Jan Marini's Age Intervention Enlighten Plus appears to be a reformulation of the brand's discontinued Age Intervention Enlighten Facial Lotion. Unfortunately, it wasn't a change for the better, as this version has the same substantial flaws that make it (and what it replaced) not worth your time or money. However, let's soldier on and take a closer look at what you're getting for a hefty price tag.
Age Intervention Enlighten Plus uses kojic dipalmitate as its main skin-lightening agent. Sounds promising, but whoops, there's a problem: Kojic dipalmitate isn't the same as pure kojic acid, a skin-lightening agent that some cosmetic companies use as a substitute for hydroquinone.
Although kojic acid isn't the most reliable skin-lightening agent either, it does work. It's just that it can be problematic for some in terms of causing skin irritation. Hydroquinone has some negative research as well, but considerably more positive research (including safety and toxicity studies) to support its effectiveness and ongoing use.
In contrast, kojic dipalmitate has few published studies, and that merely examined how to detect the ingredient in cosmetic products, not whether or not it actually worked to lighten skin discolorations. (Sources: Talanta, April 2008, pages 407–411; Analytical Biochemistry, June 2002, pages 260–268; and American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2000, pages 261–268). Still, because kojic dipalmitate is related to kojic acid, it may theoretically have some lightening effect, but it's not a sure thing, and for the price Marini is charging, you should expect a product that actually has the potential to live up to its claims.
The other skin-lightening agent used is hexylresorcinol, an antimicrobial agent, and the only research pertaining to its effect on melanin (skin pigment) has to do with treating fresh shrimp during processing to prevent black spots (melanosis) that would undoubtedly decrease their visual appeal at the local seafood counter. (Sources: Journal of Food Science, April 2008, pages S124–S133; and Journal of Food Protection, January 2005, pages 98–104). While we're all for innovation in skin care, it is a stretch that either one will be the answer to your skin discoloration issues, as human skin cells and the those of dead shrimp are not exactly related.
Marini also references the retinol in this product as being capable of suppressing excess melanin production, but that ability isn't reflected in the body of research for this vitamin A ingredient, at least not when used by itself and not when compared to tretinoin (the active ingredient in Renova and Retin-A). Instead, retinol's role in skin lightening tends to be more as a co-factor when paired with skin-lightening agents such as hydroquinone, vitamin C, or glycolic acid (Sources: Cutis, December 2007, pages 497–502; and Cosmetic Dermatology, January 2005, Supplement: "Revisiting Retinol"). That's one more reason why a good retinol product should contain other ingredients to ensure maximum results—retinol alone isn't enough.
Lighten up! The good news for those seeking alternatives to hydroquinone is there are plenty of ingredients (and ingredient combinations) that truly are effective. Arbutin, vitamin C, niacinamide, acetyl glucosamine, mulberry and licorice root extract are all examples, and most importantly, published research has demonstrated them effective in treating brown spots and other discolorations from sun damage and breakouts. While Age Intervention Enlighten Plus does utilize licorice extract and arbutin in smaller amounts, they aren't enough to rescue this flawed formula, especially considering the numerous well-formulated alternatives on the market. See our top picks in the Best Skin-Lightening Products section.
Skin discoloration (sun spots, age spots, melasma, etc.) is one of the most visible indications of age while uniform even complexions are associated with youth and beauty. Age Intervention Enlighten Plus is specifically designed to improve skin uniformity. A combination of the most proven non-hydroquinone technologies are combined in this single product to deliver maximum results in improving the appearance of sun damage and hyperpigmentation.
Water/Aqua/Eau, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Kojic Dipalmitate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Dimethicone, Stearic Acid, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Salicylic Acid, Alpha-Arbutin, PEG-100 Stearate, Polysorbate 20, Cetyl Alcohol, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Hexylresorcinol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Retinol, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Allantoin, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol.
Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc. At-A-Glance
Strengths: Most of the products are fragrance- and colorant-free; excellent AHA and retinol options, including an AHA combined with sunscreen; the water-soluble cleansers.
Weaknesses: Expensive; some categories contain ingredients (growth factors, hormones, and interferon) with unreliable track records or whose long-term risks, if any, remain unknown; sunscreens that lack sufficient UVA-protecting ingredients; jar packaging; Marini Lash isn't as exciting as Marini’s former lash-enhancing products.
Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc., was founded, of course, by Jan Marini, who originally started out marketing products for M.D. Formulations. Thus, it isn't surprising to find that her own line is also aimed at dermatologists, aestheticians, and plastic surgeons, much the way M.D. Formulations is. In direct contrast to many of the other skin-care lines in this niche market, Marini’s line stands out with its selection of far more realistic and varied skin-care products. First, there are no spiraling-out-of-control ingredient lists where everything is thrown in except the kitchen sink. Then, and more important, you will find some well-formulated products that include sunscreens, skin-lightening options, vitamin C products, and good glycolic acid–based alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) products, along with some outstanding retinol options.
It is interesting to observe that Marini attributes the research for her "topical form of lipid (fat) soluble Vitamin C that is stable and able to be absorbed" to the form "developed in conjunction with physician researcher Nicholas Perricone, M.D." Of course, Perricone has his own version of vitamin C products, which are quite similar to Marini's in that they also contain ascorbyl palmitate. That being the case, given that he claims his are the best ever with the highest concentration of the stuff, we wonder if she would now agree with his findings? At least compared to her former partners at M.D. Formulations, Marini's information about vitamin C is more accurately based (it's backed by published research) and there's only a minimal amount of hyperbole. In fact, when it comes to the information Marini and team present to the professionals who retail their products, this line wins high marks for its close-to-accurate information about how skin ages, what can be done to minimize and prevent future signs of aging, and the effects various products have on skin. Of course, you're supposed to believe her products have all the answers, but that's what the reviews below will elucidate.
For more information about Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc., call (888) 695-2611 or visit www.janmarini.com.
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