Spend big on wrinkle creams? Don't bother: study

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Spend a fortune on anti-wrinkle creams? Don't bother, said a U.S. study released on Tuesday.

Luxury-price products don't work any better than drugstore brands, according to the study by Consumer Reports magazine, which ranked Olay Regenerist, priced at about $19, as the most effective in reducing wrinkles.

But none of these products made a significant difference in the skin's appearance.

Researchers found that after 12 weeks the top-rated products smoothed out some fine lines and wrinkles, but even the best performers reduced the average depth of wrinkles by less than 10 percent, a change barely visible to the naked eye.

"The tests revealed that, on average, these products made little difference in the skin's appearance and there's no correlation between price and effectiveness," a spokeswoman for the magazine said.

Americans spend over $1 billion a year on anti-wrinkle creams.

Consumer Reports, published by nonprofit consumer research group Consumer Union, chose a sample of top-selling mass-market lines for its study. The products were purchased in retail stores for between $19 and $355. Each cream was tested by 17 to 23 women, aged between 30 and 70.

The women were recruited and evaluated by a European laboratory specializing in cosmetic testing.

The women used a test product on one side of their face and the lab's standard moisturizer on the other side for comparison. A high-tech optical device was used to detect changes in wrinkle depth and skin roughness.

Results varied among the women, the study said.

Dr. Tina Alster, a dermatologic laser surgeon from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and a member of the American Academy of Dermatologists, said it was overly simplistic to conclude from such a limited study that these products did not work.

"People would love to believe that cheap products are the same as the more expensive ones, and I may pooh-pooh someone paying $500 for a cream, but I do see the value of some of the luxury brands which are science-based," she said. "But it is a cautionary tale that people should be looking at the ingredients rather than just at the packaging."

Despite the study's findings, some women said they would continue to use anti-wrinkle cream.

"I've never really believed these creams would stop wrinkles, but they make me feel and smell good," said Amira Thoron, a 36-year-old New York teacher.