{Beauty} Ask the Inventor: Amos Lavian, CEO and Founder, Dermelect Cosmetics

We sent Dermelect’s Makeover Ridge Filler to our FOF Beauty Testers wondering if yet another nail treatment could actually stand out from the pack. Turns out, the testers were all impressed by how much it strengthened their nails.

We called Amos Lavian, founder of Dermelect Cosmeceuticals, to find out more about Dermelect and why this formula nailed it.

There are about a million nail-strengthening products out there. Why the Makeover Ridge Filler?
Amos: No one has ever addressed discolored, rigid, hard-to-grow nails as an aging issue. We are the first to do that.

How are nails an aging issue?
As we age, the protein levels in our nails go down, weakening them. The object is to reinfuse the nails with protein–in this case, pure protein.

We sourced and imported an ingredient called Prosina, out of New Zealand. It’s a protein peptide derived from sheep’s wool.

How did you come up with using a peptide from sheep’s wool?
Four years ago, I read in a New Zealand medical journal about a biotech company that was extracting protein from sheep’s wool and using it to create skin adhesives and bone grafts for burn victims. I contacted the company and asked if this same protein could be used to repair broken or weak nails. They determined the amino acid content in nails is comparable to that in bone, so it should definitely prove effective.

How has the reaction been from your customers?
Tremendous. Women have been very, very positive. We had one customer whose nails were weak from chemotherapy and she told us it had strengthened her nails back to recovery. That was fantastic.

There are so many beauty lines out there–especially aimed at FOF women. Why should someone try Dermelect?
Our products aren’t created from one perspective–they’re created with a whole Board of Advisors: The head of plastic surgery at St. Luke’s Roosevelt, dermatologists, estheticians, a bridal specialist (who knows more about stressed skin?), a top nail and hand model from New York City, and an allergist. We know we’re addressing every aspect of what a woman needs and wants. Also, the treatments are forumalted to be universal and multifunctional.

What are your top three most popular products?
Number one product is Smooth Upper Lip & Perioral Anti-Aging Treatment, which addresses vertical lip lines and shadowy discoloration.
Number two is the Confidence Injection Crease Concentrate, which firms up the neck and the jawline.
Number three is our Nail Recovery System.

There’s such a range in beauty product cost–from $5 drugstore to creams to $300 department store moisturizers. What is your price based on?
My price points are $16 to $79 per item. It’s a bit pricier than the drugstore brands, but you’re getting a quality product and you’re not paying for hype. We launched in 2006, when the trend was toward fancier packaging and higher prices. It escalated into $100 for one ounce of cream. That made expectations too high. People thought that if they paid enough they’d see faster results. But you just can’t reverse twenty years of sun damage in thirty days–I don’t care how much a cream costs. You have to be patient and use the product consistently. With my product, use it a couple of times a day and you’ll be amazed with the results.

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{Giveaway} Paula Dorf Eye and Face Primer

FOF makeup maven, Paula Dorf, is giving away 10 sets of her eye and face primer. To enter, read her “7 FOF Beauty Sins,” then answer this question in the comments below: Which of these “sins” do you commit most often?

Thank you for entering. This contest is now closed.

[Read the entire interview with Paula here]

Sin #1: We don’t use primer.
Be a saint: Primer neutralizes oil, dryness and redness. It helps foundation go on better and stay in place. To use primer, let it absorb into the skin and dry before applying foundation. Try: Paula’s “Perfect Primer,” for oily or dry skin.

Sin #2: We don’t fill in our eyebrows.
Be a saint: As you get older, your brows get thinner and more sparse. Don’t fear filling them in–just do it correctly. Use a brow stencil that matches the shape of your brow and fill in with powder in your natural brow color. Try: Paula’s Brow Stencil Kit and 2+1 For Brows powder and wax

Sin #3: We’re over 50, but we wear our blush like 20-somethings.
Be a saint: Blush on the apples of your cheek looks great when you’re younger. But after 50, it can make you look sunken-in if not applied properly. Smile and place a cream blush on your cheek, then sweep it back to the hairline.  Follow with cheek color powder for added staying power. Use a professional cheek brush for the most natural looking results. Try: Paula’s Cheek Brush

Sin #4: Lip liner overload!
Be a saint: Put lipstick on first, then a little liner afterwards. This way you’re not going over your lips, you’re staying inside. Finish with a little bit of gloss.

