Helen Mirren, who stars in Hitchcock, is said to use 3Lab H Serum ($220). One thing that 3Lab has done well is get an A List of celebrity endorsers – impressively the sort of women who don’t typically put their name to potions and lotions – like the First Lady. Whether Michelle Obama and Helen Mirren have even whiffed the stuff remains to be seen, but they provide a good excuse to look under the hood and see if I should become a 3Lab H Serum groupie too.

After carefully going through the ingredients list, I feel ambivalent at best (which is not really going to motivate me to spend $220). Sure there’s some good, but there’s also bad and even the ugly.

First, there are the kind of solvents and thickening and bulking agents that one often finds in expensive department store brands and make me feel that my money is going to waste. But then there’s two peptides that deserve our attention at least. Oligopeptides 4 and 5 are, as I’ve mentioned before, in most 3Lab products. Oligopeptide 4 may function as a skin whitener, but there is very little information that I can find on either of them.

Just when I’m warming a little to 3Lab with some sodium hyaluronate, they go and spoil things with PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, a plasticizer that is usually used in lip gloss or chemical sunscreen. Then there’s silicone and polymethylmethacrylate, which makes its way into plexiglass, and plenty of other things that are not at all beneficial to the skin.

Then things pick up again with diacetyl boldine, a skin lightener that comes from a Chilean tree and the signature 3Lab growth factor, human oligopeptide-9, which is also in the 3Lab WW Eye Cream, which our reviewer, Cristina, ultimately rejected after testing it a few months ago. 3Lab has a patent on its combination of oligopeptides. However, I could find no information on how well they work, or indeed what they do.

3Lab left me feeling underwhelmed and so I turned to Helen Mirren’s bikini fit body. Now here’s a beauty secret worth knowing. The fit-looking Ms. Mirren claims that she is lazy when it comes to exercise and favors Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plan because it only takes 15 minutes.

I checked it out and this old-school exercise plan was designed in the 1950s for the Royal Canadian Air Force. It’s a series of five exercises for men (called 5BX) and 10 exercises for women (called XBX). The idea is to work all your muscle groups in a short amount of time.

Here’s the XBX plan:

Toe touching/warm-up: 30 seconds

Knee raising: 30 seconds

Arm circling: 30 seconds

Partial sit-ups: 30 seconds

Chest and leg raising: 2 minutes

Side leg raising: 1 minute

Push-ups (from a kneeling position): 2 minutes

Leg lifting: 1 minute

Run and hop: 3 minutes

Ingredients in 3Lab H Serum: Water (Aqua/Eau), Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprate, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, C10-18 Triglyceride, Oligopeptide-4, Oligopeptide-5, Sodium Hyaluronate, PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, C12-20 Acid PEG-8 Ester, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Glucoside, Tocopheryl Acetate, Polymethylmethacrylate, Steareth-2, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Xanthan Gum, Propyl Gallate, Octyldodecyl Behenate, Diacetyl Boldine, Lecithin, Sodium Phosphate, Human Oligopeptide-9, Sodium Chloride, EDTA, Ginko Biloba Leaf Extract, Beta Vulgaris (Beet) Root Extract, Haberlea Rhodopensis Leaf Extract, Yeast Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Citric Acid, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldi- Methyl Taurate Copolymer, Squalane, Polysorbate 60, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydro- Xylitol, Xylitol, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance (Parfum).