Oh, the things we do for beauty! From snail slime to snake venom, here are 7 unconventional age-busters on the market that you’ve probably never tried… But, do they really work? We asked five doctors to assess the claims behind these potions, lotions and procedures, then report back.
1. Snake venom
The claim: Like Botox, snake venom can prevent wrinkle-causing contractions in the face by paralyzing the muscles. A few creams containing “temple viper” or synthetic snake venom have hit the market in recent years.
Try: Skin Venom Memory Cream
Dr. Josie Tenore: “It is theoretically possible that snake venom can have an effect on relaxing muscles to some extent. However, it would be very difficult for the active ingredient of snake venom to penetrate the skin barrier, let alone get into the muscles at a dose that would have a significant effect.”
Dr. Jeanine Downie: “I haven’t used a lot of products with this in it but I know it can act as a mild irritant to make the skin and lips look fuller but it does not paralyze muscles like Botox does. Currently there is no topical product that can do that.”
2. Argan Oil
The claim: As skin ages, it loses moisture because it’s natural oil production is reduced. Oils, particularly those that are high in saturated fat can hydrate and rejuvenate the skin. Argan oil, one of the rarest oils in the world (produced only in Morocco) is extremely rich in Vitamin E and fatty acids thus extremely effective for anti-aging.
Try: Arganica Oil, Tilvee Argan Age-Defying Cream
Dr. Simon Ourian: “Argan oil is full of vitamins and it is a wonderful moisturizer, not just for your face, but also for your hair, cuticles and entire body.”
Dr. Jessica J. Krant: “Argan oil is recognized as an antioxidant when taken internally, but there is not enough proof of it having an effect on skin cells when used topically, other than as an excellent moisturizer.”
The claim: Ginger “energizes” the skin by increasing blood circulation. By bringing blood to the surface of the skin, ginger can encourage the movement of impurities. Ginger is also a powerful antioxidant which means it improves the skins elasticity and protects against environmental pollutants that threaten to destroy skin cells.
Try: Ginger Organics
Dr. Barney J. Kenet: “Applying ginger topically might be irritating for sensitive skin. My recommendation is to ingest ginger–in the form of tea, for example. Its antioxidant properties are excellent for fighting free radicals, a known cause of aging.”
Dr. Jessica J. Krant: “According to studies, ginger, both taken internally and even topically, shows some promise in reversing signs of aging due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. It could cause some mild irritation, but in turn that would increase blood flow to the skin creating a plump, youthful rosiness.”
4. Photodynamic Therapy
The claim: Photodynamic therapy is used to treat cancer in early stages (particularly skin cancer) but has been used off label (although not FDA approved) for skin rejuvenation. Photodynamic therapy can decrease wrinkles and increase elasticity within months. Red light therapy (a type of photo-dynamic therapy used for skin rejuvenation) works by stimulating the skin and promoting the production adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an energy source for cells. By increasing ATP, the production of elastin and collagen also increases which in turn creates elasticity and smoothness in the skin.
Try: ANSR Beam, Dermadoctor Sunlight-Activated Laser Lotion
Dr. Amy Derick: “Photodynamic therapy is FDA-approved for pre-skin cancer but has other cosmetic benefits. I’ve seen that it works well for evening skin tone and decreasing oil glands.”
Dr. Jessica J. Krant: “Photodynamic therapy has been shown to improve skin quality and reduce aging signs caused by sun damage. To work reliably, a sensitizing chemical must be used to help penetrate the skin, activated by different wavelengths of light. Home treatments are sold with just the light itself but this is not as effective.”
The claim: Kelp, in the seaweed or brown algae family, is rich in iodine, fatty acids, and alkali. Because of its makeup, kelp is beneficial for oily skin — it hydrates without adding more oil. It also helps increase your hyaluronic acid, which maintains the structure of the skin but can decrease as we age.
Try: Nude Skincare Advanced Cellular Renewal Serum
Dr. Josie Tenore: “While there are no known scientific studies to support these claims, seaweed is rich in many vitamin including B, C and A as well as zinc; vitamins and minerals for which we do have a scientific foundation for their anti-aging effects.”
Dr. Jessica J. Krant: “Kelp may act as a great topical humectant, a type of moisturizer that works by holding water against the outside of the skin like a sponge. It has healthy molecules in it, when ingested, but there is little evidence it does any active anti-aging when used on the skin.”
The claim: Extract derived from the roots and stems of peas can be effective in anti-aging. A protein in pea extract called extensin appears to have a similar composition to collagen. As our skin ages, it loses collagen which is vital for strength and structure. The extensin in pea extract acts as an all-natural “replacement” to collagen, increasing skin elasticity and firmness.
Try: KaplanMD Perfecting Serum
Dr. Barney J. Kenet: “I don’t think peas have any effect on the skin.
Dr. Jessica J. Krant: “Collagen is an important structural element in the dermal layer of youth ful skin, but putting collagen, or anything ‘like’ collagen on top of the epidermal layer of skin to mimic it does not actually increase structural support underneath. At most, it may create a netlike framework on top of the skin that gives it a more rubbery, firm and youthful-appearing texture.”
7. Snail slime
The claim: Scientists have discovered that despite extreme exposure to the sun, snails manage to stay moisturized and UV-free. Snail slime can give human skin the same kind of protection and moisture that it gives snails.
Try: DeTuinen Snail Face Gel
Dr. Josie Tenore: “Us scientists and doctors are a little behind on our snail slime research. That said, if snail slime contains the ingredients that manufacturer’s claim – peptides, zinc, and hyaluronic acid, then theoretically, snail slime may actually have some benefits. BUT, do you REALLY want to choose this, when we have so many other more palatable treatment choices?”
Dr. Simon Ourian: “I actually like snail slime but it is hard to get a high enough concentration to really see a drastic transformation. It works fairly well in rebuilding collagen and getting rid of old scars.”
Meet the Experts:
Dr. Simon Ourian is a cosmetic dermatologist specializing in cosmetic and plastic surgery. His practice is based out of Beverly Hills, California.
Dr. Jessica J. Krant is a dermatologist based out of New York and founder of Art of Dermatology, LLC. She is also the assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City.
Dr. Barney J. Kenet is a board-certified dermatologist. He’s been in private practice in Manhattan’s Upper East Side since 1992.