How I Did My Research

One of the primary skills a veterinarian must have is the ability to investigate. After all, our patients cannot tell us what is wrong, and we must use a series of diagnostic tests in combination with our brain to figure it out. The other thing about veterinarians is that, as a whole, we are very skeptical…almost to a fault. We will not use or recommend a product unless it has passed a battery of efficacy and safety tests, and we are often slow to change our ways.

So, when I was asked to scrutinize the anti-aging claims of several skin products, I agreed, but only with the fore knowledge that I was going to put these products through the proverbial wringer.

A veterinarian goes through four years of training, the same amount of schooling as a medical doctor. And like a medical doctor, we are trained in biochemistry, organic chemistry, and undergo several grueling semesters of pharmacology. At UC Davis, we were also trained in dermatology and rotated through a dermatology clinic for four weeks.

In private practice, dermatological problems were one of the major reasons people brought their pets to me, and I learned a lot about topical creams and lotions, both veterinary and human. I never prescribed a product to my patients that I didn’t believe would do what it claimed. That integrity extends to the rest of my life and to anything I put my name behind, and so you must believe, when asked to investigate these products, I crawled all over them like paparazzi.
So how did I conduct my research?

My research was based primarily on material from scientific research journals. I placed the greatest emphasis on independent (i.e., non-company affiliated) clinical reviews that evaluated a large number of studies. However, the number of these that currently exist for skincare ingredients is very limited.

Much of my research was web based. As I have a background in medical training, I utilized sources such as the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, The International Journal of Cosmetic Science, the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, and webmd.com. I also researched the claims of the holistic ingredients listed on the products at the National Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine as well as mayoclinic.com and MEDLINE/PUBMED. I also utilized Wikipedia.com to learn about chemical structures of the ingredients used.

My next emphasis was on well-designed studies (large size, multi-center, placebo-controlled, blind, double blind, randomized, etc.). Most of these were company affiliated, but they followed the scientific method and were well done.

I spent time at the local library, delving into reference books. I called the companies and asked the product reps all sorts of irritating questions like, “What percentage of idebenone do you use?” or “How is your Ascorbyl Palmitate stored?” or, “What exactly is a lifting sphere?” They loved me.

Then, once I had all my information, I organized it, pored over it, and translated it into understandable English, so that you, the reader, may become the empowered consumer.