trump-makeupI have good news and bad news about the anti-aging cosmetics being hyped by celebrities today.

The good news is that some of them have ingredients that are active on the skin and may have benefits.

The bad news is if those ingredients are active, their producers may be breaking the law.

Ivanka Trump’s Cosmetics

The definition of cosmetic, according to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, is: “An article promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance”.

The definition of a drug, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FDC) regulations, is: “An article which diagnoses, relieves, or cures a disease.”

Both the FDA and the FTC are concerned about the increasing proliferation of “anti-aging” claims that involve effects on the structure or function of the skin. Why? Because drugs are subjected to an intensive review and approval process by the FDA, while cosmetics are not. If a product does have drug properties, it is supposed to be approved as a medicine, a process that may take years for approval and costs millions of dollars. The FDA does not require pre-market approval for cosmetics. Except for certain dyes employed in cosmetics such as hair coloring and lipstick, which must be authorized for use, the FDA does not, in fact, approve any cosmetic ingredient and anyone who wants market a cosmetic may do so. The producers do not have to even list the existence of their products nor its ingredients to the FDA–unless they wish to volunteer the information. Can anti-aging creams remove the signs of aging? Open a periodical or listen to a commercial and there are offers of products to fight wrinkles, brown spots and other unwanted signs of the aging.

Who is supposed to protect us from false claims for anti-aging cosmetics?

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has principal federal authority over cosmetic and OTC drug advertising. The FDA has principal authority over their labeling.
  • The FTC investigates ads that it has reason to believe are deceptive or misleading.

For the FTC to act, however, against a deceptive advertisement three elements must be present:

  1. The advertisement must contain a claim, practice or omission likely to mislead consumers;
  2. Consumers must be interpreting the ad’s message reasonably under the circumstances
  3. The representation must be material— that is, it must be likely to affect a consumer’s conduct or decision with respect to the product, particularly his or her decision to purchase it.

It is expensive for the FTC to go after a cosmetic anti-aging product but sometimes a warning is enough to make a company comply. L’Oréal, the giant cosmetic entity, for example, settled with the FTC in 2014 because L’Oréal had been advertising Lancôme Genifinifique and L’Oréal Paris Youth Code skincare products as providing anti-aging benefits by targeting genes.”

“It would be nice if cosmetics could alter our genes to turn back time” commented aging benefits by targeting genes.”

Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, “But L’Oréal couldn’t support these claims.”

melania trump

Melania Trump pictured with cosmetics on the internet

What about the multitude of anti-aging products now being hawked by celebrities on the Internet and TV? Everyone from President Trump’s daughter and wife to Dr. Oz and Christie Brinkley have wrinkle products.

These products are often made by private labelers—manufacturers who make a mixture and provide the packaging. Some, like Lipotec and Borealis, provide selections of anti-aging mixtures from which a celebrity may choose, pick a container, and have the company even do the marketing.  The celebrity just places his or her own label on the bottle. Therefore, you may buy an expensive cosmetic hawked by a popular celebrity who may or may not add their own ingredients. It is possible to pay to for the same ingredient mix $3.95 or $3500. You will pay for the celebrity’s brand –not the components, in most cases. Borealis, an Austrian company is one of the largest producers of anti-aging ingredients for celebrities. Among their special offerings is “anti-aging eye serum” used daily to fight the signs of aging. The company states on its anti-aging formulation page. It is the buyer’s responsibility to verify compliance with intellectual property rights.

As I searched, I found the same woman with half her face showing a bag under one eye and not under the other eye. On Internet and TV sites, the model fanned her face as she rubbed on the cream implying that its effects were almost immediate. Some the instructions for the anti-aging creams, however, advise it will take nine days to nine weeks to see the results.

The ad identified a woman praising the anti-aging cream as a citizen of Texas. I tracked the name and address to Texas and indeed she was listed but I was then directed to New York, Nevada and finally to Austria— where the product originates. The company, Borealis, makes the “Anti-aging eye serum used daily to fight the signs of aging” praised by same model on various sites.

What about other anti-aging cream endorsements?

Bloggers can promote anti-aging creams on their sites and receive payment. The same holds true of “Beauty Experts” such as cosmeticians and dermatologists. They also have their own brands of anti-aging products.

