Licensed Esthetician Blasts Nerium AD ‘Secret’ Toxic Ingredient

Being an Esthetician, it is part of my job to keep up with the new trends in the skin care industry, as well as further my education. I am genuinely interested in the ingredients that go into the products that I use and recommend to my clients. I feel as if it’s my duty to steer them towards the right products for their skin.

Over the past 5 or so months I kept hearing about a product called Nerium. I never really gave it a second thought at first, because I would have a lot of clients tell me about the random assortment of skin care products they were using.

I unfortunately just assumed it was a decent line I just hadn’t researched yet (shame on me). The skin care industry is always evolving and adapting new products and treatments. Clients would tell me that Nerium was part of their skin care regime and I would just be ecstatic that they were using products at all!

However, after hearing multiple clients talk about this product in such a short period of time, I decided to look into it. I was somewhat concerned, seeing as these people were coming to me with skin conditions, yet all they could do was rave about this “magic” product.

When I finally sat down to look into Nerium, and being the ingredient enthusiast that I am, I was stunned. I know a lot of companies will use fancy “scientific” names to use on their ingredient list to make it sound greater than it actually is or to make it seem like they are the only one using this kind of ingredient.

Their first ingredient was a “NAE-8 Proprietary blend (which is just a way to show legal ownership of a specific blend) of Aloe Barbadensis Leaf and Nerium Oleander Leaf Extract.

Their second ingredient is Aloe Barbadensis Leaf.

I felt my heart stop for a second when I read the word oleander. That poisonous plant my mother was always yelling at me to stay away from? The plant which every part of it is in fact toxic? People are putting that on their faces?! I decided to look more into oleander extract and skin care later.

As for the second ingredient on the list in this supposed “liquid gold” product being the same as part of the first ingredient, this so far is just a bottle of expensive Aloe Vera..Now I am amused. Going through the rest of the ingredients, I noticed that it was full of things you would find in your typical facial cleansers and shampoos.

  • Surfactants: de-greasing and wash active agents that work by breaking down oils and fats, in order for them to separate from the skin.
  • Condition agents which help moisturize the skin.
  • And the rest of the ingredients are just binders and fillers.

So basically, this company is riding on the fact that their anti-aging product is the best because of Nerium Oleander Leaf extract. The ingredients list does not lie, without this special “proprietary blend” Nerium AD is your average run of the mill beauty product. NOTHING SPECIAL. So now lets go back to what Oleander Leaf extract actually is and why it is being used.

Oleander extracts in -controlled doses- are in the early stages of testing to see if its effective in treating cancer. The National Cancer Institute has done test tube studies of Anvirzel (oleander extract) that appeared to slow the growth of human bladder cancer cells. But the “carefully dosed” people with cancer did not demonstrate that the Anvirzel helped them. And after many attempts, it was not approved by the FDA. In fact, Oleander Leaf is on Germany’s regulatory agency list of unapproved herbs because it has yet been proven to be either safe or effective.

Nerium Biotechnology couldn’t make their big break in the anti-cancer battle so they decided to give anti-aging a go. Nevertheless,they were unable to come up with evidence that Nerium Oleander Extract works as a wrinkle-repair ingredient, or have any anti-aging benefit for that matter.

There have been studies found on Wikipedia stating in which “a nerium oleander extract was applied to the skin of people with different dermal conditions, sensitive mass spectrometry based blood analyses were not able to detect the presence of cardiac glycosides such as oleandrin, indicating that these compounds are not readily absorbed through the skin. In layman’s terms, we are dealing with a “poisonous, failed (so far) cancer drug that doesn’t penetrate the skin and is a potential irritant”(

It is said that skin irritation from contact with oleander has occurred and allergies are very possible. After doing a ton of research on the oleander leaf extract, I couldn’t find it being used in any other skin care product other than Nerium AD. With being an unproven anti-aging agent, possible skin irritant, failed cancer treatment and showing no evidence of being able to even penetrate the skin, I was unimpressed.

