First a bit of background: Aveeno, RoC, and Neutrogena are all owned by Johnson & Johnson. Each brand sells a group of 2-product kits based on J&J’s new technology that’s supposedly capable of generating electricity to “trigger” elastin production. 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 3 duo 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. 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 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 structure so the fibers become too weak for skin to snap back as it once did. 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 I mentioned, the only difference is marketing, as Neutrogena Clinical and RoC make a big deal about the micro-current generated when their silicone gel mixes with the moisturizer. In contrast, Aveeno downplays this feature. Instead, they play up the natural angle and that the Biomineral Concentrate (you get 4 small tubes for a grand total of 0.32 ounce) “recharges” skin’s elasticity (no electrical-current charge is mentioned).
When combined with the moisturizer included in this set, the result 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 Restorative Night Cream (1 ounce). It differs from the Night Activating Cream included with Neutrogena Clinical’s Facial Lifting Wrinkle Treatment Night, as well as from the Night Recharging Crème in RoC’s Brilliance set. Aveeno’s nighttime version has a lighter texture but with a more substantial mix of emollients for dry skin.
Back to the anti-aging claims: there is no substantiated research proving that this duo will work as claimed. If anything, despite two products with impressive textures, both formula lack a range of ingredients research has proven are beneficial for aging skin. Although all things mineral seem to grab consumer’s attention these days, the Biomineral Concentrate isn’t going to lift sagging skin or get you anywhere close to what Aveeno describes as “dramatic results”. This duo isn’t an overnight face-lift for under $40!
Despite the letdown, there is one ingredient in the Restorative Night Cream that deserves further discussion, and that’s dill. 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 elastin synthesis. The study demonstrated that dill stimulates key enzymes in skin that trigger elastin production, although no mention was made of dill being able to repair damaged elastin. Still, all we know is that dill seems to have this effect on isolated skin cells responsible for elastin production, which doesn’t translate to your skin (Sources: www.naturaldatabase.com; and Experimental Dermatology, August 2006, pages 574–581). Moreover, the tiny amount of dill used in this product is unlikely to have any impact whatsoever. It is also important to keep in mind that elastin damage is only one small part of why skin sags as we get older. Sadly, this duo isn’t the big breakthrough it’s made out to be. In all likelihood, you will have better results with a well formulated moisturizer or serum; any of those rated Paula’s Picks will suffice and are worth considering over this set.
One final comment: Restorative Night Cream contains the sensitizing preservative methylisothiazolinone. This preservative is recommended only at very low dosages when used in leave-on products due to its sensitizing potential (Sources: Actas Dermo-safiliograficas, January-February 2009, pages 53–60; and Contact Dermatitis, July 1999, pages 1–13). Generally, this isn’t the preservative you’d want to use in facial products designed to be left on skin, but it does appear Aveeno is following concentration guidelines established by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (Source: www.cosmeticinfo.org).