Sheila's byline is all too rarely seen on TIA, yet she is the unsung heroine of the ingredients directory - a work in progress that will doubtless keep her toiling through Google searches for many years to come. Anyhow, she just alerted me to a new product from Skinceuticals called AGE Interrupter ($150).

All the blurb about this product boasts that one of the actives is Pro-Xylane, yet it isn't included in the only ingredients list that I could find. I felt I should check it out anyway and discovered that Pro-Xylane is a trade marked ingredient made by L'Oreal and it also appears in its relatively new line called Skin Genesis. It uses xylose, a sugar molecule derived from beech trees and is supposed to stimulate production of glycoaminoglycans (GAGs). These are responsible for defending the skin against water loss.

If xylose (and, by extension, Pro-Xylane) live up to expections (and a Japenese study suggests that it will) then this could be the ingredient that leaves hylauronic acid out in the cold. Hylauronic helps retain moisture, but it does not, unlike the xylose molecule, acutally boost GAGs.

Also well worth a call out is phytosphingosine, a lipid that is the precursor to ceramide. There are nine types of ceramide (conveniently numbered one through nine). One of the most interesting things about them is that they are signaling molecules. The 'signal' they perform is apostosis, programming a cell to die. This has made ceramide the subject of numerous studies on its role in treating cancer patients.

Acne sufferers should take note that phytosphingosine's fatty lipids are really good at killing bacteria. We might see this ingredient, which is relatively new and not yet backed up by much research, making its way into zit creams.

These days no potion worth its salt is without a potent botanical extract. In this case, it is bilberry (vaccinium myrtillus extract), a close relative of the powerfully antioxidant blueberry.

Laudable though this tri is, that's about it. And given that Skinceuticals AGE Interrupter costs $150, the rest of the ingredients are disappointing. CI 77163/Bismuth Oxychloride gives a pearly/diffused lighting effect and, apart from glycerin, most of the rest are preservatives (parabens and phenoxyethanol) and silicones.

Aqua/Water, Propylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol, Cyclohexasiloxane, Isohexadecane, Glycerin, Synthetic Wax, Dimethicone/Peg-10/15 Crosspolymer, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Phenoxyethanol, CI 77163/Bismuth Oxychloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine, Acrylates Copolymer, Vaccinium Myrtillus Extract, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Parfum/Fragrance, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Coumarin