Back in the 1970s when I was producing morning television programs, I did several shows with dermatologists about skin care, wrinkles and the best methods to maintain healthy skin.
To a man (or woman), they said the same the thing: wash with soap and water; no moisturizer at any price is any better than Vaseline; use a sunscreen every day no matter what the weather. They also said that drinking water is a better way to keep skin moisturized than any cream or lotion, although the latter are useful as a base for cosmetics.
I have used their advice (except for Vaseline, which I find too heavy and shiny) for 30-odd years and you would be hard-pressed to find wrinkles in my face - when I’m not smiling - even now at age 65. However, I ascribe that more to facial chubbiness than to the regimen and, anyway, I have come to like my wrinkles.
Now comes The New York Times with a report [available only to Times Select customers] on a “new” back-to-basics movement among dermatologists:
“They are prescribing simplified skin-care routines requiring at most three steps: soap; sunscreen every day, no matter the weather or season; and, if necessary, a product tailored to specific skin needs, whether a cream for pimples or pigmented spots, or a vitamin-enriched moisturizer for aging skin. Each product, they say, can be bought at drugstores for $30 or less.”
Manhattan dermatologist, Fran E. Cook-Bolden, is even more minimalist, advising only two products:
“…a gentle cleanser and a good sunscreen are enough daily skin care for most people, and you can buy those at a drugstore or grocery store.”
The Times story comes on the heels of a recent Consumer Reports study which
“…found, for example, that a three-step regimen of Olay Regenerist products costing $57 was slightly more effective at reducing the appearance of wrinkles than a $135 tube of StriVectin-SD or a $355 combination of two La Prairie Cellular lotions.”
“’People are spending $450 on a jar of cream just because it’s made out of something exotic like salmon eggs or cocoons,’ said Dr. [Mary Ellen] Brademas [a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Medical Center]. ‘But the cheapest products work just as well as the more expensive ones.’”
It’s important to remember that the FDA does not regulate topical cosmetic products, requires no proof of their efficacy or even that their products contain the ingredients that are listed on the label. Consider this from the Mayo Clinic:
- Nonprescription wrinkle creams contain lower concentrations of active ingredients than do prescription creams. Therefore results, if any, are limited and usually short-lived.
- Research suggests that certain ingredients may improve wrinkles. However, most anti-wrinkle creams haven't been subjected to the comprehensive, objective research required to prove this benefit.
- Cost has no relationship to effectiveness. Just because a wrinkle cream is expensive, doesn't mean it's more effective than a cheaper product.
- You'll likely need to use the wrinkle cream once or twice a day for many weeks before noticing any improvements. And once you discontinue using the product, your skin will likely return to its original appearance.
- Some products may cause skin irritation, rashes, burning or redness. Be sure to read and follow the product instructions to limit possible side effects.
Everyone wants to look their best and there’s nothing wrong with that. But we’re being hoodwinked by cosmetic companies who have no proof that anything they sell works and they’re making billions of dollars on ineffective products by preying on the near-universal fear of growing old.
But here’s something worth pondering from Morrie [in Tuesdays With Morrie]:
“If you’re always battling against getting older, you’re always going to be unhappy because it will happen anyhow.”