Nu Skin

Nu Skin At-A-Glance

Strengths: Workable AHA and BHA products; some state-of-the-art moisturizers and serums; several products are fragrance-free; almost all sunscreens include sufficient UVA protection, and most have impressive levels of antioxidants; good lip gloss, sheer powder blush, and makeup brushes.

Weaknesses: Expensive; drying cleansers; irritating toners; Tri-Phasic White products do not noticeably improve skin discolorations; unimpressive masks and "spa-at-home" products; claims are too far from reality; several categories of Nu Skin's makeup are resounding disappointments, including foundation, concealer, and eyeshadows; the brow pencil; the Eyelash Treatment product; average lipsticks.

With over 75,000 enthusiastic distributors, Nu Skin pledges to provide products that contain "all of the good, none of the bad." Of course, this same marketing tactic is used by numerous other cosmetics companies, almost always with little to no substantiation for the claim. And just how Nu Skin went about separating the good from the bad ingredients isn't explained, so you're left to take their word for it, which is, as experience has proved, not always the best approach.

Before we go further into a discussion about the ingredients Nu Skin uses (and they do have some remarkable products), it deserves mention that they are a direct sales company that has been around since 1984. Their product line goes beyond skin care and makeup, encompassing a broad range of personal care and nutrition products, all promising to fulfill the needs of a broad range of consumers while being financially rewarding for the independent distributor. Depending on who you meet with about Nu Skin's person-to-person marketing, the experience will either be your standard at-home cosmetic presentation or a hard sell (and we mean a really, really hard sell) to become a distributor.

In either case, expect to hear repeatedly about how using Nu Skin products are superior and (again depending on the verve of the distributor) potentially life-changing on all fronts. Suffice to say, there isn't enough room in this book to discuss the myriad claims made for every Nu Skin product. However, what you need to know is that, like almost every cosmetics line out there, Nu Skin has its share of good and unfavorable products. It's also important to note that their skin-care systems are not interdependent; that is, there's no reason you can't combine a Nu Skin serum with a sunscreen from Estee Lauder and a cleaner from Pond's, or whichever brand you choose. What counts are the product formulations, which brings us back to Nu Skin's big claim of using only good ingredients while omitting the bad ones.

There are plenty of good ingredients in these products, including natural ones such as willow herb, panthenol, shea butter, and lactic acid. Lots of good synthetic ingredients show up, too, such as various silicones, preservatives (including parabens, yet Nu Skin makes no mention of the controversy surrounding parabens, though they have yet to be proven problematic in the amounts found in skin-care products), and film-forming agents (synthetic hair-spray ingredients). The reason not to take Nu Skin's ingredient boast at face value is twofold. First, it doesn't take into account how an individual may react to an ingredient. For example, a sunscreen active such as octinoxate can be considered good if your skin tolerates it. But someone whose skin reacts negatively to this active wouldn't consider it good for them, and it's not a "good" ingredient when it's the sole active because it leaves skin vulnerable to UVA damage (for the record, every Nu Skin sunscreen provides sufficient UVA protection).

Second, there's the fact that Nu Skin uses a handful of ingredients that published research has shown are definitely bad. Examples include their cleanser with sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate, volatile fragrant oils (including lavender), witch hazel, and camphor. None of these ingredients is helpful for skin, yet they show up in Nu Skin products, which certainly damages their "don't worry, our products are great for your skin" assertions.

In terms of great products, Nu Skin has always had its share. You'll find some formidable serums, a beautifully formulated cleanser, a selection of very good moisturizers, and sunscreens that go beyond simply shielding skin from the sun. As long as you can keep things in perspective and don’t get swept up by the more grandiose claims made for this line, it is definitely one to shop should the opportunity present itself.

For more information about Nu Skin, call (800) 487-1000 or visit www.nuskin.com.

Nu Skin Makeup

Nu Colour is the name of Nu Skin's makeup, and if you were hoping that the "Nu" would translate into "new" as in product innovation and textural elegance, you might as well keep shopping elsewhere. This small but comprehensive collection of makeup has some credible formulas, but completely misses the boat (the entire ocean, for that matter) when it comes to effective sun protection and skin-true colors for foundations. Nu Skin plays up their assertion that each product is really skin care masquerading as makeup, and although several items do contain antioxidants and soothing plant extracts or water-binding agents, the amount of these ingredients present in most of the makeup is trivial, and doesn't compensate for the uninspired to downright embarrassing products. If you're already a fan of Nu Skin's skin care and want to dip your toes into the color pool, stick with their powder blush, lip gloss, and makeup brushes to not only get your money's worth but also to avoid dissatisfaction.

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