Changing Skin Treatment SPF 15 (Discontinued)

$42 - 1 fl. oz.
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Skin Care > Moisturizers (Daytime and Nighttime) > Moisturizer with Sunscreen
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Without question, a woman’s skin experiences undesirable changes during menopause. However, the soy, clover, and wild yam in this product are not the antidotes to the changes menopause causes. In fact, they are fairly useless. There is no research showing that wild yam has any noticeable effect when applied topically on skin. If anything, the studies that do exist demonstrate that topical application of wild yam has little to no effect on menopausal symptoms (Source: Climacteric, June 2001, pages 144–150). More recent studies are scarce because the conclusions reached in earlier research were solid. The research concerning soy’s potential benefit pre- and post-menopause examined oral consumption, not topical application (Source: Even if these plants or any of the other ingredients in this daytime moisturizer with an in-part zinc oxide sunscreen were effective at treating skin changes resulting from menopause, their effectiveness would begin diminishing as soon as you opened this jar-packaged product. Jar packaging does not keep air-sensitive ingredients such as plant extracts or vitamins stable. There’s more bad news, too: This product contains menthol, an irritant that no one’s skin needs, and it doesn’t contain retinol as stated, although even if it did, it wouldn’t remain potent for long because of the jar packaging.
Moisturizing cream specifically formulated to address the key skin care concerns associated with hormonal changes such as dryness, sensitivity and loss of resiliency. Soothing Soy, Clover and Wild Yam botanical extracts help firm and hydrate the skin, counteracting dryness. Pro-Retinol helps condition the skin for a more youthful appearance. Optical diffusers produce a soft-focus effect that helps minimize flaws. Menthol cools skin. Contains SPF 15. Safe for sensitive skin. Fragrance-free. Oil-free.
Active: Octyl Methoxycinnamate (6.5%), Zinc Oxide (5%), Other: Water, Dipropylene Glycol, C12, 15 Alkyl Benzoate, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Stearic Alcohol, Polyacrylamide, Ceteareth-20, Dimethicone, Jojoba Esters, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Clover Extract, Soybean Extract, Wild Yam Extract, Soluble Collagen, Hydrolyzed Elastin, Ceramide 3, Soybean Germ Extract, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Hydrocotyl Extract, Dimethiconol Stearate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Glycerin, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Retinyl Palmitate, Adenosine Triphosphate, Isocetyl Alcohol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Bisabolol, Camellia Sinensis Extract, Heather Extract, Butcherbroom Extract, Epilobium Angustifolium Extract, Butylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Serine, Glycine, Proline, Ornithine, Alanine, Citrulline, Glutamic Acid, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Pca, Dimethicone Copolyol, Meadowfoamate, Ethylene/Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Wheat Germ Glycerides, Peg-8, Lecithin, Palmitoyl Hydroxypropyl Timonium, Amylopectin Glycerin Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Laureth-7, Phospholipids, Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate, Sodium Stearoyl Phthalamate, Menthol, Cyclodextrin, Dmdm Hydantoin, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Trisodium Edta, Yellow 5, Blue 1

Merle Norman opened her first cosmetics studio in Santa Monica, California, in 1931. She believed strongly that women would love her products, if only she could "get them on their faces," and the company's now-famous try-before-you-buy program was launched. To this day, women who visit any of Merle Norman's 2,000 boutiques spread across the United States, Canada, and Mexico can take advantage of the company's product samples before making a purchase.

The free samples are great, but the question is why anyone would be inclined to try Merle Norman skin-care products. Although there have been some improvements since the Cosmetics Cop Team last reviewed this brand, much of what was problematic back then is still around today, and still problematic - and that's not good news for your skin.

Across the board, the biggest issue is jar packaging. Several of the moisturizers didn't receive better than a neutral face rating because they are poorly packaged. For a company claiming to be cutting edge, they somehow missed, or chose to ignore, the research showing how state-of-the-art ingredients deteriorate when exposed to light and air. In addition, repeatedly sticking your fingers into a product isn't sanitary, and further degrades the ingredients. What good is adding a lot of antioxidants and other plant extracts or vitamins to a product if their efficacy is all but gone within a week or two of opening?

There are other weak spots to watch out for, too, especially in the Luxiva Changing Skin and Luxiva Clear Complexion lines. Merle Norman also sells a group of antiquated products that are little more than cold cream and super-greasy moisturizers. These are as far removed as you can get from what we know about what skin needs to look younger and function in a healthy manner. Using many of Merle Norman's products is like using a typewriter instead of a computer.

As far as what's to like, you'll find several well-formulated cleansers and toners, some reliable AHA and BHA products, and an impressive lip balm, and most of the SPF-rated products provide broad-spectrum protection. Ultimately, it wouldn't be wise to try to assemble a comprehensive skin-care routine from Merle Norman, but if you focus on their better products you'll do okay.

For the record, it is perfectly fine to mix Merle Norman products with those from other brands. We doubt you'll get this advice if you visit any of the Merle Norman Studios, but it's true. In fact, this applies to any skin-care brand—what counts is the individual product and how well it's formulated, not the company's predetermined ideas that their products work best if and only if they're used together.

For more information about Merle Norman, call (310) 641-3000 or visit

Note: We know that we've stated for quite some time that the team wouldn't be revisiting this line because of Merle Norman's complete disinterest in helping us get the information we need to review their products accurately. Over the years, my staff has been kicked out of several Merle Norman boutiques, both here in the Seattle area and in other states. As soon as we began taking notes or if we asked too many questions, we were eyed with suspicion and then asked to leave. There are two reasons we changed our mind: (1) our Beautypedia subscribers kept asking us to re-review this brand, and (2) a Merle Norman employee agreed to help us obtain the information we need, as long as she remained anonymous. We wish to extend a sincere thanks to the woman who sent us dozens upon dozens of samples and helped us compile all of the accurate information that made these reviews possible.

Please note: These product prices are in U.S. dollars, and for reasons unknown Merle Norman products are substantially more expensive in Canadian boutiques. Please be aware when shopping that these ratings are a reflection of U.S. prices only.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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