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Misinformation Abounds on Anti-Aging Products

Few Understand the Risks or Effectiveness of Products and Procedures

Survey Reveals Consumer Confusion continued...

The survey showed over-the-counter products were overwhelmingly the most common anti-aging option:

  • 72% of women and 13% of men said they had used or are currently using an over-the-counter anti-aging product.
  • 36% of women and 11% of men reported use of vitamin or herbal extracts applied directly to the face, such as vitamins C or E.
  • 19% of women and 6% of men said they had used or are using prescription face creams, masks, or gels.
  • Fewer than 10% of men and women said they had had anti-aging procedures.

Most respondents believed a product or procedure's effectiveness went hand in hand with the risks associated with it.

"Surgical procedures are seen as more effective and dangerous, whereas over-the-counter products are seen as less dangerous but also less effective," says researcher David Krane, senior vice president of public policy at Harris Interactive.

However, researchers found 15% of the respondents had experienced side effects or negative outcomes from using an over-the-counter anti-aging product, such as redness, allergic reaction, or irritation. Seventeen percent and 18% reported negative side effects from prescription products and procedures, respectively.

Although that percentage is small, researchers say that translates to more than 10 million women nationwide who have suffered negative side effects from the use of over-the-counter products -- 2.3 million from prescription products and 1.4 million from procedures.

Impact of Youth-Obsessed Society

The survey also revealed that people are increasingly turning to anti-aging products in an attempt to look younger for personal as well as professional reasons.

For example, the survey found that as people's age increases, so does their ideal age. When asked which age they'd like to look, women aged 45-54 said 36, but women over 55 said 46 was their ideal. For men aged 45-54, the ideal age was 35, and for men over 55 it was 45.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Half of men and women agree that looking young is important to professional success.
  • Women are more likely than men to believe looking young is an important factor in personal happiness (37% vs. 28%).
  • Most women and men agree that it has become more acceptable in the last five years to use products or procedures in order to look younger.

Dermatologist Dennis Gross says the survey's findings echo what he's seeing in his New York City-based private practice.

"Many people who come into my office are afraid of being replaced by someone younger at work," says Gross. He says they view anti-aging procedures as a means of job security.

But Gross says there are now so many more options available than there were just a few years ago and that people need to seek professional help to sort through the options and determine what is most appropriate to meet their own goals.

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