Secret Ingredients In Skincare Products
From diamond dust to mother-of-pearl, today’s beauty treatments are chock-full of unexpected ingredients.
Beauty companies are turning to a host of unexpected ingredients in an effort to keep you looking young–and spending big money.
The quest for the fountain of youth never gets old, and skincare companies are enlisting the help of everything from Swiss apples and caviar to diamonds to erase the signs of aging and keep skin beautiful.
These days, you’re likely to find more precious metals, precious and semi-precious stones in your skincare line than in your jewelry box. Diamonds, platinum, gold, mother-of-pearl and quartz are all popular ingredients. Does any of this stuff actually work? That depends on who you ask.
“Metals are good,” says Dr. Yan Trokel, a New York City cosmetic surgeon. “It’s a little too early to know their full effect, but a lot of metals, like magnesium, copper and zinc, are working within our bodies already and get depleted with age. Most people use them for a certain luminosity.” Magnesium, for example, supports a healthy immune system, while zinc and copper influence metabolism.
Dr. Trokel is bullish on Swiss apples, too. Or at least, the stem cells of Swiss apples, which are used in an anti-aging eye cream by 3Lab, a high-end niche brand. “Stem cells are the future,” he says. “Stem cells can turn into younger cells for any type or organ, including creating fresh new skin.”
Others aren’t so enthusiastic. “If you derive a great deal of pleasure in acquiring that shiny bottle or jar and looking at it in your vanity, then by all means, buy it,” says Dr. Grace Pak, a New York City dermatologist.
Instead, Pak is a fan of vitamin A compounds (“retinoids”), such as those found in prescription Retin-A, and even thinks extracts of green tea and caffeine have some benefits.
But those who want serious wrinkle-fighters should stick to the Botox, says Pak. “As people’s disposable income becomes more limited, they want what has a proven track record,” says Pak, who charges $650-$1,200 per Botox treatment. Notably, some high-end skin creams can cost just as much.
Here, beauty products with wacky ingredients:
Dead Sea Algae
Time Line All Night Nourishment
Time Line products by Ahava all contain Dunaliella Algae, a plant indigenous to the shores surrounding the Dead Sea. Ahava says this plant, loaded with beta-carotene and vitamins, promotes younger looking skin. All Night Nourishment also contains a patented 3D Complex, which contains extracts from the Trigonella shrub and Jujube tree, both of which are supposed to nourish damaged skin.
Celebrity Fan: Kristin Davis
Used on: Face
Retail: $56 for 1.7 oz.
Skin Caviar Crystalline Concentre
La Prairie has an entire line of skincare that uses caviar, which the company says makes the skin more elastic and wrinkle-free. The Skin Caviar Crystalline Concentre contains a host of other unique ingredients, including extracts of a root (Anemarrhenae asphodeloides) grown only in Eastern Asia to smooth skin, and diamond dust, quartz and liquid crystals for luminosity.
La Prairie’s caviar is extracted from the roe of Baerii sturgeon, which is grown on aqua-farms in France. But you don’t want to eat it: The line uses the substance surrounding the roe (or egg) of the fish, not the roe itself.
Used on: Face
Retail price: $375 for 1 oz.
Cellular Cream Platinum Rare
“Negatively charged microscopic particles of pure platinum” maintain electric balance in the skin, says La Prairie, which protects against aging and free radicals. Their products also contain some ingredients (Ceramide 2 and Palmitoyl Oliopeptide) that stimulate “cell communication” and something called Hesperidin Smart Crystals protects the DNA repair mechanism in the cellular nucleus.
Celebrity fan: Nicollette Sheridan
Used on: Face
Retail price: $1,000 for 1.7 oz. or $650 1 oz. recessionista version
Coffee Plant, Caffeine
Revaleskin Replenishing Eye Therapy and Revale Intense Recovery Treatment
CoffeeBerry is made from the coffee plant (Coffea arabica), which is grown in tropical regions and harvested when sub-ripe, and is a super antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals. Eye Therapy also contains caffeine, which is supposed to reduce puffiness around the eyes. Intense Recovery contains grape seed extract and green tea, which renews the skin and, you guessed it, protects against free radicals.
You can’t drink it: The CoffeeBerry extract is taken from the coffee berry, which is the coffee bean before it ripens.
Used on: Eyes, Face and Chest
Retail price: Eye Therapy is $80 for 0.5 oz.; Intense Recovery is $130 for 1 oz.
Bioengineered Growth Hormone, Stem cells from a Rare Swiss Apple
“M” Cream Ultimate Lift
Nano-Claire GY is a patented bioengineered growth hormone for firming the skin, while PhytoCellTec Malus Domestica (the actual chemical name), is derived from the stem cells of a “rare” Uttweiler Spatlauber apple that grows only in Switzerland (there are only three trees left in existence in a rural part of Switzerland; 3Lab luckily doesn’t need the actual apple to produce the stem cells, the company can create them in a lab). This apple lasts about four months before browning, and its stem cells supposedly slow down the aging process.
Used on: Face
Retail price: $250 for 2 oz.
Mediterranean Algae, Pine Bark
Astaxathin, which is derived from an algae which grows in the Mediterranean Sea surrounding Israel (this is the same algae that gives crabs its coral color), is an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals like sun, smoke and pollution; Pycnogenol is a pine bark extract that helps protect collagen and elastin, essential to skin’s youthful appearance, from breaking down. 3Lab says topical use of this product has only recently been available.
Used on: Face
Retail price: $95 for 1 oz.
The Refining Facial and The Body Refiner
Diamonds, being the hardest material on earth, provide an extremely thorough exfoliation to smooth, soften and brighten the skin.
You can’t wear it on your finger: It’s just diamond dust. Each particle of diamond is between 70 and 140 microns (a micron is one one-millionth of a meter).
Used on: Face, Body
Retail price: $75 for 3.4 oz. and $110 for 6.7 oz.
Perfect Gold Serum
This product contains three types of “gold”: mineral (24 carat gold powder of pure gold), vegetal (derived from the saffron spice) and biological (fermented in a lab). Gold, the company says, detoxifies, firms and revitalizes the skin, while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and returning flexibility to the skin.
Used on: Face
Retail price: $346 for 3.3 oz.
Gold, “Marshmallow” Plant Extract
23 Karat Intensive Eye Treatment
Yum Gourmet Skincare
Micronized gold is for fighting off fine lines and wrinkles. Extract of marshmallow plant, which grows in marshy areas and has a long history as a medicinal plant, is used to soothe irritated skin.
You can’t roast it over a campfire: According to some sources, the spongy marshmallow candy, which has been around in one form or another since the mid-1800s, was once made from the sap of the marshmallow plant. But now the confection is made from sugar and syrup.
For the: Eye Zone
Retail: $52 for .5 oz.
Gold and Mother-of-Pearl
Perfect Cream for Body
This product, containing real 24-carat gold particles combined with mother-of-pearl, diminishes redness, spots and veins while giving the skin an iridescent glow.
You can’t wear it: The gold particles are a millionth of a fraction of a gold carat.
For the: Body
Retail price: $290 for 1.7 oz.
Synthetic Snake Venom
UltraLuxe-9 Age Control Complex
Sonya Dakar Skincare
The company’s “alternative to Botox” relaxes muscle contraction, mimicking how snake venom can paralyze the muscles of its prey. Syn-Ake, as the compound is called, is made from a synthetic tripeptide that copies the effect of a peptide found in the venom of the Temple Viper, found in the Snake Temple of Penang, Malaysia.
For the: Face and Neck
Retail: $185 for 1 oz.