Age Intervention Face Serum is a water- and oil-based serum that contains some great water-binding agents and lesser amounts of antioxidants. Although it is an option for normal to slightly dry skin, the concerns about long-term application of interferon and hormones remain. Here are the details about these controversial ingredients:
Concerning progesterone, a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (June 1999, pages 1504–1511) states that “In order to obtain the proper (effective) serum levels with use of a progesterone cream, the cream needs to have an adequate amount of progesterone in it [at least 30 milligrams per gram]. Many over the counter creams have little [for example, 5 milligrams per ounce] or none at all.” Marini does not provide information about how much progesterone her products contain.
A double-blind study involving 40 peri- and postmenopausal women using a cream containing 2% progesterone versus one without had some intriguing results: The progesterone cream showed statistically significant increases in skin firmness and elasticity compared to the control, but wrinkle depth changed little (Source: The British Journal of Dermatology, September 2005, pages 626–634). Unfortunately, the Age Intervention products with progesterone do not appear to contain anywhere close to that amount, so the same results are unlikely.
Estradiol is definitely unique to Marini products. The body produces three main forms of estrogen—estrone, estradiol, and estriol—and estradiol is the most physiologically active form. One study revealed that topical application of estradiol has photoprotective properties due to its anti-inflammatory nature, while another small-scale study showed that topical application of 0.01% estradiol had collagen-stimulating effects on postmenopausal skin (Sources: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, August 22, 2006, pages 12837–12842; and European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology, February 2007, pages 202–205). However, as a component of estrogen, it is not without its risks and unknowns.
Decreased production of estrogen by the ovaries can lead to symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, urinary tract infections, depression, and irritability. Estrogen replacement can help relieve these symptoms. Although estrogen offers many benefits, it is not indicated for everyone and women should evaluate their individual risks versus benefits with their physician or health-care provider. Whether or not natural estrogens are safer than other forms has not been well-researched, and the FDA considers the claims and safety of cosmetics containing them to not be proven.
Interferon refers to any in a group of soluble glycoproteins known to have antiviral activity. Specific types of interferon include alpha interferon (the kind in this product) and gamma interferon. It is produced naturally by immune cells when the body is under attack by viruses or bacteria, and can also be delivered topically or via injection. Although interferon and its derivatives have established pharmacological benefit when applied topically, the conditions it is useful for have nothing to do with aging, at least not in terms of making skin firmer, preventing sagging, or changing hormonal levels. Further, when interferon is used via prescription, its dosage and use are scheduled and controlled. There may be risks with applying a skin-care product with an unknown amount of interferon every day.
In summation, applying hormones and interferon topically to skin is something we strongly suggest should not be taken lightly. These are not benign cosmetic ingredients, and there is limited research establishing either benefits or risks for peri- and postmenopausal skin.