Facelift in a bottle? The pastel beverages at some Washington area cosmetics counters are Borba Nutraceuticals, touted by their creator as drinkable skin care that beautifies by "conspiring with your bloodstream to nurture skin where it starts." Borba's three formulas -- replenishing, clarifying and age-defying -- reportedly contain "reverse-osmosis water" (purified, to you) infused with vitamins, minerals and botanical ingredients such as lychee, grape seed, acai, and walnut-husk and pomegranate extracts. The calorie-free products, priced at $2.50 a 15.2-ounce bottle, are the idea of Beverly Hills cosmetics developer Scott Vincent Borba. Drink two bottles a day, Borba says, and you'll see skin improvements in seven days.
Squishy Science Borba promotional materials cite a privately commissioned study in which half of those drinking two bottles a day of the age-defying and replenishing formulas reportedly noted clearer complexions after 28 days -- and 42 percent fewer fine facial lines than the control group. Borba's not sharing the studies, though, citing patents pending. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn't recognize or regulate "nutraceuticals" as a category and doesn't require pre-market testing for either cosmetics or a dietary supplements.
Chevy Chase dermatologist Lynn McKinley-Grant, an associate clinical professor at George Washington University Medical School, says "it would be wonderful with this kind of thing to see studies before you recommend it to people." Still, she thinks it's a "great idea," since there is a well-established link between diet and skin health. Some Borba ingredients, she says, hold promise: Pomegranate, for instance, is full of antioxidants, and Vitamin A has long been used -- strictly as a topical preparation -- to treat acne and aging skin. But whether your body can make use of such ingredients in the form that Borba presents them is unknown.
Count Him Out David Schardt, senior nutritionist at the D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest, isn't buying it. "It's all just claims without any evidence," he says. Plus, he adds, most people don't need more of what Borba promises. "Vitamin A is important to skin, but only if you're deficient in it, which Americans are not," Schardt says. "So drinking water with Vitamin A won't do you any good."
Expensive Habit A 12-bottle case (a six-day supply) of Borba runs $30.
-- Jennifer Huget