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Is There Really Such a Thing as Hope in a Jar?
Date:11/13/2008

ollagen-boosting peptides and synthetic forms of vitamin A," explained Dr. Farris. "These compounds are among the most potent anti-aging ingredients and have been used extensively by dermatologists. So, it's important for consumers to understand that synthetic ingredients are not necessarily bad and, in fact, skin care products containing these ingredients are probably among the most effective in the marketplace."

Dr. Farris explained that the key to evaluating the effectiveness of cosmeceuticals is understanding how they are tested. After an active ingredient has been identified, it is evaluated using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, which is used to characterize biologic activity and determine if the ingredient is an anti-oxidant or anti-inflammatory. PCR testing also can tell if an ingredient increases collagen production or reduces collagen breakdown. Although PCR testing is a valuable part of the testing process, many of the claims made as a result of PCR testing are not substantiated by human studies.

"For dermatologists, the gold standard for confirming a product's efficacy remains the double-blind, vehicle-controlled study," said Dr. Farris. "In this type of objectively designed study, the product containing the key ingredients is tested against the vehicle, or the product formulation that is similar to the product being tested but without the key active ingredients." Dr. Farris explained that even though a compound may stimulate collagen production in PCR testing, it does not mean that the ingredient will cause any visible improvement in fine lines and wrinkles.

"Since cosmeceuticals are not subject to the FDA's rigorous approval process, most cosmetic manufacturers do not perform double-blind, vehicle-controlled studies," said Dr. Farris. "Instead, they rely on what are called open-label user studies where subjects apply test creams for a few weeks and then assess their improvement over baseline. Unfortunately, these types of s
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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