This thick-textured yet silky serum contains many of the same ingredients seen in lots of other serums, including many that cost a lot less. Mary Kay maintains that their product helps lift sagging skin and promotes a tighter appearance, but the claims are carefully worded to remain in the cosmetics realm—they're not actually stating skin will be lifted or tighter, just that it will appear that way, so nothing has really changed.
Although this serum cannot lift sagging skin or redefine facial contours, it feels nice and the cosmetic pigments it contains impart a soft, healthy glow that isn't distracting.
What about Mary Kay's Volu-Firm complex? According to the company, this complex consists of three ingredients present in every Timewise Repair product: a peptide, an ingredient that helps boost skin's hyaluronic acid content (Mary Kay doesn't specify what this ingredient is), and plant stem cells.
Plant stem cells in skin-care products are fairly useless because stem cells must be alive to have an effect, and in a skin-care product that certainly wouldn't be the case (see More Info for details on this). In general, the research about peptides is at best minor, coming primarily from the companies selling the ingredients or the products containing them, which means that the research is not proof of anything. Theoretically, peptides can have benefit, but because no one knows for sure it would be a mistake to rely solely on them, in any formulation, to make a difference for wrinkles or sagging.
Many skin-care ingredients can increase the amount of hyaluronic acid in the skin, but none of that works in any way like the hyaluronic acid dermal injections you get from dermatologists. Applying a serum will not fill out a wrinkle or lift sagging skin at all like dermal injections. And in terms of volume loss due to fat loss in the face (all of us have facial fat pads that shift at different rates over time, leading to hollowing and sagging), Mary Kay's technology cannot stop that from happening.
The volume-boosting and firming claims for Mary Kay's Volu-Firm complex come from a study (although it isn't published) that used only the three ingredients, not the actual product. The amount of the three ingredients in the product is much less than that used in their testing, so claiming that the actual product has benefit is a real stretch. The bottom line from just about any perspective is that Timewise Repair isn't an ingenious way to "go back in time" and "lift away the years." See More Info to learn what you can do to help sagging skin.
Although this serum contains some beneficial ingredients, including some novel antioxidants, it contains far too many fragrant plant extracts in high amounts, among them lavender, rosewood, and peppermint. The formula also contains the irritating menthyl derivative menthyl lactate. The tingle you get from this serum may convince you it's doing something—and it is. But what it's doing is causing irritation, which isn't the way to younger-looking skin. If you're sold on Mary Kay, they offer better serums than this, and you can ignore all claims that this product somehow lifts skin and adds youthful fullness.
STEM CELLS: Stem cells are cells in animals and plants that are capable of becoming any other type of cell in that organism and of producing more of those cells. Despite the fact that stem cell research is in its infancy, many cosmetics companies claim they are successfully using plant-based or human-derived stem cells in their anti-aging products. The claims run the gamut, from reducing wrinkles to elastin repair and cell regeneration, so the temptation for consumers to try these is intense.
The truth is that stem cells in skin-care products do not work as claimed. In fact, they likely have no effect at all because stem cells must be alive to function as stem cells. Once these delicate cells are added to skin-care products, they are long dead and, therefore, useless. It's actually a good thing that stem cells in skin-care products can't work as claimed because one stem cell study has revealed that they present a potential risk of cancer.
Plant stem cells, such as those derived from apples, melons, and rice, cannot stimulate stem cells in human skin, but because they are from plants these ingredients likely have antioxidant properties. It's a good thing plant stem cells can't work as stem cells in skin-care products; after all, you don't want your skin to absorb cells that can grow into apples or watermelons!
There are also claims that because a plant's stem cells allow a plant to repair itself or survive in harsh climates, these benefits can be passed on to human skin. How a plant functions in nature is unrelated to human skin, and these claims are completely without substantiation.
Another twist on the issue is that cosmetics companies claim they have taken components (such as peptides) out of the plant stem cells and made them stable so they then can work as stem cells. This approach is not valid because stem cells must be complete to function normally. Even if you could isolate substances or extracts from these cells and make them stable, there is no published research showing they can affect stem cells in human skin.
HELP FOR SAGGING SKIN: Many skin-care products claim they can firm and lift skin, but none of them work, at least not to the extent claimed. A face-lift-in-a-bottle isn't possible, but with the right mix of products, you will see firmer skin that has a more lifted appearance—and that's exciting! To gain these youthful benefits, you must protect your skin from any and all sun damage every day, use an AHA (glycolic acid or lactic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant, and use products that have a wide range of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. Remember, no single product can do it all; it's the combination of products that has extensive research showing it can significantly improve many of the signs of aging, such as firming skin, reducing wrinkles and brown spots, and eliminating dullness. You'll find them on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products.
PRODUCTS WITH FRAGRANT IRRITANTS: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
Mary Kay At-A-Glance
Strengths: Most of the products are fragrance-free; packaging that keeps light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use; a handful of well-formulated moisturizers; very good eye-makeup remover; effective wrinkle filler; excellent cream blush and several other impressive makeup products.
Weaknesses: The overall collection is a mixed bag of exciting and disappointing products; several outdated moisturizers and cleansers; no AHA or acceptable BHA products; the CC Cream doesn't provide good enough UVA protection; some lackluster makeup products.
The last few years haven't been glamorous for one of the world's largest direct sellers of cosmetics. Mary Kay lost a lawsuit filed by TriStrata, the company whose founders hold over 100 patents on the use of AHAs in skin-care products. It was revealed that Mary Kay's former AHA products infringed on three of these patents, and, after some back-and-forths in court, Mary Kay ended up paying royalties of over $40 million (interest included) to TriStrata. Perhaps because they're still licking their wounds after this defeat, the company has not launched any new AHA products, and no longer sells the ones that were in question during the legal battle (Source: www.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/2006/04/03/daily26.html).
However, the company's spin on the issue of AHAs is that they no longer use them because skin-care technology has advanced. That's an interesting twist, but the fact of the matter is that AHA products, when well-formulated, are still considered advanced and capable of doing far more for skin than the alternatives Mary Kay has devised (including an at-home microdermabrasion scrub and products with vitamin C derivatives).
Although they're not a company for you if you are looking for exfoliants (though you should be looking for a good exfoliant), Mary Kay has recently developed a surprising number of excellent products. With over 1.6 million Mary Kay consultants selling products in 30 countries, this family-owned company (founder Mary Kay Ash passed away in 2001) has slowly been proving that they intend to remain competitive with the best of the best. A refreshing change of pace is the omission of fragrance from almost all of the products. Now that is what we call progress!
Despite its size and capital (wholesale figures were $3 billion in 2012), Mary Kay still has a lot to learn. For instance, although their guiding philosophy of empowering women is admirable, the assortment of products still leaves much to be desired. Yes, things are looking up, but there are several weak spots that keep Mary Kay from being in the same league as
If improvements like those in Mary Kay's latest products were translated to the entire line, it would be standing much taller, at least as far as what current, substantiated skin-care research indicates is optimum for creating and maintaining healthy skin. As is, this is a line to approach with a keen understanding of what to focus on and what to avoid. One last bit of good news: Mary Kay offers well-packaged samples of selected products, either directly or from your consultant.
Unless mentioned otherwise, all Mary Kay products are fragrance-free.
Note: Mary Kay is categorized as a brand that tests on animals because their products are sold in China. Although Mary Kay does not conduct animal testing for their products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brand’s state that they don’t test on animals “unless required by law”. Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Beautypedia Research Team.
For more information about Mary Kay, call (800) 627-9529 or visit www.marykay.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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