Sin #5: We’re afraid of colored lipstick.
Reverse your sin: Any woman can wear colors on her lips. Don’t be afraid! Lips and eyes are very connected. When you put more color on your lips, your eyes will pop more.

Sin #6: We use too much eyeliner.
Reverse your sin: When eyeliner is too heavy, it closes the eyes. So as we get older, we need to apply a thinner line.

Sin #7: We use our cleanser as makeup remover
Reverse your sin:
Your cleanser shouldn’t be doing double-duty as makeup remover. When you use cleanser, you tend to rub. A makeup remover takes it off gently–that’s especially important around the eyes. Try: Sweep Away Makeup Remover

Enter to win a set of Paula Dorf’s eye and face primer. 10 FOFs will win. Read her 7 FOF beauty sins then comment below and tell her: Which one do you commit most often?

(See all our past winners. See official rules. Ten winners are chosen at random from all those commenters who answer the question. Contest closes May 5, 2011.)

{Beauty} 7 unconventional age-busters

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.”


3. Ginger
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.
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.” 

5. Seaweed
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.”


6. Peas
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.
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. Josie Tenore is a board-certified Family Physician specializing in dermatology and plastic surgery. Her practice, Fresh Skin – Aesthetic Medicine is based out of Highland Park, IL.

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.

Dr. Amy Derick is a board-certified dermatologist practicing medical and cosmetic dermatology since 2006. Her practice, Derick Dermatology, is located in Barrington, Illinois.

{Giveaway} Win 3 products invented by FOFs!

Meet 3 FOFs and enter to win their brilliant inventions.

To enter, answer in the comments, below: What invention has you constantly saying, “I wish I thought of that”?

Thank you for entering. This contest is now closed.


Jill Fisher
Microdry Products

FOF Jill Fisher was the creative director at a brand development agency when she first came across the fabric that would become, Microdry. Her agency’s founder and CEO, Iain Scorgie, returned from China; after eighteen months developing towel-like material, which they would eventually patent; as it felt like velvet and was super absorbent.  Jill saw the potential: “Before then, towels were either soft or absorbent,” she remembers. She and her team named it Microdry, and used it to create a line of consumer products, starting with baby bathrobes in 2005. They were a hit. Today, the company manufactures adult robes, hair towels, bath pillows and their best-selling item to date…the Microdry memory foam bath mat.

Win: A trio of Jill’s super-soft, quick-dry Microdry bath products: a luxury hair turban, memory foam bath pillow and memory foam bath mat.

Melanie Mayron
Mayron’s Goods

Twelve years ago, expectant mom and former thirtysomething actress Melanie Mayron was having difficulty finding chemical-free baby products. “No one was talkin’ ‘natural’ then,” says Melanie. She’s since spent over a decade developing her all-natural baby skincare line, Mayron’s Goods, with the help of her Dad, a pharmaceutical chemist, and her actress friends, who tested the products on their own children!  Our Best Barrier and Diaper Cream, was Melanie’s first bestseller… Newly launched are a body oil, body milk, chapped cheek and lip protector and more. “You don’t have to be a baby to use it. After all, we’re all somebody’s baby,” says Melanie. Read Melanie’s full story, here.

Win: A gift set of beauty products from Melanie’s all-natural skincare line, Mayron’s Goods


Bonnie Steen
Roots Only

FOF Bonnie Steen spent years dying her hair at home to save money and time. Then a hairstylist friend told her she was seriously damaging her hair by repeatedly dying the whole shaft instead of just the roots. So she came up with an idea . . .

“I was combing out my tangles with a hair pick and suddenly thought ‘If this were hollow, you could attach a bottle of hair color to the handle and squeeze it out through the teeth,” says Bonnie. “You’d be able to comb and apply color to just the roots in one action.” Her husband Claude created the first prototype for the hair-color applicator comb in 1994. Now, Bonnie’s brainchild, Roots Only, is sold in over 4,000 Wal-Mart stores coast to coast. Read, Bonnie’s full (amazing) story, here.

Win: Roots Only, Bonnie’s hair color applicator comb.

To enter to win these 3 products invented by FOFs, answer in the comments below: What invention has you saying, “I wish I thought of that”?

(See all our past winners, here.)
(See official rules, here.)

Contest closes February 24, 2011