Ingredients reported to be active on aging skin

I can’t vouch for the effectiveness of any anti-aging products but to be fair, thanks to scientific researchers and herbalists, there are reportedly beneficial active ingredients in some of today’s cosmetics. I don’t have room to list them all but the following are a few which appear to have “drug-like” action against the signs of wrinkles, sagging skin and brown spots– even if they are in unregulated cosmetics:

Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer. A gelling agent that thickens, emulsifies, and stabilizes many anti-wrinkle creams, anti-aging serums, anti- aging lotions, and beauty products. Derived from taurine, an amino acid found in almost tissue, especially in human milk. It is believed to be necessary for healthy eyes.

Allantoin. Found naturally in most animals and plants, and is also made in laboratories. A synthetic licorice derivative, it is widely used in  skin- soothing cosmetics such as cold creams after-shaves and hand lotions and many other cosmetics such as lipsticks because it has been found to help heal wounds and skin ulcers and to stimulate the growth of healthy tissue.

Allantois.  A membranous sac that develops from the embryo and takes part in the formation of the umbilical cord and the placenta. It is used to take up nitrogen-containing wastes and aids the intake of oxygen.  Sometimes it is hyped as a “stem cell” ingredient.

Alpha-hydroxy Acids. (AHA). Derived from the “chemical peels” dermatologists and plastic surgeons have used for years, AHAs typically contain trichloro, phenol, resorcinol, and salicylic acid (see my A Consumers’ Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, Crown Publishers for definitions).  AHAs, which became available for home use in 1989, helps to remove signs of skin aging such as discoloration, roughness, and wrinkling. The ingredients cause skin to lose its outer layer (peel off) and reveal a fresher layer of skin. The FDA is concerned about AHAs, because these chemicals may penetrate the skin barrier, increase sun sensitivity and redness, and might be a factor in skin cancers.

Arachidoyl Alcohol. A waxy substance used as an emollient and thickener for cosmetics, it is derived from peanuts and related compounds and is used to soothe dry skin.

 Argireline (Acetyl Hexapeptide-8) Often Called “Botox in a Jar”, is the ingredient in many anti-aging products.  It penetrates deep into damaged skin and stimulates new collagen – a protein which makes skin appear plump and firm. It’s all the rage in beauty circles, much in part because of a 2009 study stating, applying non-prescription Argireline to your skin caused a 60% reduction in fine lines, dark spots and wrinkles. Bella Serata® promotes argireline  as effective. ‘ Lipotec, private labeler and supplier of the chemical, reported female volunteers, half of whom used a cream with a 5% Argireline and the other half a cream that did not. The study was conducted by a Spanish university and published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science. The conclusion was: Wrinkles around the eyes decreased up to 17% after 15 days of treatment and up to 27% after 30 days of treatment.

Avenanthramide. (Oatmeal). This ingredient’s ability to relieve itch and function as a skin protectant when formulated in facial masks and bath oils was first documented in the 1930’s. It is mentioned in the ancient Roman Empire as a cosmetic. Avenanthramide is involved in the natural development of oats and is presumed to be beneficial to human skin. The name is derived from the Spanish for antidote.

 Callus Culture Filtrate.  Plant calluses are derived from many different cell types. With the addition of plant hormones to the culture medium reportedly the callus cells can differentiate into whole plants (regenerate). Now you can guess why a Callus Culture is put into products for aging-skin.

Chicory Extract Cichortum intybusRelated to the Dandelion, a yellow flower that exudes a milky substance. In ancient times herbalists used the leaves to make a poultice for swelling and inflammation particularly of the eyes. It is used today in some anti- aging cosmetics for the same purpose.

Chlorphenesin.  It is produced in the laboratory with p-chlorophenol (an antibiotic made from soil or synthetically) and glycidol (a liquid alcohol plus a protein or a detergent.  According to information supplied to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by industry as part of the Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP) in 2012, the agent was being used in 1,386 cosmetic products as a bactericide and fungicide.

Dimethicone. (Synthetic Sand) It is used as ointment base and a skin protectant.

