In Massachusetts there is a Carmelite monastery that has decided to launch an anti-aging skincare range and used the profits to benefit “the underprivileged through educational and outreach programs.” The monastery’s website declares that “With your kind support, science and faith combine for beautiful skin and a more beautiful world.” Now I expected Carmelite monks to base their skincare line on the kind of thing that I fancy sequestered folk to labor over – honey perhaps, fresh herbs or blooms from an immaculately cultivated garden situated behind the vestry. But, no Easeamine, as the range is called, has been formulated by someone in white lab coat rather than a habit.

The key ingredient in Easeamine (a registered trade mark that is subheaded “powerful, patented, proven”) is adenosine. Actually, this is a very interesting ingredient with anti-aging potential as a cell-communicator and inflammation modulator. It also transfers energy between cells. Research has shown that topical adenosine triphosphate (ATP) helps wounds to heal. Although I was wondering why Carmelite monks should alight on adenosine, it is perhaps appropriate since it also has a role in promoting sleep and suppressing arousal.

I have before me the Easeamine eye cream, which has the signature adenosine. Curiously, there is also hydroxyapatite, which I have only ever come across as a relatively new injectable filler used in facial reconstruction. It is a component of bone and I have a hard time imagining how it penetrates the skin. Then there is  macrocystis pyrifera extract is a type of seaweed and there is one study that linked it to wrinkle reduction and then there is cocoa extract, an antioxidant. The other actives are respectable, but not especially, inspiring anti-aging ingredients such as the expression line inhibitor acetyl hexapeptide-8, vitamins C and E as well as the controversial retinyl palmitate, which has been linked to cancer.

My issue with Easeamine’s eye cream is that there are a fair number of non-actives in the form of silicones, copolymers and waxy solutions that go into making cream formulation as inexpensive as possible, such as myristyl myristate. These account for about half the ingredients list and make me balk a little at the $98 price tag (even if there is a good cause behind it).

Easeamine and the Carmelites inspired me to check if there were any other religious orders getting into the skincare business. I found Le Couvent Des Minimes with lotions and potions apparently based on the recipes of 17th-century nuns in Provence. The term “based” might be being used a little loosely, if the Complete Moisturizing Cream is anything to go by.

To be sure, there’s plenty of rose, sunflower seed oil and rosemary. But it is hard to imagine that 17th-century nuns formulated with silicone or neopentyl glycol diethylhexanoate. They do seem to have been extremely concerned by bacteria though, as there are some six preservatives including phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin and sodium benzoate.

Ingredients in Easeamine: Water, ethylhexyl isononoate, cyclopentisiloxane, hydrogenated polydecene, glycerin, adenosine, isododecane, myristyl myristate, myristyl laurate, polysorbate 60, stearic acid, ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP copolymer, sucrose, butylene glycol, grape seed oil, dimethicone, hydroxyapatite, acetyl hexapeptide 8, ascorbic acid, cocoa extract, tocopheryl acetate, retinyl palmitate, macrocystis pyrifera extract, hydrolyzed wheat protein, jojoba seed oil, c12-15 alkyl lactate, palmitic acid, PEG-100 stearate, glyceryl stearate, stearyl alcohol, PEG-20 stearate, cetyl alcohol, PEG-2 diethylhexanoate, 1-2 hexandiol, caprylyl glycol, acrylates copolymer, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate

Ingredients in Le Couvent Des Minimes Complete Moisturizing Cream: Aqua/Water, Glycerin, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetyl Palmitate, Neopentyl Glycol Diethylhexanoate, Dimethicone, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Rosa Moschata Seed Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Extract, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Rosa Gallica Flower Extract, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Parfum/Fragrance, Butylene Glycol, Polyacrylamide, Chlorphenesin, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Tocopherol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Laureth-7, Tetrasodium Edta, Sodium Hydroxide, Lecithin, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Glycolate, Trisodium Nta, Glyceryl Caprylate, Glyceryl Stearate, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Formate, Sodium Phytate.