Machiavellianism is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, “the employment of cunning and duplicity”, deriving from the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli, who wrote Il Principe (The Prince) and other works. The word has a similar use in modern psychology where it describes one of the dark triad personalities, characterised by a duplicitous interpersonal style associated with cynical beliefs and pragmatic morality.
We end our Nerium series by giving credit where due. The cult-like hysteria of Nerium brand partners is real and a testament to some pretty skillful marketing. BFT remains unconvinced, however, that oleandrin is the fountain of skin youth in a bottle, or that it can be good for skin based on early work showing it is good at killing certain cancer cells under controlled conditions. More likely the profit motive and the potential to develop layer after layer of recruited brand partners below one’s position, eating off their plate as well as one’s own, is driving this mania. It sure ain’t the science, folks.
“But, people say they see improvements in their skin”, you say? Yes, that’s what some say, especially brand partners. We decided to delve into the secret formula a little deeper. Maybe the “remarkable” anti-aging effect isn’t related to the Nerium oleander plant after all. Perhaps there’s a simpler explanation, and the story of oleander and M D Anderson and cancer research is as we suspect – a pretty nifty “hook” around which to market an unrelated product into a naïve and receptive market.
So, What ARE the Ingredients?
The ingredients in Nerium AD as taken from their website, and their function as published in numerous cosmetic ingredient databases:
NAE-8 Proprietary Blend – Aloe barbadensis leaf and nerium oleander leaf extracts (The mechanism of action of this miraculous patented concoction remains a mystery to BFT.)
Proprietary Protein Collagen and Elastin (two components of dermal matrix that are excellent water binding agents not shown to have an effect on producing or building collagen or elastin within skin when applied topically. It’s been around for years, made from animal hides and carcasses mainly, dirt cheap. Nothing very proprietary either.
Glycosaminoglycans Mucopolysaccharides are known components of skin tissue, that are unable to penetrate the stratum corneum when topically applied. Chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid are also part of this ingredient group.
Glycerin – a hygroscopic humectant that absorbs water into the skin surface
Oryza Sativa Bran Oil – fancy name for rice oil, an emollient
Stearic Acid – an emollient similar to other nonfragrant plant oils
Glyceryl Stearate – widely used emulsifying ingredient
Ricinus Communis Seed Oil – fancy name for castor oil, an emollient
C14-22 Alcohols – long chain alcohol emollients
C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside
Cetearyl Glucoside – emulsifier
Cetearyl Alcohol – emulsifier and emollient
Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil – an oil that is solid at room temperature
Dicaprylyl Ether – emollient
Sodium Borate – pH adjuster
Chondras Crispus Powder – fancy name for carrageen seaweed gum
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein – film forming agent
Sodium Isostearoyl Lactylate – emulsifier
Dimethicone – silicone
Sodium PCA – water binding agent
Caprylyl Glycol – skin conditioning agent
Glycerin – humectant
Glyceryl Caprylate – wetting, fatting, moisturizing agent
Phenylpropanol – solvent
Parfum – fragrance
Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate – preservative
Tocopherol – Vitamin E (far down the list, a true active)
So what do we now make of those fancy pictures on the Nerium website and that high-tech machine that measures the lines and wrinkles that prove this is a wonder product?
Take a look at these ingredients; some improve skin moisturization and others literally “fill” in the nooks and crannies to give the appearance of smoother skin. (Have you ever seen spackle used to fill cracks in plaster walls?) Notice how the before and after pictures on the website have obvious differences in lighting and changes in angles and perspective that alone can account for the perceived differences.
What impresses BFT are products that have in-depth scientific credibility and whose marketing claims are consistent with the known physiologic and anatomical changes that enhance skin appearance and youthfulness. As it turns out, unless you are inclined to buy into the effects of the proprietary NAE-8 blend of aloe leaf and nerium leaf extract, there is little to this product that isn’t ho-hum and pedestrian in the world of cosmetics. An unsettling possibility is that the oleandrin is indeed harming cells and tissues, perhaps “subclinically”, and that resultant edema (accumulated fluid that leaks from capillaries) is plumping up the skin. If that is the case, the accompanying inflammation may well be contributing to long term pro-aging changes.
MLM’s as Modern Machiavellist Machines
We referenced some excellent and well documented works on MLM’s earlier in this series. Not to belabor the point, but let’s just say they are cunning (great way to get people to buy by telling them buying something will make them rich), deceitful (very few break even, most are dragged down financially, only a few make the top tiers where they can exploit others), and expedient (why waste time building a great product when all you need is a good story and the Machiavellian drive to create an MLM ).
The dark Machiavellist triad: expediency, deceit, and cunning. Just seems to fit. Merely an opinion — you are free to form your own. But what will drive you in your decision? Do you believe in miracle skin care products? Or are you really just being expedient? Promises of quick wealth are enticing. Maybe you are good at climbing pyramids. But at the end of the day, are you really just practicing the dark art of expediency? Do you believe the ends justify the means?