I have a friend who loves Zelens Skin Science skin care. She uses the night cream, Cellular Reconstruction Night Cream, as a day cream. Why not. She is on to her third pot. It costs over $200, so she must really love it.

"You'll probably find that there is nothing special in it," she said to me. In fact, in turns out that Zelens uses an interesting - and somewhat controversial - key ingredient.

 

I am sure that most people will agree that the packaging is rather gorgeous. I was troubled, however, to find out it was designed by Anouska Hempel (Lady Weinberg and she of the upmarket, boutique hotels). My first thought was OK, this is going to prove to be a complete rip-off.

I didn't feel much better when I found a picture of Zelens founder, Dr Marko Lens, on the Zelens website. He has catalogue model goodlooks, photographed with a fetching flyaway strand of hair and we are supposed to believe that he spends his days tending cancer patients. Dr Lens' credentials, however, are impeccable with Harvard and Oxford University training and a slew of peer-reviewed papers.

What really put Zelens on the Truth In Aging list of potions to take seriously is that the key ingredient is one of the best anti-oxidants known to man, fullerene C-60.

C60's story begins in 1991 when DuPont's laboratories demonstrated its ability to soak up fullerenes (molecules made of carbon). So much so, it was dubbed the radical sponge. Since then, numerous studies, patents and papers have demonstrated the effectiveness of C60 as the enemy of free radicals. Mitsubishi has a company in Japan, Vitamin C60, dedicated to using C60 in skincare.

The controversy comes because there are some people - and they are active debaters on this issue on online message boards - who say that C60 is dangerous and that they wouldn't handle it without protection in lab conditions; let alone smear it on your face. Others say that C60 is only safe in quantities so low that a face cream that used it wouldn't contain enough to be effective.

Having read around the subject as much as I can, it seems to me that C60 - in the form used in cosmetics - is safe to put on your face. Furthermore, it is a proven powerful anti-oxidant. Whether Zelens uses it in sufficient quantities to be a good anti-aging cream is not known.

By the way, Zelens isn't the only range to use C60. It is also in a Dr Brandt product, Laser Lightening Serum. Dr Brandt pitches C60 as an anti-oxidant and 'whitening agent'.

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