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The Truth About Celebrity Beauty Secrets: What Works, What Doesn't

Meryl Streep
August 6, 2013 Reviewed by Marta 7 Comments

A survey in the UK found that only about a quarter of people asked said that celebrity beauty lines were any good. But that doesn't stop us coveting Cate Blanchett's porcelain complexion or devouring articles about how Meryl Streep ages so gracefully. And happily (surprisingly, for my inner cynic), my trawl of celebrity beauty brands and tips netted some good amongst the bad.

The Celebrity: Jennifer Lopez

The Celebrity Beauty Secret: Moisturizer
J.Lo says of her glow: "My beauty routine is quite basic, but I always use lots of moisturizer. When I'm in warmer, drier climates I use plenty of Crème de la Mer." Ms. Lopez also professes to use Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream ($42.95).

The Truth in Aging Truth:
Crème De La Mer ($130) has maintained cult status for over a decade. It has some minerals, including copper, magnesium and zinc. But everything else is so unremarkable that the "secret fermentation process" that turns it into "Miracle Broth" had better be good (read more on what's in Crème De La Mer). Even if it is, Crème De La Mer did nothing for me when I tried it. Dr. Hauschka's Rose Day Cream is OK, but only OK and it doesn't impress with anti-aging ingredients. Good botanicals include marshmallow, rose (30 petals in every bottle) and avocado. Not so good is the high amount of wax, some alcohol and unnamed fragrance.

The Better Bet:
Rather than the Dr. Hauschka, I'd go for GCB About Face Moisturizer ($42). It also has marshmallow, but is a moisturizer that wants to be a serum when it grows up. There are seaweed peptides, yeast, vitamins K, C and E, DMAE, borage and yarrow. Hydrating and soothing oils are from avocado, arnica and macadamia. Or, sticking with the rose theme, there's La Vie Celeste Restorative Rose Hydrosol Eye Cream ($60 in the shop). There are so many good anti-aging ingredients in this eye cream that it is easy to overlook the rose hydrosol, a rose water with humectant as well as antioxidant effects. Or check out Suki Tinted Active Moisturizer with rose and willow bark, as well as anti-aging borage.

And for potent alternative to Crème De La Mer, try E'shee's latest serum, the Multi-Tensor Extreme Face Lift Serum ($159) with copper, manganese and whey protein in a formula that really does lift and firm.

The Celebrity: Meryl Streep

The Celebrity Beauty Secret: Expressive Brows
Musing on how Meryl Streep looks so good at 63, the Daily Mail put it down to her "wonderfully expressive brows." Adding: "They're long, thick and match her fair hair. The high arch lifts her face and eyes and they are rough and ready enough to look natural but well groomed."

The Truth in Aging Truth:
I'm with the Mail on this one. Eyebrows are essential face framers. Unfortunately, excessive tweezing and/or aging can result in brows that are moth eaten rather than full and shapely. They can also start to lose their color. As I approached 50, my naturally dark brows became patchy and sandy colored.

The Better Bet:
Rather than let nature takes its course, get Meryl-worthy brows by regularly dabbing them with Brow Vitality Complex ($39 in the shop). I created this with my own increasingly unenviable brows in mind with copper peptides, emu oil and vitamin B to encourage darker, thicker brow growth. Apart from a vexing white hair that I pluck with a vengeance, I am very pleased with my face framers again.

The Celebrity: Ellen DeGeneres

The Celebrity Beauty Secret: Simply Ageless
Amiable Ellen has just announced that she will host the 86th Academy Awards, reminding me that she is also the face of Covergirl and the Simply Ageless range, a collaboration with Olay to make makeup that is good for you.

The Truth in Aging Truth:
Olay's input is its signature active, niacinamide, a member of the vitamin B family and a perfectly creditable anti-ager. The thing is though, the Simply Ageless formulations are pretty ghastly. Take the Simply Ageless Foundation ($12.98) - the ingredients read like a who's who of things to be avoided. Not least of which is talc, which has the dubious honor of having a high profile lobby group devoted to getting it banned. There are five silicones, a couple of parabens and aluminum hydroxide. None of which are any good for you and may even be harmful.

