It has to be said that as a big beautiful world, we are rather an impatient bunch! Whether it’s a late bus or just a buffering YouTube video, we’re not great at waiting. The same goes for beauty products – we’re always searching for something that will deliver instant results. Enter Cult 51 Immediate Effects Serum, which is promising just that!

The Claims
Cult 51 Immediate Effects Serum’s ‘cutting edge 3D skincare’ aims to solve all ageing beauty bothers in one go. It claims to have a dramatic anti-ageing impact in just an hour, while also building up to more long-lasting effects. CultBeauty customers are deeming it ‘some kind of witchcraft’ and dishing out five-star reviews galore, but is it really worth a hefty £95? We Beauty Geeks are expecting magic (or at least some solid science!) for that price tag!

The Science behind the Bottle – Collagen
The first ingredient of interest is ‘99% pure collagen’, described as ‘innovative’ in their product description. Keen BBTG readers will know how important collagen is for the integrity of our skin: it’s a key structural protein, responsible for keeping our skin strong, yet flexible. Slapping on concentrated collagen should surely increase the skin’s own levels of the protein, leaving our skin looking renewed, right? It’s actually a bit more complicated than that! Collagen is a large molecule, and so it cannot penetrate the skin barrier and become absorbed by the deeper skin. Even if it was effectively absorbed, it wouldn’t contribute to our own existing network of collagen fibres. Because collagen is an effective humectant (simply meaning it’s very good at holding onto water), its presence in beauty products is usually just to act as a moisturiser. We have to say this doesn’t sound very innovative to us – moisturisers are some of the oldest ingredients in the book!

So how does this serum deliver on its promise of ‘collagen, elastin and cellular regeneration’? The answer must lie in the other ingredients: ‘an argan fraction rich in high molecular weight proteins, 5 anti-inflammatory extracts and a synergistic complex of yeast, saponosides and flavonoids’. Let’s investigate!
The Science behind the Bottle – Argan Oil
Argan oil has set the beauty world abuzz in the last few years, so it’s no surprise to find that argan-derived compounds have been contained in this serum. A study looking at topical application of argan oil showed an increase in skin elasticity with the use of the oil – good news for keeping skin looking supple and youthful. But what is the significance of the high molecular weight proteins?

According to a patent allowing the use of argan oil in beauty products, they are effective at working against wrinkles. Here comes a very sciencey explanation! As we get older, collagen and elastin (the proteins responsible for our skin’s youthful springiness) are degraded by enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Our skin naturally contains compounds that inhibit MMPs, called tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs), but unfortunately their levels decline with age. Argan proteins have been shown to increase the production of TIMPs, so that MMPs can’t degrade collagen or elastin as quickly as they normally would… the ageing process is effectively slowed down! This doesn’t account for the product’s claim of regeneration though… let’s explore the next set of ingredients.

The Science behind the Bottle – Anti-inflammatories
After doing some digging through the ingredients list, we Beauty Geeks can confirm that this serum does indeed contain five botanical anti-inflammatory extracts: Indian pennywort (Centella asiatica), English Marigold (Calendula officinalis), escin (derived from horse chestnuts), green tea (Camellia sinensis) and butcher’s broom shrub (Ruscus aculeatus). All of these ingredients have been shown to prevent the body’s release of inflammatory mediators, but what does this mean for the skin? Anti-inflammatories are brilliant for skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and other inflammation-based woes! This is due to their abilities to reduce redness and swelling.

Another characteristic feature of inflammation is oedema, also known as a build-up of fluid. Oedema has been linked to those puffy eye-bags that tend to linger after late nights, so perhaps these ingredients deliver on the product’s promise to reduce their visibility? Although it’s worth bearing mind that the general consensus with eye-bags though is that lifestyle improvements will have a more positive effect than any skincare. We’re talking less Netflix… more sleep!

The Science behind the Bottle – Antioxidants
These five extracts also contain much of the ‘cocktail of anti-oxidants’ in the product. Anti-oxidants work to ‘scavenge’ the reactive oxygen atoms (free radicals) in the skin that increase collagen degradation. With fewer free radicals, collagen levels should stay higher for longer and the ageing process is effectively slowed, which is why the beauty world positively worships these little molecules. We should point out that practically all anti-ageing products contain antioxidants, so these certainly aren’t an ‘innovative’ part of Cult 51’s formula. Saying that, antioxidants have indeed been shown to have protective effects on the skin, and oppose the early development of signs of visible ageing.

