Wednesday, 2 June 2010

L'Oreal Youth Code

Alright, I said I wasn't going to go for the low hanging fruit with this blog and I am trying to steer away from talking about anti-wrinkle products, I really am. But that doesn't stop me becoming infuriated, as I was this week when I saw an advert for L'Oreal Youth Code. Not only was the pseudoscientific tripe in front of me, it was in an ad break for Genius of Britain, a historical look at some of Britain's past scientific genius. The juxtaposition made it seem extra insulting. There really is no safe place!

The headline is "inspired by the science of genes". L'Oreal's website has an explanation of the science here. Gene expression is described as occurring when skin genes are activated following stress. In young skin this happens more quickly than in older skin, indicating that it takes longer to respond the stressor. Having "discovered" this wonderful science, L'Oreal developed the Youth Code Range, which is:

"Enriched with patented Pro-Gen (TM) Technology.

Applied daily, the moisturising formula helps improve the skin's ability to behave more youthfully" (ref)

Ah Pro-Gen Technology, where have you been all my life? And more importantly, what the heck are you? Further digging reveals that Pro-Gen Technology is supposed to speed up the rate of gene expression and contains biolysate. The "code" part of Youth Code refers to the claim that this cream will help your skin reset its genetic code.

Here comes the science bit.

Genes contain information. Gene expression is what happens when that information is used to make a product, usually a protein. Proteins then go away and do get things done in body cells. This whole process is fundamental to all life, it makes the body work. Gene expression happens almost everywhere in the body and so I'm OK with the idea that external stress can lead to gene expression occurring, because so many things can require proteins to be made. The genetic code refers to the sequence of animo acids that make the gene; the blueprint.

The link between this science and what L'Oreal have put into Youth Code is not explained anywhere, and yet that's the crucial part of how this cream should work. That in itself suggests something fishy. I couldn't figure out what Pro-Gen Technology is, but I did find this handy list of ingredients and what they're used for. It's interesting to see that ascorbyl glucoside is whitening, but that's another can of worms!

Taking a historical view of skincare products and science, it seems that products are always peddled to consumers based on the trendy science of the day, be it radioactivity, chemicals, hormones or genetics. Today's trend is of course genetics and it appears that L'Oreal have caught the public fascination and are cashing in. Simple as that. There is no evidence that a cream can tinker with gene expression to produce more youthful skin, and if a cream could affect my genetic code I'd be highly concerned because that would be tinkering with my very DNA and causing genetic mutations. No thanks.

But wait, there are proven results! Oops, it's a consumer test not real scientific evidence.

Proven and confirmed by women:
- Skin looks rejuvenated: 78% agree*
- Wrinkles appear reduced: 69% agree*
- Features appear rested: 71% agree*

*Consumer test, 229 women"

At least L'Oreal are careful never to claim that their products reduce wrinkles, just that they appear to. Skin isn't actually rejuvenated, it just looks like it. The "features appear rested" made me laugh because I have no idea what that even means.

Oh L'Oreal. Ever since I went to the Science Museum lates event you sponsored you've really been getting under my skin.


  1. I am glad I am not the only one who gets riled by the Youth Code adverts and the scientific claims therein!
    Have just seen an advert for a face cream that claims it will create microchannels in my skin cells! Alarming indeed!

  2. Tell me about the science facts of - and the Ageloc & galvanic spa, is that all "suspect" too?

  3. I admire your views especially on this comment. This company has just launched so many new products that they claim to have product effects link to DNA - biotherm skin vivo, STEM CELLS - lancome precious cells and this one to human GENES - l'oreal youth code .... WOW! WHAT A 20TH CENTURY's SNAKE OIL DECORATED UNDER A LUXURY TRENDY LOOKS!

  4. you have masked an advertisement as a complaint. very popular, by whom, acai sales force?
    I hope hell has a reservation for you!

  5. I know I'll get bashed for this comment, but these products have done amazing things for my skin.

    1. Mine too. Three times a week, since last Christmas, I have been putting their product on the back of my right hand up the forearm and the right side of the neck & chest area. It is an experiment to see if I wish to keep purchasing and using. A month later my friend told me the difference is so noticeable that it's time to end the experiment and either stop using it or do both sides. Shall keep up the regiment, until it is warm enough for short sleeves in Canada, to see the results of a longer time line because this has become interesting.

  6. I bought it and any sunblock moisturizer should help me stay youthy

  7. Are any of these products using aborted fetus material I wonder? If so, I don't want any part of using the products.

  8. This is funny because I work with plants that are stressed to see if any particular gene will overexpress and be of interest to possibly transform into another plant. Maybe the Youth Code stresses the skin in hopes to trigger a miracle! LOL The best skin and proven wrinkle cream is tretinoin (retin-a, tazorac, etc) it increases cell turnover by irritating the skin therefore sloughing away the old and making the new. It can be a bit abrasive but then doesn't every rose have a thorn? Well, most of them!!!

  9. Actually the youth code serum contains oligopeptides which help increase collagen production. It also has hyalornic acid and HEPES. It is also very cosmetically elegant which is always a bonus. :)

  10. same bull as Lancome Genefique; in fact, L'Oreal owns Lancome so why not sell the same pseudo science twice: one to those who think more money equals better results and the other to the WOW IT UNLOCKED THE CODE bunch!

  11. I'm happy to read these comments because I have been obsessing over these products. I bought the day, night, and eye cream a week ago and used it once then freaked out and thought it was a waste of money and probably bad for my skin. I started reading about ingredients online and became fearful. You would think L'oreal wouldn't use harmful ingredients! It looks like there are just pore cloggers, fillers, waxes, and silicon!! I am skeptical that these creams will have no positive effect on my skin.

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  31. Thanks for your words, I was going to buy that shit, because the saleswoman sound so convincing, but when I looked at the ingredients and I saw the keyword pro-gen, I thought what is that?, so I checked on my phone and your blog has more logic that pro-gen.

  32. I bought it. I'm using it. I understand and knew all of this in advance of buying... I'm commenting to repress the intelligent people who still have a desire to achieve a certain look that is desirable in their culture ( thanks N.american Beauty standards! Lol) ...fact is, these kind o products DO make skin APPEAR the way you want it to, and FYI Lancôme has some seriously quality products...this is why I purchased youth code.. Not because of the commercials bull sh*t but I was hoping for an effective cheap alternative as I can't afford Lancôme most of the time, and I know they are under the same company. That's it. I just wanted to say...some ppl are aware and still choose to use it.
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