Isomers

Isomers At-A-Glance

Strengths: Complete ingredient lists are available on the company's Web site and on shopnbc.com; many fragrance-free products; several products are reasonably priced (but many are overpriced and the price isn't related to the formula, so be careful); some good moisturizers and serums; most products come in packaging that helps keep the light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable.

Weaknesses: An overabundance of antiwrinkle serums, when only one well-formulated product is ever needed; only one sunscreen (that's ridiculous given the number of "antiwrinkle" products they sell); some products contain controversial ingredients, such as the drug teprenone or ingredients said to stimulate human stem cells; the lip-plumping and lash-enhancing products; greasy eye makeup remover; incomplete options for managing acne.

Toronto-based Isomers is a cosmetics company started by a husband and wife team back in 1988, when oversized shoulder pads were still the height of fashion. The husband, Darius Majlessi, is a cosmetic chemist and the wife, Manuela Marcheggiani, had problem skin and couldn't find a solution at the cosmetics counters. Picture a blender (to mix ingredients), textbooks, and a married couple holed up researching ingredients and, voilá, another cosmetics company is born.

Although the company's been around for quite a while now, only recently has it come to prominence (read: consumer awareness beyond Canada's borders), and that's because of their presence on the Web site www.shopnbc.com. This site is NBC's version of QVC or the Home Shopping Network. Apparently, the televised appearances by this line's representatives have spurred many of my readers to write to me, asking if Isomers has the antiwrinkle answer or the solution to their skin-care issues. Ms. Marcheggiani is the spokesperson for the brand, and has the requisite engaging personality that gets viewers to pay attention to her spiel about whatever Isomers skin-care product is being featured. Listening to customer testimonials and watching Marcheggiani nod in agreement, it's not hard to see why curiosity about this line has become so intense. But just like every other skin-care infomercial or overly advertised skin-care product, tread carefully. Remember, the claims and endorsements are nauseatingly redundant, with minor supercilious marketing nuances. In essence, don't pick up the phone on this one; it is no more the answer than the hundreds of other lines carrying on about how unique they are.

Isomers claims to be the ultimate beauty innovator because they set industry standards for producing "functional cosmetics." So, what they're stating is that their products are functional and that everyone else has learned that from them. But even so, if I interpret their claim correctly, a functional product would be a cleanser that cleanses, a moisturizer that moisturizes, and a toner that refreshes skin—hardly an innovative, industry-leading claim, but there you have it. It's like Ford advertising that they manufacture "drivable cars" or that your local grocery store sells "edible food"!

The truth is that Isomers isn't really innovative in the least. In fact, the first words I'd use to describe their products are confusing, excessive, and redundant. Few lines I've ever reviewed sell this many moisturizers and serums claiming to do the exact same thing. Yes, companies like Estee Lauder have an abundance of moisturizers, but at least their formulas and packaging differ, making it relatively easy for consumers to understand which product to use and why. Not so with Isomers. If you're concerned about wrinkles or loss of firmness, you'll be greeted with more serums than even the savviest consumer would know what to do with. And according to the company, all of the products are remarkable, all of them work, and all of them are unique.

Isomers is big on gimmicky and unproven ingredients. It seems they've never met a cosmetic breakthrough they didn't like. I imagine cosmetic raw material salespeople love visiting the Isomers office, because they seemingly say yes to whatever ingredient is being presented, as long as there's an anti-aging story behind it (and believe me, cosmetic ingredient manufacturers have stories upon stories for every single ingredient they sell).

This is especially true for peptides. If there's a peptide that's trendy, Isomers is using it. The lack of substantiated research pertaining to efficacy doesn't seem to matter; as long as the company selling the material says it works, that's all the convincing they seem to need. Isomers is a line busy creating way too many antiwrinkle, anti–puffy eyes, anti–dark circle, anti-sagging, anti-whatever-you-don't-like-about-your-skin products. Enough already, if one product says it can get rid of wrinkles, what are all the other products for? Yes, this was a maddening line to wade through, and the company's Web site was little help in figuring things out. If you visit, tread carefully, as you could easily get lost or end up buying way more products than any one face could possibly need.

I'll preface this by stating that Isomers does have some very good products to consider; the main problem with Isomers is that too many of their anti-aging products leave your skin wanting more. Instead of offering a handful of serums or moisturizers loaded with antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, anti-irritants, and cell-communicating ingredients, Isomers cherry-picks one or two key ingredients and formulates a product around them. Instead of creating one great product with almost everything your skin needs to be healthy, they add only the ingredients necessary for advertising copy. That isn't the best way to take care of skin, at least not if the goal is to get the best, most high-performance skin-care products for your money.

OK, I do have another issue with Isomers, but it's not one that's unique to them. Here's another skin-care line that sells numerous (honestly, I lost count) antiwrinkle serums and moisturizers ... and only one sunscreen. That is just mind boggling for a company claiming to know so much about skin. Really, how seriously can you take a skin-care company that places so little importance on sun protection? The sole sunscreen they sell provides broad-spectrum protection, but I'd rather see Isomers offer too many sunscreens instead of too many serums. At least if all the sunscreens were well-formulated you'd be assured of critical sun protection and a legitimate anti-aging benefit! Isomers has lots of products (and I mean a lot) to offer, but only a fraction of them are worth your attention. With these reviews, I hope your experience with this brand goes smoother than mine did!

For more information about Isomers, call (416) 787-2465 or visit www.isomers.ca.

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