Step into the parlour said the spider to the fly: Prof Regan's beauty product tests

Prof Regan's Beauty Parlour on BBC2 on Monday night made for some great viewing. The glamorous doctor applied the same rigorous standards to cosmetic products that are used in medicine to see how they would stand up.

Some very interesting results emerged. Apart from the obvious one - that false claims are made all the time - some standout moments for me were the following.

  • The best antiaging products Prof Reagan seemed to identify were Nivea Vitamin C moisturiser and a Boots No7 product. Nivea and No7! Only tantalising glimpses of products were given in a shimmery hazy way - so if anyone spotted exactly what this No7 was, I'd dearly love to know.
  • UPDATE: Intrepid reader edelweiss conducted a lengthy investigation to find out which No7 product was featured in the programme - it's No 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum
  • Remember the Head and Shoulders Cold As Ice ad? Prof Reagan revealed that it had been banned for claiming that it cleared 100% of dandruff flakes. Actually what had been scientifically proven was: a person standing two feet away couldn't see any flakes. Jesus, Head & Shoulders, why didn't you go the whole hog and say a blind man on a galloping horse two feet away couldn't see any flakes? Ah we love Head and Shoulders at - they're so trustworthy.
  • Conditioners for coloured hair actually do what they're supposed to.
  • It has been scientifically proven that creams with an SPF delay sun ageing. During the day, right? All a product needs to do to claim it is antiageing is to include an SPF as one of its ingredients. But when an Estee Lauder NIGHT cream claimed it was antiageing by virtue of this one ingredient advertising standards had to intervene
  • And this is a great point. Cosmetic products are not rigorously tested for two reasons really. One is of course that they may not stand up to scrutiny. But cosmetic companies may not want to submit them for testing for another reason. They may very well do what they claim to do. If a product is found to be medically effective e.g. reversing wrinkles say, it will be classified as a drug. It will have to go through years of clinical trials and will only be available on prescription. And obviously the cosmetic companies don't want this.

What I really liked about this program was the fact that she was so open minded and objective. She used skincare products and wore make up, but she had no axe to grind, no strong feelings either way it seemed. She simply wanted to find out the truth.

If you missed it: fear not - you can watch the highlights of the programme online here

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