Deanol (DMAE) 2-dimethylaminoethanol. In a randomized clinical study, 3% DMAE facial gel applied daily for 16 weeks has been shown to be safe and efficacious in the mitigation of forehead lines and around the eye fine wrinkles, and in improving lip shape and fullness and the overall appearance of aging skin. These effects did not regress during a 2-week cessation of application. Beneficial trends were also noted in the appearance of coarse wrinkles, under-eye dark circles, nasolabial folds, sagging neck skin, and neck firmness, Am J Clin Dermatol. 2005;6(1):39-47.

Eryngium Maritimum. (Sea Holly) Used by herbalists to treat many urinary ailments including water retention and kidney stones. Theoretically, it might help with puffiness.

Glucoside Trideceth. A mixture of sugar and alcohol used in anti-aging eye serums. Reportedly smooths fine wrinkles.

Hyaluronic Acid. (HA). A sugar compound present in all connective tissue in humans, its function is to cushion and lubricate Used in “rejuvenating” skin products and in injections to puff out wrinkles. If there is a lot of swelling, cosmetics containing this ingredient may help because, according to some dermatologists, HA helps reduce spider veins, deeply hydrates, and plumps fine lines.

Peptides. Naturally occurring amino acids– building blocks of protein. Collagen is constructed of peptides and is a common ingredient in anti-aging products. The skin contains an abundance of collagen when young the supply decreases with age, which is why the it begins to appear thinner and more wrinkled. Lab-engineered peptides have reportedly shown promise as a skin cream ingredient that can stimulate skin growth and repair. Collagen-Researchers at the n promise. Collagen-Researchers at the French Vincience Research Center (J Clin Dermatol. 2005;6(1):39-4) concluded collagen as a skin cream ingredient t can stimulate skin growth and repair.

Retinols. Derivatives of vitamin A, they are among the first active ingredients in modern anti-aging laboratory made products. They can be absorbed through the skin and can create the anti-aging effect by sloughing off dead skin cells. Retinoic acid stimulates production of a structural protein in your skin called collagen, and all-trans-retinoic acid is used topically as a cream for photo-aging of the skin, acne and psoriasis. Retinoic acid is also required for normal skin formation and function during fetal development.

Silica. (Sand) Used in hand lotions, protective and anti-aging creams, silica is aimed at sloughing off dead cells as well as protecting skin from the elements.

Stem Cell. A cell that has the potential to develop into many different types of cells. Embryos have stem cells which can develop into almost any kind of body part. The use of human stem cells in cosmetics is highly controversial so researchers have concentrated on stem cells from plants. A team of collaborators at the Swiss company, Mibelle Biochemistry, for example, developed a stem cell extract from apples which they report stimulates stem cells in the epidermis (outer protective layer of skin). In laboratory efficacy studies, the widely- respected researchers a 0.1% extract of their apple stem cells stimulates the proliferation of human stem cells by 80%. Studies on human volunteers using a cream with 2% extract showed a reduction in wrinkle depth from 8–15%. As an independently operating business unit, Mabelle Group Biochemistry specializes in the research and development of active ingredients for cosmetics. As a full-service private, the group covers the entire process of brand management. It is tailored to meet a wide variety of retail environments from mass market to wellness centers and spas and direct to consumer platforms. (,

Tocophenyl Acetate. An anti-oxidant and skin conditioner used in makeup, anti-aging cream and many other products. A derivative of Vitamin E, Experimental results suggest it may protect blood vessels and retard signs of aging.

Tretinoin. Among the first active ingredients in modern anti-aging laboratory-made products approved by the FDA. Retinoids are derivatives of Vitamin A. They can be absorbed through the skin and can create the anti-aging effect by sloughing off dead skin cells. Web MD, a respected medical website, says the prescription retinoid works by increasing the making of new collagen. It also stimulates new blood vessels in the skin, giving skin a rosy appearance, fading age spots, and reducing precancerous skin spots called actinic keratosis. Tretinoin also may help prevent more serious effects of ultraviolet radiation. A WebMD dermatologist says over-the-counter retinoids may not work as well as tretinoin in reducing wrinkles, but they can improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin. Using them along with products that have alpha-hydroxy acids may provide even more skin-smoothing effects.

Summing it up.

If you are influenced by the publicity about an anti-aging cosmetic and you are convinced it will work for you, then go ahead and plunk your money down. The psychological benefit may be worth it and your skin might appear younger. On the other hand, remember the old saying: Aging is a matter of mind—if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.








































































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