Dr. Perricone presents himself as a radical in the dermatological community, repeatedly encouraging his audience to challenge the status quo. He compares his work relating diet to skincare with Ignaz Semmelweis's work on handwashing and the spread of disease in the 1800s.
Dr. Perricone has written five books. These all take a similar "three-tiered" approach to different skin problems. The three tiers are diet, supplements, and topicals. The books share some general recommendations, but each contains unique material.
The Wrinkle Cure
Dr. Perricone's first book, The Wrinkle Cure, published in 2001, suggests a diet and products that can allegedly slow, or even reverse, the visible aging process. Some of his most notable recommendations are a diet high in salmon (primarily for its omega-3 fatty acids), supplementation of alpha lipoic acid, and topical application of vitamin C ester and DMAE.
The Perricone Prescription
Published in 2002, The Perricone Prescription, recommends a "rejuvenating" program of diet, exercise, and skincare that is intended to not only improve one's appearance, but also to increase energy and reduce the risk of several major health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Many of the recommendations, such as a diet high in fish, are repeated from The Wrinkle Cure. The book became a #1 New York Times bestseller.
The Acne Prescription
Published in 2003, The Acne Prescription is a follow-up to The Perricone Prescription targeted at those who are suffering from acne, especially (though not exclusively) those who have older, drier skin that does not respond well to treatments intended for oily adolescent skin. The book is particularly notable for attacking the widely held opinion in the dermatological community that there is, with few exceptions, no correlation between diet and acne. (High intake of iodine is an acknowledged exception.) Dr. Perricone claims that foods do have anti-inflammatory (and therefore anti-acne) and pro-inflammatory effects; which foods fall into which category is somewhat counterintuitive. For example, apples are in the anti-inflammatory food list, while bananas are considered pro-inflammatory. This book's paperback version was released under the title "Clear Skin Prescription" in 2004.
The Perricone Promise
Published in 2004, The Perricone Promise offers a new theory of aging circulating around neuropeptides, and focuses on an extensive diet intended to regulate them. He claims that the diet can be helpful in simultaneously losing weight and smoothing wrinkles, as well as improving one's mood and decelerating aging. New topical recommendations are also included, the primary one being a neuropeptide-based serum exclusively sold by Perricone's company that currently costs $570 per bottle (a 3-month supply), far more than any of Perricone's other products.
The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet
Published in 2005, The Perricone Weight-Loss Diet describes how a variation of the face-lift diet introduced in previous books can also be helpful in losing weight without losing body tone. New supplement regimens are introduced along with an updated version of the salmon-rich Perricone diet, as well as several new recipes.
Dr. Perricone's company, N.V. Perricone, M.D. Ltd., sells relatively high-cost topicals, as well as some dietary supplements. For example, the least expensive moisturizer currently sold by the company costs $50 for a 2 oz. tub. However, Dr. Perricone's customers claim that this cost is justified due to the concentrations of active ingredients such as alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C ester, and DMAE, all of which are strongly recommended by Dr. Perricone in his books. These products are sold at a select few cosmetics stores, most notably Sephora.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Perricone's company grossed $11.9 million in 2001 and $42.4 million in 2002.
Dr. Perricone's critics accuse him of making outlandish, unrealistic promises in order to sell books and products. His claims, they say, are backed by very little scientific research, and any research he has done himself has never been published in medical journals, where it would be subject to scrupulous review.
Dr. Perricone's recommended diet has come under particular scrutiny. Although the specifics vary in his books, all of the recommendations focus on the regulation of blood sugar levels. Specifically, he recommends preventing rapid increases in blood sugar by eating only foods with a low glycemic index. This eliminates most breads and fruit juices, both of which are strongly recommended for consumption by mainstream diet organizations such as the USDA, which makes grains (including bread and cereal) the base of their food pyramid. Perricone's diet is similar to those touted by books such as The Glucose Revolution, and mainstream diets recommended for diabetics.
In his defense, Dr. Perricone accuses the dermatological community of conformity, of ignoring common-sense wisdom, and of closing their minds to minority voices. His books are filled with spirited rebelliousness. For example, in The Acne Prescription, Dr. Perricone cites Bertrand Russell's famous line: "Even when all the experts agree, they may well be mistaken."
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