- High-end anti-aging products are some of the most expensive single-use items in the world.
- The price consumers pay for the most expensive products is significantly higher than the cost of production.
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Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Anti-aging products come in the form of creams and serums. They claim to make you look younger by reducing, hiding, or preventing the signs of aging. High-end anti-aging products are some of the most expensive single-use items in the world. Just 1 fluid ounce of this rejuvenating serum will cost you $1,800, making it one of the most expensive liquids on the planet. But do anti-aging products actually work? And does this explain why they are so expensive?
Dimitrios Tsivrikos: In all honesty, a number of these creams are used as placebo effects.
Anjali Mahto: More expensive doesn't necessarily mean better or more effective.
Narrator: Most anti-aging cosmetics, even budget items, tend to include a standard set of ingredients: water, glycerin, acids, oils, and vitamins. However, the costliest creams contain an array of extravagant additions. For example, Crme de la Mer includes a trademarked "Miracle Broth" comprised of hand-harvested giant sea kelp, which it claims has "self-regenerating" powers.
Commercial: These forests are a source of concentrated energy we unleash for skin's benefit. We call it Miracle Broth.
Narrator: But according to skin experts, these expensive ingredients aren't guaranteed or necessarily proven to be more effective.
Mahto: Often what companies will say is, "My product contains this really interesting botanical and natural ingredient. It's therefore 10 times better at moisturizing the skin than something else." However, they're under no obligation to prove that it's that ingredient itself that is causing the moisturizing properties, or something very basic as glycerin, which is found in most moisturizers. Product claims don't necessarily have to stack up in such a necessarily rigorous way.
Narrator: In the US, for example, anti-aging medications must have approval from the Food and Drug Administration for both safety and effectiveness, whereas anti-aging cosmetics, such as creams and serums, do not require FDA approval before they go on the market.
Tsivrikos: When it comes to anti-aging promises, it's a very gray area. A number of these companies promise people that they will actually reverse aging, they will actually make people look youthful again. Simply by just allowing a clinical population to test your product, there's a great deal of smoke and mirrors at that stage. Because, in reality, we can actually say with confidence that most of these clinical studies are not to be trusted.
Narrator: And the price consumers pay for the most expensive products is significantly higher than the cost of production. A 2010 investigation by the Daily Mail found that recreating a 3.4-ounce pot of Crme de la Mer from readily available ingredients is estimated to cost roughly $35. Whereas Le Mer markets their products at $510. We contacted La Mer about this investigation, and they responded, saying: "the value of Crme de la Mer reflects the highest quality ingredients, the time intensive and complex processes needed to create it, and the powerful skincare benefits experienced by its thousands of loyal devotees around the world."
Tsivrikos: When it comes to purchasing a very expensive product, most likely about 60% to 70% of the price that we might be paying is related to the cost of the manufacturer to produce and package the cream, rather than the actual product.
Narrator: But the desire to retain youthful looks is nothing new. Cleopatra is thought to have taken daily baths in donkey milk for its acidic properties, while women of the French court would pour aged wine on their faces, a process which is now recognized as having exfoliating benefits. But a blitz of beauty adverts in mid-20th-century magazines that demonized women for having so-called "middle-aged skin" was the catalyst for a now booming anti-aging industry. The anti-aging market is expected to exceed $216 billion by the end of 2021, but a large part of that includes cosmetic procedures such as Botox and face-lifts, arguably an extreme answer to our natural aging process.
Mahto: I feel like I'm seeing a lot of young women in their mid-20s that are worried about skin aging. We are currently living in a society that is so focused on outwards aesthetics. So I think there is also a driving need for people more interested in things like laser surgery or injectables like Botox or filler from a much, much younger age than we've seen before.
Narrator: So despite the lure of magical remedies and luxurious concoctions, avoiding skin damage and combating the signs of aging don't need to be so expensive.
Mahto: Budget products can be equally as effective as their more expensive counterparts. The focus shouldn't be on the cost of the product. Wearing a good-quality sunscreen, SPF minimum 30, ideally 50, throughout the year. The reason for that is that 80% to 90% of the signs that we associate with skin aging occur directly because of sunlight. So we're talking fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation. No. 2 is the use of a vitamin-A-based product or a retinoid. One doesn't need to spend a fortune, and, probably, once you're spending beyond more than 25, 30 pounds on a product, it's probably unnecessary.
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