Rodan + Fields is an expensive skincare company that’s a multi-level-marketing (MLM) business. Most of their best-selling products cost over $100, and the brand claims they’ll help get you the “best skin of your life.”
But can a topical serum really improve lash thickness and quality? Are Rodan + Fields products actually effective? Are they worth the high price, or are there effective alternatives that can be acquired cheaper? Do Rodan + Fields products contain any questionable additive ingredients that may be unhealthy?
In this article we'll answer all of these questions, as well as share real user reviews of their top products. We'll review the ingredients in Rodan + Fields Lash Boost and Rodan + Fields Total RF Serum which are two of their most popular products, as well as highlight some claims of research backing and effectiveness on their website that we consider to be questionable.
R + F Lash Boost Ingredient Review
Rodan + Fields Lash Boost is their most popular product, and is extremely expensive. It costs $155 for 0.17 fluid ounces, which is slightly less than half of the price of gold by weight. The brand claims this product can promote the appearance of "longer, stronger and darker-looking lashes."
One ingredient which may be effective is hydrolyzed keratin. This is a form of the most predominant hair protein called keratin. A clinical trial found that a recombinant (genetically-altered) keratin increased hair diameter by almost 50%.
Pumpkin seed oil may be an effective ingredient for hair growth, but more research is needed to confirm this. A medical trial found that this botanical ingredient was effective for inducing hair growth in women suffering from pattern hair loss, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it can promote lash growth in healthy women.
Lash Boost also contains biotin, a which is a B vitamin. A medical review published in the Skin Appendage Disorders journal found that biotin supplementation may potentially increase hair growth, especially in those with biotin deficiency, but we haven't come across any medical studies suggesting that topical biotin improves hair growth or hair quality.
The product contains preservative phenoxyethanol. As we referenced in our NuFace reviews article, we recommend avoiding preservatives in cosmetics, especially those applied around the eyes.
R + F Lash Boost contains another preservative called chlorphenesin which has medically documented toxicity concerns and irritates the eyes, making it a strange choice for a preservative in an eye serum.
We believe that R + F Lash Boost may increase lash thickness and improve lash quality given the inclusion of keratin and pumpkin seed oil, but we don't recommend the product overall because we cannot identify enough effective ingredients to justify the price. Further, we do not recommend the use of serums around the eyes which contain harsh and potentially irritating preservatives.
One of the most popular YouTube reviews of R + F Lash Boost is published by a channel called "Makeup.Just.For.Fun" and has achieved over 350,000 views at the time of updating this article.
The video appears unsponsored, and the creator shares her experience using this product for 12 weeks, sharing before-and-after images:
Total RF Serum Ingredient Review
Total RF Serum is an anti-aging serum. It costs $175 for 1 fluid ounce, equivalent to around $2,600 per pound. For this price, we expect a potent formulation with multiple ingredients backed by medical research and this product appears to provide such.
Total RF Serum contains niacinamide, which is a form of vitamin B3 that’s been found to be beneficial for skin. Medical research has proven that topical niacinamide can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve the surface structure of skin.
Another effective ingredient in this serum is Pterocarpus marsupium bark extract, which was proven in a clinical trial published in 2020 to have an anti-aging and skin-brightening effect. The study authors found that topical application of this botanical ingredient caused a marked increase in skin elasticity and a statistically significant decrease in fine lines.
Sodium acetylated hyaluronate is a derivative of sodium hyaluronate, which is one of the most well-studied skincare ingredients which is found in several of the brands we recommend like Hanacure.
A 2021 clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that sodium acetylated hyaluronate inhibited gene expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) which degrade skin with age. The study authors described this ingredient to have "a significant and efficient anti-wrinkles effect."
Total RF Serum contains two peptides: tetrapeptide-16 and oligopeptide-10. While research on topical peptides for dermatology is still emerging, a recent medical review on topical peptides as cosmeceuticals found they were a promising treatment for skin aging. It’s unclear at this point exactly which peptides and at which concentrations are the most effective, but we consider these two ingredients likely effective for anti-aging.
While Total RF Serum contains many effective anti-aging ingredients, it also contains several filler ingredients we recommend avoiding. One is fragrance, which we find to be highly unnecessary for skincare products. Consumers are using this product to reduce the effect of wrinkles, not to add an artificial scent to their facial skin.
There are legitimate health concerns about fragrance compounds documented in medical research, and we always recommend that consumers avoid cosmetic products containing fragrance.
The serum also contains preservative phenoxyethanol, which we discussed in the previous section and recommend avoiding.
Another fragrance ingredient in Total RF Serum is benzyl salicylate, which was categorized as a “hazard class 2” by a Japanese regulatory body due to toxicity data. It has potentially endocrine-disrupting effects.
While we believe that Rodan + Fields Total RF Serum is effective for anti-aging, may increase skin elasticity and is likely to reduce wrinkles, we don't recommend it overall due to the inclusion of preservative and fragrance ingredients.
