I have just been asked by someone what I think about Dr Brandt's Contour Effect. First off, the question forced me to confront my feelings about Dr Brandt. I think he looks really scary, like the sort of mad scientist that might turn up in a Bond movie. Still, much as I enjoy indulging my prejudices, that is no reason to dis a cream, especially one that costs nearly $200. So I took a closer look.

The dominant (after water) ingredient is a Dr Brandt favorite: methylsilanol hydroxyproline aspartate, an amino acid that is an anti-static and a skin conditioner. Dr B says that this, along with another amino acid, creates calmosensine. Actually calmosensine is supposed to give feelings of well-being by releasing endorphins and if you are not frowning, you are not creating wrinkles. Or that's the theory anyway; happy people don't get old. Strikes me as being border line silly.

Next there are a couple of silicones, for that my-skin-feels-so-soft feeling that is entirely superficial. There is methylsilanol mannuronate, a seaweed that helps skin retain moisture. A couple of things that thicken, give gloss or disperse pigments, one of which, octyldodecyl stearate, proved to be a mild irritant in a study on rabbits.

I was intrigued to find bacopa monniera extract, which is used in Ayurvedic medicine as a drug for mental disorders. It does have anti-oxidant properties, but the only clinical reference I could find was that it prevents oxidation of fat in the blood. An ingredients manufacturer called Sederma markets this extract under the name of Bacocalmine.

Apart from the bacopa monniera, I had to get through 27 ingredients before I got to anything at interesting, let alone worth shelling out $200 for. And that was soy. 48 items in, I got to cyathea medullaris leaf extract. This is a tree fern native to New Zealand, Fiji, and Polynesia, known as the Black Fern. The oil extract contains polysaccharides that form an elastic film, which helps to tighten the skin, smooth, soften, and heal. Dr B's website claims that it also helps cell division, but I haven't been able to corroborate this.

I am not all convinced by this to recommend anyone to give it a try and would go so far as to say it is a waste of money.