Consumerism: Youth in a pot remains an illusion

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The promise of "youth in a pot" made by anti-ageing face creams is just that - a promise. They are no better than plain moisturisers which sell at a fraction of the cost, according to a Which? survey.

The most effective ingredient in 24 face creams, costing from pounds 2 to pounds 50 tested by the consumer magazine turned out to be the main one - water.

Water plumps up the outer layer of skin, masking lines and wrinkles and making the skin look smoother. Anti-ageing creams, costing up to 75 times as much as ordinary moisturisers, contain extra ingredients claimed to "target the needs of ageing and damaged skin" but they left the women who tried them unimpressed and some complained of soreness and irritation.

Which? selected 12 anti-ageing creams and 12 ordinary moisturisers and tested each on four women volunteers aged from 40 to 55.

Ten of the 48 women using the anti-ageing creams said it had improved the overall look of the their skin but 18 of the 48 testing the ordinary moisturisers said the same thing. Most women noticed no difference. The most expensive cream was Servital Active Tissue Defence by Syence, which costs pounds 51 for 30 mls. The testers estimated it was worth around pounds 5.