I was intrigued by L'Oreal Age Perfect Pro-Calcium Radiance Perfector Sheer Tint Moisturizer ($8.99 at Amazon.com and normally about $18.99) because of the reference to calcium. I've heard all about calcium deficiencies in relation to aging bones and make sure that I do plenty of resistance exercises and that, at a minimum, I consume a daily dose of yogurt. But aging skin and calcium, that was a new one. Was L'Oreal just playing on our fears or just hoping that we'd see the label and remember vaguely that we need more calcium?

I nipped over to the L'Oreal website to discover that Diane Keaton is the face L'Oreal. Now that I like. She's quirky, original and not afraid to smile through crow's feet. Actually she signed up for the job in 2006, so I've obviously been living in a box for the last couple of years. It also turns out that there is a whole range of L'Oreal Pro-Calcium products that are aimed at "mature, fragile skin". They claim, in particular, to deal with age spots and hyperpigmentation.

The key ingredient is calcium pantetheine sulfonate and guess what? It comes with a pedigree to prove that it can live up to these claims. A 1999 study, in vitro, found that it reduced the activity of tyrosinase, which is  the essential enzyme in the formation of melanin by converting DOPA to DOPAquinone. Therefore, reducing its activity is a principal method of improving skin tone and the one most commonly claimed for ingredients in current production for skin lightening. I found other studies going back to the 1980s.

However, what L'Oreal seems to have done that is original is to have paired calcium pantetheine sulfonate with something called hydroxyapatite. The two together restore the skin's barrier functions. This is according to research conducted by, well as it happens, L'Oreal. Still, it all kinda makes sense. Hydroxyapatite is in teeth and bones. Ahh, we're back there again. About 70% of human bones are made up of hydroxyapatite. A calcium gradient is a key regulator of the skin's barrier function. All the key functions of healthy skin depend on the barrier to work well. After bone, calcium levels are highest in the topmost layers of the skin. It creates protein to form building blocks for epidermal cells like keratin, for regulating lipids and for cell renewal.

Hmm, resistance training isn't going to help with this kind of calcium loss. But can L'Oreal Pro-Calcium? Possibly, but would I use it? Not sure (although you can't grumble about the price). The thing is, like many department store products, L'Oreal Pro-Calcium is like a sandwich that has a great filling surrounded by unappetizing bread.

There are four good things in L'Oreal Age Perfect Pro-Calcium Radiance Perfector Sheer Tint Moisturizer (leaving aside the sun protection actives): hydroxyapatite, calcium pantetheine sulfonate, hydrolyzed soy protein, and soluble collagen. All of those are extremely useful if you have "mature and fragile skin". However, they are surrounded by all the gunk that goes into making mass produced creams: petrolatum, chelating agents, PEGs, silicone, parabens etc).

I wish L'Oreal's R&D department would bone up (pun intended) on formulations that cut out some of these fillers, chemicals and potential irritants. They'd have a product well worthy of the uncompromising Ms Keaton.

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone (3%), Octisalate (5%), Octocrylene (7%)

Inactive Ingredients: Water (Agua), Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Myristyl Myristate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), PEG 100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Poly C10 30 Alkyl Acrylate, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Hydroxyapatite, Calcium Pantetheine Sulfonate, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Soluble Collagen, Pentasodium Ethylenediamine, Tetramethylene Phosphonate, Triethanolamine, Carbomer, Caprylyl Glycol, Iron Oxides, Mica, Boron Nitride, Xantham Gum, Acrylates Copolymer, Acrylates/Ammonium Methacrylate Copolymer, Triethyl Citrate, Titanium Dioxide, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, Fragrance, Limonene, Linalool, Alpha Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Benzoate, Geraniol, Citronellol, Coumarin, Citral