Is £300 wrinkle busting body cream the most shameless beauty rip-off yet?
16:00 EST, 17 June 2012
17:08 EST, 17 June 2012
As if the tyranny of Botox, lasers, surgery and high-end face creams containing God knows what ‘miracle’ ingredient, isn’t enough, it seems we have entered a new era in the fight against ageing. Enter the 300 anti-wrinkle body cream.
Yes, it seems that it’s no longer enough to slather expensive lotions, masks and serums on our face, we now need to do the same to our bodies, presumably in the hope that ‘skin-firming’ ingredients will magically stop our knees from sagging and our breasts from drooping.
Heaven forbid we let gravity take its course! It must be tackled head on with a credit card. Who cares about debt when we’ve got an ageing body to fix?
Dr Sam Bunting recommends people use 30ml of a body moisturiser every day to ensure comprehensive coverage
Perhaps unsurprisingly it was Creme de la Mer (famous for its 530 face cream) who brought the trend to the fore, with its recently launched Reparative Body Lotion, costing a whopping 120 for 200ml.
To work out how long that would last you, cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting says she usually recommends people use 30ml of a body moisturiser every day to ensure comprehensive coverage. So if you were to apply Creme de la Mer according to Dr Bunting’s stipulations, you’d get through an entire tube of the 120 lotion every week. It’s by no means the only new premium body cream — nor, incredibly, the priciest. Japanese brand Kanebo has brought out Sensai Premier The Body Cream, which costs 300 for 200ml.
But most expensive of all is Sisleya Anti-Ageing Concentrate Firming Body Care from Sisley, which costs 265 for a smaller 150ml pot. If used according to Dr Bunting’s instructions, this would last just five days! For this price, the manufacturers claim the product will ‘firm skin’, ‘smooth fine lines’ and ‘reduce dimpling’ within four weeks — but by this time, of course, you would have spent 1,590.
Sensai Premier body cream, 300, Kanebo
Other brands promoting premium new body creams include Carita, whose anti-ageing Perfect Cream for Body costs a whopping 195 for 200ml, Decleor Youth Revealing Body Cream, 65 for 200ml, and Bioeffect, 80 for 75ml. Of course, these pricey formulations feel wonderful, but do we really need anti-wrinkle creams for our arms and legs, saggy tums and wobbly thighs?
Do they even work? Or is this the latest example of beauty anxiety gone mad, with companies quick to capitalise on the ever growing insecurity women feel about their bodies?
Dermatologist Nick Lowe doesn’t pull any punches. ‘Women should never spend 300 on any cream — and creams should never cost that much. It’s ridiculous, and these creams make ridiculous claims. It makes me very angry. The reason they cost that much is nothing to do with the cream — it’s just marketing, packaging and, dare I say it, profits.
Moisturiser traps water in skin cells, stopping it from evaporating and causing flaking
The gimmick — say the gold or caviar they contain — won’t do anything for your skin. All creams can do is moisturise, provide sun protection if they contain SPF and give a more even tone. And you can get a product that will do all of that for less than 50.
‘The best thing you can do to stop your body ageing is invest in an SPF from Boots, which will cost you about 10. You need to use it only for the parts that are out in the sun. Non-surgical procedures can help regenerate the skin, but a cream will never sort out wrinkled knees or saggy elbows.’
Dr Bunting is equally emphatic: ‘In my opinion, body creams don’t need to be expensive,’ she says. ‘The
skin on your body is not exposed to the same UV damage that your face
is. Unless you have a specific skin condition, what’s needed is simple
moisturisation. Dry skin on the
body is frequently a consequence of washing with a soap-based cleanser
in hot water for overly long periods of time.
‘Switching to a soap-free product and
having brief, cooler showers can make a big difference. Moisturiser
doesn’t need to cost more than 8 — what’s important is to use plenty of
product. Sagging above the knees
and elbows is usually due to the loss of the skin’s elastic recoil,
which is part of the ageing process.
THE CREAM OF THE CROP
From left: Reparative lotion, 120, Creme de la Mer, EGF serum, 80, Bioeffect
From left: Youth Revealing body cream, 65, Decleor, Perfect Cream, 195, Carita
Sisleya Anti-Ageing Concentrate Firming Body Care, 265, Sisley
‘Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any topical product that can restore this. Many products create a temporary tightening effect by forming a film over the skin, but the best approach is to protect the skin from the sun, stop smoking and avoid rapid fluctuations in weight.’
