Is Costly Skin Care Worthwhile?

I keep seeing anti-aging face creams that cost well into the thousands of dollars. What is in these products that make them worth so much?

– January 20, 2006

Some of the skin-care products on the market today are phenomenally expensive, particularly those claiming to have anti-aging effects. Some are priced as high as $500 per ounce.

Supposedly, the high prices are justified by the cost of the rare and exotic ingredients they contain. Manufacturers also say that they’re passing along to the consumer some of the costs of scientific research aimed at developing extravagantly expensive anti-aging formulas. My view is that most of these products are bogus and have no anti-aging effects at all.

The best ways to maintain skin health aren’t very glamorous and certainly aren’t overly costly: good nutrition, adequate intake of both water and essential fatty acids, and daily use of a good antioxidant multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. Beyond that, I recommend avoiding excessive use of soaps and skin irritants and protecting the skin from the sun, which causes cumulative damage that eventually shows up as wrinkles, age spots or other discolorations.

Another root cause of aging and deteriorating skin health is inflammation, which is often imperceptible, but can result in such skin problems as sensitivity, puffiness, extreme dryness, hyperpigmentation, lines, and wrinkles.

I recently helped create a new line of skin care products for Origins that addresses this problem. These are principally mushroom-based creams that include a variety of other anti-inflammatory ingredients such as ginger, turmeric, holy basil, resveratrol, and argan nut oil. These ingredients won’t turn back the clock but can maximize the skin’s defenses against aging without emptying your wallet.

I donate all of my after-tax profits from the sales of these products to the Weil Foundation, which supports integrative medicine programs around the country.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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