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ShopSmart Uncovers the Truth in Anti-Wrinkle Products

ShopSmartYonkers, NY – Calling wrinkles “smile lines” isn’t fooling anybody, and when those little wrinkles start to show up on your face, you probably won’t be smiling. The September 2011 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports¸ tested seven anti-wrinkle creams on 79 people over the course of twelve weeks to identify which anti-aging product worked the best.

“As our tests show, and as many women already know, you can’t erase wrinkles with creams” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “Based on our test results, we found that the claims on the creams can be a bit overblown. While each cream made a small difference for some people, none of the products showed results as promised.”

How the Products Fared

Because most of the products, with the exception of the Garnier cream, worked about the same—that is to say, not very well — ShopSmart suggests trying Garnier first to see whether it might work for you. ShopSmart also recommends shopping by price. Below are four of the seven creams that ShopSmart tested, listed in order of least expensive to most expensive.

Equate Advanced Firming Face and Neck Cream
Price: $7.87 for 1.7 fluid ounces
Testers’ Notes: It initially has a slight floral aroma, but that fades over time. It leaves a slightly waxy, draggy residual feeling on the skin.
Where to get it: Walmart

CVS Pharmacy Firming Moisturizer SPF 15
Price: $11.99 for 1.6 fluid ounces
Testers’ Notes: This store-brand cream has a very slight, soapy smell and leaves behind very little residual product.
Where to get it: CVS

Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra-Lift Firming Moisturizer SPF 15
Price: $16 for 1.6 ounces
Testers’ Notes: The results weren’t dramatic, but after 12 weeks of use, this cream slightly reduced fine lines and wrinkles on more testers than other products. Its scent was slightly floral with a hint of plastic. It took longer to rub in (more than 30 seconds for about half of our panelists) than many other products.
Where to get it: Drugstores, mass retailers, online

Lancôme Paris Rénergie Double Performance Treatment Firming
Price: $80 for 1.7 ounces
Testers’ Notes: This cream has a moderately intense floral, perfumey scent and leaves a slight waxy, draggy residual feeling on the skin.
Where to get it: Department stores, online

Anti-Wrinkle Cream Q & A

ShopSmart offers advice on how to decode the claims made on the labels of skin care products and decipher the ingredients in everyday topical creams.

  1. Do claims like “natural” or “dermatologist recommended” mean that products are safer or more likely to work? Those claims are not verified or regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or any other agency. One claim to count on is the “USDA Organic” seal that ensures at least 95% of the product is made from organic ingredients. To find out what specific claims on labels mean—or whether they’re meaningless—you can check them using our label decoder, at www.greenerchoices.org/eco-labels.
  2. Are there chemicals in those creams we should worry about? Some anti-wrinkle creams do contain potentially harmful ingredients. Examples include parabens, some of which mimic estrogen and might interact with your body’s hormones, and fragrances, because scented products often contain phthalates, which have been linked to reproductive problems. More research is needed before we fully understand the risks. But for now, an easy way to help avoid those questionable chemicals is to choose products without “-parabens” or “fragrance” on the ingredients label. Parabens may also be listed as “methyl-,” “ethyl-,” “propyl-,” and “butylparabens.”
  3. Many anti-wrinkle creams on the market have sunscreens built in—is that enough sun protection for me? Even if the cream has an SPF label, do not count on it to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays all day long. Layer on a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 (or a moisturizer with a built-in sunscreen) on top of the anti-wrinkle cream to be on the safe side. Make sure to reapply every two hours or more if you are sweating or swimming! ShopSmart also recommends reading the ingredients on the product label. For instance, retinyl palmitate, tested without sunscreen, has been linked in animal studies to an increased risk of skin cancer. Additionally, pregnant women may want to avoid the ingredient given concerns about possible birth defects from vitamin A derivatives.

About ShopSmart Magazine

Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon Consumer Reports’ celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. The magazine features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. ShopSmart is ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at www.ShopSmartmag.org.


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