Although many of us dutifully slap on our facial moisturiser, the neck area is often neglected. Elizabeth Arden’s PREVAGE Anti-Ageing Neck and Décolleté Firm & Repair Cream claims to tighten, tone and intensely moisturise the skin, reducing dry patches, dark spots and sun damage. But with a hefty price tag of $115, is it really worth it? Beauty by the Geeks investigates so you can decide whether it’s worth sticking your neck out for beauty!

A key ingredient in this product is idebenone, a synthetic antioxidant based on the natural antioxidant ubiquinone, also called Coenzyme Q10 (this might ring a few bells for anti-ageing beauty fanatics!). We’re going to focus on this molecule for this post so we can really get down to the science on it! If you’re really keen for a low-down on the other ingredients drop us a line in the comments below or tweet us @BeautyByGeeks and we’ll take a look at those too!

Idebenone was originally designed to treat Alzheimer’s disease, and deliberately has a shorter carbon chain than ubiquinone, and so should penetrate the skin more readily than its parent ubiquinone. Both antioxidants have been suggested as topical ingredients to protect skin from oxidative damage caused by UV irradiation and pollution.

So what exactly do antioxidants do?
Free radicals are a lot like little children who’ve had far too much sugar and are running riot in your house. Free radicals have an unpaired electron (electrons in molecules like these really like to be in pairs), which means they are highly unstable and have lots of energy. Free radicals are produced in the natural ageing process anyway, but production increases when the skin is exposed to UV light. They can damage cell structures and molecules like DNA, lipids (fats) and proteins, by stealing electrons from these molecules to make up for the one they are missing. This creates new electron-deficient species and so the cycle continues.

Free radicals also boost levels of factors such as AP-1 and NF-κB (scientists think of such catchy names!), which control expression programs within cells. AP-1 results in production of metalloproteinases, enzymes that break down collagen. Reduced collagen levels are related to skin ageing, and visible appearance of aged skin, and so encouraging these collagen-degrading enzymes is not what we want at all! NF-κB boosts levels of pro-inflammatory mediators which further activate AP-1 and NF-κB, and so the cycle goes on!

Antioxidants are actually produced by the skin to protect itself against free-radical damage. However, UV light exposure and ageing both reduce the levels of these antioxidants, meaning the free radicals are free to wreak havoc on our skin and cause visible ageing.

“The most powerful”? – some comparative studies of antioxidants
The Elizabeth Arden PREVAGE website raves about idebenone, calling it “the most powerful antioxidant…your skin’s super-hero” and “the most powerful weapon against environmental damage”. BIG claims! Reading the small print and doing some investigations into the study used behind it showed that that the experiment compared the effectiveness of idebenone to 5 other antioxidants (ubiquinone, kinetic, alpha lipoic acid, l-ascorbic acid and dL-tocopherol), where is was found to outperform the others in its antioxidant capacity. Another study, however, shows it to be less effective than Vitamin C + E + ferulic acid.

Although idebenone may be a superior antioxidant to the ones tested, by no means does that mean it deserves the title of “most powerful” antioxidant – there are many more out there, and any of those, or any combination, may give a far more potent antioxidant capability. The second study was run by a scientist who himself has his own range of skin care products that use the Vitamin C + E + ferulic acid combination, so it would be nice to get some more independent data on the subject!

Idebenone in the clinic
Clinical studies performed over 6 weeks using either 0.5% or 1.0% idebenone lotion in patients with fine line and wrinkles resulted in all patients experiencing a 26% reduction in fine line and wrinkles, as well as significant increases in skin hydration and improvement in overall photodamage. Neck and Décolleté Firm & Repair Cream contains 0.5% idebenone, so this looks promising.

The Verdict 
So what’s the conclusion? It seems that there is some interesting evidence evidence on the effectiveness of idebenone for protecting our skin from damage to try and ward off the signs of skin ageing. However, proper studies comparing its strength with other antioxidants or antioxidant cocktails, and whether this is reflected in its effectiveness when used topically on the skin, seem to be missing!

Although idebenone is an effective antioxidant, we cannot recommend that it’s worth the hefty price tag in this product! Maybe Elizabeth Arden’s secrets are locked away in ingredients we haven’t had time to discuss, but for now we’ll be saving our dollar! Other products, such as those containing the well-known antioxidant resveratrol may be just as effective, and friendlier on the purse strings too – looks like even more products could be on the cards!

If you would like to get PREVAGE Anti-ageing Neck and Décolleté Firm & Repair Cream, click HERE to purchase yours.

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