Complementary and alternative medicine Friday Woo Medicine Quackery

Your Friday Dose of Woo: The boneyard of forgotten woo

i-ae859cfde878c44cdbd8e6bfdc9c9bdc-rejuvenique_3.jpgI know I like to say that woo is eternal, and it is. That doesn’t, however, mean that individual examples of woo are necessarily eternal. Some, it seems, are. Does anyone doubt, for example, that homeopathy, which has been around for over two hundred years now, will still be around 200 years from now? I’d like to think it won’t, but fear that it will, even though I know I won’t be around to find out. Ditto for energy-based “healing” and naturopathy, among others. On the other hand, not all woo is eternal. Sometimes the reason is fashion, which, as we all know, is fickle. Sometimes the reason is that the “healer” made his bucks and doesn’t want to outwear his welcome, if you know what I mean, usually leaving just one step ahead of the law, which then shuts down the operation.

This next bit of woo seems to be defunct. Indeed, it was recently seen marked massively down to $9.99 from $160. Times, apparently, aren’t so great for Salton, Inc., the company that made (and apparently still makes) the victim–I mean, topic–of this particular week’s exercise in abuse. As a prelude to introducing it to you, I can’t help but mention that I just don’t understand the whole aging and rejuvenation thing. True, I’ve been fortunate enough to have for most of my life been blessed with an appearance more youthful than my actual chronological age, but lately time has been catching up with me and the apparent difference between the two has been steadily decreasing. So I understand that it’s a bummer getting old and how it might be desirable to turn back the clock. What I don’t understand is why anyone would be desperate enough to use a product like this on such thin “evidence” that it works. The device I’m talking about is Rejuvenique:

My friends, this has to be the creepiest device ever yet featured on our little Friday exercise. Look at the mask. Linda Evans may say that it looks like the Phantom of the Opera. I’m not so sure. I’m thinking Jason or Hannibal Lecter myself, only with less personality. Don’t believe me? Watch the video again and look at hte part where the camera zeroes in on the eye of the woman wearing the mask. Doesn’t it remind you of Silence of the Lambs? Of course, the woman wearing the mask isn’t an evil serial killer with a penchant for liver with Fava beans and a nice Chianti; she’s just some poor model enduring dozens of electrical shocks to her face, which is probably why she has that wild, desperate look in her eye, kind of like this:

But, hey, maybe there’s something to this woo. Skepticism doesn’t mean being close-minded. I mean, it’s possible that it might actually do something. Highly unlikely, but possible. So, in the interests of fairness, let’s see what Rejuvenique says about itself:

Rejuvenique is the patented beauty system designed to help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. An initial use period of 90 days is recommended for Rejuvenique, followed by regular weekly maintenance sessions. The Rejuvenique mask features 24k gold plated sensors, which circulate sensations over the face. The Rejuvenique system is based on an interpretation of the theories of accupressure.

Includes rejuvenique mask with: 

  • 26 gold plated contact points
  • adjustable – washable velcro headband
  • control hand set
  • cable connector
  • 9 volt battery
  • owners manual
  • Rejuvenique VHS video instructions
  • and a tube of contact toning gel

This is what Salton, Inc., the company that makes the device (and, appropriately enough, apparently the parent company of Black & Decker) says about its pride and joy:

Imagine reducing the appearance of wrinkles and achieve a smooth, toned, radiant look without undergoing time consuming procedures, harsh chemicals or other expensive evasive measures. Would you do it? Traditional skin care is designed to cleanse, moisturize and pamper. “What I saw missing from the vast array of skin care products on the market,” said Dr. George Springer, Doctor of Chiropractic and inventor of the Rejuvenique system, “was a product that would tone the face and skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and giving the skin a more youthful look.” The system has a facial mask with 26 contact areas that receive a mild impulse from the custom control unit. These impulses help create a gradual reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles resulting in a face that looks and feels more youthful with that healthy rosy glow. “With the Rejuvenique system”, explained Dr. George Springer, “you have a product that offers a whole new range of benefits for your face and skin.”

And, yes, the mask is doing exactly what you think it is: Administering numerous shocks to the face to cause contractions of the facial muscles, supposedly to “tone” it. You’re supposed to put this thing on your face three or four times a week for at least 15 minutes, sit back, and endure the shocks–all in the name of looking “youthful.” I’m sorry, but I think I’ll just endure aging as my face becomes progressively more wrinkly and saggy over the next couple of decades. Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate the entire infomercial, just the 90 second version above. Fortunately, Ridiculous Infomercial Review has the scoop:

Hosted by Linda Evans, the former Dynasty star and New Age aficionado, this infomercial introduces us to the Rejuvenique mask and its inventor, Dr. George Springer, “a past associate professor of dermatology who’s also been practicing holistic medicine for the past 19 years.” Practicing holistic medicine? That’s reassuring!

Aren’t they all practicing “holistic” medicine? Does anybody practice science-based medicine anymore? Still, it’s got to work. After all, it’s science! “Dr.” Evans even made Dr. Springer do a clinical trial:

“When I first heard about the Rejuvenique system, I have to admit I was very skeptical…I requested a special trial just for this show,” Linda Evans tells us–and, of course, New Age channeling enthusiasts are renown for their steely-eyed skepticism.

The women who participated in that “special trial” are then interviewed by Dr. Springer and two of his colleagues. The ladies say that the electric probes of the Rejuvenique mask improved their faces almost immediately (though both the doctors and the women refrain from describing the results as being “fast as lightening”).

Wow! That certainly sounds like a rigorous clinical trial to me! Dr. Springer even claimed that “80 percent of participants experienced a reduction in the appearance of lines ‘and a more radiant complexion.'” What do you think? Alas, for Dr. Springer, apparently the FDA didn’t quite agree and sent him one of those nasty warning letters like the ones it sent out the other day to a bunch of cancer quacks. Apparently it didn’t see the genius of this device.

Perhaps you want to know what this device is really like. Obviously an infomercial will try to paint only the best picture of its subject. Fortunately, the Rejuvenique is still available on, and there was an intrepid blogger named Eric Nuzum, who did an “N of 2” clinical trial. Well, not exactly. What actually happened is that two of his friends tried it out, and he videotaped what happened:

Yep, it’s about what I expected. Is it any surprise that the above video looks like a bit from an episode of Jackass?

You know, it occurred to me. If Dr. Springer ever wants to bring back Rejuvenique, I think he should consider some alternate designs. For example, if you’re a Doctor Who fan, as I am, you might like these:


(Bonus Who geek points to anyone who can identify the third photo without clicking on it.)

Or, if you’re a horror movie aficionado, maybe one of these would be more your speed:


No, they’re both too similar to the original design, particularly the last one.

Wait! I have it! I know the perfect design for Rejuvenique v.2.0! Check it out:


That’s right! A Doctor Doom mask! Think about it. Remember how many times I’ve said I wanted to cover my face in shame at the antics of creationists physicians like Dr. Michael Egnor? Remember how I even joked–well, half-joked –about covering my face in a Doctor Doom mask? A Rejuvenique mask shaped like a Doctor Doom mask would be perfect for this purpose. Not only would it hide my face, but the electrical shocks would distract me from the pain induced by the sheer stupidity of the “intelligent design” creationist blather that regularly emanates from the keyboard of Dr. Egnor.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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