Despite making claims such as "scientifically proven" and "breakthrough treatment," the benefits of most anti-aging creams are barely visible to the naked eye, a study by the publishers of Consumer Reports magazine has concluded.
The luxury brands, some priced over $300, don’t perform any better than more moderately priced drug store versions, which sell for less than $20, the non-profit consumer research group also said in its first-ever study of anti-aging products.
Industry reaction to the study was mixed. Makers of the top scorer, Olay Regenerist at $19, praised the magazine for conducting its usual thorough research. But the company whose product scored the lowest, RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, said beauty products couldn’t be rated like cars and cellphones.
Overall, the study’s findings were not encouraging.
"We found that after 12 weeks our top-rated products did smooth out some fine lines and wrinkles. But even the best performers reduced the average depth of wrinkles by less than 10 per cent, a magnitude of change that was, alas, barely visible to the naked eye," the report says.
The differences between the top and bottom scoring creams were "marginal," the authors noted. However, consumers can improve their chances of getting better results by trying various brands as the same product performed differently on different women, the study shows.
This latter finding didn’t surprise dermatologists.
"Skin is not Saran Wrap. It’s alive and metabolically active. Each person’s skin has its own unique requirements and responses," said dermatologist Amy Newburger of St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Centre in New York City.
The makers of top performing Olay Regenerist gave the report high marks. "It confirms what women have told us again and again," said Maria Burquest, a spokesperson for Procter & Gamble.
But Carson Gray, a spokesperson for RoC maker Johnson & Johnson said. "We don’t agree with the way the testing was carried out for this article."
The most expensive product tested, La Prairie Cellular, which sells for $335 an ounce in the U.S., ranked second least effective. The Swiss company was unavailable for comment.
The consumer group also tested a brand that is currently the subject of a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. and a Health Canada review over some of its health claims. StriVectin-SD Intensive Concentrate for Existing Stretch Marks, which sells for $135 in the U.S., scored seventh out of nine products listed. StriVectin maker Klein-Becker could not be reached.
The best prevention for wrinkles is the old standbys: Stay out of the sun, wear sunscreen, avoid tanning salons and don’t smoke, the report says.