bionova nose-to-mouth wrinkle treatment

There are 170 ingredients in Bionova Nose-to-Mouth Wrinkle Treatment with UV Chromophores ($66). This seems like about 150 more than is necessary. I imagined some over-excited chemist tossing and hurling actives around like the Swedish chef in The Muppets. However, my curiosity was ignited. What would all these ingredients do? And for someone who believes in targeting one’s potions, a nose-to-mouth cream isn’t something to sniff at. I wanted a closer look.

Reading parts of Bionova’s humungous ingredients list is like reading a Scrabble dictionary, a tome that has in my (grumpy) opinion succumbed to permitting partial words (like ‘ta’ and ‘eh’, to which I can only respond eh?). Take gly-gly-gly, for example. Or glys-hys-lys. Or ala-ala-lys. Or Tyr-lle-Gly-Ser-Arg. The latter sounds like comic strip speak for choking.

Actually it is a chain of amino acids, forming a peptide. As are the others mentioned above. There’s research on them inhibiting tumors and they are probably useful in a nose to throat cream. I’d even go so far as suggesting that Scrabble should permit all these gly-gly-glys. Perhaps I’ll write in.

Allow me this whimsical digression, as it is exhausting trying to assimilate 170 anti-aging ingredients in one shot. There are many ingredients in Bionova Nose-to-Mouth that I hadn’t heard of and needed to do some research on. Here’s a sampling. Morin is a flavonoid (antioxidant), pyridoxal-5-phosphate (an active form of vitamin B), cis-9,12-trilinolein (not sure). There isn’t much — if any — information on uses in skin care. They do turn up (along with the gly-gly-glys) on the website of Sigma-Aldrich, a chemical and biochemical manufacturer. It is looking as if Bionova bought up their entire catalogue.

It makes one relieved to see retinyl palmitate and niacinamide. And my friends, the phospholipids (moisture retainers) are here as well, although disguised by their chemical subdivisions.

After all this, it’s a wonder that Bionova feels the need for a secret sauce. UV Chromophores is incorporated into the names of many of its products. What could this be? Sunscreen? It turns out that this is no SPF (indeed, you won’t find any in a Bionova product), but all those aforementioned amino acids and fatty acids that work with the body’s “natural ability against radiation.” In a press release, Bionova goes a lot further than most cosmetic companies in saying that SPF can do more harm than good. I have discussed some of these issues in the past and have some sympathy with Bionova’s approach.

Another unusual approach: 170-odd ingredients and nary a plant extract in sight. Not one. Indeed, Bionova’s mantra is “eat plants, don’t wear them.” All these proteins, gly-gly-glys, cholesterol, vitamins and so on are meant to represent all the components in our bodies — at the same ratios. Green tea is not a human component, so no green tea extract (one of the cosmetic industry’s most ubiquitous actives) for Bionova.

Of course, there are a fair few things in the product — fragrance, preservative, silicone and other departments — that are not natural components of our bodies and, disappointingly, they are the top 20 ingredients.

Still the Bionova approach is an interesting one. I might just give my nose-to-mouth a chance to test it out. If anyone has tried this brand, I’d love to hear from you.