I've been meaning to look at Franbrand, the cosmetics by The Nanny actress 53-year-old Fran Drescher, for some time and have been putting it off because I didn't want to be confronted with yet another mediocre line fronted by a celebrity. Well, I finally took a look and my first reactions was good on ya Fran. She set out to make a line that is good for the buyer and the planet and to a large extent she seems to have succeeded. A deeper dive, however, came up with a few ingredients that she might want to reconsider.

I haven't tried any Franbrand products, but looking at the ingredients and reading some reviews I'd say that the night cream relies on palm and other oils and there is nothing exceptional about it (except the smell, according to some reviewers, and not in a good way).

The Sensational Serum ($32) gets straight to the point with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant aloe and moisturizing hyaluronic acid. But the real mission of Sensational Serum is, I would guess, is to brighten the complexion. It is packed with ingredients that lighten and whiten, but to such an extent that this serum might not suit those of sensitive skin.

A surprising ingredient that is high up the ingredient list is kojic acid. This was used a lot in the 1980s and in Asia as a skin whitener. It works but it is considered to be a severe irritant even at concentrations below its typical 4%. These days there are multiple skin-whitening alternatives to kojic acid, including asafetida, alpha arbutin, gamma oryzanol, and tetrahydrocurcuminoids.

There are four fruit extracts that act as glycolic acids. Along with the kojic acid, these exfoliants will likely do a great brightening job. I suspect horseradish extract is there to do a brightening job as well and this can be an irritant when applied topically.

There is a host of other botanicals as well. One of the most interesting in schisandra. This has been used in Chinese medicine for eons and a Hong King study concluded that schisandra, along with Chinese knotweed, was a more powerful antioxidant than vitamin E.

The jury is out on methylsulfonylmethane. This is a sulfur compound and although sulfur is stored in all our cells, there is not much evidence that it works when applied topically. Still, there is no evidence of toxicity either.For the curious or nerdy amongst us, (2s)-2-amino-5-guanidinopentanoic acid is Arginine, the peptide that inhibits the formation of expression lines.

Given that I am a dermatological princess and pea, I'm not sure that this serum is for me. I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried it though. If anyone does use Franbran's serum, a good sunscreen would recommended after all that kojic and glycolic acid. Not to mention salicylic acid, which is supposed to increase sun sensitivity by as much as 50%.


Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe Vera), Hyaluronic Acid, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Organic Ganoderma Lucidum (Kojic Acid), Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Oil), Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Fragaria Vesca (Strawberry) Fruit Extract. (Glycolic Acids), Proprietary Essential Oil Blend, Acrylates/ C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, (2s)-2-Amino-5-guanidinopentanoic Acid, Organic Salix Lucida (Salicylic Acid), Organic Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice), Organic Melissa Officinalis (Lemon Balm), Organic Panax Ginseng (Chinese Ginseng), Organic Pimpinella Anisum (Anise), Organic Armoracia Rusticana (Horseradish), Organic Schizandra Chinensis (Schisandra), Organic Foeiculum Vulgare (Fennel), Melissa Officinalis (Melissa Essential Oil), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Phenoxyethanol.