.

Modele studies tested the lip, wrinkle cream, eye gel, and spot facial on 10 women ages 21-40. The Eye Lift treatment was tested on 21 females ranging from 41 to 58, a more applicable age range given older subjects are more likely to have deeper wrinkles.

All five products are gentle and nourishing, but the stars of the line are the balmy eye treatment and the facial mask, which can be left on for an hour or overnight.

Dr. Patricia Wexler has long been regarded as one of the best respected NYC dermatologists – she’s practically a preset on every Allure beauty editor’s phone. While she’s assisted in the production of various lines, this is her first namesake.

If you were to visit her office, she’d ask you, ” What is your skin care concern?” Some of the most common are acne, sensitive skin, and signs of aging. Her regimen encourages a four-step program: Cleanse, Exfoliate, Restore, Moisturize. Is she the first to develop a multi-step plan that conveniently involves using one line for all the steps? Hardly. Is she the only doctor-developed line to create options within a line to cater to different needs (normal, oil, dry, combination, sensitive, & acne)? No, DDF and Clinique introduced that a while ago. Nevertheless, she is one of the first to bring a line of this quality and such a variety to the entire country.

What sets her line apart from many others is the focus. While others focus on collagen production, her main goal is to stimulate elastin production as well by emulating the result of Light Modulation Therapy (LED). LED treatments are excellent anti-aging options because the stop the action of certain enzymes, MMPs. According to researchers, MMPs increase with time and exposure to negative environmental elements, and speed up the aging process by inhibiting the production of collagen and elastin.

But the line doesn’t just help combat wrinkles and loss of firmness – it also offers products for dark under eye circles and brown sun spots, and includes a Glyco Peel System and a Resurfacing System.

The Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Collection is available this October at Origins retail locations and select department stores. 1.7 oz Face Serum $65; 1.7 oz Face Cream (available December 2005) $58.50; 1.7 oz Plantidote Supplement $35; Nite-trition Sleep Supplement 1 oz $35.

Aromatherapy Euphoria line ranges from $12-28; Aromatherapy Express Masks, $24 for a box of 6; $25 for stackable jars, available at http://www.beautyhabit.com.

Skin Effects products are available at CVS stores and at http://www.cvs.com in October. Prices range from about $7-25.

Regenereis with Placenta Mask contains five applications, $95. Lixare Serum, 30mL $130. Products are available at http://www.neoplusskincare.com, 212.585.3323.

Modele products are available at CVS, Osco and Savon Drug. Products range from $29.99 to $49.99

The Patricia Wexler M.D. Dermatology Skin Care Line will be available this fall at Bath and Body Works; prices range from $16-65.

Originally published September 2005
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