What does get really interesting is when we combine this anti-oxidant activity with the healing properties of Camellia sinensis (the leaves of which are used to produce tea!). TGF-β is a molecule produced by the body to stimulate collagen and skin cell production in the event of damage. Camellia sinensis contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to increase the levels of TGF-β in the body. More TGF-β means more collagen and an anti-ageing firming effect – it gets a big tick from us! It looks like we finally found an ingredient with potential to rejuvenate the skin!

The Science behind the Bottle – Escin and more!
Saponosides and flavonoids are the molecules next up for the Beauty Geek scrutiny. Sure enough, they can be found in horse chestnut escin and butcher’s broom extract. Digging a little deeper, escin sparked the interest of The Geeks, as it has been shown to improve microcirculation (the blood circulation in the skin). This is interesting because better circulation is thought to help improve ‘puffyness’, particularly in the eye area, by helping prevent fluid build-up. This could also reduce the appearance of dark under-eye circles, commonly caused by blood pooling in broken vessels under the skin.

These ingredients are promising in their own right, but what about their claimed ‘synergistic’ relationship with yeast? (Synergistic just means to work together with).The hydrolysed yeast protein in this serum is most likely just used as another moisturising ingredient because of its humectant properties. There’s actually no evidence to suggest that it specifically works with saponosides and flavonoids in any extraordinary way!

What is the verdict?
There are a lot of active botanical extracts in this product that can be linked to some essential skincare processes and benefits: collagen promotion, protection against cell stress, anti-inflammatory action, and boosting microcirculation. Looking at the science, this serum could definitely deliver on its promises to fight fine lines, wrinkles and dark circles. What about the ‘immediate effects’? The product website says the serum’s fast action was proven in independent clinical research. Before we can recommend a £95 product, we’d love to see that lab report! These immediate effects are more than likely from the moisturising properties of the serum and its components.

Quite simply, we can see that there’s a fair amount of savvy science here. We’re a little disappointed at claims of ‘cellular regeneration’ as we can’t see any magical ingredient that will kick-start cells into rejuvenating themselves (although that collagen-promoting tea leaf certainly caught our interest!). It should definitely be noted that the collagen in this product isn’t there to reinforce the skin’s own structure.

The shining reviews are certainly an encouraging reflection of the ingredients list. Maybe this formula isn’t quite as ‘innovative’ as we were promised, but many ingredients in Immediate Effects Serum have been chosen carefully to hydrate, protect and support the skin, and it’s good to see there’s science behind the rest of their claims!

If you liked the sound of Cult 51 Immediate Effects Serum, and would like to try it for yourself, click HERE!

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http://www.cultbeauty.co.uk/cult-51-immediate-effects-serum.html
Evaluation for collagen products for cosmetic application
Cosmetic and/or dermopharmaceutical preparations containing leaf extracts of the plant argania spinosa
The effect of dietary and/or cosmetic argan oil on postmenopausal skin elasticity
Therapeutic potential of argan oil: a review
Anti-inflammatory activity of flower extract of Calendula officinalis Linn. and its possible mechanism of action.
Anti-inflammatory effects of escin are correlated with the glucocorticoid receptor/NF-κB signaling pathway, but not the COX/PGF2α signaling pathway
The Effect of Camellia sinensis on Wound Healing Potential in an Animal Model.
Which plant for which skin disease? Part 2: Dermatophytes, chronic venous insufficiency, photoprotection, actinic keratoses, vitiligo, hair loss, cosmetic indications
http://www.centerchem.com/Products/DownloadFile.aspx?FileID=6494
Aescin: microcirculatory activity. Effects of accessory components on clinical and microcirculatory efficacy.
Solutions for bags under eyes, dark circles and puffy eyes
http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/703037/HYDROLYZED_YEAST_PROTEIN/
Image: http://www.b-glowing.com/cult51-immediate-effect-serum/