Contouring Serum with Stem Bio-Technology
You can ignore the claims about this serum being able to lift key parts of the face based on its “plant stem cell technology.” If this were the answer for skin, then Dr. Denese should at least be telling you that all of her other products don’t work as well and you shouldn’t buy them.
Here is what you’re supposed to absorb. The showcased ingredient, Domestica Fruit Cell Culture, is touted by the manufacturer, and by the cosmetics companies that have thrown it into their formulas, as being able to restore skin. The Domestica Fruit Cell Culture is claimed to be from a rare Swiss apple tree (of course it has to be rare; the marketing story wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if the apple tree were in Seattle or Chicago) and is based on plant callus cells.
Plant callus cells are formed when a plant is wounded. The cells surrounding the wound turn back into stem cells, meaning they change and become cells that can produce wound-healing plant tissue. After the wound has healed, these callus cells remain stem cells (they are totipotent) and can continue to make whatever cells the plant needs. The Swiss apple tree in question also has substances that give the tree longevity. That’s really good news for the plant, but whether or not it is good news for your skin is simply a guessing game, supported only by the in vitro research performed by the ingredient manufacturer, who claims that it shows some protective benefit. Even if this ingredient has some protective potential for skin cells, then the same would be true of hundreds of ingredients, from sunscreens to antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients such as retinol or niacinamide. This is not a miracle or the new must-have ingredient for skin. There simply isn’t any published research showing benefit or even demonstrating that there are no risks.
There are several helpful ingredients for skin in this serum, but none of them will contour the face or result in a tighter, lifted appearance, at least not any more than other well-formulated “moisturizers.” Despite the helpful ingredients, this isn’t recommended because it contains the sensitizing preservative methylisothiazolinone. Another caution is the amount of antioxidant alpha lipoic acid. Although this can be a good ingredient for skin, topical application of high concentrations can cause burning, stinging sensations or produce a rash (Source: British Journal of Dermatology, October 2003, pages 841–849).
A serum that contains our exclusive Stem Bio Technology which is based on plant cells that help lift the cheek area, tone the forehead area, and naturally contour the jaw line for a youthful, more firm and toned appearance. It helps to rejuvenate the skin for a lifted, tighter look and contours the natural definition of the face for a more youthful, toned appearance.
Dr. Denese New York At-A-Glance
Strengths: Several well-formulated serums and moisturizers that are reasonably priced; a very good matte-finish, tinted sunscreen with zinc oxide; uses well-researched, proven ingredients that truly benefit skin, and uses them in higher concentrations than most skin-care lines.
Weaknesses: Problematic toner; inclusion of unnecessary irritants such as lavender oil and menthol; limited options for sun protection; a few gimmicky, multi-step kits and specialty productsthat are easily replaced by other products in her line.
This doctor-designed skin-care line was, without question, the one most requested for review byour readers, primarily due to its prominence on QVC's Web site and home shopping program.
A graduate of New York's Cornell Medical College, Dr. Adrienne Denese opened an anti-aging clinic in Manhattan shortly after completing her studies. It has become extremely successful, to the point where she felt it necessary to create her own products to make sure her skin-care advice was being taken.
Her book, Dr. Denese's Secrets for Ageless Skin: Younger Skin in 8 Weeks, on how to take care of your skin, is much like Dr. Perricone's book The Wrinkle Cure, in that both promise to get rid of (or at least really, really minimize) your wrinkles. Another similarity is the lack of supporting research or studies to back up the claims in either book. Neither Dr. Perricone nor Dr. Denese source their information, and more often than not, there are no research reports or supporting studies to be found. We are just supposed to take their word for everything they say. Denese naturally uses her gender more than Perricone to establish credibility and empathy with female consumers (who, no secret, purchase the vast majority of skin-care products out there), and also routinely appears on QVC to discuss her products.
