Needles No More it is simply a very expensive wrinkle-filler cosmetic product—one that exploits the perception that skincare or makeup can replace the results of a cosmetic procedure like Botox. The only truly beneficial skincare ingredient present in any amount is shea butter, while the rest is mostly thickeners and film-forming agents—there isn’t anything here to improve signs of aging. As in the case with many wrinkle fillers, the cosmetic ingredients present have the potential to blur (temporarily) the look of fine lines. The results with such products, however, are usually minimal at best and always temporary. Botox is temporary, too, but its wrinkle-erasing benefits can last for months rather than hours.
Dr. Brandt calls out the use of “an exclusive tri-blend wrinkle relaxer” in Needles No More, which consists of the ingredients perfluorohexane, perfluoroperhydrophenanthrene and perfluorodecalin. When formulated into a skincare product, these fluorocarbons are capable of delivering oxygen to skin—then (and this is where the marketing begins), Dr. Brandt claims that oxygen infusion will relax the appearance of wrinkles.
So far, there appears to be only one study testing these claims, but the results were apparently too subtle to be evaluated and the experiment judged inconclusive (International Journal of Cosmetics, 1996).
We should also note that increasing the exposure of oxygen to skin isn’t a good thing, as this also exposes the skin to free-radical damage—and your skin has enough pro-aging free radicals to deal with on a daily basis.
What’s really doing the work here is the blend of emollients (shea butter) and film-forming ingredients, such as polymethyl methacrylate, sodium acrylates copolymer and methyl methacrylate crosspolymer. Emollients moisturize skin, giving it a smoother feel, while film formers are common in cosmetics that promise to blur the look of fine lines. As film formers dry, they contract and provide a tighter feel, but not the actual appearance of tighter skin (big difference, especially for more advanced sagging).
Dr. Brandt also included a tiny amount of peptides, along with the fragrance ingredients lavender extract and chamomile essential oil (Anthemis nobilis flower oil). Unlike chamomile extract, the essential oil of chamomile cultivates the volatile oil compounds present in the flower. In addition, this contains the menthol-derived cooling agent menthone glycerin acetal, which poses a risk of irritation.
At best, what you’re getting with Needles No More is a very expensive makeup primer masquerading as a wrinkle treatment, but there isn’t anything here to truly improve the signs of aging over time. If you’re goal is improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, we suggest considering products that use ingredients with well-documented anti-aging benefits, like those recommended our list of Best Retinol Products.
Dr. Brandt At-A-Glance
Strengths: Provides complete ingredient lists on the company website; a good daytime moisturizer with sunscreen.
Weaknesses: Expensive; overwhelming number of products that contain irritating ingredients with no established benefit for skin; no products to comprehensively address acne or oily skin; every Pores No More product is a disappointment; jar packaging; several products make claims on par with what cosmetic procedures (not skin care) can do.
The late Dr. Fredric Brandt (he passed away in April, 2015 at the age of 65) was a Miami- and New York City–based dermatologist whose claim to fame rested on two main points. The first (and it is a very important credibility factor for consumers) included the many celebrity clients worked with, while the second was his assertion that he performed more Botox and collagen injections than any other dermatologist in the world. According to Allergan, the company that makes Botox, they no longer rank the physicians who purchase Botox from them; however, they did confirm that Dr. Brandt was definitely one of their biggest buyers. Yet regardless of how much Botox or collagen Dr. Brandt or any other physician uses, what in the world does that have to do with cosmetic formulations? If anything, you have to wonder why Brandt was using so much Botox and collagen if his products truly fight wrinkles, sagging, and on and on.
Beyond Brandt's cosmetic enhancement procedures, he is the author of Age-less: The Definitive Guide to Botox, Collagen, Lasers, Peels, and Other Solutions for Flawless Skin. His book and skin-care line are competing against the vastly more popular books and product line from fellow dermatologist Dr. N.V. Perricone. Although Perricone's skin-care line has some drawbacks, including irritating ingredients and the lack of supporting research for his neuropeptide products, the majority of his products, though overpriced, have more pros than cons. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Dr. Brandt, whose namesake skin-care line is on the disappointing side, especially given the product's price points.
Brandt's products are sold with the tag line that they are "prescription strength, prescription-free," and "are formulated under dermatologic control for maximum safety and efficiency and offer the highest performance without a prescription." Aside from how unbelievable that assertion is, what is not mentioned is the fact that none of the ingredients in Brandt's products are comparable to prescription formulations. And what is "dermatologic control" anyway, given that there are no such standards anywhere in the world? Moreover, what do dermatologists know about the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, much less cosmetics? The two arenas of expertise are completely unrelated.
Dr. Brandt positioned his products as clinically superior to what you would find in other cosmetics lines, an unproven assertion to say the least. Many of his products tout benefits that don't just stretch the truth, but snap it in two—and these fallacies were more disconcerting coming from an esteemed dermatologist. When products contain the problematic ingredients that are so pervasive in Brandt's line, such as irritating plant extracts, drying detergent cleansing agents, and far too many products with skin cell-damaging lavender oil, it becomes nothing more than a line that should be approached with extreme caution.
The line does have a few bright spots: many of Brandt's products do contain significant amounts of antioxidants, though that certainly doesn't make his line unique because many other product lines do that, too. (Here it's fair to say that while no specific amounts have been established for any antioxidant that will ensure their effectiveness, the general consensus among researchers is that more antioxidants are better than less, and less is still better than none at all.) Unless you were a devoted patient of Dr. Brandt and would be racked with guilt for not purchasing his products while visiting for an appointment, there is no reason to seek out this disappointing line.
For more information about Dr. Brandt's products, call (800) 234-1066 or visit www.drbrandtskincare.com.
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