Fountain Of Youth in a Jar

Cosmetics firms are touting new types of skin creams to ward off aging and cellulite, but so far the evidence is scant

In the fantasy world of cosmetics, hope and hype have always been the rulers, and truth the rude beggar at the gate. Americans have long recognized that fact -- and dismissed it. "Oh, I know it probably doesn't do everything they say it does," admits Evelyn, a San Diego secretary, while purchasing some skin cream at a Nordstrom counter. "But it makes my skin look and feel better, so I'll keep buying it."

These days, however, manufacturers are going to greater lengths to exploit consumers' unwary nature. Critics charge that cosmetics promotion has moved beyond the bounds of puffery and into...

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