It won’t come as much of a surprise that my conclusion when looking at Dr Brandt  Time Arrest Crème de Luxe ($200) was that, typical of so many high end department store brands, there’s way too many non active ingredients to justify the price. Nonetheless, some of the actives piqued my curiosity, especially the acetyl tetrapeptide platinum, tourmaline, bacopa leaf extract and pearl silanois.

My first question was how does a platinum peptide come about. Peptides are long-chain proteins and it seems they are “tethered” to platinum quite frequently for scientists to see how they react against DNA and tumors. As far as I can work out, the peptides are chosen for their cell penetrating, directing or recognizing properties. Presumably then, they act like carriers for the platinum. So what’s the platinum doing?

Platinum can be fabricated into very tiny, complex components. As it is inert, platinum does not corrode inside the body.  But what is really exciting about it and why platinum is used as a cancer therapy, is that it has the ability, in certain chemical forms, to inhibit the division of living cells. And topically applied platinum has been shown to inhibit skin diseases that proliferate from cell to cell. However, I haven’t yet found any research that would confirm that platinum prevents skin aging or repairs existing damage.

The other thing that I’ve heard about is platinum is that has negative ions. I’m not sure if I buy this one, but this is how it goes. Negative ions (hard to come by in our polluted atmospheres) are regarded as an important in health. A new baby’s skin has only 20% positive ions, whereas as we age we accumulate more. Positive ions contribute to skin aging and negative ions temporarily weaken the skin barrier, opening up the skin to make it more receptive to the potion’s other ingredients.

Something similar is said of tourmaline. When tourmaline crystals warm as they are rubbed onto skin, they are supposed to become positively charged on one end and negatively charged on the other. Great claims are made for the effects of this, but substantial evidence of tourmaline’s phenomenol powers on skin appearance is scarce. There's also some research - that I found extremely unconvincing - published in The Journal of Cosmetic Science that claims that tourmaline radiates infra-red rays and this heats the skin (the theory is a bit like crystal or wave therapy and I'm afraid I've never been won over by that stuff) and therefore stimulates the circulation.

Dr Brandt  Time Arrest Crème de Luxe has another ingredient that is new to me, bacopa leaf extract . This plant looks a bit like a water lily, although the two are unrelated. Bacopa extract is mostly sold as a supplement that will “increase your brain power”. Much to my surprise, since that sounded a bit snake oil-ish, there is some research that supports the idea that it boosts cognitive performance in aging brains. More relevant to those in pursuit of an anti-aging skin cream is research that it demonstrated its potential as a natural antioxidant and DNA damage preventing agent.

The fourth key active is potentially the most promising, pearl. Some of the components of pearl can stimulate DNA to promote and accelerate cell renewal. There is not much research to support this, but what there is suggests that it has some benefits as a skin repairer.

So there may be more to platinum and pearl than luxury-sounding additions to justify the $200 price tag of Crème de Luxe. But they remain intriguing rather than completely convincing. And overall, Dr Brandt’s formula has a ratio of fillers and potential irritants that, however good they might be, overwhelms them.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Cyclopentasiloxane, Methylsilanol Hydroxproxyproline Aspartate, C12 15 Alkyl Lactate, Methylsilanol Mannuronate, Triisostearin, Myristyl Myristate, Bacopa Leaf (Bacopa Monnieri) Extract, Tricaprylin, Dimethicone, Caprylyl Trimethicone, Ceteareth 20, Bis Hydroxy Ethoxypropyl Dimethicone, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG 40 Stearate, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Cetyl Lactate, Tourmaline, Hydrogenated Lecithin, C12 16 Alcohols, Palmitic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Laureth 3, Cyathea Medullaris Leaf Extract, Sodium Stearyl Fumarate, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Vitis Vinifera (Grape Fruit Cell Extract, Carbomer, Camellia Olefifera (Green Tea) Extract, Acetyl Tetrapeptide Platinum, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Germ Extract, Allantoin (Comfrey Root), Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Sodium Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Acetyl Dipeptide 1 Cetyl Ester, PEG 8, Methylparaben, Isomalt, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Silanediol Salicylate, Retinyl Acetate (Vitamin A), Lecithin, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Silanetriol, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Triethanolamine, Hydrolyzed Pearl, Sodium Benzoate, Xanthan Gum , Vitis Vinifera (Grape Seed) Extract