My BS antenna started to quiver the other day when I saw in ad for Elizabeth Arden's new, souped up Prevage Face Advanced Anti-Aging Serum ($155). The Prevage range is big on an antioxidant called idebenone and the new Prevage is no different, except that it now it has an "advanced idebenone technology". Whatever that means. But what piqued my curiosity was the claim that it is "the most powerful antioxidant available today with an EPF rating of 95". Now what might an EPF rating be?

The small print on the ad says that EPF, or Environmental Protection Factor, is the trademark of Pharma Cosmetix Research. I haven't been able to find a website for Pharma Cosmetix Research, but from what I have been able to glean it is based in Virginia, was established in 1999 and has five employees. One of them, Joe Lewis, is the President and CEO and also runs a company called Priori, The Anti-Aging Solution along with a guy called Joseph DiNardo, who used to work for Allergan. Incidentally, (I'm sure not coincidentally) Prevage is a joint venture between Allergan (the makers of Botox and Latisse) and Elizabeth Arden. Priori supplies alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), idebenone and coffeeberry to cosmetics brands including Prevage, MD Formulations and MD Forte.

Nowhere have I found how the Environmental Protection Factor is calculated. However, DiNardo did write a paper in 2005 saying mineral oil doesn't give you zits. Personally, I am willing to consign EPF to the Dept of Daft.

Prevage's claims to be "the most powerful antioxidant available today" turns out to be based on comparisons with alpha lipoic, kinetin, vitamin C, vitamin E and coenzyme Q10. Some researchers beg to differ. Studies published in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found idebenone less effective than Vitamins E and C with ferulic on sun-exposed skin. Another study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology two years later found that red grape antioxidant was also more effective than Idebenone on sun-exposed skin.

Having said that it is still a good antoxidant. Just not the best in the world.