Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins

I have much respect for Dr. Andrew Weil's books and teachings on the concepts and practice of Integrative Medicine. I also believe he had good intentions entering into his agreement with Estee Lauder-owned Origins to create beauty products. However, as you'll see below, even the best intentions don't always amount to skin-care products you can count on, doctor's orders or not! [More Origins reviews are contained in the March/April 2006 issue of my Cosmetics Counter Update, available here.]

Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Face Serum ($65 for 1.7 ounces) is a product I am asked about frequently. Many of my readers are concerned that integrative medicine guru Dr. Weil has "sold out" by freely endorsing skin-care products and supplements from Origins. Of course the answer to that, from my perspective, would depend solely on whether the good doctor created products consumers can rely on for making their skin look better. Alas, that isn't the case here. At least at the outset, it seems Dr. Weil's influence at Origins is positive. This water-based serum has dozens of skin-beneficial ingredients, including efficacious, nonvolatile plant oils, glycerin, lecithin, and many antioxidants, including olive oil, turmeric, and several species of mushrooms. Things go awry because Origins just couldn't resist adding irritating essential oils to their products. Lavender, orange, patchouli, geranium, and mandarin oils all have volatile compounds that run counter to the soothing, anti-inflammatory effects of the ingredients that precede them. Dr. Weil could have easily found this out from a number of sources, including and, among many other resources. The oils assuredly make this serum smell wonderful, which is great for your nose, but they aren't helpful to skin in the least, and prevent this product from being recommended. Without these questionable, problematic fragrant extras, this could have been one of the more intelligently formulated antioxidant serums available.

Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Face Cream ($60 for 1.7 ounces) is the cream version of the serum above, sharing many of the same ingredients, but with the emollients and thickeners needed to create a cream texture. Assuming the irritating ingredients mentioned in the review of the Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Face Serum above were not present, the many antioxidants in this moisturizer for normal to dry skin are compromised by this product's jar packaging, as antioxidants are not stable in packaging that isn't airtight. As it is, this well-intentioned product has too many negatives to make it a calming, age-fighting experience for skin.

(unrated) Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Supplement ($35 for 1.7 ounces) is a liquid supplement designed to "optimize skin's defenses against aging." In addition to vitamin C, vitamin E, flax seed oil, and trace minerals, the formula contains two species of mushroom, ginger, holy basil, turmeric, and lion's mane. Most of these ingredients have impressive research supporting their use as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and/or immune system stimulants when consumed in the diet. Though a few of the ingredients in this supplement are not recommended for use by pregnant women, as a matter of common sense, please check with your physician before taking any supplements while pregnant. Overall, research indicates this is an intelligent formulation for those seeking a supplement with antioxidants. It also has immune-stimulating benefits. The question is how much of any of these substances is needed to obtain the desired effect. In the case of some of these ingredients (like vitamin C) we have a firm idea, while for others (holy basil) no typical dosage has been established (Source: I wouldn't bank on this (or any) supplement to replace a well-balanced, healthy diet, but with your physician's OK, this liquid supplement does have value.

Source: Paula Begoun