Nerium Reviews: Does It Work or Not?
“We had a eureka moment in our research labs when we stumbled upon what Nerium oleander could do for skin.” said Dennis Knocke, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Nerium Biotechnology, Inc.
There’s a lot of conflicting opinion over Nerium products. Some people swear it has worked miracles on their wrinkly skin, others say it hasn’t done a thing.
I was honestly shocked to learn about these products with their oleander derived ingredients. I spent several years living in Southern Spain when my children were small, and oleander grows like a weed in that region, and I was forever reminding them to keep their fingers off the pretty but poisonous oleander bushes when we were out walking.
But many plant extracts are perfectly safe for topical use while decidedly unsafe to ingest, so I’ve squashed my knee jerk reaction to oleander and done some research to bring you the lowdown on this anti aging product range.
What Is Nerium?
Nerium is an anti aging skin care brand sold by a multi level marketing company of the same name. I’m always suspicious of products sold via MLM. I tend to think that if a product is any good, it will be in stores, where it should – if it’s as good as the manufacturers and army of hopeful distributors claim – fly off the shelves.
MLM companies have a bad reputation and with good reason. Many of them make their money by recruiting fee paying distributors, and those distributors make money from recruiting more fee paying distributors and on it goes.
Selling products is a fairly incidental form of income, and many distributors will admit to selling very little product.
Any company that sells their products in this manner should raise your suspicions. MLM’s are an unethical business model, period. Most of the hopeful people signing up for the business ‘opportunity’ will lose money.
Will a company that operates in this predatory manner produce quality products for its customers?
I’ve yet to find one that was selling anything worthwhile. Most sell products with basic ingredients at an inflated price, using inflated claims.
This particular company touts the benefits of its 3 special ingredients NAE-8, EHT, and SIG-1191 and charges a very high price for products containing these proprietary blends. We’ll take a closer at one of the products later on, but first let’s get up to speed on Oleander.
What’s So Bad About Oleander?
Nerium oleander is a poisonous plant. Every part of this beautiful shrub with its rose like blooms is toxic. While it has been used very, very carefully in some folk medicines, its main use today is as a suicide aid.
Oleander has been the subject of scientific research, but so far the only beneficial use that has been identified is as an insecticide.
Plant medicines are ancient. Humans have been extracting and investigating plant extracts for at least 4000 years. When new treatment breakthroughs are announced using some plant extract or another, you can bet your bottom dollar that the plant in question has a long history of safe use as a traditional medicine for the same condition.
If there was a skin care benefit to be found in oleander, our ancestors would have discovered it. Just like they found the skincare benefits from the flowers of the bitter orange tree (neroli essential oil), and the rose, from lavender, from frankincense resin…
I won’t list them all, but there are hundreds of essential oils with known skin care and medicinal benefits, and hundreds more herb and root concoctions. Oleander isn’t one of them. And since it’s such a widespread shrub, growing in Africa, the Mediterranean, the Americas, the Middle East, and the Far East, it’s not as though it would have been overlooked by our forebears.
Actually there is one skin benefit from oleander. It is sometimes used to treat warts. Warts are caused by a virus, wrinkles are not.
Nerium reps will try to fob you off and tell you that there are two types of oleander plant. A poisonous one and a safe one. Either laugh at their bare faced lie, or pity their ignorance.
On the Nerium website they say that NAE-8 is;
“Born from years of biotechnology research, this patented extract, derived from Nerium oleander and aloe vera plants, acts as a powerful antioxidant and boosts the cell renewal process to reveal younger-looking skin.”
Ah, the old patented extract ploy. We don’t get to find out exactly what’s in it, so they can say what they like.
Given that there are no compounds in oleander that have skin care benefits I think we can ignore that part of their formula.
Aloe vera? Yes, it’s a superb plant with many, many health benefits, skin care among them. But you can experience those benefits inexpensively by purchasing an aloe vera gel or by growing aloe at home. It’s a low maintenance plant that lives outside very happily in warmer climates. In cooler climates grow it as a houseplant.
