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Fountain of Youth in Murad Method?

THE PRODUCT AND WHAT IT'S MARKETED FOR: The Murad Method is

a skin-cleansing system, which, like many, includes cleanser, toner and

moisturizer. But Dr. Howard Murad grew his line into a regimen of more than 60

products that includes supplements he says reduce lines and wrinkles and "lock

moisture into the skin from within" to help slow aging.

Murad is a board-certified dermatologist and pharmacist in Los Angeles. His

biography says he holds 14 patents, was one of the first dermatologists to

launch a skin care line and the first to use the antioxidant benefits of

pomegranate in such products.

Murad says treating more than 40,000 patients provided insight about what

people needed to care for their skin at home. That led to his "internal skin

care" line.

The Youth Builder Collagen Supplement, said to reduce lines and wrinkles in

five weeks, was introduced in 1995. One bottle contains 120 earthy-smelling

tablets in 30 doses of four pills daily. At Sephora stores, it sells for $45.

The Wet Suit Cell Hydrating Supplement was introduced this year. According

to the label, it locks moisture into the skin from within. A bottle contains 30

two-pill doses. At www.skincentersalon.com, it sells for $35.

Murad recommends taking both supplements together. The products are sold in

The Four Seasons Hotel, Sephora stores nationwide, in some Nordstrom shops and

at www.murad.com.

WHAT'S KNOWN: There are many theories about aging and many more aids

promising to prevent or slow the natural process. However, the Food and Drug

Administration does not test or regulate most of these over-the-counter

remedies, so there is no guarantee the supplements contain what's promised or

that they're manufactured in a clean facility.

The Youth Builder contains glucosamine, believed to play a role in collagen

formation and repair; amino acids; and vitamins A, B-3 B-6, C and E. The label

recommends pregnant or nursing women avoid the product, which also includes

grape seed extract, pharmaceutical glaze and talc.

Murad says independent tests prove his Youth Builder works, so "clinically

proven" is on the label. In the independent study, 65 women ages 39-56 took the

supplement or a placebo for five weeks. Their skin elasticity was measured via

computers at the end of one week.

During the test period, participants could wash with only soap and water

and could not use moisturizer or sunscreen. At the end of the study, the

women's faces were again measured and those taking the supplement showed a 34

percent reduction in lines and wrinkles and an 18 percent increase in

elasticity.

"This is a truly scientific study," Murad said.

Dr. Dean Kane, a plastic surgeon affiliated with Mercy Medical Center in

Baltimore, disagreed. He said there is no way to know if the results were

permanent and if the participants were, for example, sunburned or dehydrated

beforehand.

Because the Wet Suit is relatively new, no tests have been conducted. Murad

said a test is planned and results should be available in six months.

Murad said he developed this product after watching fruits wither without

water. If water could be injected into cells, his reasoning goes, they'll be

more resistant to inflammation - and age.

The resulting product smells like a blend of rubbing alcohol and moss. It

also contains vitamins C and E. Ingredients include zinc, present in all body

tissues; manganese, said to protect the skin against ultraviolet radiation

injury; copper, an antioxidant used in many anti-aging products; and selenium,

an antioxidant said to protect the immune system, according to Murad's company.

Trace ingredients include collagen, aloe vera concentrate, cellulose and talc.

Kane said he would not recommend either supplement.

OTHER OPTIONS: Murad said if someone doesn't want to buy his products, the

formulas are available. Each ingredient is easy to find, he added.

"Every one of them is available if you go to the general grocery store," he

said. "It's the mixture that makes the difference."

Instead of concocting mixtures, The American Academy of Dermatology

recommends sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, applying sunscreen to dry skin

at least 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapplying every two hours or

immediately after swimming.

Kane also advises eating balanced diets including cold-water fish for

omega-3 fatty acids, exercising and taking vitamin supplements.

More expensive options include Botox, chemical peels and face lifts. The

results are not always permanent, so repeat visits are necessary.

Of course, there's always the cheapest and easiest method of all - grow old

gracefully.

Dawn Wotapka is a freelance writer

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