Product Review: Bliss The Youth as We Know It

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Ever wonder why somebody doesn’t just throw all of today’s best anti-agers into one cream? Apparently, Bliss thought so, and they created the Youth as We Know It moisturizer ($79.00, Amazon.com). The company claims the product is infused with MMP Inhibitors, Wrinkle Reduction Peptides, Visual Facial Fillers, Cellular Respiration Boosters, Hyperdermal Destressors, 7-Day Hydrators, Barrier Repairing Ceramides, Wrinkle Relaxers, Multifruit Complex, and Retinyl Palmitate. In other words, according to Bliss, this stuff has it all.

Are the Ingredients Effective?

The product has a very high concentration of hydrating ingredients, including glycerin, squalane, pentylene glycol, cetearyl alcohol (yes, high molecular-weight alcohols such as these hydrating), shea butter, olive oil, sodium hyaluronate and vegetable oil. The ceramide 2 in the product, while hydrating, should also improve skin’s repair (barrier) functions, as a report by Lavrijsen et. al [amongst others] confirms.

The product’s next highest ingredients are potent antioxidants, including (in order from highest to lowest concentration) olive oil, tocopherol (vitamin E), carrot, soybean, black tea, grape seed extract, hydrolyzed algin (algae), orange extract, and lemon extract, amongst others. According to Paula Begoun, author of Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, the soy proteins contain genistein, which exhibits both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Altogether, soy proteins stimulate the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid in human fibroblasts cultured in vitro, increasing the firmness, elasticity, and suppleness of the skin.

It may be noted that the amino acid peptides in the product (palmitoyl oligopeptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide 7) have the same effect as the soy extract, and also act as wrinkle relaxers. According to Dr. Gary Goldfaden in the June 2005 issue of Le Magazine, the two most potent topically applied wrinkle relaxers are acetyl hexapeptide-3 and gamma amino butyl acid, the latter of which appears to be in the product in fairly high concentration. Goldfaden mentions that it may be “a few weeks” before the wrinkle-relaxing results take effect.

The MMP inhibitors present in the product include beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C (via orange and lemon extracts). MMP inhibitors play a significant role in the fight against aging as they inhibit expression of the MMP genes, which encode for enzymes that destroy collagen in the skin; namely, collagenase, gelatinase, and stromelysin-1. (For more on MMP inhibitors, see the product review of Dr. Wexler’s MMPi Skin Regeneration Serum.)

Are there any ineffective ingredients?

Yes. Soluble collagen applied topically is a waste of money. According to Dr. Leslie Baumann in Cosmetic Dermatology, topically applied collagen is too large to fit through the uppermost layer of the skin to affect the collagen-producing cells in the lower lying dermal layer. As such, even though the collagen produced in the skin naturally supplies elasticity and firmness, topically applying collagen has absolutely no effect on collagen production levels.

The product also contains a form of yeast extract (Saccharomyces lysate), which has never been shown in scientific literature to have benefits for the skin. The reason for its inclusion is most likely the fact that beta-glucan, a potent antioxidant, is derived from yeast.

Are any of the ingredients (or the mixture of so many!) potentially harmful?

Unfortunately, yes. For some time, it was believed that oxygenating the skin was beneficial. However, oxygenating the skin by topically applying oxygen-containing ingredients (such as the hydrogen peroxide in this product) has been reported by Keyse et. al (amongst numerous others) to induce free radical formation in human skin fibroblasts. The free radicals induce a vicious chain reaction that attacks cells, proteins, and DNA, and free radicals are believed to play a significant role in the aging process. Thankfully, the product contains hydrogen peroxide in extremely low concentrations, and contains numerous potent antioxidants, which impede or slow the free radical chain reaction. Therefore, it is possible that the net effect of the moisturizer does not induce free radical formation; however, it would be best if this ingredient was removed.

Despite the sheer number of ingredients, the formulation of the product is surprisingly smooth, and absorbs well into the skin. However, the product may be somewhat irritating for those with particularly sensitive skin, as it contains benzoic acid and salicyclic acid, which have been reported by Baumann as common causes of immunologic contact urticaria (contact allergies). The consumer’s best bet is to try the product on a small patch of skin at the nearest Sephora, Saks Fifth Avenue, or other fine retailer that carries Bliss products.

Overall, to buy or not to buy?

Of its ten claims, the product strongly lives up to eight of them: it does contain potent MMP inhibitors, wrinkle reduction peptides, wrinkle relaxers, hyperdermal destressors (if what they mean by this is “calming and soothing ingredients”), hydrators, barrier repairing ceramides, multifruit complex (antioxidant complex), and retinyl palmitate. However, the product does not contain effective “Visual Facial Fillers.” Although collagen may be injected into the dermal layer of skin, as previously mentioned, topically applying collagen to the uppermost layer of skin has no effect. In addition, the product’s “Cellular Respiration Booster,” hydrogen peroxide, has never been shown in scientific literature to have any positive effect on the skin, and it only induces the production of free radicals. However, this effect may be neutralized by the potent antioxidant ingredients in the product.

Overall, an excellent night cream (no sunscreen) with lots going for it. Before purchasing, if you have sensitive skin, you may want to try a patch test first at your local Bliss retailer. 8/10.

Product Ingredients

Water (Aqua), Cyclopentasiloxane, PPG 3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Glycerin, Squalane, Pentylene Glycol, Saccharide Isomerate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cetearyl Alcohol, Aminobutyric Acid, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil (Olive), Tocopheryl Acetate, Daucus Carota Sativa Root (Carrot), Glycine Soja Seed Extract (Soybean), Polysilicone 11, Barium Sulfate, Saccharomyces Xylinum Black Tea Ferment, Acrylates C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Polysorbate 60, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ceteth 10 Phosphate, Dicetyl Phosphate, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Ceramide 2, Hydrolyzed Algin, Retinyl Palmitate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Benzyl Alcohol, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide 7, Polysorbate 20, Sea Water (Maris Aqua), Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Centella Asiatica Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Benzoic Acid, Dehydroacetic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Fragrance (Parfum), Benzethonium Chloride, Sodium Hyaluronate, Soluble Collagen, Vitis Vinifera Seed Extract (Grape), Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Vaccinium Myrtillus Fruit/Leaf Extract, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Saccharum Officinarum Extract (Sugar Cane), Polyquaternium 51, Sodium PCA, Trehalose, Urea, Hyaluronic Acid, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Fruit Extract (Orange), Citrus Medica Limonum Fruit Extract (Lemon), Acer Saccharum Extract (Sugar Maple), Alkyl Methacrylates Crosspolymer, Hydrogen Peroxide, Limonene, Linalool

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