To extract the gel, just slice off a section of leaf, trim away the skin and stir the gel with a spoon to break it up. Then smooth it over your face as often as you like.
You can eat pure aloe gel too to get its benefits from the inside.
An aloe plant or a tube of aloe gel will cost you around $5 – $10. Whereas Nerium will charge you $120 for their ‘Age Defying’ night cream.
“Developed after 20 years of research in the labs at Princeton University by Dr. Jeffry Stock, the patented EHT molecule is a mixture of bioactive molecules isolated from coffee. This molecule promotes better cognitive function and memory.”
My guess and I could be wrong is that this is simply caffeine and some other nothing special ingredients.
Since they say that it enhances cognitive function and memory, that puts it in a class of substances known as Nootropics.
Pharmaceutical companies are mightily interested in nootropics, and spend a great deal of money on research, so it’s interesting that none were interested enough in this 20 years worth of research to sponsor a clinical trial.
“This patent-pending, exclusive ingredient was developed to target the signs of aging around the eyes and works as a super antioxidant and skin hydrator.”
Unfortunately they don’t indicate what ingredients are in this formula. So I can’t give you any more information.
It’s used in their eye serum product and the other ingredients in that serum are very standard.
Nerium Clinical Research
Nerium claim that their products are the result of many years of biochemical research and that their products are rooted in science.
Well then where is the research? None of it has been published for peer review, which is suspicious.
This is the ingredient list for Nerium Age Defying Night Cream which is Nerium’s ‘flagship’ product.
I’ll go through the ingredient list below and give an explanation of each ingredient, that way you’ll have a better idea of how to evaluate products for yourself.
- NAE-8 Proprietary Blend (aloe barbadensis leaf, nerium oleander leaf extract),
- aloe barbadensis leaf,
- Proprietary Protein (collagen, elastin, glycosaminoglycans),
- oryza sativa bran oil,
- stearic acid,
- cetearyl glucoside and cetearyl alcohol,
- c14-22 alcohol and c12-alkyl glucoside,
- glyceryl stearate,
- ricinus communis,
- cetyl alcohol,
- olus oil,
- chondrus crispus powder,
- sodium borate,
- dicaprylyl ether,
- hydrolyzed quinoa,
- sodium isostearoyl lactylate,
- sodium PCA,
- Proprietary Blend (Caprylyl Glycol, glycerin, glyceryl, caprylate, phenylpropanol),
- parfum, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate,
This ingredient list is frankly bizarre. Product ingredients are legally required to be listed in order from the largest constituent to the smallest.
In skin care products the largest ingredient is alway the product base, which will be an oil or water. Since they list their proprietary blend of aloe and oleander as the first ingredient, this leads me to believe that the largest constituent of this product is aloe. And if there is a large amount of oleander extract in that proprietary blend then I would be very worried indeed. See the safety section up next to find out why.
Next they list a proprietary protein blend of collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycans. Collagen and elastin are the main proteins in our skin and many other tissues.
Collagen provides a strong skin matrix and makes up about 75% of the dry weight of skin. Elastin provides the elasticity and makes up 1-2% of skins weight. Glycosaminoglycans hold the water.
We produce fewer of these proteins as we age, which leads to saggy skin and wrinkles BUT topical application of proteins doesn’t really do anything. You have to support these proteins through your diet, not through your face cream.
When you eat protein it is broken down into amino acids, think of these as building blocks which are then reassembled into numerous combinations to form the tens of thousands of different proteins in the body.
In order for proteins to be made optimally, they need a whole host of other elements to be present in the body and in the case of elastin and collagen, a vital precursor is vitamin C. In fact vitamin C is involved in every step of their production. Without vitamin C the collagen produced will be abnormal, and the skin and tissues that it forms will be fragile and unhealthy, and the elastin will be weak.
Severe vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy, which if not treated with large doses of vitamin C results in death.
