February 1, 2013 7:06 pm

Creams to try – from up high

We often rely on insider information to find the best serum for our skin. But there can be nice discoveries from the most unexpected sources

A funny thing happened the other day: I nearly bought a moisturiser based on an article I read in a magazine. I know. Me. Someone who has read between the lines (if not written them) on just about every face cream out there. Sad, isn’t it?

Admittedly I was on a short-haul flight, had finished my book and there wasn’t a whole lot else to do but still: I was practically flagging down the air steward to buy the stuff. Happily, however, I did have enough presence of mind to wait until we landed and then email the colleague who wrote the article: “So was it REALLY that good?”

“Flipping fantastic!” was the reply.

When it comes to creams – more than any other product in the beauty arena – it’s that insider information we’re all looking for. As with doctors, who are continually asked about every ache and pain when off-duty, so too with beauty editors and products. Back in the day, the questions were about whether or not anti-ageing creams worked at all. (Yes, but it’s only a cream, so if you’re expecting miracles allow me to suggest a good surgeon.) Then they progressed to: are the cheap ones as good as the expensive ones? (Yes, probably. But flashy skincare is more effective for impressing the guests who take a peek into your bathroom cabinet when they’re bored during dinner.)

And nowadays, they are all about specifics: what do I think about idebenone? (It’s a powerful antioxidant, comparing well with others, like vitamins C and E.) Have I tried that new one from so-and-so’s plastic surgeon? (A plastic surgeon isn’t the same as a dermatologist; and a celebrity is no beauty editor.)

Ironically, no one has asked the one question that really deserves an answer: how can something claiming to make a physiological change to the skin continue to be sold over the counter without a prescription? – which may be a good thing, because every time I’ve asked this, at various launches, I’ve never had a satisfactory reply.

Indeed, the reason I lapped up that article on the plane was because it was focused on one cream as opposed to about 20, so the author could explain the concept of epidermal growth factors in detail (it’s a protein found in the skin that helps in the production of new cells) instead of attempting to sum it up in 140 characters or less on a Beauty News page.

But for the benefit of those with Twitter-like minds, I will endeavour to pass on the latest intel about interesting skincare newcomers so that you never get stuck on a plane staring at a product page, wondering whether to buy.

First, Ioma Youth Booster, £149, is worth a test. Remember how we flocked to buy Crème de la Mer, developed by Nasa scientist Max Huber? Youth Booster also taps into space, using the same micro-sensor technology first used to look for gases on Mars, to tell you how well your skin is being moisturised. With flashing LED lights, you push the lid down on your skin; if you get three lights, you need to use it once a day but if you get more than three, you need to use it twice. I am not sure how it works but how much fun can a girl have?

Also worth trying is Estée Lauder Advanced Time Zone Age Reversing Creme, from £53. Forget my issues with the “Every Woman Can Be Beautiful” slogan attached to the Lauder skincare campaigns (I’m just dying to add a list of exceptions, such as “Every Woman Can be Beautiful – Except When She’s Gone All Out On The Leopard Print From Head To Toe”), the new Time Zone range is the result of a study of more than 2,000 women from varying ethnic backgrounds that found that Black and Japanese women don’t get as many wrinkles as Caucasian women. They do, however, have concerns with sagging skin on the jaw line, so the brand worked on new molecules that encourage the skin to produce more hyaluronic acid and prevent sagging. It feels great and I think it’s going to be a winner.

Then there’s L‘Oréal Age Perfect Cell Renew, from £19.99. L’Oréal’s big launch for 2013, this claims to be able to send 4m new cells to reach the skin’s surface faster each day by enabling the “mother” cells to produce more cells more quickly thanks to a cocktail of mostly natural sounding ingredients. Forget the science, most of us will want it because Julianne Moore fronts the campaign.

Which leaves me with ... The One I Read About On the Aeroplane! That was Bioeffect EGF Serum, from £125. Unlike many epidermal growth factor creams in which the ingredient is derived from sources such as hamsters’ ovarian cells or E-coli bacteria, this gets its EGF from barley seeds grown in laboratories in Iceland, which means it’s safer to use and more of EGF can be put into the serum, so making it more potent.

Promising plump tight skin, reduced lines and pigmentation, and with impressive dermatologist credentials, seemingly the only thing this serum can’t do is fix the economy. But judging from the fact it outsells all other in-flight offerings on British Airways, that might soon change.

kathleen.baird-murray@ft.com

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