We can't find a YouTube review of this product that we consider likely unsponsored, but a channel called "Nicole Liu" published an unboxing video of Total RF Serum:
Questionable Efficacy Claims
On several product pages on Rodan + Fields' website, there are claims of efficacy that we consider questionable. The above image is from the R + F Lash Boost product page.
The brand claims that Lash Boost caused 90% of users to experience fuller-looking lashes, and there's a "View Full Study" link. But that link does not actually go to a full study. It goes to a summary page and there is no way to access the full study.
We strongly recommend that consumers entirely disregard claims of efficacy made by cosmetics brands based on "clinical trials" that are not published in legitimate medical or scientific journals.
There is a high standard of study design for a clinical trial to be included in a legitimate medical journal, and this is the only type of clinical research we consider legitimate. When we cite clinical research on Illuminate Health, we're citing this type of research. We do not consider manufacturer-funded studies, often organized by for-profit research firms paid by the product manufacturer, to provide any useful information to consumers because the risk of bias is so high.
We urge consumers to ask themselves when the last time was that they visited a cosmetic brand's website which reported that a "clinical trial" found the brand's products ineffective.
Research-Backed Skincare Products
There are skincare products that contain ingredients proven in clinical trials to be effective for reducing wrinkles and improving skin quality generally.
Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top skin cream pick because of its effective and clean formulation. It contains hyaluronic acid which was described as a "skin-rejuvenating biomedicine" in a medical review due to its ability to reduce wrinkles and signs of facial aging. We consider this to be the most powerful topical skincare ingredient. Most importantly, this serum is entirely free of questionable additives like preservatives or fragrance.
Interested consumers can check out Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum at this link.
HydraGlow is our top moisturizer pick. It features bakuchiol as an active ingredient which was described in a 2014 clinical trial as "clinically proven to have anti-aging effects." In the linked trial, topical bakuchiol reduced wrinkles, improved skin elasticity and firmness, and reduced photodamage (damage from UV rays). There are no questionable additive ingredients in this product.
Interested consumers can check out HydraGlow at this link.
The only oral supplement we recommend for skin quality improvement is Bulletproof Collagen Powder. Oral collagen supplementation was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology to improve visible signs of skin aging as well as improve skin elasticity and skin hydration. The only ingredient in Bulletproof collagen is collagen peptides sourced from grass-fed animals. We recommend a dose of 10 grams per day.
Interested consumers can check out Bulletproof Collagen Powder at this link.
Rodan + Fields has dealt with legal issues from consumers, competitors, and governmental bodies.
In 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a warning letter to the brand, because their “Consultants” involved in the MLM were suggesting that partnering with the company was a great earning opportunity during the COVID-19 crisis.
The class-action lawsuits against Rogan + Fields, along with the insurance lawsuit, mostly have to do with the fact that the brand uses a drug ingredient called isopropyl cloprostenate in the Lash Boost we reviewed above.
Unlike natural compounds, pharmaceutical drug ingredients must be cleared with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S., and it appears that Rodan + Fields failed to do so, which is a massive quality control and consumer safety oversight.
Rodan + Fields has also dealt with pressure from a non-profit organization over another potentially toxic ingredient called benzophone. Inclusion of this ingredient requires a Prop 65 Warning, to demonstrate potential health risks to California residents, but Rodan + Fields added a “click here” link in the warning to an industry-funded website minimizing the risk of the ingredient.
This Environmental Working Group (EWG) letter to the FDA suggested that this strategy by Rodan + Fields was intentionally misleading, and potentially harmful to consumers, and we agree fully with the EWG’s stance.
Rodan + Fields Real Customer Reviews
Some Rodan + Fields products (not their most popular ones) are sold on Amazon which is a more objective resource for customer reviews than a brand's website in our opinion.
Rodan + Fields Redefine Regimen is their most-reviewed product on Amazon at the time of updating this article, with over 250 reviews and an average review rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. The product only has a "C" rating on Fakespot which is a software tool that detects potentially fraudulent Amazon reviews. Fakespot's "Adjusted Rating" is only 3 out of 5 stars.
The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named "Sandra" who claims the product is effective when used as a wash:
"Good regimen. Easy to use. Makes skin super soft and has helped my skin a lot. The cleansing mask used by the directions, irritated my skin a bit...it made my skin dry, however, my consultant told me to use it as a wash instead, and that made all the difference. So I just apply to my wet face, like any cleanser, and rinse away. Now my skin is back to normal."
The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named "J. Halecki" who claims they received a fake product:
"Do NOT waste your $$! My product was fake 100%. I’ve been a long time user of R &F but needed to cut cost so when I found this product on Amazon, I was very excited. After using the facial scrub I was confident that it was a scam. I asked my best friend to try it as she uses R&F as well. She agreed. My face lacked the smoothness after using the mask. I also feel that the PM cream was not as moisturizing."