Med MD 33 Clinical Reserve Cream
According to Dr. Denese's web site (that includes what, dare we say, seems to us to be an overdone Photoshopped picture of the doctor’s current makeover) Med MD 33 Clinical Reserve Cream is her “most comprehensive, multi-ingredient, antiaging formulation… formulated with 33 cosmetically relevant ingredients.” While we do find this to be a beautifully formulated product, we find the claim of 33 cosmetically relevant ingredients to be vague and inconsequential at best. Let us explain clearly what you can expect if you consider buying this moisturizing anti-aging product.
This emollient, silky cream contains an array of plant extracts that for the most part do have soothing and antioxidant properties. It also contains a handful of peptides. Starting with the peptides, they theoretically can work as cell-communicating ingredients, telling skin cells to make healthy younger skin cells, but as exciting as peptides likely are in this regard, theory alone doesn’t mean great skin care. The synthetically derived peptides in here are not easily absorbed into skin and there is little research showing they remain stable once absorbed. We do like peptides and think they are fine in a formula, but they are not the miracle or as relevant a category of skin care ingredients as they are made out to be.
For the most part all of the plant extracts this moisturizer contains are impressive and have potential to fight free-radical damage and allow skin to heal. We could further explain the research showing the benefits of several of these but unfortunately they are pretty much for naught as this product comes packaged in a jar. How foolish! We can’t imagine how any cosmetic company, let alone one fronted by a doctor, still lets this crime of anti-aging skin care persist. The research makes it abundantly clear (and something we have repeated more times than we care to count) that jar containers are problematic for almost any skin care formula. To stay with the marketing claim Dr. Denese makes, “cosmetically relevant ingredients” are air sensitive, meaning they don’t remain stable in a jar container where air gets in with each use. Think about how long an uprooted plant of any kind stays stable once exposed to air. This makes those valuable ingredients fairly irrelevant after opening, something we explain further in the More Info section below.
To end a bit on a positive note, this is a fragrance free formula which is wonderful to see. We applaud Dr. Denese for providing this important skin benefit that is so critical for great skin care, something many other cosmetic companies continue to ignore. Now if we can only get Dr. Denese to see the essential benefit of avoiding jar package this product would have been a winner.
OK, one more comment: Nothing in this moisturizer can improve large pores. If anything, the emollient texture is likely to magnify, not minimzie the appearance of pores.
- Silky emollient texture.
- Impressive array of antioxidant and soothing plant extracts.
- Contains peptides that may have a benefit for skin, though conclusive research isn’t in on that yet.
- Contains skin-repairing ingredients, including hyaluronic acid.
- Fragrance-free formula.
- Jar packaging won’t keep many of this cream’s key ingredients stable once opened.
The fact that this anti-aging cream is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and most other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also present a hygiene issue because even if you wash your hands or use a spatula to remove the product, you’re introducing bacteria, which cause further breakdown of key ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, and www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5).
Dr Denese's most comprehensive, multi-ingredient, antiaging formulation, Med MD 33 Clinical Reserve Creme is formulated with 33 cosmetically relevant ingredients. It helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles; improves the appearance of skin brightness and evenness, giving skin a more vibrant and youthful glow; improves the appearance of firmness to the skin; and improves the appearance of pores.
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.