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Rip van Wrinkle to the rescue

New anti-aging creams put worry lines to sleep, or feature raspberries from Lapland

BARBARA RIGHTON January 23 2006
THE BACK PAGES

Rip van Wrinkle to the rescue

New anti-aging creams put worry lines to sleep, or feature raspberries from Lapland

BARBARA RIGHTON January 23 2006

Rip van Wrinkle to the rescue

bazaar

New anti-aging creams put worry lines to sleep, or feature raspberries from Lapland

BARBARA RIGHTON

“Hope in a jar” used to be a euphemism for snake oil. Now it’s the name of a face cream containing lactic acid, beta-glucan and “multitopical” antioxidants, and selling, in a two-ounce pot, for US$35. On www.oprah.com, it’s listed as one of Herself’s favourite things, which pretty much guarantees that millions of women will buy it along with, say, a small tub of Freeze 24/7 (with topical muscle relaxer) for $130, or La Prairie Cellular Nurturing Complex (to treat “severe stress”) for $295. The philosophy of Hope in ajar could pretty much describe the appeal of any of the hundreds of anti-aging facial products now on the market: “Where there is faith, there is hope and where there is hope, miracles can occur.”

The skin care and cosmetics industry is raking in $55 billion a year in the U.S. alone, in part by capitalizing on women’s foreveryoung fantasies. And with many well-educated baby boomers loath to go for a full facelift ($20,000) or the next best thing, Botox injections (about $200 per crow’s foot), the cosmetics counter is looking more and more like a chemistry lab. Manufacturers are laying on a variety of products that temporarily change the surface of the skin, including the antistretch-mark cream StriVectin-SD (“rediscovered” after some brave soul left off rubbing the 42-ingredient elixir on her tummy and went for her cheeks). Some brands are about to introduce products with nano-particles.

But boomer women aren’t the only ones paying big for little fountains of youth. Shelley Rozenwald, a senior vice-president in charge of skin care and beauty services for Holt Renfrew in Toronto, says, “Even women in their 20s will pay their rent first and then buy $235 Crème de la Mer” (developed by NASA as an anti-burn cream and containing kelp, alfalfa and sunflower extracts). Or they will go for some other high-end offering,

maybe by French manufacturer Sisley, which uses ingredients like essence of white lily, nasturtium and gardenia. “Prior to application, inhale the fragrance of the essential oils from the jar to receive maximum aromatherapy benefit,” says a handout for Sisleÿa Global Anti-Age. Another $350 product called IceSource claims the Arctic raspberry “picked in Lapland” (carefully, one assumes, considering the reindeer) as its “actif exclusif.”

Okay, okay, we know that women are married to their moisturizers, but are these new anti-aging creams miracles or marketing? “The short answer is that any face cream is

'I went to a dermatologist who told me, "Don't waste your money—get Nivea." But I was younger then.'

made of oil and water,” says Toronto cosmetic dermatologist Nowell Solish. “But real antiaging creams do help. A cream containing alphahydroxy acid as an active ingredient, for example, will get rid of dead skin cells and maybe plump up the skin to make it a little bit smoother and a little more glowing. But the improvements are small. Is any anti-aging cream worth $300? No.”

Clearly consumers disagree. As the quaint Clinique regime of the eighties (cleanse, tone, moisturize) gave way to creams laden with “phytostimulines,” retinol and vitamins A, E, B5 and F, the war against tired-out skin went

high tech and high pitch. Says Tracey Ho Lung, senior beauty editor at Chatelaine, “For me, simpler is still better: always use sunscreen, drink plenty of water, eat healthy. Unfortunately, that’s not what women want to hear. They want the next best thing. They’ve turned into beauty junkies.” Rozenwald demurs. “There are results or there would not be a market.” In Calgary, freelance writer Karen Ashbee is only too pleased to have the latest anti-ager in her arsenal—Prevage, the result of a partnering of Elizabeth Arden and Allergan, the maker of Botox. She got the $200 product free through a relative, but the cost wouldn’t have bothered her much. Ashbee (who is married to an orthopaedic surgeon) has already laid out $990 for a skin treatment called microdermabrasion with some photo laser thrown in. “My birthday present to me,” she says. At 49, she explains, “I don’t like what is happening to my face. But neither do I want to have unnecessary surgery in the name of vanity.” Which is why Prevage may just be the ticket. “It promises to diminish fine lines in four weeks,” she says. “Hey, I had a dermatologist who told me, ‘Don’t waste your money. Just get Nivea.’ But I was younger then.”

But according to Jackie Charest, a 39-yearold marketing director for Holt Renfrew who incidentally has skin like silk, 18-year-olds, too, are using Prevage to offset “premature aging.” When they hit the big 4-0, their faces will, presumably, be as flawless as hers—and their wallets as slim as can be. M