Rodan + Fields Review: Do Lash Boosts Actually Work?

Rodan + Fields Review: Do Lash Boosts Actually Work?


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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? Is the brand's anti-aging product well-formulated? Why was Rodan + Fields sued? And how do real customers rate and describe the aesthetic effects of Rodan + Fields cosmetics?

In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in two of the brand's most popular products based on clinical studies to give our take on whether or not they're likely to be effective, and whether or not they're healthy.

We'll review Lash Boost and Total RF Serum (an anti-aging serum).

We'll also explain why Rodan + Fields was the subject of class-action lawsuits, why the brand received a warning letter from the FTC, and feature unsponsored customer reviews.

Lash Boost Ingredient Analysis

R + F Lash Boost ingredients

The ingredients in Rodan + Fields Lash Boost are shown above.

This product is extremely expensive, costing $170 for 0.17 fluid ounces, which is around half of the price of gold by weight, at the time of updating this article.

The brand claims this product can promote the appearance of "longer, stronger and darker-looking lashes."

Hydrolyzed keratin 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 2021 clinical 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.

Biotin is a B vitamin, and a medical review published in the Skin Appendage Disorders journal found that oral biotin supplementation may potentially increase hair growth, especially in those with biotin deficiency.

However, we haven't come across any clinical studies suggesting that topical biotin improves hair growth or hair quality.

Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative.

As we discussed in our NuFace reviews article, we recommend avoiding preservatives in cosmetics, especially those applied around the eyes.

Chlorphenesin is another synthetic preservative, 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 currently recommend the product due to the inclusion of the synthetic preservatives discussed above.

A YouTube creator named "Makeup.Just.For.Fun" has one of the most popular reviews of R + F Lash Boost, with over 350,000 views at the time of updating this article.

The creator shares her experience using this product for 12 weeks, and includes before-and-after images:

Why Was Rodan + Fields Sued?

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 the “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 Rodan + 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.

The above-linked lawsuit overview alleges that this drug ingredient caused "harmful side effects."

Unlike natural compounds, pharmaceutical drug ingredients must be cleared with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the lawsuit alleges that Rodan + Fields failed to do so.

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 is alleged to have 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 with the EWG’s stance.

Total RF Serum Ingredient Analysis

Total RF Serum ingredients

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 clinical research, and this product appears to provide such.

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that’s clinically shown to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve the surface structure of skin.

Pterocarpus marsupium bark extract was shown in a 2020 clinical trial to have anti-aging and skin-brightening effects

The study authors of the above-linked clinical trial 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 anti-aging ingredients, as we documented in our review of 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."

Tetrapeptide-16 and oligopeptide-10 are members of a class of compounds called peptides.

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.

Fragrance was described as neurotoxic in a 2017 medical review.

Benzyl salicylate is another fragrance ingredient which was categorized as a “hazard class 2” by a Japanese regulatory body due to toxicity data. It has potentially endocrine-disrupting effects.

Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative, and we explained in the previous Ingredient Analysis section why we recommend avoiding it.

We believe that Rodan + Fields Total RF Serum is likely effective for anti-aging, but we don't currently recommend it overall due to the inclusion of the preservative and fragrance ingredients discussed above.

A TikTok creator named "glow_with_kristy" has a video on Total RF Serum that suggests it's had anti-aging effects:

@glow_with_kristy Est 1977! This anti-aging serum is amazing! #SephoraLipLooks #fyp #foryou #totalrfserum #skincare #antiaging #fyp ♬ original sound - Deep thinker!!..

Questionable Clinical Claims

R + F Lash Boost questionable efficacy claims

Several product pages on Rodan + Fields' website have clinical claims such as those shown above.

The brand claims that Lash Boost caused 90% of users to experience fuller-looking lashes, and there's a "View Full Study" link at the bottom of the section.

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 at the time of updating this article.

We recommend that consumers entirely disregard claims of efficacy made by cosmetics brands based on "clinical trials" that are not published in peer-reviewed journals. The potential for bias is too high.

There is a high standard of methodology for a clinical trial to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, which is why this is the type of research we cite on Illuminate Health to form our opinion about the potential efficacy and safety of products.

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.

Our Clean Skincare Picks

There are skincare products containing ingredients shown in clinical trials to be effective for reducing wrinkles and improving skin quality.

Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top anti-aging serum.

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.

HYDRAGLOW by CLEARSTEM 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."

Bulletproof Collagen Powder is our top skin supplement.

Collagen supplementation was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology to reduce visible signs of skin aging as well as improve skin elasticity and skin hydration.

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy or unsafe.

Real Customers Review Rodan + Fields

Amazon is a better resource for honest customer reviews than a brand's website in our opinion.

Rodan + Fields Redefine Regimen is the brand's most-reviewed product on Amazon at the time of updating this article, with over 300 reviews and an average review rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. 

The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named "Sandra" who gives the product a 5/5 star rating, and claims it's 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 gives the product a 1/5 star rating, and 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."

Rodan + Fields currently has an average review rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Facebook.

Rodan + Fields Lash Boost currently has an average review rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on Google.

Rodan + Fields currently has an average review rating of 1.71 out of 5 stars on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, but the company responds to all customer complaints, which is the sign of a high-quality brand.

Pros and Cons of Rodan + Fields

Here are the pros and cons of Rodan + Fields in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Effective formulations
  • Highly positive online customer reviews
  • Lash Boost has ingredients shown to increase hair thickness
  • Total RF Serum should have anti-aging effect

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Both products reviewed contained phenoxyethanol
  • Total RF Serum contains fragrance
  • Company sued over allegations of harmful side effects
  • Company received warning letter from FTC about business practices
  • Non-profit suggests that the company misled consumers
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

We do not currently recommend any Rodan + Fields products.

The brand's Lash Boost is one of the more effectively-formulated lash boosters that we've reviewed to date on Illuminate Health. It contains some active ingredients clinically shown to increase hair thickness.

However, this product also contains two synthetic preservatives that we consider to be questionable from a health perspective.

Total RF Serum should have an anti-aging effect based on its ingredients, but it also contains fragrance ingredients that we consider to be questionable from a health perspective.

Rodan + Fields was sued in a class-action lawsuit that alleged serious side effects from one of its products, and has also received a warning letter from the FTC because some of the company's consultants were suggesting that the company offered great earning opportunities during COVID-19.

Most of the online customer reviews of Rodan + Fields that we came across while researching this article were positive, and from an efficacy perspective, we think this is an above-average brand (which should be expected based on the prices).

We recommend that consumers disregard clinical claims of efficacy, such as those made by Rodan + Fields, unless those claims are based on research published in peer-reviewed journals.