Is the secret to younger-looking skin as simple as slathering a beloved breakfast dish all over your face?
Sure, there’s the beauty myth that using egg whites will shrink pores and tighten skin. But there’s some truth behind that whole thing about eggs—and the world of skin care is taking note.
In late 2013, celebrity dermatologist Dr. Nicolas Perricone unveiled OVM ($165, perriconemd.com), an anti-aging cream highlighting eggshell membrane, promising to deliver smoother, firmer skin. Perricone says this morning cream can improve skin’s texture and possibly provide “the appearance of (a) youthful cushion.”
“The egg has always been an interest of mine,” Perricone says on his site. “In fact, the egg white portion of the egg is a key component of the metabolic diet system because it is highly nourishing, 100 percent absorbable by the body, and has complete amino acid profiles…I was inspired to do further research on the egg. I soon learned that the membrane that surrounds the developing embryo (the chick) possesses amazing qualities and nutrients.”
“I hypothesized that its ability to nurture and sustain the rapidly growing embryo could also mean that it could be beneficial to the skin and the concept of OVM was born,” he adds. “(The eggshell membrane) is the ideal substance to use in a skin care product because it is a powerful anti-inflammatory that also supplies nutrients and growth factors known to prevent and treat the aging process. OVM helps to reduce the appearance dry, fine lines, wrinkles, and pores.”
For those stopping in their tracks at Perricone’s $165 price tag, there are other far less expensive options. There’s also the petite size and more affordable egg white facial soap from Sweden that costs less than 10 dollars and claims to “draw out impurities,” resulting in “glowing skin” if used daily. Also featuring rose water and lanolin, it promises to soften skin and correct redness and dryness.
However, for those looking to turn back time, is it really an egg-cellent idea to look for skin care products featuring, well, eggs? Some experts say to think twice before buying into the idea.
“Although egg whites are an excellent source of protein in the diet, their use in skin care has been controversial for years,” says Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, DC. “In fact, some find those ‘egg white facials’ can actually cause worsening of acne. It’s important to remember that just because something is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it’s automatically good for the skin.”
Tanzi says the products containing egg may moisturize but she’s “skeptical that they can reverse the signs of aging.”
And as for applying it straight from the fridge? Don’t even think about it, she insists.
“It’s not a good idea because raw eggs can harbor bacteria, which can be detrimental to the skin,” she warns.
There’s no scientific proof that eggs contribute to youthful skin.
“I can’t say I am aware of any major studies in the literature exploring topical application of eggshell membrane on collagen formation or inflammation in the skin,” says Dr. Julia Tzu, clinical assistant professor of dermatology from New York University.
“There really isn’t much evidence-based medicine behind the topical application of (hen) eggs for skin rejuvenation,” Tzu says. “It is possible that any benefit people experience with topical application of eggs, including yolk, could be theoretically traced to its vitamin A and sulfur content. Topical application of vitamin A is frequently used for its anti-aging and acne-reducing properties.”
Tzu also states one could easily avoid an unwanted mess and consult a dermatologist instead, who can prescribe a product for your skin type featuring similar ingredients.
Another reason why some are skeptical of the claim? One expert points out that Perricone’s cream, in particular, includes one other anti-aging ingredient.
“Dr. Perricone’s cream also contains retinol, a proven vitamin A derivative called a retinoid, and a proprietary ‘carrying’ system that is likely the excellent moisturizing ingredients found in most anti-aging products,” says Dr. Jessica Krant, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. “It’s the moisturizers and retinoids that do most of the heavy lifting. Egg whites and eggshell membrane likely are of added superficial and temporary benefit.”
But not all disagree with the concept. Beauty expert Alexis Wolfer of The BeautyBean.com prefers adding eggs to some of her homemade facial masks to tighten fine lines.
“Egg yolks, with their fat, cholesterol, and retinols, are also great for helping to reduce the appearance of acne scars, making this ideal for post-pimple skin, too,” says Wolfer in her upcoming book, The Recipe for Radiance: Discover Beauty’s Best Kept Secrets in Your Kitchen, slated to be released May 2014.
And even one dermatologist isn’t completely opposed to adding eggs every now and then to your skincare routine.
“Egg whites tighten the skin, giving the illusion of smaller pores, but it’s temporary effect,” says Elizabeth McBurney, clinical professor of dermatology at New Orleans-based Tulane University School of Medicine, to Real Simple.
So, are eggs a major do or don’t? For more permanent results, experts do reccomend applying moisturizer daily to hydrate fine lines, as well as maintaining a diet rich in fruits and veggies. However, there’s one more beneficial thing you can do for lasting results.
“Although as a dermatologist, I may sound like a broken record, but the number one thing people can do to minimize the signs of aging is to avoid the sun,” says Tanzi. “Wearing sunscreen and a hat to completely keep the face, neck, and chest out of the sun will help so much more than any cream ever will, no matter the price.
Still curious? Wolfer shares two of her homemade facial masks recipes here.