Its L.A. arrival was greeted with a celebrity-studded gala attended by China Chow, Lindsay Lohan, Maria Bello, Shiva Rose and Heather Graham, among others. You could look as good for $350.
Save Our Skin
High-priced potions are not miracle cures, an expert warns
The partnership of cosmetics companies and medical professionals makes dermatological brands compelling. People might not trust politicians, lawyers or many journalists, but many still have faith in doctors, and they wouldn't lie, would they?
Search the racks at Sephora or DFS and you'll see many cosmetic brands with "Dr." attached, whether it's N.V. Perricone, M.D.; Dr. Brandt; or MD Skincare or Murad, named after Dr. Howard Murad, associate clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA.
Asked if the claims are to believed, Honolulu dermatologist Norman Goldstein said, "Most of the time, no. They have some very good products, but in my opinion they are overpriced. There's a lot of research behind them, but you have to remember they spend a lot more on marketing than research."
The high price tags introduce an exclusivity factor that appeals to the sort of person who always has to drive the best car and eat in the best restaurants.
"If a person has a lot of money, these products are probably good, but I'm not suggesting to the average person to go out and spend a lot on these products," said Goldstein, an adviser to the National Skin Cancer Foundation and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Hawaii School of Medicine. "I would not want people to give up food money or rent money to buy cosmetics when drugstore brands and over-the-counter sunscreens are just as good."
"I know I sound like a broken record, but it's really common sense. No matter what you put on your face at night, if you're not using sunscreen every day, it's not going to work. But if you wear sunscreen, in just two years you'll see an improvement. We proved this 37, 38 years ago at Queen's."
Of course, marketers know that common sense is not sexy when compared with the allure of an overnight miracle, so expect new products promising to guide us toward our collective goal of dying old and leaving a beautiful corpse.
Oriki Rejuvenating Cream:
Uses glycolic acid, vitamin C and botanical antioxidants to gently exfoliate and stimulate regeneration of collagen and elastic fibers in skin; $50.
Goldstein might have cashed in on the celebrity dermatologist craze himself, having once been wooed by cosmetics giants. "If I had my name on a product, I'd be obligated to sell that product, but I'd want to use a product that's right for a particular patient," he says.
Though he admits "Dr. Norm," as a cosmetics brand, "sounds good."
Goldstein believes a greater concern is fly-by-night operators who host Botox parties or cosmetic tattoo operations.
"They'll come in from Korea, rent a hotel room, and I've seen some horrendous, terrible jobs come out of it," he said. "The results of cosmetic tattooing can be excellent, but why go to a stranger when there are some good people in town?"
PART-TIME Honolulu resident Dr. Tuan Nguyen, a dermatologist and biochemist, developed the Oriki Cosmetics line, with products such as Oriki Nourishing Cream ($40), Rejuvenating Cream ($50) and Whitening Lotion ($70) created in his L.A. clinic to address his patients' concerns. They are available in Hawaii at DFS.
N.V. Perricone, M.D. Neuropeptide Facial Conformer:
Proteins signal your brain to boost your body's skin repair system; $570.
"I'm not aware of any cosmetic ingredient right now that justifies a product above $300," Nguyen says. "Two years from now it might be different."
He maintains a Web site, www.oriki.com, that offers detailed "skinformation" easy for a layperson to understand. His rejuvenating cream uses 10 percent glycolic acid to exfoliate and dissolve the dead skin layer that gives aging skin its dull appearance.
Testing is done on volunteers, with Oriki products used on half the face and other leading brands on the other, with evaluation based on visual assessments -- not the kind of quantified evidence a skeptic would require.
"The only way to confirm the same result is to do a skin biopsy," Nguyen said. "That would be the ideal thing to do, but that would involve punching a hole in the skin to measure the results and nobody wants to do that."
In the market for a miracle?
Before spending a lot of money on a cosmetic fix:
Do some self-evaluation: Make sure you are doing everything you can to prevent premature aging of the skin. Use sunscreen daily. Stay out of the sun as much as possible. Drink lots of water and don't smoke. Stress, heredity and environmental factors also take a toll.
Study the claims: Information on products and ingredients are available in marketing brochures and on the Internet. Most claims stop short of saying, "Eliminates fine lines," by hedging with, "Reduces the appearance of fine lines." Proceed accordingly.
Try before you buy: Cosmetics companies allow potential buyers to sample their wares, whether through testers at Sephora and the DFS Beauty Lab, to counters at Macy's and Neiman Marcus.
Start with a patch test: All skin is not created equal. A product that works for one individual may not work for another, and might even cause a rash. A patch test involves applying a little of the cosmetic to an inconspicuous place, such as inside the elbow. After 24 hours, if there is reddening, itching or other adverse reaction, do not use.
By Nadine Kam