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There are good things, and then there are legends. Tommy Girl was a good fragrance, but Chanel No. 5 is legendary. Too Faced Better than Sex mascara is fun, but DiorShow is legendary.
And when it comes to creams, nothing is more legendary in our generation than Creme de la Mer. The first-line choice of many celebrities and well-to-do women, Creme de La Mer has that Rolex-esque association of being resonant with “the best.”
Yet, when it comes to ingredients, Creme de La Mer really isn’t all that spectacular. (There, I said it; my full review of it is here). But like a golden Tiffany bracelet, it doesn’t matter that what Creme de La Mer is made of isn’t all that different from its competitors. The prestige of Creme de La Mer will live on.
Yet, for women who want the best products that actually perform the best, I have three alternatives. (And, yes, if you have a flair for the fancy, you can always keep that jar of Creme de La Mer out on the counter…)
MDSUN Super Intensive Moisturizer is the best moisturizer I have ever tried to date. I’m not kidding. This product contains higher concentrations of more impressive ingredients than I’ve ever seen in one place.
One of the major ingredients in MDSUN Super Intensive Moisturizer is panthenol. Several studies done on mice show that panthenol increases collagen production from cell fibroblasts. Panthenol helps other ingredients penetrate the skin more effectively, so they work better. Panthenol is also a humectant moisturizer — which means that it draws in moisture from the environment (International Journal of Cosmetic Science). But because panthenol pulls moisture not only down from the environment but also up from the lower levels of skin, it’s beneficial to use them in combination with other moisturizing ingredients, which MDSUN Super Intensive Moisturizer does.
Another great ingredient to combine with panthenol is niacinamide. In a study on 30-60 year old women, a combination of panthenol and niacinamide (as found in MDSUN Super Intensive Moisturizer) improved signs of aging, such as hyperpigmentation and redness (Indian Journal of Dermatology). But niacinamide has merits of its own; according to Bissett et. al., niacinamide reduces fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness. Further, according to a 2005 study by Draelos et. al., niacinamide may help alleviate some of the symptoms of rosacea by increasing hydration and barrier function of the stratum corneum (uppermost layer of the skin), and may have some anti-tumor characteristics as well. And finally, in a 1995 study by Takozaki et. al., niacinamide may keep your breakouts at bay! It has been reported that a 4% topical niacinamide treatment applied twice daily may help to treat acne by reducing inflammation with similar efficacy to 1% clindamycin gel.
MDSUN Super Intensive Moisturizer has a lot of merits, and it’s rich, creamy, but absorbable texture is one of them. It’s best for a multitude of skin types, except for the most oily. I highly recommend this product — I have been applying it morning and night after vitamin CE and retinoid serums, and I cannot say enough great things about it. The sun spots from my honeymoon are fading; my skin is soft and glowing; and I’m getting carded regularly again, even though I’m about to hit another thirtysomething birthday next month. Boom. It’s the absolute best for age spots, fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, and a loss in skin hydration. Not kidding.
*Ingredients are subject to change at the manufacturer’s discretion. For the most complete and up-to-date information, refer to the product packaging.
2.) SK-II R.N.A. Power
I don’t actually like SK-II R.N.A. Power for the reasons that SK-II wants you to. The company claims that SK-II R.N.A. Power will, and I quote, “Improves multiple signs of aging, giving you a new level of firmness from multiple angles… After one jar, fine lines appear less defined.”
For me, it’s not so much about implying it may improve contours of the face as it is (you guessed it) the combination of proven ingredients in high concentrations. There’s our good friend niacinamide. There’s panthenol. There’s vitamin E, olive oil, and a trace amount of palmitoyl pentapeptide-4.
And there’s also yeast, in the form of Galactomyces ferment filtrate, which SK-II calls Pitera. In the past, I’ve been skeptical of SK-II and its marketing claims around Galactomyces ferment filtrate, which you can read here. However, there is research demonstrating that yeast is an excellent source of peptides, proteins, amino acids, carbohydrates and nucleic acids, as documented in the journal Household and Personal Products Industry — and while proteins are often too large to fit through the skin and carbs and nucleic acids don’t have much substantial backing, it’s the peptides and amino acids that make all of the difference.
Years ago, I never believed peptides or amino acids did much in skin care. After all, peptides are too large to fit through the skin, and I just looked at amino acids like components of proteins that probably didn’t do much other than hydrate.