The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 90 mg/day for men and 75 mg/day for women. For smokers, an increased 35 mg/day is recommended. This daily recommendation is the minimum to prevent ill health, it isn’t the level for optimum health or fantastic skin.
Nobel Prize winning chemist Linus Pauling researched vitamin C extensively and recommended a daily intake of at least 1000mg a day.
Many people don’t get enough vitamin C in their diet. Overall 17% of the population has a subclinical vitamin C deficiency, that rate rises to 23% in women in the 25-44 age range.
If you want to support collagen and elastin production in your body, supplement with vitamin C and eat a diet containing plenty of vitamin C rich foods and good protein sources.
Now let’s turn our attention to Daltons. For any molecule to penetrate your skin and not just sit on the surface it has to be smaller than 500 daltons. This is often referred to as the 500 Dalton Rule.
All transdermal drugs for example use constituents that are smaller than 500 daltons.
The molecular weight of collagen in its various forms is 15,000 to 50,000 daltons. Trust me, the collagen in this product is not getting into your skin. Nor is elastin with its 70,000 daltons. Glycosaminoglycans have various molecular weights. As an example, a commonly used glycosaminoglycan, Sodium Hyaluronate has a weight of 1.8 to 2 million daltons.
Proteins sitting on the surface of your skin can act as a humectant. A humectant is a substance that can draw moisture from the air and transfer it to your skin to plump it up. This extra moisture can help to smooth fine lines. But only a certain type of collagen can do that and it should be listed on a product label as hydrolyzed collagen. Netrium doesn’t list that, nor does it list the popular humectant Sodium Hyaluronate. Those could be in the proprietary blend, but who knows since they’re keeping that information secret!
Once again there are much cheaper humectants. You’ll find them in the products in basic, inexpensive skin care ranges. By the way, a natural, inexpensive and super effective humectant is honey. Smooth a little onto your skin for wonderfully soft, plumped up skin.
Another effect of proteins on the skin’s surface is that they can fill in lines. But in a night cream this effect has no value. The cream will rub off overnight on your pillow and all traces will be gone as soon as you wash your face in the morning. In skin care formulations proteins usually make up no more than 1-2% of the product.
The third ingredient in the list is a typical base, and it’s just ordinary rice bran oil. Rice bran oil is a great skin care treatment that has been used for hundreds of years, and it’s inexpensive. You can pick up an entire pint of cold pressed rice bran oil for $12 which will last you all year, and next year and the next.
Number 4 on the list is stearic acid, this is simply a fatty acid that has emollient, lubricating and emulsifying properties. It’s a standard inclusion in many products. An emulsifier helps to keep oils and water in a product from separating, and an emollient helps to smooth skin.
Number 5 is cetearyl glucoside and cetearyl alcohol. Again a standard emulsifier and emollient.
Next is glycerin which is a humectant, then c14-22 alcohol and c12-alkyl glucoside, which is just another emulsifier, and glyceryl stearate – a lubricant.
Then we have ricinus communis, which is good old castor oil. Castor oil is a superb moisturizing oil for mature skin. Pick up a big bottle at your local pharmacy for less than $5 and use a tiny bit mixed with regular sunflower oil to deeply moisturize your skin.
Cetyl alcohol is an emollient, emulsifier and thickener. Olus oil is a vegetable oil formulation that acts as an emollient and an occlusive. An occlusive prevents moisture loss and occlusives are found in every cream and lotion on the market – typically in the form of vegetable oils or mineral oil.
Chondrus crispus powder is simply carrageenan. In foods it’s used as a cheap thickening agent and in skin care it’s also used to thicken the product, but it does have skin softening properties.
Sodium borate is borax. That old staple of older laundry detergents. It’s used to control the pH of a product. Interestingly this substance is banned in Canada for skin care use, and the Skin Deep database lists it as a moderate hazard.
Dicaprylyl ether is an emollient and a solvent. Given its addition so far down the list I’ll guess that it’s serving a solvent function in the product.
