First a bit of background: Aveeno, RoC, and Neutrogena are all owned by Johnson & Johnson. They have each launched the a group of 2-product kits based on J&J’s new technology that’s supposedly capable of generating electricity to “trigger” elastin production. Interestingly, RoC Brilliance products cost more but are almost no different from the kits from Aveeno and Neutrogena Clinical.
Here are the basics (albeit confusing, but then this is the crazy world of cosmetics marketing):
-All three brands claim that their duos reduce wrinkles and firm skin by increasing elastin production.
-All three brands have three 2-product sets sold together: one set for the eyes; one for daytime that includes sunscreen and one for nighttime use (this contains a moisturizer with no sunscreen).
-All three sets come with a serum meant to be applied before the coordinating product (eye cream, daytime moisturizer, night cream)
-The minerals in each serum (the ones that are supposed to generate an electrical charge of some kind) from all the brands are identical (copper and zinc); the products paired with them, eye cream, sunscreen, night cream, differ slightly between the brands.
-Neutrogena Clinical and RoC Brilliance have the most similarities, but the RoC sets cost $10 more than Neutrogena Clinical, likely due to RoC’s prestige positioning.
-Strangely, Neutrogena and Roc make claims about the serum needing to be paired with each product to cause an electric charge or pulse while Aveeno's version does NOT make claims of an electric pulse, despite having the same serum and method of application. Instead, they state that the "active naturals" (dill and blackberry) stimulate elastin production in skin.
Obviously, the only real differences are each company’s marketing direction. Neutrogena has the dermatologist-recommended connection, Aveeno plays up their natural ingredients, and RoC has the European allure and professional stance against wrinkles. RoC claims “we keep our promises.” Aside from this marketing sleight of hand, and the emphasis on a different mix of ingredients, there is no independent research showing the micro-current triggering ingredients (the same one in all of these products) can have a visible effect on skin or that other ingredients can’t function the same or even better. The only certainty about these products is you will be seeing lots and lots of ads and press for them!
But back to the claims about the combination of products being able to stimulate elastin repair or produce new elastin. Lots of companies make this claim because producing healthy elastin is important for skin. Elastin fibers provide support and give skin’s its ability to bounce back after being manipulated. As elastin becomes damaged from genetic, environmental (sun exposure) aging, gravity, muscle laxity, fat movement, and hormonal loss it changes skin's structure and the fibers become too weak for skin to snap back as it once did. The result? All of those factors contribute to loss of firmness and sagging skin.
Can Aveeno’s (or Neutrogena’s or RoC’s) kits rescue your skin from sagging? Of course not. Assuming this product could generate more elastin, that is only one aspect of what causes skin to sag and skin-care products can’t change that.
Just like with Neutrogena Clinical and RoC Brilliance, all of the Ageless Vitality products come with a silicone-based gel that contains minerals and vitamin E. In the Neutrogena Clinical sets, this silicone gel is referred to as ion2complex Gel Serum and RoC calls theirs Activating Serum. Aveeno labeled their serum Biomineral Concentrate. Despite the different names and marketing angles, the silicone-based serums from all three brands are identical. As we mentioned, the only difference is marketing, as Neutrogena Clinical and RoC Brilliance make a big deal about the micro-current generated when their silicone gel mixes with the moisturizer with sunscreen. In contrast, Aveeno downplays this feature, instead they play up the natural angle and the angle that the Biomineral Concentrate (you get 4 small tubes of this for a grand total of 0.32 ounce) “recharges” skin’s elasticity (no electrical-current charge is mentioned).
Specifically for Aveeno’s Biomineral Concentrate the marketing spin explains that it is “naturally charged” and, when combined with the moisturizer included in this set, is supposed to restore energy to elastin-deficient skin. Notice in terms of marketing language that restoring energy to elastin-deficient skin isn’t the same as stimulating elastin? If not, take heed: this system’s claims are carefully worded to remain strictly in the cosmetic realm. You may interpret them to mean that your elastin will somehow be improved or be repaired, but that’s not actually what Aveeno is stating.
Biomineral Concentrate contains copper and zinc. There is research pertaining to copper and its dual role in skin: wound healing and altering the matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) that contribute to collagen depletion. Applying ingredients that work against this damage is helpful, but this is not the only way to improve aging skin. Zinc is believed to play a co-factor role with copper when it comes to repairing damaged elastin in skin, but again, it’s not the only game in town and it does not replace anything a cosmetic dermatologist can do to improve skin or other skin-care products can’t provide. (Sources: Connective Tissue Research, January 2010, Epublication; Experimental Dermatology, March 2009, pages 205–211; and Veterinary Dermatology, December 2006, pages 417–423). There is no solid research proving that topical zinc or copper can stop or reverse sagging skin due to elastin damage.
Step 2 in this set is the Rejuvenating Day Moisturizer with SPF 30 (1 ounce). Not surprisingly, this in-part avobenzone sunscreen is a lightweight moisturizer that provides broad-spectrum sun protection. Aveeno’s version is preferred to Neutrogena’s or RoC’s version as there are some key distinctions between them: Neutrogena Clinical’s version lacks the antioxidant plant extracts Aveeno included while RoC’s version contains barely a dusting of antioxidants. However, it is worth noting that the Rejuvenating Day Moisturizer leaves a lingering shiny finish that exaggerates any oily areas.
That’s not to say any of this is useless, though. The daytime moisturizer provides sun protection, which is a critical part of keeping skin looking young and healthy and protecting elastin, but other than feeling very silky and despite containing some intriguing ingredients, it isn’t going to improve sagging skin or get you anywhere close to what Aveeno describes as “dramatic results”. This duo isn’t a face-lift for under $40!
Despite the letdown, there is one ingredient in the Rejuvenating Day Moisturizer SPF 30 that deserves further discussion, and that’s dill extract. There is one study indicating that on human skin samples and on “dermal equivalents” (which is not the same as intact human skin), dill extract has a strong promotional effect on elastogenesis. Elastogenesis is a fancy way of saying it helps make elastin. The study demonstrated that dill stimulates key enzymes in fake skin that trigger elastin production, although no mention was made of dill being able to repair damaged elastin. We also don’t know if dill absorbs into real skin to have a similar impact. Instead, all we know is that dill seems to have this effect on isolated skin cells responsible for elastin production. (Sources: www.naturaldatabase.com; and Experimental Dermatology, August 2006, pages 574–581). It is highly doubtful that the tiny amount of dill extract in this product will lift skin in any manner.