But it turns out I was wrong. Topically-applied peptides have functions ranging from the temporary skin-freezing effects of argireline to the skin-firming effects of Matrixyl. Topically-applied amino acids have also been found to do all of the following and more:
- Fight fine lines and wrinkles (European Journal of Dermatology, 2013);
- Hydrate (Journal of Peptide Science, 2012);
- Promote wound healing (JPEN, 2014);
- Prevent infections (PLoS Pathogens, 2008);
- Boost protein synthesis within the skin (Minerva Pediatrica, 2014).
There is also evidence that Galactomyces ferment filtrate may increase the production of hyaluronan – a component found in the skin’s extracellular matrix. Since hyaluronan synthesis normally slows with age, this is considered to be a unique way to address the problem of aging. It’s interesting, because I didn’t believe that this actually was a thing when I was younger. But the more people understand about hyaluronan-protein-collagen complexes, the more research that emerges to support their use.
Overall, SK-II R.N.A. Power is a great choice if you have normal to dry skin, and are concerned about a loss of skin firmness, plumpness, and hydration. It may also help improve the appearance of sunspots and skin sallowing as well.
Ingredients in SK-II R.N.A. Power: Water, Glycerin, Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, Isohexadecane, Niacinamide, Isopropyl Isostearate, Butylene Glycol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Pentylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Phytosteryl/Behenyl/Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Stearyl Alcohol, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Cetyl Alcohol, Behenyl Alcohol, Panthenol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Benzyl Alcohol, Dimethiconol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Methylparaben, PEG-100 Stearate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Polysorbate 80, Stearic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Propylparaben, Sodium PEG-7 Olive Oil Carboxylate, Ethylparaben, Sorbitan Oleate, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, PEG-100 Stearate, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance, Acanthopanax Senticosus (Eleuthero) Root Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Cynara Scolymus (Artichoke) Leaf Extract, Polyquaternium-7, Hydrolyzed Yeast Protein, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, Methylsilanol Tri-PEG-8 Glyceryl Cocoate, Methicone, CI 77891, CI 77492.
3.) 37 Extreme Actives
When 37 Extreme Actives first came out, I will admit I was pretty critical of it for being potentially irritating, and for having ATP and amino acids, which I didn’t believe did much in the skin. (This article has me evolving in a lot of ways, it seems…)
While it is true you may not want to apply a product with 37 self-proclaimed “extreme” actives to your skin if you have particularly sensitive skin, it also is a great product because it has a lot of ingredients that are proven to work in peer-reviewed, independent research studies. It also is sensational because it is stabilized. According to Dr. Jeannette Graf, M.D., the antioxidants in 37 Extreme Actives® have reportedly been found to be stable for up to six months (InStyle magazine, September 2011). This is an amazing finding, since most antioxidants go kaput after moderate exposure to heat, light, or air. The key here is the large number of antioxidants must be synergistically enhancing one another, donating and receiving electrons simultaneously, resulting in a stable composition. Furthermore, we do not yet know every specific pathway in which different antioxidants work, so putting so many tremendous antioxidants in one place is insurance you have all of your antioxidant pathways covered.
Of all the ingredients in 37 Extreme Actives®, I think the ergothionene and the glucosamine are two of the rarest, and two of my favorites. In a 2007 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, L-ergothioneine was found to be more protective from free radicals than idebenone, with far less risk of skin irritation. It is also difficult to find; the only other skin care products I know of with L-ergothionene is Remergent Skin Clarifying Skin Brightener and NEOVA Total DNA Repair.
That said, I think 37 Extreme Actives® is a great option for those who are experiencing signs of aging at an ever-increasing rate.
Key active ingredients in 37 Extreme Actives:
Palmitoyl Oiligopeptide & Tetrapeptide-7, Acetyl Tetrapeptide, Glucosamine, Ergothioneine, Arginine, Amino Acids, Bisabolol, Coffee, Yerba Mate Tea, Feverfew, Ferulic Acid, Resveratrol, Vitamins C & E, Peptides, Sodium Hyalunronate, Barley Extract (EGF-like), Plankton, Blue Algae, Micrococcus, Arabidopis Extracts, Soy, Caffeine, Minerals, Resveratrol, Dimethicone, Squalane, Sunflower, Sandalwood Extracts, Polphenols; Mushroom, Bark, Cocoa Extracts, Sodium Lactate, Glycerin, Soy Lecithin.
If you are searching for Creme de La Mer alternatives that actually work, I highly recommend MDSUN Super Intensive Moisturizer, SK-II R.N.A. Power and 37 Extreme Actives.