The Better Bet:
W3LL PEOPLE Narcissist Stick Foundation with organic ingredients, including a smattering of green tea and no nasties. And it gives a long-lasting smooth finish. Or for mineral makeup lovers, there's Osmosis Mineral Pressed Base powder ($34), which also has green tea, acai and a little retinyl palmitate.

The Celebrity: Salma Hayek

The Celebrity Beauty Secret:
Nuance, the skincare line that she launched in 2011.

The Truth in Aging Truth:
When Salma launched Nuance, I immediately tried the Nuance Renewing and Brightening Facial Serum ($19.99). Kojic acid is used as a skin-lightening ingredient and there are some good botanical actives, including cactus pear, omega 7 rich macadamia and mimosa. For a drugstore product, backed by an actress, I was quite impressed - especially by the inclusion of a decent peptide. The downside was in the using - a watery non-performer.

The Better Bet:
If you really want kojic acid and a ton - and I mean a ton - of botanicals, got to Sweetsation. These serums are reasonably priced considering that they are packed to the brim with active ingredients. Sweetsation Lumi Essence ($36 in the shop) has in addition to kojic acid, skin-lightening alpha arbutin, goji berry, reishi extrct, amino acids, milk thistle and much more. There's also a version of Lumi Essence for body ($48 in the shop). A great performer and not a million miles away from the Nuance price bracket is Mad Hippie Exfoliating Serum ($35 in the shop), which is packed with vitamins, lightening actives such as Gigawhite, the power peptide Matrixyl 3000 and much more.

The Celebrity: Cate Blanchett

The Celebrity Beauty Secret:
The SK-II range , the Proctor & Gamble skin care line she represents as an "ambassador."

The Truth in Aging Truth:
I have to hand it to Procter & Gamble, they have managed to keep the hauntingly beautiful Cate Blanchett (currently in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine) as the face of SK-II, while maintaining a tantalizing air of secrecy around the range's star ingredient "Pitera." So what is Pieria? Technically, it is saccharomycopsis ferment - yeast, to you and me. That's it and the rest of the formula in the staggeringly overpriced Facial Treatment Essence ($195) includes two common and garden variety moisturizers, butylene glycol and pentylene glycol, water, and three preservatives. Procter & Gamble have come up with a new active for SK-II called Stempower (they also refer to it as Stem Acanax Complex). And what is this? The answer isn't much more exciting that Piteria's yeast: Siberian ginseng.

The Better Bet:
I can't really go out of my way to find alternatives with yeast. It's not exactly the most impressive anti-ager I can think of. A great formula with ginseng did come to mind though, Eslor Active Night Cream ($95 in the shop). It is positively good value compared to SK-II, especially when you consider that it is teeming with Matrixyl 3000, hydrolyzed soy milk protein, sea buckthorn oil, aloe vera gel, peach kernel oil, mango butter, almond butter, glycerin and carrot oil.

  • March 31, 2014

    by Renee

    Hi. I know this is an old thread and you may not answer, but I was wondering if you had reviewed the Arbonne Pure Vibrance Lustre Fortifying Shampoo and conditioner.
    Thank you. Renee xx

  • August 9, 2013

    by rebecca moriarty

    Im wondering what you think about aura vie anti wrinkle treatment and creme da la mar?

  • August 8, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Deb
    Yes, if you search on Arbonne you find several articles. Here's a couple of them -one product we liked, one not so much:

  • August 7, 2013

    by Deb

    Have you ever looked at Arbonne products?

  • August 6, 2013

    by PJ

    That photo of Miss Streep is stunning!

  • August 6, 2013

    by Marta

    We have reviewed Cindy Crawford's products here:

    No raves.

    I do like Josie Maran's sunscreen though

  • August 6, 2013

    by Anonymous

    What about Cindy Crawford and Josie Maran's skincare lines?

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