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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Instant beautification

More skincare potions now promise to turn back time instantly. Urban puts 10 such products to the test
The Straits Times - September 21, 2012
By: Gladys Chung
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Instant beautification PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR

While most skincare formulations promise pay-offs in four to eight weeks, a slew of brands now boasts results right after the first application or within seven days.

Some of these instant beautification products that are new here include London-based Nip + Fab's Frown-Fix; Perricone MD's Vitamin C Ester 15 firming and brightening serum; and StriVectin-TL's 360 Degree Tightening Eye Serum. The latter two are American brands.

There are now at least 10 such instant-fix labels here that promise to make you look younger.

Ms Cheryl Tan, brand manager of multi-brand beauty store Escentials, which started stocking StriVectin and Perricone MD in 2006 and 2010 respectively, says time-pressed consumers are demanding formulas that work quickly these days.

"All else being equal, they will go for products that promise faster results. They no longer want to wait three months for a product to work."

A spokesman for another multi-brand beauty boutique, Sccube The Apothecary, adds: "Consumers are growing more sophisticated in their demands as technology advances. They seek instant results because of their busy lifestyles."

Sccube has been stocking fast-acting brands such as American labels Dr Brandt and ReVive since 2006.

QUICK FIXES

Some instant beautification brands even claim to offer results that rival those of aesthetic procedures, such as Botox injections and laser treatments.

These include the star product from London-based Rodial, the Glamoxy Snake Serum, which has been dubbed "Botox in a bottle". Despite its squirm-worthy name, it does not contain snake extracts; only neuropeptides that supposedly give facial muscles a mild freeze-like effect, therefore promising less obvious wrinkles instantly.

In the weeks before it was launched in 2010, the Daily Mail reported that it had attracted more than 100,000 advance orders in Britain.

The essence was reformulated earlier this year.

Sccube, which has been carrying the Snake Serum since 2010, declines to reveal actual sales figures but says it is one of the store's bestsellers and "hundreds are sold every month".

Home-grown aesthetics outifit, The Sloane Clinic, is also tapping into the demand for such products.

Last year, it launched the Miracle Lift, a gel serum that promises immediate lifting and "de-creasing" actions.

While The Sloane Clinic launched its own skincare range in 2004, Miracle Lift is the first serum to promise instant lifting results among the more than 30 products under the Sloane Inc brand.

Between 600 and 800 bottles of the $214 Miracle Lift are sold every month. This figure is about double the sales of the other Sloane Inc products.

"Consumers are willing to spend on products that promise instant results as they get immediate satisfaction," says Dr Low Chai Ling, medical director of The Sloane Clinic. "It is the same reason they are willing to spend on aesthetic procedures such as Botox and fillers, which deliver visible aesthetic enhancements after a single session."

MORE CLINICAL STUDIES NEEDED

However, dermatologists have reservations about the claims of instant results.

For one, the effects might not be any different from those of other good skincare products.

"One's skin might feel smoother after a single application of some products because of their moisturising effect on dry skin," says Dr Tan Wee Ping, consultant dermatologist at the National Skin Centre.

The "instant results" that these products promise may be short-term and the condition of your skin may not actually improve.

Optical light diffusers could also be responsible for the immediate "vanishing" of the wrinkles by concealing, rather than eradicating them, says Dr Alain Khaiat, a scientist and president of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association of Singapore.

More clinical studies are needed to prove the efficacy of the products, says Dr Harneet Ranu Eriksson, a consultant and specialist in dermatology at the Raffles Skin Centre.

"Prudence is advised as these 'wonder creams' have yet to undergo rigorous clinical trials to prove the science behind their claims," she says. "It is naive to think there is a magic potion which can instantly stimulate the repair processes deep within the skin."

Dr Tan says that while studies have shown that topical application of vitamin C and retinoids (a vitamin A derivative) can help improve the appearance of wrinkles, results are visible only after at least three to six months of continued use.

But doctors advise using instant beauty formulas judiciously, as many contain higher concentrations of active ingredients.

"More is not better; high concentrations of pure retinol or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can irritate the skin, cause pigmentation and destroy collagen," says Dr Khaiat.

Dr Tan also warns that those with sensitive skin may develop eczema on the face and eye areas after using such products.

Generally, however, certain products from some of these quick-fix skincare brands, such as StriVectin and Perricone MD, can be effective if they are used with care over a period of time, such as at least a month, says Dr Khaiat.

The effects may vary between individuals though.

"Some users may see results before others and all effects are gradual. But not all users will see pay-offs probably because of the different genetic make-up," he adds.

Urban road-tests 10 products that promise younger-looking skin in a jiffy.

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