Truffles in Skincare – Marketing Gimmick or Effective Ingredient?

Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Revitalizing Mask Noir with Truffle extract

Estee Lauder has just released a new mask containing the rarest ingredients in the world: the truffle. My first instinct about this was that truffles are amazing in food but in skin care? Is this a marketing beat-up or does the truffle contain some remarkable properties I haven’t heard about before? It is common for skin care companies to use expensive sounding ingredients as a way to lift a product’s perceived value and justify the price tag. Examples of this are ingredients like caviar, gold, rare flower essence and so on. 

What Estee Lauder is Saying About Truffles in skin care

The treatment is a two phase “spa-like” treatment.

Step One – Dry Brushing

Dry Brush – Image courtesy of SilverKis
Dry Brush – Image courtesy of SilverKis

Step one starts with a dry brush massage using the kabuki brush provided (pictured below). According to Estee Lauder, this step aids in re-energizing the skin in preparation for the treatment that follows. The brush is exceptionally soft, and I think (and hope) that the hairs are taklon/man-made fibres. Because the brush is so soft I can’t quite see the value of a “massage”. I think it is more about the ritual that efficacy.

Step Two – Apply the mask.

The mask is black in colour and has a gel-type of texture. The ingredients are below with links provided for the key/major ingredients:

Water\Aqua\Eau; Peg-8; Hydrogenated Polydecene; Glycerin; Jojoba Esters; Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate; Tuber Melanosporum Extract (truffle extract) ; Sucrose (sugar); Narcissus Tazetta Bulb Extract; Pentylene Glycol; Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract; Laminaria Digitata Extract; Acetyl Hexapeptide-8; Hydrolyzed Yeast Protein; Alcaligenes Polysaccharides; Acetyl Glucosamine; Caffeine; Petrolatum; Sodium Hyaluronate; Decyl Glucoside; Pearl Powder; Artemia Extract; Hydrolyzed Rice Protein; Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone; Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate; Gold; Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein; Betaine; Algae Extract; Peg-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate; Lecithin; Cetearyl Alcohol; Peg-100 Stearate; Sodium Polyacrylate Starch; Saccharide Isomerate; Coco-Glucoside; Peg-7 Glyceryl Cocoate; Sorbitan Oleate; Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer; Peg-10 Laurate; Caprylyl Glycol; Charcoal Powder; Hexylene Glycol; Sodium Dehydroacetate; Alcohol; Polymethylsilsesquioxane; Citric Acid; Fragrance (Parfum); Disodium Edta; Phenoxyethanol; Iron Oxides (Ci 77499) 

Charcoal – Does it really absorb toxins when applied topically?

The formulation includes powdered bamboo charcoal (sounds very exotic) which gives the mask its colour. Charcoal, it claims, helps to minimise pore size, and draws out toxins. The quantity, however, is so low (see how far down the ingredient list is it) that it really won’t do much in a mask that is rinsed off after less than an hour.

Now, this is where I start to hear marketing terms that sound a bit like pseudo-science. Activated charcoal does help to draw out toxin when you eat it after an overdose:

Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Revitalizing Mask Noir with truffle extract
Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Revitalizing Mask Noir with truffle extract
activate charcoal
activated charcoal (image courtesy of Lab Muffin)

“Activated charcoal is sometimes used to help treat a drug overdose or a poisoning. When you take activated charcoal, drugs and toxins can bind to it. This helps rid the body of unwanted substances. Charcoal is made from coal, wood, or other substances. It becomes “activated charcoal” when high temperatures combine with a gas or activating agent to expand its surface area.” – Web MD

According to Lab Muffin, charcoal at a molecular level, may work in skincare, but would take hours, not minutes to work, and the scientific experiments involved charcoal in a water based solution and stirred. This is not testesd in a mask form, which would, according to the study, lessen the effects of absorption.

Activated Charcoal efficacy in skincare courtesy of Lab Muffin
Activated Charcoal efficacy in skin care courtesy of Lab Muffin

Black Diamond Truffle Extract – Marketing Hype or Miracle Ingredient?

Now we get to the key ingredient (cue angle song)  Black Diamond Truffle Extract.  Wow, sounds amazing. Apparently “each drop of this is the result of 10,000 hours’ of work, and only a very limited quantity of this may be produced each year”. (source Silver Kis)

If you look for evidence of truffles in skin care there is only anecdotal evidence:

“Truffles help stimulate the production of the enzyme superoxide dismustase, which is said to help stimulate cell regeneration, destroy free radicals, and make skin look younger, smoother, and plumper.” – Skin & Co Roma (owned by the Sabatino Tartufi truffle-trading company)

I couldn’t find any studies about truffle’s effectiveness, so it is either ahead of the curve or a marketers dream. A product may be extremely rare and hard to obtain, but that doesn’t make it effective as a skin care ingredient. What it does do is make the buyer feel unique and special, which is the whole point about spa-like skin care products.

24kt gold – How Does Gold this help skin?

The formulation also includes finely ground 24k gold (and South Sea Pearl for good measure). 

Forgive me for being skeptical but these ingredients are expensive sounding but do they help in your skin care regime? According to Dana Oliver Executive Fashion And Beauty Editor at The Huffington Post, gold in skin care may not be worthy of the hype it is given in luxury skin care.

In a leave-on cream, gold flakes would add lustre cosmetically. Apparently, however, 24ct gold actually is an antioxidant and does contain anti-inflammatory properties. Please note there is no actual evidence that it is any more effective than less expensive antioxidants.

Tabasum Mir, a skin care physician, (Huffington Post), claims other ingredients that are more powerful than 24 kt gold, but without the price tag, include resveratrolgreen teawhite grape seedvitamin C and emblica

Gold is safe to apply as the size of the molecules don’t allow sub-cutaneous penetration, but it’s also not a super ingredient. 24 ct gold sounds pretty and luxurious but not worth the hype. Again though, special sounding ingredients do make the user feel special, unique and pampered.

Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Revitalizing Mask Noir with truffle extract
Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Revitalizing Mask Noir with truffle extract

Final Thoughts on Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Diamond Revitalizing Mask Noir

This mask, containing some very effective ingredients is firmly placed in the luxury skin care category. The ingredients are unique, expensive and rare, designed to make the user feel pampered and special. Charcoal is in low quantities so probably won’t actually do much drawing out of impurities, especially since the mask is only applied for a few minutes. The truffle extract is a luxury ingredient that has skin nurturing properties but no real scientific basis. There is also gold which is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, but not as effective as plant based versions. 

If you are looking for a product to make you feel special then this is the ticket, but if you are after a mask that is effective there are probably less expensive masks around that will do the job. That said I would love to have this sitting on my bathroom shelf as it looks beautiful and would make me feel special. 

Purchase Ultimate Diamond Revitalizing Mask Noir $340 USD

Credit: Silver Kis World

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