Cindy Crawford’s cosmetics line Meaningful Beauty is an enigma; it’s extremely popular but has a ton of negative reviews online. The brand makes skincare and haircare products targeted to women, with some of the products claiming anti-aging benefits.
In this article we’ll review the ingredients in Meaningful Beauty’s most popular products based on medical research to determine if they’re likely to be effective for improving skin and reducing wrinkles.
Youth Activating Melon Serum Review
Meaningful Beauty’s facial serum that claims to have an anti-aging effect is called Youth Activating Melon Serum, and it sells for $98 for a 1.7 ounce (oz) bottle. That makes it one of the most expensive cosmetic products we’ve ever reviewed. The per-pound price of this serum is $922!
For this price, consumers should expect a potent formulation with a variety of targeted botanical ingredients proven in medical literature to reduce wrinkles and improve skin health. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case with this product.
The first-listed botanical ingredient on the ingredients list is Cucumis Melo Cantalupensis Callus Extract, which is the formal scientific name for cantaloupe extract. We can’t locate one single study in published medical research suggesting that cantaloupe extract applied topically is effective for improving skin health, nor can we even find a study testing this theory.
This cantaloupe extract seems to be the ingredient referred to on Meaningful Beauty’s homepage when they state their products “are powered by our exclusive Melon Leaf Stem Cell Technology.” We have no clue what they’re suggesting by this because there doesn’t appear to be any stem cell technology in their ingredients.
It seems as though this is just unscientific marketing, intended to sound high-tech. Nowhere on their site does Meaningful Beauty explain or define this reference to stem cell technology, so we will just conclude they’re referring to the cantaloupe extract which appears to be an ineffective ingredient for improving skin.
This face serum also contains a botanical ingredient called Helichrysum Stoechas, which is a flower. Like the previous ingredient, we can’t locate a single medical study suggesting this is effective for anti-aging or for any parameter of skin health, so we’ll conclude this is another ineffective ingredient choice.
One ingredient which is backed by some medical research is Pancratium Maritimum Extract. The linked study found that when combined with glycerin, it reduced the effects of pigmentation and dark spots on the skin. There was no proof of an anti-aging effect.
It’s worth noting that Meaningful Beauty’s melon serum also contains fragrance, which is an ingredient we recommend avoiding. This is a broad category descriptor, and without knowing which specific chemicals were used in the fragrance, it’s impossible to know whether it’s safe.
We do know from extensive medical research that some of the classes of chemicals used for fragrance in cosmetics products are neurotoxic.
As consumers become more aware of the health risks of fragrance, many conscious cosmetics companies are offering fragrance-free versions of their formulations, but unfortunately Meaningful Beauty does not.
This serum also contains a preservative called phenoxyethanol, and while it’s relatively safe, we always recommend avoiding preservatives because they may cause sensitizing effects.
Overall we find this to be a very poor formulation in regard to efficacy, especially considering the high price. We can’t find research suggesting that any of the botanical ingredients in the Melon Serum aids with anti-aging, and it contains fragrance, so we recommend avoiding this product.
Age Recovery Night Crème Review
Another one of Meaningful Beauty’s signature products is a serum left on overnight that claims to “improve the look of fine lines”.
Like the facial serum previously reviewed, one of the key active ingredients is a melon extract. This time it’s melon extract (Cucumis Melo Fruit Extract) instead of cantaloupe extract. Meaningful Beauty is correct that this ingredient has significant antioxidant activity, as documented in medical research, but this does not necessarily mean that when applied topically it has an anti-aging effect. That has to be proven with medical research, and currently it doesn’t appear to be proven.
We can’t locate any studies suggesting that melon extract has any beneficial effect on skin when applied topically, so we’ll conclude this is another ineffective ingredient.
One effective ingredient in this formulation is Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, which has been shown in an animal study to have a healing effect on skin.
Another interesting ingredient in this formulation is Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Oil, which has been shown in a study in the Antioxidants journal to have photoprotective properties, meaning it can minimize damage to skin from UV exposure.
We want to note that neither of these ingredients seem to directly have an anti-aging effect, but at least they appear to have some benefit to skin.
Unfortunately there are even more questionable ingredients in this product than the previous serum.
Not only does the Night Crème contain fragrance, but it also contains artificial dyes Orange 4 and Red 40. The latter dye has been shown in medical research to be frequently contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals, and artificial dyes overall seem to have a high risk of toxicity according to the linked study. We always recommend avoiding cosmetic and food products containing artificial dyes.
The cream also contains two preservatives: phenoxyethanol which we discussed previously, and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), which has documented toxicity concerns due to an apparent ability to increase risk of tumors in animal studies. The human research is less conclusive, but we recommend avoiding this ingredient as a safety precaution.
We don’t find this product to be effectively formulated for anti-aging, and we believe it has more safety concerns than the Youth Activating Melon Serum. We don’t recommend this product.
Meaningful Beauty has a high number of negative reviews online compared to their competitors. They have 461 reviews on Pissed Consumer, with a 1.8 overall rating out of 5. Certainly this is a self-selected group, but this is a lot more than nearly all other beauty companies we’ve reviewed.
Their reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website are also overwhelmingly negative, with a star rating of 1.33 out of 5 and many customers blaming them for fraudulent business practices.
You can never fully trust online reviews because they’re subject to fraud from competitors and basic dishonesty from users, but we felt this was worth noting because it seems to be more prevalent with Meaningful Beauty than with other companies we’ve reviewed, and we’d categorize these reviews as a red flag.
We find the combination of oral collagen and topical hyaluronic acid to be a superior anti-aging combination to anything offered by Meaningful Beauty, and one backed by significant research.
Oral collagen intake can improve skin, and we recommend a dose of 10 grams (g) daily, which appears to be the maximally effective dose based on medical studies. A meta-analysis of collagen and skin aging published in 2021 in the International Journal of Dermatology found it to be effective for skin aging.
The study authors reviewed 19 individual trials on collagen and skin aging, finding that the supplement not only reduced wrinkles but also improved skin hydration and elasticity.
Bulletproof sells a collagen powder product that we recommend, because it's sourced from grass-fed animals, unflavored and has no questionable filler ingredients. The only ingredient is collagen, and the cost per 10 g serving is only $0.75.
Hyaluronic acid is one of the most promising functional ingredients for anti-aging. A recent medical review found that when applied topically it exhibited “remarkable anti-wrinkle, anti-nasolabial fold, anti-aging, space-filling and face rejuvenating properties.”
When selecting a topical hyaluronic acid product, look for one with no added fragrance or preservatives, with minimal added ingredients.