Natural Advantage by Jane Seymour

Natural Advantage by Jane Seymour At-A-Glance

Strengths: The company provides complete ingredient lists on their Web site; good cleanser; two viable retinol products in stable packaging; those with normal to dry skin will find some reliable options.

Weaknesses: Expensive for what you get; irritating toner and scrub; no AHA or BHA products; no anti-acne or skin-lightening products; limited options for all skin types, especially for normal to oily skin; only one sunscreen, and it contains a low level of UVA-protecting titanium dioxide; moisturizers with jar packaging.

Does Jane Seymour, the actress known for playing the lead on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, know what's best for your skin? Guthy-Renker, the company that distributes Natural Advantage (along with ProActiv and Principal Secret) seems to think so. Judging by the number of requests we've received to review this line, Seymour's infomercial has stirred quite a bit of interest. (It's true that celebrities always pique our interest and that their endorsements do, more often than not, generate sales.)

If some of my longtime readers are feeling a sense of déjà vu about this line, you're intuition is correct—we reviewed it back in January 2001, when Kathie Lee Gifford was the spokesperson. At some point, their association (that is, between Kathie Lee and Natural Advantage) was dropped, and Jane Seymour was contracted to lend her endorsement. Dr. Patricia Farris, the dermatologist originally associated with this line, is still on board, and joins with Seymour to elaborate on the company's tag line of "Wisdom Comes with Age ... Wrinkles Don't Have To." we agree 100% that wrinkles (at least those from sun damage) don't have to come with age, but all of us will endure wrinkles to some extent because of what we didn't know (or didn't pay attention to) about sun protection, and there is no skin-care product that can truly alter that reality.

Although the Natural Advantage infomercial exaggeration is present in all its absurdity and deception, it is nonetheless encouraging that a line geared toward women concerned with wrinkles has a product that contains sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection (although it's less ideal than many others) along with stably packaged retinol products.

Interestingly (or perhaps it's discouraging, depending on your point of view), three of the Natural Advantage products that we reviewed several years ago are still in the line. And we can assure you that Jane Seymour, despite being an attractive woman whose acting ability creates ample enthusiasm for these products, had nothing to do with formulating any of them. She's merely the face of the brand, because Guthy-Renker knows celebrities sell products. In an effort to illustrate this point further, think of whether or not you'd be as intrigued by Principal Secret if well-known actress Victoria Principal weren't involved, or if you'd consider ProActiv without the endorsement of Vanessa Williams or pop star Jessica Simpson?

Dr. Farris adds her medical perspective, but as a dermatologist specializing in the treatment of aging skin, it is disappointing that she isn't aware of (or decided not to bother with) the problem jar packaging presents or that there are many anti-aging ingredients other than retinol (though retinol is certainly a prime choice and has lots of research to support its use as part of an anti-aging skin-care routine).

As usual with infomercial lines from Guthy-Renker, you get a better deal if you sign up for the company's club program. As a member, you enjoy lower prices on all products, automatic shipments of the items you use most, and the ability to customize your kit. The original three-step kit is still around, and includes cleanser, daytime moisturizer with sunscreen, and moisturizer with retinol. Two of these products have drawbacks, including price (whether you're a club member or not) and formulary concerns. However, the introductory cost is quite a deal, which is why many women try these products.

If you elect to try them, we encourage you to make it a one-time investment until you know for certain you like the products. Otherwise, the company has you commit to a shipment schedule and automatic billing to take advantage (pun intended) of the low price for the starter kit. The Customer Service staff members at Natural Advantage are quite adept at overcoming your objections to joining the club and agreeing to automatic shipments, so an assertive attitude on your part is a must. For those who don't want to deal with any of this potential frustration, fear not: Natural Advantage offers not a single product that cannot be found in many other lines (and the other lines often have better formulas, lower prices, or both).

For more information about Natural Advantage by Jane Seymour, call (877) 435-7383 or visit www.naturaladvantage.com.

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