Clarins vs. computer at battlefield skin...
Warning! As you read this, invisible waves are hurtling from your computer toward your unsuspecting epidermis, wreaking havoc and, horror!, speeding up wrinkles and fine lines. But don't call to warn your friends; your mobile's in on it as well.
At least, that's what Clarins claims to have discovered during six years of research into pollution and how it affects the skin. Researchers from the brand say that inescapable "artificial electromagnetic waves" emitted by man-made appliances, especially ones that transmit sounds and images, are attacking our faces 24/7, sending free radicals on the rampage, slowing down skin renewal and generally weakening our skin cells' defences against premature ageing. But Clarins has some good news for beauty geeks too...
Clarins Expertise 3P hits shelves around Australia today, and it promises to save the skin from the everyday electromagnetic onslaught with a naturally-based spritz. Big call.
We first heard about Expertise 3P when it launched in the UK and North America earlier in the year blogs started buzzing, boffins started talking, cash registers chimed and general controversy ensued. Okay, so it works like sunscreen, said some. It's rubbish, insisted others.
Now, if anyone wants Expertise 3P to be the real deal, it's an online beauty editor. But are we convinced it's worth $59?
Clarins credits Expertise 3P's protective power to Rhodiola Rosea from most frozen Siberia and Thermus Thermophillus from the deepest, darkest caverns of the ocean. These plants exist "in such hostile environments that they produce their own defensive substances," says Dr Lionel de Benetti, Clarins Director of Research and Development, in the product press release.
Together they form a "Magnetic Defense Complex" for the face, he details:
"We exposed our cell cultures to a frequency of 900 MHz [the frequency most commonly used in communications transmissions] in the presence of these two plant extracts and found that their structures hardly changed!"
Sounds good. Though beautyheaven can't help but wonder how a plant from 2000 meters under sea develops a resistance to these artificial electromagnetic waves. Then again, there was also time that people doubted a skin cream could protect us from the sun (UV rays and daylight are forms of natural electromagnetic energy). And the believers certainly turned out to be right on that one.
Still, some scientists are sceptical about Clarins' claims. UK newspaper The Guardian references Dr Michael Bluck, an engineer from London's Imperial College: "If you were intent on stopping the waves, Bluck explains that you could scatter them with a fine mesh of metal," says the paper. But, short of a chainmail suit, Bluck just doesn't buy that we can deflect the waves, least of all with a cosmetic mist.
But maybe Bluck and I missed the point. Read carefully and you'll see that the Expertise 3P packaging states the spray "protects against the effects of artificial electromagnetic waves [my emphasis]" and Dr de Benetti is quoted in the press release:
"Since these waves can travel through concrete walls, it's obvious that we cannot protect our skin, like we can from UV rays, with a molecule or an ingredient that would act like a shield."
So Expertise 3P is really about helping the skin cope with the damage done by the waves once they've hit, rather than screening against them. And, since we already know that many naturally-derived ingredients can help defuse free radicals and promote cell regeneration, that's not so tough for beautyheaven to believe.
Though a February article in The Toronto Star, written after Expertise 3P's Canadian release, raises a good point:
"... As Toronto dermatologist Dr. Nowell Solish says, it's not that the product doesn't have merit or that artificial pollution isn't a real problem. Rather it is that the amount of science done may not be enough to warrant a direct promotion of Expertise 3P.
'It's not that I don't believe when they put their stuff around those cells that it protects it a bit, but I don't know how much of a difference that makes in real life,' says Solish. There are many differing theories in the scientific community about artificial electromagnetic waves, he adds. 'You can prove a lot of things in a lab.'"
As yet, the results of Clarins' research have not been published in a scientific journal but Clarins does say they will be soon. While the brand's own research is impressive, we'll feel a lot more confident about it when it's backed by independent white coats too.
So, until then, is Expertise 3P worth it? As long as you know what you are buying (a coping strategy) and what you're not (a shield against electromagnetic waves themselves). Plus, light and quickly absorbed, the mist's pretty good for setting make-up too. That's a plus...