So why are companies bringing out such expensive products? Well, because there is a demand for them. Our insatiable desire to turn back the clock means that even in the current economic climate, sales of anti-ageing products are booming. In 2009, the anti-ageing beauty market was worth 513.8 million in the UK. This year, it rose to 619.3 million. By 2016, research company Euromonitor predicts it will reach 751.1 million.
The average woman’s beauty regime involves layering our faces with serums and eye creams, primers and neck creams, moisturisers and sunscreens — a world away from the simple dollop of cold cream used by our mothers and grandmothers. So far, our bodies have escaped intense attention, apart from reasonably priced exfoliating creams and body moisturisers, but beauty companies, it seems, have realised there are yet more profits to be made out of women’s insecurities.
‘It’s all part of a calculated, cynical ploy,’ says the feminist campaigner Susie Orbach, author of Fat Is A Feminist Issue. ‘Companies make women think that by spending money on these things they are somehow looking after themselves. But what’s happening is that no one is allowed to look their age any more. Six-year-olds are dressed up like 18-year-olds, while 70-year-olds are made to feel they should look like they’re 26. What’s wrong with wrinkles? Nothing, but we are being made to feel as if there is. It’s hateful.’
Wrinkle picker: Olay’s Professional
anti-wrinkle kit sold out in 39 minutes in Boots
Research shows that 90 per cent of women feel body-image anxiety, and it doesn’t seem to wane as we age. According to an investigation by the Centre for Appearance Re-search at the University of the West of England, even women in their 80s are anxious about their bodies. Companies such as L’Oreal have got into trouble for creating unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved by a face cream, after using airbrushed images in their ad campaigns.
So are these creams heaping yet more pressure on women to spend money on something — the passing of time — that can never be cured? To the beauty industry, the emergence of these creams is a much more straight- forward business. If you ask the companies why they are launching these products, they will give you a simple answer: because customers want them.
‘I’m certain we’ll be seeing a lot more super-luxury body creams coming on to the market,’ says Imogen Matthews, a beauty industry expert who specialises in premium beauty trends. ‘Who will buy them? The kind of woman investing 200 in a facial moisturiser is unlikely to skimp on her bodycare. If she believes a product works for her face, she’s likely to buy a body cream by the same brand.’
Indeed, there’s a story that’s been doing the rounds in the beauty industry about a woman who used to go into Harrods every few weeks and buy a large pot of Creme de la Mer’s facial moisturiser for around 500. Eventually, the sales assistant felt compelled to ask why she needed so much of the cream. It turned out the lady liked her masseur to use this premium face cream for body massages. The beauty industry is banking on more of us shelling out on similar extravagance — and, apparently, we already are. Bioeffect, the Icelandic anti-ageing face serum based on the skin-rejuvenating ingredient ‘epidermal growth factor’ or EGF, is launching an ‘age-defying body serum’ because customers were applying the face serum to their body.
‘We noticed that as customers experienced the documented effects of our Bioeffect EGF serum, they increasingly started applying it to other parts of the body for the same benefits,’ says Christoffer Konigsfeldt, the company’s UK sales director. ‘The top application areas included the decolletage, neck, hands, elbows and knees. We have spent the past year creating Bioeffect Body Intensive. At the centre of the formulation is our Nobel-prize winning ingredient EGF, which is clinically proven to combat the signs of ageing quickly and effectively.’
It is the same story throughout the beauty business. ‘We noticed the trend for anti-ageing body treatments in our spas over the past few years and there is a demand for premium anti-ageing body products to use at home,’ says Carolyn Taylor, managing director of skincare brands Carita and Decleor.
But you will need to use the product religiously to get the best results. As Lionel de Benetti, president and CEO of Clarins, said at the launch of his company’s Extra Firming skincare range: ‘If you’d been prescribed a drug, you would need to use it every day without fail in order to see best results. The same is true of skincare products.’
So would you want to spend 1,000 a month to keep your body looking young? I think we all know the answer to that question. Dr Bunting says that if you really want to invest in these pricey creams, use them sparingly and only on the chest and hands.
‘The hands and decolletage tend to be exposed to the sun almost as much as the face,’ she says. ‘They are less protected by make-up and skincare routines, which usually contain some sun protection. In these areas, use a regime similar to the one you use on your face. But again, the only products worth spending a bit more on are those with scientifically proven ingredients in sufficient quantities to have an effect.
‘By all means spend a lot on a body cream if you want to, but realise that what you are paying for is the packaging, the advertising and a “luxury” experience — you are not buying a miracle.’
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Is £300 wrinkle busting body cream the most shameless beauty rip-off yet?
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