Dr. Denese New York

This new skin-care line is, without question, the one most requested for review by my readers, primarily due to its prominence on QVC's Web site and home shopping program. A graduate of New York's Cornell Medical College, Dr. Adrienne Denese opened an anti-aging clinic in Manhattan shortly after completing her studies. The clinic has been extremely successful, to the point where creating her own products to make sure her skin-care advice was taken became a necessity (at least according to her).

Dr. Denese has written a book, Dr. Denese's Secrets for Ageless Skin: Younger Skin in 8 Weeks, on how to take care of your skin. Her book is much like Dr. Perricone's book, The Wrinkle Cure, which promises to get rid of your wrinkles. Further similarity lies in the lack of supporting research or studies in either book. Neither Dr. Perricone nor Dr. Denese source their information, and more often than not, there is no research or supporting studies to be found. We are just supposed to take their word for everything they say. Ah, the omnipotence of doctors.

Ironically, her product line (sold exclusively on QVC) makes much more sense than a lot of what she writes in her book. There are some remarkably state-of-the-art products, and the prices, though somewhat steep, aren't unreasonable. As is true for most skin-care lines (including those from dermatologists), there are shortcomings and missteps along with good products. For those who choose the best of what Dr. Denese has to offer, the rewards will be smiling at them in the mirror each day (though please don't take that to mean your wrinkles will be gone)! [The entire Dr. Denese New York review (including a more in-depth analysis of her claims) is available in my January/February 2006 issue of Cosmetics Counter Update, available here. ]

$$$ Hydrating Cleanser ($22 for 6 ounces) is a simply formulated, detergent-based cleanser that contains borage oil to soften skin and facilitate makeup removal. The big-deal ingredients that supposedly justify the price include coenzyme Q10, vitamin A, and vitamin E. The vitamins are barely present in this cleanser and the CoQ10 is completely absent, which is just strange. However, even if it were present, neither the CoQ10 nor the other vitamins can have a positive effect on the skin because when they are present in a cleanser, they are rinsed off before they have a chance to have an impact. So, paying extra for such bells and whistles isn't necessary. Regardless, this is still a good cleanser for normal to slightly dry skin.

(insert neutral smiley here, we don't have one) $$$ Doctor's Microdermabrasion Cream ($34.90 for 4 ounces) sounds medicinally superior because of the "doctor's" designation, but it isn't. This is a doctor's skin-care line, but as you will see, that distinction is not a guarantee of formulary excellence. Unlike most microdermabrasion scrubs, which contain aluminum oxide crystals, Dr. Denese opted to use pumice, one of the more abrasive scrub agents available. The base formula has sufficient oil and emollients to prevent the pumice from being too rough on skin, but between this and the various AHA peels in this line, we're talking potential exfoliation overload. This product also contains small amounts of several irritating plant extracts. If you're looking for a topical scrub, the microdermabrasion-in-a-jar versions from Neutrogena, Susan Lucci's Youthful Essence, Clinique, and Olay Regenerist are better and less expensive. But remember, simply using a washcloth with your cleanser can easily net the same results.

Firming Facial Pads ($35 for 60 pads) have a pH of 3.5 and contain approximately 10% glycolic acid in a water-based solution that is delivered to the skin when you wipe the pad over your face. These pads will exfoliate skin, but they tend to leave a sticky finish, and the inclusion of irritating menthol is senseless. Given the poor aesthetics, the menthol, the price, and the fact that many effective AHA products have superior formulas, you needn't add this to your cart.

$$$ HydroShield Eye Serum ($44 for 0.5 ounce) contains silicone, antioxidants, ceramides, retinol, several fatty acids, and preservatives. This fragrance-free serum is an outstanding formulation that is recommended for all skin types. It may be used around the eyes or anywhere on the face. Its lightweight texture and matte finish make it well-suited for those with oily skin looking for the benefits of antioxidants and retinol without heaviness. This is a product any dermatologist would be proud of!