Friday, July 5, 2013

Fat Chance

I am pretty lucky.  As a health and wellness blogger, I get sent lots of great products to review.  Sometimes though, I get asked to review some crazy stuff, which I feel doesn't jive with my values and beliefs.  In most of these cases I decline the offers. 

Recently, I almost automatically deleted one for a cellulite cream called Second Skin Therapeutics' Thermo Active Contouring Cream.  Such a product generally would not be on my acceptable list of items to review.  Why? Because I think they are a big bunch of BS. 

But something in the info they sent caught my eye: The product is endorsed by celebrity trainer Stephanie Joanne (pictured in the centre in the photo above).  Joanne is the trainer for CityLine host, Tracy Moore, who seems like a very down-to-earth, no-nonsense individual.  Joanne herself usually provides fairly accurate, reasonable fitness and health info when she is on the show.  I figured she wouldn't put her reputation on the line for a totally crappy product and perhaps, since I've never actually researched these types of products I have something to learn.

I received a 6 oz tube of the cream, which comes with the following promises:


  • What's in this magic cream?

    Medicinal Ingredients: Chinese thorowax (Bupleurum falcatum, Root) 0.21 % Mate (Ilex paraguariensis, Leaf) 0.9 % Coenzyme A 0.03 % d-Glaucine 0.0025 %

    Non-Medicinal Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Alcohol Denat., Dimethicone, Ethoxydiglycol, Butylene Glycol, Coffea Arabica (Coffee) Seed Extract, Menthol, Coleus Forskohlii Root Extract, Paullinia Cupana Seed Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Capsicum Annuum Extract, Caffeine, PEG-8, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, PEG-60 Almond Glycerides, Coco-Glucoside, Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Propylene Glycol, Alcohol, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.

    Where is the proof that it works?  This is the 'clinical data' provided by the company:

    UNISLIM™ Is a highly original action mechanism inspired by the work of Nobel prize winner, Professor Goldstein (1990). The methodology of the efficacy tests is also a reflection of that work:
    • UNISLIM™, containing titrated quantities of cafestol, caffeine and theobromine, inhibits lipid storage in adipocytes by blocking LDL and VLDL receptor synthesis.Those receptors enable endocytosis of fats by adipocytes. This action and its demonstration using the RT-PCR method are important innovations in cosmetology.
    • UNISLIM™ also stimulates lipolysis (+170%) by inhibiting phosphodiesterase. This action is mediated by more conventional active substances (caffeine and theobromine).
    • The two complementary activities are based on the combination of green coffee extract and Yerba mate extract, which constitute UNISLIM™.

    Is a synergistic complex designed to accelerate lipid release from storage sites, combat cellulitis and firm the skin. LIPOCARE™ consists of:
    1. Bupleurum chinensis extract
    2. caffeine
    3. biotechnological coenzyme A (CoA)
    and acts via 3 different pathways on lipolysis:
    1. increase in cyclic AMP formation through activation of proteins G
    2. maintenance of the cAMP pool by inhibition of phosphodiesterase
    3. activation and transport of fatty acids towards the mitochondria for combustion generating ATP.
    The in vitro studies have enabled the action mechanism to be elucidated:
    • coenzyme A eliminates the fatty acids formed during lipolysis: transformation of stored lipids to energy (ATP) was demonstrated. The ATP synthesis rate increased by 95% relative to the controls.
    LIPOCARE™ stimulates the natural process of elimination of fat.
    • In vivo, the combined effect of the three pathways leading to the release of lipids and the decrease of cellulitis.
    The ballistometry study highlighted the firming effect of LIPOCARE™: A profilometry study by image analysis demonstrated the significant decrease of the orange peel aspect: Skin becomes firmer and smoother and the superficial fat deposits (orange-peel skin) become less apparent, to firm and sculpture the body.

    From what info I could dig up, this Dr. Goldstein's research actually relates to cholesterol and treatments for diabetes.  I couldn't find anything on "Unislim", but "Lipocare" appears to be a common element of cellulite creams.

    Digging deeper into the peer-reviewed data, I found two studies demonstrating significant efficacy of these types of products.

    Neither the tube nor the info the company sent tells you how long you have to use it before you see benefits, so I've decided I'll use up the tube and at that point do a before and after comparison.

    What they are very specific about, is how you have to massage the product into your thighs using an upward motion, which makes me wonder if I'm not just going to be smooshing fat from my thighs up into my ass.  In any case, I am still rather skeptical.  In addition, I firmly believe (no pun intended), that the best way to decrease body fat deposits are through a healthy lifestyle and if you are living as healthy a life as you can and still have lumps and bumps, well so be it.  Most of us can't have supermodel bodies.

    Anyways.  I'm going to give this a go and once I finish the tube I'll let you know what the results are.  If I have thinner thighs, that won't be such a bad thing!

    I hope you have a fabulous weekend!


    1. Do you think that green coffee bean can be a effective supplement to loss weight?

      Finn Felton

      Kopi Luwak

    2. There isn't a lot of evidence for these things, I think the effects are very modest at best, especially to the relative cost.