I was highly amused by last Monday morning's MSNBC show featuring innovative beauty products. Of the eight or so featured, there wasn't much that was truly innovative. Gimmicky would be a more accurate description for some (Lancome Oscillation, a vibrating mascara seems to me to be beyond pointless - although it can be hilariously defective and switch itself on and refuse to switch off, as happened to a friend of mine whose purse buzzed audibly during her entire train commute).

I was most intrigued by an anti-frizz product that supposedly uses technology that was invented in the labs of MIT. Called Living Proof Straight Making No Frizz, it is supposed to be the first innovation in anti-frizz hair care for 30 years. Spurning silicone as too heavy, Living Proof uses this thing called polyfluoroester, which provides a "microfilm shield" that covers the hair shaft to keep frizz under control whilst also repelling dirt (so that you can skip shampoos).

Unsurprisingly, I had a devil of a job finding out anything helpful about polyfluoroester. After much rummaging, I can now tell you that it is a fluorine-containing polymer. A polymer is a large molecule composed of units that repeat themselves. Plastic and proteins are polymers. Trying to work out what fluorine is will take you on a complex chemistry journey. To save you the bother, I can tell you that in its elemental form, fluronine is poisonous and volatile - really rather dangerous, actually. However, inorganic compounds of fluorine are used, amongst other things, to fill dental cavities. Putting fluorine's together with polymers creates surfaces with low surface tensions. So there you go.

The rest of the ingredients in Living Proof No Frizz are fairly unappealing, such as a standard film former, polyacrylate-13, and polyisobutene, a thermoplastic. God knows how many centuries a bottle of this stuff could lie around in a landfill. I guess the marketing power of being associated with MIT is so great that Living Proof didn't need to throw in even a teeny-tiny, token botanical.

On the other hand, I rather like the collaboration between Cover Girl and Olay to create an anti-aging foundation called Simply Ageless. Olay brings its signature ingredient to the party, niacinamide. This is a member of the vitamin B family and, according to a study done by Proctor and Gamble (owners of Cover Girl and Olay), data revealed that 5% Niacinamide applied to the face for 12 weeks resulted in reductions of fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowing). But there are independent studies too: “Topical application of Niacinamide has been shown to increase ceramide and free fatty acid levels in skin, prevent skin from losing water content, and stimulate microcirculation in the dermis,” according to the British Journal of Dermatology in 2000.

Simply Ageless foundation also has another vitamin B, panthenol. With all this B, this could be a good product for those with sensitive, acne-prone and oily skin. There is also a titanium dioxide sunscreen providing SPF22. Having said all this, it is a shame that the things that Cover Girl brought to the party are less desirable. There's a lot of silicone (the topical safety of which is at best ambiguous), parabens and talc (which Senator Edward Kennedy wants banned from cosmetics because of its links to cancer).

MSNBC also gave a shout out to NIA24. This is another vitamin B based range and it is a favorite of Kate's. Actuallly, there is a genuine innovation here. Vitamin B was, historically, pretty useless as a topical ingredient because it isn't easily absorbed by the skin. NIA24 has a patented ingredient deliver mechanism, which allows the key ingredient NAD (a form of Niacin) to penetrate deeply and for extended periods of time.

Ingredients in Living Proof

Water, PolyfluoroEster, Myristyl Alcohol, Polyacrylate-13, PEG-8 Stearate, PPG-2 Myristyl Ether Propionate, Polyisobutene, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Fragrance, Polysorbate 20, Sorbic Acid.

Ingredients in Cover Girl Simply Ageless

Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Talc, Butylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Isotridecyl Isononanoate, Ozokerite, Acetyl Glucosamine, Silica, PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Sorbitan Isostearate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dimethicone, Dimethicone/Methicone Copolymer, Panthenol, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Stearic Acid, Methicone, Disodium EDTA, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, May Contain: Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide