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Skin volume loss is the first sign of aging. And while we're honestly fans of aging—laugh lines are joyful, expression lines mean we, well, have expressions, and growing older should be about experience and wisdom. That said, there's also nothing wrong with deciding on filler to plump up unwanted folds. It's all about whatever makes you happy. That said, skincare can make a difference. Enter: Adipeau's Active Cream ($75), which claims to regenerate cells to create volume and smooth hollows. Will the needle be swapped for a new nightly skincare step? We decided to find out.
Ivan Galanin has a background in pharmaceuticals, and conceived Adipeau Active Cream by accident during a severe case of contact dermatitis. When prescription steroids caused atrophy, he was surprised when an over-the-counter cream with safflowerseed oil helped his skin recover. As a scientist, his interest was piqued. "This simple cream caused fat cells to become bigger and increase the appearance of volume, but it wasn’t enough to make a big impact," Galanin says. He realized to make a real difference, he needed to find a way for the formula to communicate with fat cells that nourish micro hair follicles found throughout the skin. "Invisible hair follicle bulbs serve as a conduit to deliver active ingredients while also secreting growth factors," he says. With the addition of some other key ingredients, the cream is able to regenerate healthy fat cells to plump up areas on the face where sun, exercise, and aging have caused hollows. And with consistent use, the product claims it will eventually replace the need for fillers.
But, is that actually possible? We break it down (and speak to a dermatologist) below.
In addition to cottonseed oil, Galanin added Thai black ginger, an ingredient shown in scientific literature to increase a specific protein-regulating gene that controls new fat cell formation. And since safflower oil contains long-chain fatty acids that communicate through this gene, the two work synergistically to help create definition in the skin. In fact, Adipeau is seeking a patent on this ingredient combination, calling it their special sauce. "The key insight for us was that we could combine a natural active that promoted cell regeneration in conjunction with toning activities," Galanin says.
With a favorable rating of 1.1 on the Environmental Working Group's website, Galanin says that 95% of the ingredients are edible and even used in food products. "There’s nothing you’re putting into your skin that you wouldn’t put in your body," he adds.
How to Use It
Because Adipeau promotes new cell formation, it's not meant to be smeared all over your face as you might with your favorite night cream. Instead, layer a thick amount onto areas where you see a loss of volume. Common spots include nasal labial folds, laugh lines, and the trench that can deepen between the lower lashes and the nose. One surprising spot this cream helps rejuvenate is the lips. "When an aesthetician customer used it on her lip lines, her mother asked her if she got injections," Galanin says.
How Long Does It Take to See Results?
Adipeau wants you to think of its cream as fuel for your skin to restore itself. If you’re wondering how much time it'll take to notice difference in your skin, the answer requires a bit of math. "It takes one to four weeks of use for every year of damage," Galanin says. “Some people show signs earlier—even sixteen-year-old athletes can start to show signs." But younger skin is typically more efficient and regenerates cells quickly, similar to building muscle. "At 70, toning up is possible, of course," Galanin adds. "But it will take much longer."
And while the cream claims that change can occur in as few as four weeks, you should note years of committed use will likely offer the most visible results.
What a Dermatologist Says
When asked if this cream’s claims are possible, Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, celebrity cosmetic dermatologist in New York City and author of The Pro-Aging Playbook, says, in short, not quite. "There is no way that a topical product can do what a dermal filler does," Frank explains. "A dermal filler is strategically placed into areas of hollowness, and it’s impossible for a cream to penetrate deep enough to stimulate fat cells, nor are they able to get rid of unwanted fat cells." He adds that ginger is a great anti-inflammatory and offers a temporary reduction in swelling and that sunflower oil can give you a short-lived plumping effect. But that’s all it is—temporary.
Galanin maintains that there is a misconception that topical filler will become a structural component of the skin, even though it often contains skin-friendly hyaluronic acid. "If you feed your skin with proper nutrition and bring the regeneration process into balance, there is no reason why skin can’t restore itself."
The Bottom Line
While a cream probably can't be equivalent to injected filler, the science behind Adipeau suggests it could be a good option for those who want to go the topical route. In the end, it comes down to personal preference (and time frame). If time is of the essence, fillers will likely serve you best. Otherwise, there's no downside to trying this formula.