Is Hollywood at war with the cosmetic industry?

 In "Catwoman," Halle Berry has a customer complaint...

 ...about CEO Sharon Stone's salve.

 Yet she is still tempted by some free samples in a designer bag.

Both "Catwoman" and "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" feature wrinkle creams that go bad. No, we're not talking left in the sun, spoiled and growing fuzzy creepy mold bad, but bioterror/Armageddon bad. Halle Berry's superheroine saga "Catwoman" pits Berry's claws against movie siren Sharon Stone, head of a greedy cosmetics corporation. Women using Stone's salve become makeup addicts. If they dare to stop their beauty regimen, a chain reaction ensues. The cosmetics line exfoliates their skin--to the bone. Not what one would call a cute look.

 The trailer for "Resident Evil: Apocalypse"...

 ...Looks like an infomercial for an anti-aging cream...

 ...Until side effects occur!

 Milla's not buying.

And what about the latest in the horror franchise that so many of us have begged Tinseltown to produce? Yes, we're talking about "Resident Evil: Apocalypse," which also revolves around a malicious wrinkle cream. Action amazon Milla Jovovich battles zombies created by a bad moisturizer. This corporate product first removes fine lines, but then results in a cadaverous appearance that's so last month. Rotten skin rather than wrinkle removal? Talk about false advertising.

In the old days, movie bad guys shot pistols and wore black hats. Now they sell cosmeceuticals of mass destruction. What has the beauty industry done to deserve movie villain status? The last decade has seen the proliferation of countless topical ingredients touted as the next anti-aging panacea. Yet do these treatments work? Is it possible those in Tinseltown, like many consumers, are frustrated by flooding fountains of youth creams? Is Hollywood at war with the cosmetic industry?'s Dr. Vail Reese took a minute to chat with Dr. Leslie Baumann, dermatologist and head of the University of Miami Cosmetic Center, about the latest in rejuvenating creams.


Dr. Reese: The recent movies "Catwoman" and "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" both feature cosmetics corporations that are inherently evil. Any idea for the reason behind this Hollywood backlash against cosmeceuticals?

Dr. Baumann: There are several companies that make unfounded claims about their products. While this is not "evil," it does take advantage of the consumer. Luckily, most of the larger well known companies do not fall into this category. In fact, they police each other to make sure that the claims are backed up by research. The large companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, LVMH, Johnson and Johnson, and L'Oreal spend tens to hundreds of millions of dollars a year researching their products and make their claims accordingly. It is many of the smaller companies that consumers should be wary of. A well known product recently made over one hundred million dollars without any data to support its claims!

 Miami dermatologist Leslie Baumann, expert on cosmeceuticals


Dr. Reese: The efficacy of certain topical supplements are well established: Retinoids, vitamin C, alpha and beta hydroxy acids. Of the many that remain, which ingredients have shown to be of benefit?

Dr. Baumann: My personal favorites are these antioxidants that help prevent aging: green tea, pycogenol (pine bark extract), pomegranate extract, coenzyme Q10, grape seed extract, lycopene, and idebenone.


Dr. Reese: Many topical creams and masks advertise food ingredients: pomegranate, pumpkin, avocado, carrot. Is there data to suggest that edible materials have topical value? Is this science or merely marketing?

Dr. Baumann: There is good science to show that antioxidants, when stable and absorbed, can prevent wrinkles and skin cancer. I have not seen data on avocado or carrot but have seen good data on pomegranate and grape seed extract. Food high in antioxidant capacity such as cranberries, strawberries and blueberries would likely be useful topically as well. The problem is making sure they are stable (have good shelf life), don't cause irritation, and are absorbed into the skin.


Dr. Reese: Why do some people rely on untested, unregulated "natural" products and avoid FDA regulated pharmaceuticals?

Dr. Baumann: People have the mistaken belief that natural or organic products are somehow better. While this may be true when talking about foods, it is not true at all when talking about cosmetics. This is because there is no defined meaning of "organic" or "natural" for cosmetics. There are no regulations that must be met for "certified organic" seals as there are with foods. These "natural" ingredients often require the addition of preservatives, which can cause skin allergy and irritation.


 Action star Milla Jovovich appears shocked to learn that some cosmeceuticals lack data

It is important to remember that the FDA regulates topical products as either cosmetics or drugs. Cosmetics do not have to undergo any testing before being allowed to go on the market. Companies can get into trouble if they claim that a cosmetic has a biologic effect, or that it really changes the skin in some way. For this reason, companies have to make claims that say that a cream "stops aging in its tracks" instead of saying that the cream "increases the skin cell's production of collagen". If a cream is shown to have a biologic action, it should technically be regulated as a drug. This approval process can cost the company millions of dollars. For this reasons, many companies imply the claims and do not do the research. On the other hand, approved pharmaceuticals have stood up to the rigorous testing standards required by the FDA to prove that a product works. For example, a consumer might spend $100-$300 on a face cream (and many do!) that has not been proven to work when they could spend $90 on Avage, or Renova which are FDA approved as a treatment for wrinkles! For this reason, consumers would benefit by using the prescription creams.


Dr. Reese: Cosmetic sales people and spas generally recommend a series of products used together to enhance skin. What do you recommend for basic skin care?


 Dr. Baumann: A sunscreen, and a retinoid such as Retin A, Renova, Tazarac, Avage, or Differin. These topical vitamin A derivatives have both been PROVEN to prevent aging. For dry skin types I suggest a good inexpensive cleanser and moisturizer. I would not spend more than $20 on each of these.


 Milla does not appear to have a dry skin type.


Dr. Reese: StriVectin is a cream that's been marketed with the slogan: "Better than Botox?" Is it?

Dr. Baumann: Absolutely not. First, there is no clinical research trial comparing the two. Second of all, the peptides found in this product are also found in Olay Regenerist which is much cheaper. Third, unlike Botox, these peptides have not been shown to decrease muscle contractions and smooth wrinkles in well designed clinical trials. StriVectin is an example of marketing versus science: Lots of marketing and minimal science.


Dr. Reese: Before we sign off, are there any disclaimers our visitors need to know?

Dr. Baumann: Many. I have worked for the following, either doing clinical trials, advisory boards, or speaker's bureaus: Johnson and Johnson (Neutrogena, Aveeno), Vichy, Unilever, Avon, Medicis, Inamed, Dermik, Allergan, Stiefel, Philosophy, Topix, Galderma, and Ligand.

Dr. Reese: Whew! With all that work, I hope they give you some time off. Favorite film this year?

Dr. Baumann: "Something's Gotta Give." Jack Nicholson is hilarious! It looks like Diane Keaton has been using her Retin A and sunscreen! Her skin looks great!!

Final disclaimer: We at are not aware of any cosmetic cream that turns people into zombies. But we'll keep you posted.

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