RapidLash and Zeno top the beauty best sellers - what we think of the top ten
RapidLash ($48), the latest darling of the morning talk shows, has shot to the number one position of Amazon.com's best-selling beauty products. The first thing to say about it is that it contains a prostaglandin analogue called isopropyl cloprostenate. Prostaglandins are glaucoma drugs that have the delightful side effect of making eyelashes grow. There are some not so desirable side effects too, such as blurred vision, irritation and even change of eye color. However, it also has a couple of peptides and our reader reviewers say that RapidLash works. Compare with Lilash.
It is easy to dismiss Zeno's Acne Clearing Device as at best a gimmick and at worst an expensive con. After forking out just over $100 for the device, you'll have to buy replacement cartridges for $30. But it is worth reflecting that Zeno has FDA approval and the Mayo Clinic says that the use of heat to treat acne has merit. It works best with pulsed light to destroy P. acnes and shrink sebaceous glands, which decreases the oil production. Side effects of this therapy include temporary redness in the treated areas.
I wasn't surprised to see St Tropez's Self Tan Bronzing Mousse ($27-$40) and St Tropez Whipped Bronze Mousse. St Tropez achieved cult status about a decade ago and has never looked back. The best thing about St Tropez is that it virtually guarantees an even, no streak tan. Plus it smells OK. The worst thing about it is that the tanning agent is dihydroxyacetone, which can give rise to skin allergies and severe dermatitis. Of much more concern, however, is that DHA can make the skin more susceptible to free radical damage from the sun. Kinda ironic really. This is more than enough reason to find an alternative tanner. Personally, I think St Tropez has the kind of nuclear glow only otherwise achieved by sunbeds and I prefer the more natural hue of Fusion Beauty Perfect Glow. Meanwhile Kate goes for Famous Dave's or Xen Tan and Copley was won over by Neutrogena Micromist.
Avon Beyond Color Plumping Lip Conditioner SPF15 With Double Retinol ($8) has to be the word's most descriptive name, shouting from the rooftops that is is no mere rouge. This thing is going to plump your pout, protect from the sun and exfoliate you all the way to being kissable. And there's collagen! Without being able to find a full list of ingredients, I can't say whether it would make it as one of our Five Best lip plumpers. But, hey, it's only eight bucks.
We have Allure magazine's annual Beauty Awards to thank for the popularity of Clarins Self Tanning Instant Gel ($32). The big selling point is that you can get dressed immediately after application. Unfortunately, it has (like St Tropez) nasty DHA, plus something called erythrulose. This is a sugar that reacts with the amino acids on surface of the skin. Think of an apple turning brown when exposed to the air. Erythrulose is supposed to be superior to other self-tanning agents, such as DHA, because it doesn’t streak. Unfortunately, it is every bit as harmful as DHA - in a Korean study, 40 minutes after the researchers treated skin samples with they found that more than 180% additional free radicals formed during sun exposure compared with untreated skin. Perhaps this will be mitigated by the inclusion of larrea divaricata, the chaparral bush. Recent studies have found that its main component, nordihydroguaiaretic acid, is a free-radical scavenger and a protective agent against keratosis caused by exposure to UV rays.
I secretly admire Philosophy's ability to make a huge business on the back of quirky, doesn't-take-itself-too seriously marketing, and not much else. Philosophy's Help Me Retinol Treatment ($45) has a bevy of unremarkable ingredients. In fact, it is mostly emollients, thickeners, silicones, vitamins (A, C and E) and most of the preservatives known to man (including the possible carcinogens, parabens, BHT and triethanalomine). For some heavy hitting alternatives take a look at our Five Best over-the-counter retinol creams.
I certainly wasn't expecting to find a Mario Badescu product alongside the ever so much hipper Philosophy. However, this venerable brand usually makes simple products that work. On the best seller list is Mario Badescu Drying Lotion ($17), an overnight whitehead zapper that takes no hostages. Taking no chances, there is camphor, sulphor and salicylic acid. Apart from talc, which Senator Kennedy wants banned, there isn't much to dislike. We are also fans of Mario's cucumber cleansing lotion.
Philosophy's Hope In A Jar ($15-$60) topped Sephora's best seller list a couple of years ago and this cream almost qualifies as iconic. As our detailed review of Hope In A Jar shows, its reputation is only partially deserved. The good includes vitamins A, B and E, beta glucan, and lactic acid for a 'mini peel'. The indifferent includes run of the mill moisturizers. The bad are the usual suspects in the silcone and preservative department. 120 Amazon customer reviews give an average three out of five rating.
Clinique Liquid Facial Soap ($15-$40) is the liquid version of the soap bar that is step one of Clinique's three-step program. It is so rare to find Clinique ingredients without buying the product that I am printing Liquid Facial Soap's below. Looking at this list, I'm not surprised that Clinique isn't in a hurry to make everyone aware of it. Apart from sodium laureth sulfate, which is best avoided, many of the ingredients are benign coconut-derived cleansing agents. However, sodium cocoyl sarconisate is a contact allergan and use in cosmetics is restricted in Japan. It also enhances the penetration of other ingredients, which might not be particularly desirable since the soap includes sodium benzoate, a DNA zapper and phenoxyethanol, which can harm the central nervous system. There is some sodium hyaluronate and a dab of chamomile extract, but Clinique really needs to clean up its act.
Ingredients in Clinique's Liquid Facial Soap
Water purified, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium chloride, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, lauramidopropyl betaine, sodium cocoyl sarcosinate, TEA-cocoyl glutamate, di-PPG-2 myreth-10 adipate, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, PEG-120 methyl glucose dioleate, sucrose, sodium hyaluronate, cetyl triethylmonium dimethicone PEG-8 succinate, tocopheryl ethyl succinate ethyldimonium ethosulfate, butylene glycol, matricaria, hexylene glycol, polyquaternium-7, laureth 2, caprylyl glycol, sodium sulfate, EDTA, disodium EDTA, sodium benzoate, phenoxyethanol.