marta wohrle

I didn’t know that snails had venom, there is a difference between 3D and 2D cells, or that ferns could be a source of sun protection. These are just a few of the factoids that my current round of testing has thrown up. (Just imaging how fascinating I can be at dinner parties. And if there’s escargot on the menu, well….). My face and body product testing roster certainly has some interesting things going on. Reviews are still a way off, but here’s a sneak preview of what I am testing now.

TruActivs TriToxin ($220), a brand new serum that launched this summer, boasts three types of venom: snail, bee and snake. Perhaps I should get danger money to do this job. The Truth In Aging community knows all about bee venom — apitoxin contains at least 18 active compounds including peptides and can be found the much loved Royal Nectar Face Mask and Benir Beauty’s BV9. Syn-Ake is also well-known and isn’t really a snake venom, but a combination of neuropetides that mimic the peptide in vipers called Waglerin-1 to relax muscles and minimize — at least in theory — expression lines. Snail venom is a new one for me. I know about snail slime, which contains glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) that tightly bind to copper peptides.

Snail venom is worth a bit of a diversion. As far as I can tell, one genus of snail, cone snails (sea snails), is poisonous. It recently got the attention of medical science when it was discovered that it’s venom could be used as a powerful painkiller. Cone snail venom is packed with peptides and while the larger predatory sea snails can down a man, a small amount of venom causes muscle contractions.

I’ve been trying TriToxin twice a day for about three weeks on the crow’s feet of my left eye. TruActivs uses the example of crow’s feet for the product’s before and after pictures. In any case, these expression line-repressing ingredients will have their work cut out with all the smiling and squinting that can be done in a day. So far, I am seeing some subtle diminishing of them.

Now what about the right side crow’s feet. Here I am putting another new serum through its paces. I wrote about Rejuvel at some length a few weeks ago and started testing it around the same time. Rejuvel 3D ($149 in the shop) uses a NASA-patented technology for cultivating cells in 3D that has been used for the serum’s active ingredient, green tea stem cells. It is a nice cream to use, but just a few weeks into my test, I have yet to see results. That’s OK though, I am content to patiently give it the time it needs.

A recent trawl for an effective anti-aging body lotion brought in few interesting results. One that intrigued me, however, was Perricone MD Cold Plasma Body ($110) and I decided to buy a bottle and give it a try. Perricone’s choice of actives are interesting with phosphatidylcholine, a kind lecithin that is anti-inflammatory and the super-antioxidant astaxanthin. It is a lotion that leaves the skin feeling silky. I’ve yet to see whether it is having an effect on the beginnings of crepy skin on my arms. For a relatively expensive product, the pump mechanism is very poor.

Heliotop™ 360 Sunscreen with SPF 50+ ($30) would be just another mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide if it wasn’t for the addition of a very interesting botanical extract — a fern that may protect the skin from the sun. At least one study has shown it prevents sunburn. Unfortunately (and doubtless with an eye on the FDA), Helitop hedged its bets with two common mineral actives. I say unfortunately because there are toxicity concerns with them, plus the inevitable white caste. Helitop does require some finagling to avoid looking the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz.

What I should be demanding danger money for is Bionova Nose-to-Mouth Wrinkle Treatment with UV Chromophores ($66). It smells vile, which is a bit of a drawback since it is applied right under the nose. The half-ounce pot has a whopping 170 or so ingredients, including some very specific chains of amino acids (which Bionova says will reinforce the skin’s natural defenses against the sun). I’m just four days into trying it out and, assuming I can tolerate the scent, I’ll report back in a month or so.

Next in line, but not yet embarked upon, are Senté Neck Firming Cream ($101.99) and January Labs Revitalizing Day Cream ($68). Senté bases its formulas on glycosaminoglycans and its proprietary glycoprotein. The January Labs day cream is jam full of botanical extracts and it will be interesting to see if this line joins some of other mid-priced natural brands.