Hydrolyzed quinoa is a protein that is usually used in hair care products to add moisture and shine to the hair. It has a dalton weight of 200,000.
Sodium isostearoyl lactylate is another emulsifier used to hold the product together and dimethicone is a silicon-based polymer used as a lubricant, emollient and occlusive.
Sodium PCA is a humectant.
Proprietary Blend (Caprylyl Glycol, glycerin, glyceryl, caprylate, phenylpropanol) – these are standard emulsifiers and emollients, and phenylpropanol is a solvent. According to the manufacturer’s safety data sheet phenylpropanol may be harmful if inhaled, may cause respiratory tract irritation, may be harmful if absorbed through skin, may cause skin irritation, may cause eye irritation and is toxic if swallowed. I think it would wise to stay away from that particular ingredient.
Parfum – whatever fragrance they have used.
Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate is a preservative which the Skin Deep database lists as a moderate hazard.
Tocopherol is vitamin E. Despite many claims, topical application of vitamin E has no proven skin care benefits, and its inclusion in most products is simply as a preservative.
Let’s sum up on those ingredients. These are run of the mill cream and lotion ingredients that you’ll find in plenty of low cost skin care products, plus some possibly harmful ingredients, inexpensive aloe vera and an unspecified amount of oleander extract which has no proven skincare benefits at all.
And all for the ridiculous price of $120 an ounce.
No safety studies have been submitted for peer review.
People report skin rashes and other problems including headaches after using the products.
There is however, peer reviewed published research on the effects of oleandrins, the extract from oleander.
Oleandrins have been found to cause MASSIVE OXIDATIVE STRESS, REDUCE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS, AND PROMOTE CELL DEATH. Do you really want that on your skin?
Furthermore, if oleandrins are absorbed into the bloodstream, they can have effects on the heart, including heart block, which can be fatal.
Nerium has flatly refused to disclose the oleandrin dosage in its skin care formulations.
Oleander extract has a dalton weight of 570 which is just above the 500 dalton threshold. Will any of that get through? Honestly I have no idea, let’s hope not for the sake of all of the people who are already using Nerium. Just don’t go licking your lips if you’re crazy enough to buy it after you get finished reading this review. And keep it away from your kids just incase they decide to eat some.
Oleandrin has been researched for its effects on cancer cells. It kills them. The problem is that it kills other cells too, it’s not picky. So either the amount of oleandrin in Nerium is so small that it has no effect, or it’s there in an amount that kills off your skin cells.
Killing off skin cells causes a chronic low-grade inflammation which does results in the skin plumping up – it’s called swelling.
Inflammation isn’t good and we usually try hard to reduce inflammation because it does long term damage.
Chronic inflammation causes skin aging for heaven’s sake.
I think I need to go and lie down 😉
What About All Of The 5 Star Reviews On Amazon?
You should be more concerned with all of the 1 and 2 star reviews, since those are the ones most likely to be telling you the truth about the product.
Let me tell you something about Amazon reviews. Anyone with a product to sell can buy reviews for as little as 10 cents. And verified purchase reviews can be obtained by simply giving the customer a discount code. Amazon has stripped countless fake reviews from its website over the last couple of years after they clamped down on fake reviews. They still have a way to go and have even filed a lawsuit against a number of scammers.
Are the 5 stars reviews for Nerium products written by a bunch of fakers? It’s my opinion that many of them could well be, but that’s only my opinion, I have no proof.
One of the five star reviewers reviewed 32 other products on the same day, giving every single one of them 5 stars. That’s not normal behavior. Just sayin…
The bottom line when it comes to reviews is to read the bad as well as the good.
An overpriced basic product, that has many negative reviews, sold by a MLM company making big claims with no published researched to back them up.
The magic ingredient in Nerium’s products is a known toxin, they won’t provide proof of how much of this toxin is in their products, yet claim that they are safe. So consumers just have to take a MLM company at their word, which is a really dumb thing to do.
Spend your money on something else instead.