Zirh is going out on a limb. This reasonably-priced staple of the male bathroom (my husband likes the cleanser - $17 - and somehow has managed to eke out a tube for years) has come up with a new line called Platinum. To give you an idea of the step it is taking into the upmarket, the PM Rescue costs $125. I suspect that Zirh is going after a new market rather than expecting that it will convert men like my husband. Nevertheless, Zirh stalwarts have been writing in to ask me if they should upgrade.

This wasn't easy to answer, since Zirh seems to expect you to buy a $125 product without knowing what's in it. Writing to Zirh did elicit a prompt, if rather unusual response: they emailed a screen shot of the ingredients list on the box. This appears as faint white print on a black background. A few hours of squinting later...

Zirh Platinum PM Rescue is one of those products I end up feeling ambivalent about. It has some good things and some that, frankly, are a waste of space. In the good camp, it has a high dose of vitamin E, C, retinyl palmitate (vit A) and vit B5 in the form of calcium pantothenate. I was particularly pleased to find out that what I thought was a complete gimmick, the water melon from the Kalahari Desert, turns out to be a perfectly legitimate skin nourisher with plenty of vitamin C and A, as well as flavenoids. The Kalahari, moreover, was the home to the mother of all water melons (its offspring being the water melons we can now find growing all over the world). Who knew.

For the price, there is too much padding in the form of various emollients and emusifiers, gums and silicones. I am not keen on the use of Ethylene/Acrylic Acid Copolymer. This is a thickening agent that in its pure form can cause irritation and must be formulated to avoid doing so in cosmetics (one assumes Zirh has). And then there is pullulan. I came across this the other day and discovered that it used to make those breath fresheners that dissolve on the tongue. In creams, I believe it used to form a film over the skin and make it feel tight and firm.

In fact, one of the side effects of PM Rescue (although since I assume its meant as a night cream may not matter if all you are after is a good night's sleep) may be a strange immobile feeling around the face. In addition to the breath freshener film, there is chlorphensin, another muscle relaxant.

There are the ubiquitous parabens and ethylhexylglycerin is a preservative that is an irritant, according to a Belgian study. Then there are a few plant extracts, but way down at the end of a long list - 53 in total - of ingredients.

UPDATE: Chlorphensin is also used as a preservative and the FDA just issued a warning against its use in a nipple cream for breast feeding moms. See my post on this.