The latest iteration of snake oil

This Maclean’s story about a new skin cream based on the paralytic characteristics of the venom of Wagler’s Pit Viper, Tropidolaemus wagleri, caught my attention — another beneficial (or at least commercial) application of snake venom — yay! Go snakes! Well, not quite. Euoko markets Y-30 Intense Lift Concentrate, which costs $525 for 30 ml, as an alternative to Botox injections. It sounds more innocuous than Botox, but I wonder about its efficacy. The article soft-pedals the results from Euoko’s study:

Forty-five female volunteers, aged between 40 to 60, were told to use the cream twice daily for 28 days. Some were given the snake venom cream, others another anti-aging cream, and some a placebo. The product seemed to work well — using a highly sensitive camera, the scientists measured a 73 per cent improvement of forehead wrinkles. But then again, the placebo had almost the same success rate (71 per cent) as did the other anti-aging cream (73 per cent). Even in a lab report, it seems, beauty can be in the eye of the beholder.

If you get the same results with a placebo and another anti-aging cream, then there’s no advantage to adding the venom: it looks like you’re paying five hundred bucks for moisturizing cream. I suppose that buying jars of bullshit at exorbitant rates is the status quo for cosmetics; I’m just sad that said bullshit isn’t called out more often (and I know why the media doesn’t do it).

Not only that, the product doesn’t actually contain any real snake venom in it, so there isn’t even that exotic justification for the price: “Rather than use the toxin straight from the viper’s fangs, Euoko contracted a pharmaceutical company in Switzerland to produce the synthetic equivalent.” Right — and artificial vanillin is the equivalent of a real vanilla bean.