Ironically, her product line, sold exclusively via QVC and Denese's Web site, makes much more sense than a lot of what she writes in her book. After reading the book and evaluating her namesake line, we noted some interesting and frustrating statements and conflicts that deserve attention. One of her statements that we found most surprising, for a dermatologist keen on anti-aging medicine, was: "If a skin-care product doesn't work, it's not the consumer's fault." This statement is not untrue, it's just incomplete. Dr. Denese contends that no one can afford to throw away money on products that don't work, a point with whichwe truly agree. However, she mentions nothing about carefully establishing a skin-care routine and then following through on it. Unfortunately, many consumers don't follow through, and that's a big reason why they don't get the results they want from products.
For example, using an anti-acne product only occasionally, or not applying sunscreen daily or liberally enough, won't benefit your skin and could easily lead you to believe that the unimpressive results mean the product is faulty.
Moreover, some skin-care problems (like sagging)are beyond what any product can address. (That's why there are dermatologists and plastic surgeons with thriving practices.) All the dermatologistswe have interviewed over the years agree that patient compliance with and adherence to skin-care routines and the regimen of topical medications is an ongoing challenge, and there is research supporting that (Source: Dermatologic Therapy, July-August 2006, pages 224236). Dr. Denese also understands this, as evidenced from her comment about the Dr. Obagi System (for skin discolorations): "The only times I've seen the Obagi System fail is [sic] when patients have skipped steps and ignored instructions."
In another statement Dr. Denese refers to petrolatum and mineral oil as "junk food for skin," stating that "they feel good but they clog your pores." This is not a true statement because neither substance is capable of becoming hard and clogging the lining of the pore. In fact, both of these ingredients have impressive research proving their benefit, mildness, and effectiveness for skin (Sources: Cutis, September 2004, pages 109116; and Dry Skin and Moisturizers: Chemistry and Function, CRC Press, 2000, pages 252254).
Petrolatum and mineral oil have greasy textures, so they're not the best-feeling ingredients for someone with oily or acne-prone skin, but in this case greasiness does not equal clogged pores.
Dr. Denese also refers to blackheads as dirt, which is completely false. Blackheads are composed of sebum, dead skin cells, and other debris (mostly tiny hairs) that make up the follicle lining of the pore. The oxidation that occurs as this mixture of sebum and dead skin cells reaches the pore opening is what causes the blacknessit has nothing to do with cleanliness (Sources: Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 367374; Cutis, August 2004, pages 9297; and American Academy of Dermatology, www.aad.org).
According to Dr. Denese, you cannot exfoliate too much. Yet she doesn't warn against the potential for irritation when too much of a good thing becomes a punishment rather than a benefit, which absolutely can occur with over-exfoliation.
Surprisingly, Dr. Denese does not recommend salicylic acid (BHA) for exfoliation. Instead, she prefers AHAs (glycolic and lactic acids) because AHAs may be used at higher concentrations than BHA. However, the difference in concentrations between AHAs and BHA is not about quantity. Rather, it's because they work best at different concentrations, and also perform differently. That is, a higher concentration of AHA is not more effective or better than a lower concentration of BHA. AHAs are most effective at 5% to 10%, while BHA is most effective at 1% to 2%. In the world of skin care, there are many examples where a higher percentage of an ingredient doesn't necessarily equate with superior effects, as is the case with AHA and BHA (Sources: Womens Health in Primary Care, July 2003, pages 333339; Journal of Dermatological Treatment, April 2004, pages 8893; Dermatology, January 1999, pages 5053; and Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, April 1997, pages 589593).
Despite the incomplete information (or in some cases, misinformation) in her book, Denese has crafted some remarkably state-of-the-art products, and the prices, though steep, aren't unreasonable.
As is true for most skin-care lines (including those from dermatologists), there are shortcomings and missteps along with good products here. For those who choose the best of what Dr. Denese has to offer, the rewards will be smiling at them in the mirror each day (but please don't take that to mean your wrinkles will be gone)!
Note: All Dr. Denese products contain fragrance unless otherwise noted.
For more information about Dr. Denese New York, call 866-642-3754 or visit www.drdenese.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.