Cindy Crawford’s cosmetics line Meaningful Beauty is an enigma; it’s extremely popular but has a significant number of negative reviews online. The brand makes skincare and haircare products targeted to women, with many of the products marketed as having anti-aging effects.
But do Meaningful Beauty products actually reduce visible signs of skin aging, or are these just marketing claims? Do they contain science-backed ingredients? Do they contain any harmful additive ingredients? What are consumers online complaining about in regard to the brand?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions as we review every ingredient in two of Meaningful Beauty's most popular products: Youth Activating Melon Serum and Age Recovery Night Crème. We'll give our take on whether these products are likely to be effective for reducing visible signs of skin aging, and also share a real user review of Meaningful Beauty products including before-and-after images.
Real User Before-And-After
One of the most popular reviews online of Meaningful Beauty is published by a YouTube creator named Sheri on her channel "This is Real Life With Sheri."
The video is unsponsored, and the creator tested eight Meaningful Beauty products over an eight week period to see if they caused anti-aging effects:
Youth Activating Melon Serum Review
Youth Activating Melon Serum is described on the Meaningful Beauty website as the "crown jewel" of the Meaningful Beauty collection, and it's the brand's most popular product. Meaningful Beauty claims that skin "looks, feels and acts younger" with twice-daily use.
The first plant-based ingredient is Cucumis melo cantalupensis callus extract, which is the scientific name for cantaloupe extract. This ingredient appears to be the one referred to on Meaningful Beauty’s homepage when they state their products “are powered by our exclusive Melon Leaf Stem Cell Technology.”
We cannot locate one single medical study suggesting that cantaloupe extract has an anti-aging effect when applied to skin, nor does Meaningful Beauty cite any, so we don't understand the brand's claims at all and we consider this ingredient to be ineffective.
One botanical ingredient in this serum that may improve skin quality is Pancratium maritimum (sea daffodil) extract. A 2021 clinical trial found that when combined with glycerin (which is also included in Youth Activating Melon Serum), this ingredient reduced the effects of pigmentation and dark spots on the skin. However no anti-aging effects were reported.
Sodium hyaluronate is an effective anti-aging ingredient backed by significant medical research. As we documented in our review of Miami MD, clinical trials have shown this ingredient to reduce wrinkles and improve skin hydration.
While Youth Activating Melon Serum contains some effective ingredients, it also contains three ingredients we recommend avoiding.
Fragrance has been shown in medical research to be potentially neurotoxic.
Phenoxyethanol is a synthetic preservative found to be toxic to human cells in a clinical trial, and sodium hydroxide is another preservative ingredient.
Overall we consider Meaningful Beauty Youth Activating Melon Serum to be likely effective for reducing visible signs of aging due to the inclusion of sodium hyaluronate. This is the only ingredient in this formulation we consider effective for anti-aging, and we cannot identify any studies suggesting the melon extract from which the product got its name is effective.
We do not recommend this product overall due to the inclusion of fragrance and two preservative ingredients.
Age Recovery Night Crème Review
Meaningful Beauty's Age Recovery Night Crème is marketed as a hydrating and anti-aging serum.
We already reviewed melon fruit extract and cannot identify any clinical studies backing its efficacy.
Retinol is one of the most well-studied anti-aging skincare ingredients. It's a form of vitamin A that's been proven in medical research to cause a "significant facial anti-aging effect" and to upregulate gene activity for collagen production.
Another interesting ingredient in this formulation is Hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) Oil, which has been shown in a study published in the Antioxidants journal to have photoprotective properties, meaning it can minimize damage to skin from UV exposure.
Soluble collagen may have an anti-aging effect, but as we detailed in our Plexaderm reviews article, there is significantly more research backing for hydrolyzed collagen which has a smaller molecular size and can more easily penetrate 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 been shown in clinical trials to cause tumors in animal studies. The human research is less conclusive, but we recommend avoiding this ingredient as a safety precaution.
We consider Age Recovery Night Crème likely to be effective for anti-aging due to the inclusion of retinol, but we don't recommend the product overall due to the fragrance and artificial dye ingredients.
Meaningful Beauty has a high number of negative reviews online compared to other skincare brands we've reviewed on Illuminate Health. Meaningful Beauty has 461 reviews on Pissed Consumer, with a 1.8 overall rating out of 5.
Their reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website are also overwhelmingly negative, with a star rating of 1.54 out of 5 and many customers blaming them for fraudulent business practices.
A user named "Roe Z S" gave Meaningful Beauty a one-star rating on the BBB site and claimed that the brand overcharged:
"Meaningful beauty charges more than reflected in their ads. They send merchandise sooner than requested. They charge monthly for products that are shipped quarterly. I call your choice of doing business, bait and switch. Which is illegal"
While it's impossible to conclusively determine whether online complaints are legitimate, we do consider this a red flag that consumers should take into account.
Our Skincare Recommendations
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.
Meaningful Beauty Lawsuit
Meaningful Beauty is owned by a larger corporation called "Guthy|Renker" that owns and manages a variety of other beauty brands including "JLo Beauty."
According to the Los Angeles Business Journal, Guthy|Renker settled a lawsuit for $8.5 million in 2019 over claims of auto-renewal payments being issued without customer consent or agreement.
Guthy|Renker settled an earlier class-action lawsuit in 2017 for $15 million according to Top Class Actions.
The lawsuits that Guthy|Renker has settled involve their management of the brands ProActiv and Wen (a hair brand). It does not appear that any lawsuit has been filed against Guthy|Renker in regard to their management of Meaningful Beauty.
Meaningful Beauty Real Customer Reviews
Meaningful Beauty is sold on Amazon which is a more objective resource for customer reviews than a brand's website in our opinion.
Their most-reviewed product on Amazon is their 5-piece starter kit which contains all of their most popular products. It's been reviewed over 3,500 times and has an average review rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars.
The product has a "C" grade from Fakespot which is a software tool that detects potentially fake Amazon reviews. Fakespot's "Adjusted Rating" is only 2.5 out of 5 stars.
The top positive review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named "Amanda" who claims the product fixed their eye bags:
"I love this product! Yes, it's pricey, but my face looks nicer! Let's start with the eye serum... Before I started using it, I would look like I had black eyes. Not just one, but both. And the bags underneath were awful. After 6 weeks, now my eyes look normal. I may look tired, but no more black puffy eyes for me!"
The top negative review form a verified purchaser comes from a user named "NattyJay" who claims most of the products were ineffective:
"The product size is small, but I expected that when looking at specs before ordering. The cleanser feels like water, the night cream smelled absolutely vile (so bad I had to wash it off after an hour) and the youth activation melon serum is super sticky on your face and leaves you looking greasy AF, even when only using half of the recommended amount. The eye cream was fine and the sunscreen I never got to trying...because this mess is going back with a quickness, Honey. Yuck."