L'Oreal's new Advanced Revitalift Complete Day Lotion ($15.99) is not an easy cream to get to the bottom of. This anti-ager promises to "increase cell turnover, reduce wrinkles, firm skin, and provide 24-hour moisturization". The question is how, and the answer isn't terribly clear.

According to L'Oreal, it does so with fortified Pro-Retinol A®, Pro-Lastyl™. There is retinyl palmitate, a vitamin A that becomes retinol once it has penetrated the epidermis. But nothing seems to give any clues as to the provenance of Pro-Lastyl. I did find a patent application that uses retinyl palmitate and acetyl trifluoromethylphenyl valylglycine (which I think is a synthetic tripeptide and is also listed in the ingredients here) to inhibit facial muscle movement. The only other thing that is in any way convincing is crithmum maritimum, sea fennel and French researchers have pronounced it a “valuable source of antioxidants, particularly chlorogenic acid”.

Not only is that it, but the most of the rest of the ingredients are fairly unpleasant preservatives. Sodium hydroxide is a preservative, of which the  CDC reports that “skin contact with sodium hydroxide can cause severe burns with deep ulcerations. Contact with the eye may produce pain and irritation, and in severe cases, clouding of the eye and blindness.” Solutions as weak as .12% have shown to destruct healthy skin cells within one hour. Then there are estronegic parabens, phenoxyethanol and chlorphenesin, both of which are cited by the FDA as unsuitable for nursing mothers in case of ingestion by the baby, and imidazolidinyl urea can contain formaldehyde.

All four of the perfume additives used here by L'Oreal are known to trigger allergic reactions. While the sunscreen active, octinoxate was shown by a Norwegian study in 2000 produce toxicity on mice at levels much lower that that used in sunscreen.

Active Ingredients:

Ensulizole (1.8%), Octinoxate (7.5%).

Inactive Ingredients:

Water, Cyclohexasiloxane, Glycerin, Triethanolamine, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Polysilicone-8, Silica, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Acetyl Trifluoromethylphenyl Valylglycine, Retinyl Palmitate, Sodium Hydroxide, Polycaprolactone, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Sodium Methylparaben, Chlorphenesin, Methylparaben, Fragrance, Linalool, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Geraniol, Limonene, Coumarin, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Citral.