Another thing that I found interesting about the Nerium AD product was the chronic low-level inflammation that occurs within the skin. Inflammation is typically visible. Signs of inflammation include redness, irritation and discomfort. Despite the contrary, inflammation can also be invisible. Without the physical indicators, people do not realize their skin is inflamed at all. The low levels of inflammation give the skin a more plumped up appearance which is mistaken for the product actually working as an anti-aging agent.

The inflammation theory of aging is known more commonly by the term ‘inflammaging’ named by Claudio Franceschi, an Italian scientist. It refers to the biological reaction between inflammation and aging. Inflammation is the process in which the immune system uses to help the body fight off damaging agents.

Inflammation itself is actually very healthy and natural, yet chronic inflammation can be bad for the body. It forces the immune system to function with an inflammatory response level that is much higher than what it was made to handle. The immune system naturally produces free radicals to help bring down inflammation. When it is chronic, the system will constantly be producing the free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules trying to find an electron to bind to to become a stable structure. Free radicals will attack healthy cells in search of the electrons which result in changing the cells from healthy to abnormal. Also, when inflammation occurs, the immune system sends white blood cells to help heal. When there is constant swelling, the body puts normal body functions on the back burner. It is trying to focus on producing more cells to get the inflammation under control rather than producing cells to maintain healthy tissues throughout the body.

The continual presence of this malady can lead to premature aging of tissues and organs. The chronic low-level inflammation contributes to the cause of at least 7 of the 10 leading causes of mortality. Which include: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and nephritis. These dangers may be silent, but they are very destructive and quite possibly deadly.

Now that we have established that Nerium AD isn’t the product that they claim to be, I want to talk about how they market themselves and how they sell their products. Nerium International is a direct sales company that is known for MLM (Multi-level-marketing). They encourage their existing distributors to recruit new ones by offering them a percent of their recruit’s sales.

Although Multi-level marketing is a legitimate strategy for businesses it can also be quite controversial. A pyramid scheme is when money from the new recruits is used to pay the people at the top. They pretend to be interested in a well-founded multi-level marketing in order to get more and more people signed up underneath them. Pyramid schemes are easy to spot by their focus more so on the recruitment than the actual product sales.

Nerium International uses their consultants to spread viral marketing propaganda like wild fire on the internet. If you try and google “Nerium AD is a scam” almost the whole entire first page will be links to sites that claim that its all a fraud. However, when you click on these links it takes you to sites that actually promote Nerium. These websites are full of “Before and After” photos that show the products efficacy. Even so, anyone with any knowledge in Photoshop can tell that a large quantity of these photos have been digitally manipulated.

Nerium AD is a classic pyramid scheme. False promises based on an irreparable product. Please do not fall victim to this horrible scam. Most of these people have no knowledge of skin care and do not have your best interest in mind. They are only looking to make money off of you. Anyone who thinks that what I do as an Esthetician is anything similar to what they do as a Nerium Consultant is a fool.

-Rachel A. Sauer, L.E.


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    I bought this product and used it for about 4 days on my face and neck. The first day with the day cream I noticed when I came home from work my foundation was all streaked and my face oily. I other words, it didn’t let my foundation settle in. That night I used the night cream and noticed it got really sticky as it dried on my face, neck and fingers. I thought it was weird but decided to keep using it and see what would happen and if it would actually work on me like all those photos of women and the miracle they were having with this product. Well, after my third day, I noticed my neck was really red, but I ride a Harley so thought maybe I had gotten a sun and wind burn ( although I wear a scarf and I am usually very covered up riding). I used it one more day and the day that would have been the fifth day I woke up with a bright red, swollen neck that was very tender and sore. Also was starting to get some acne on my face. I will never touch this product again. It is horrible and I wasted a lot of money….I would rather use Preparation H on my skin then this crap! Thank you for your article as I had already made up my mind but thought I would investigate it a little tonight and found your page.

  15. Anne

    This person did not do full research on this product! If she had then this would be accurate!

  16. Cam

    Hahahaaa all the nerium lovers who have written defensive replies are nerium consultants.

    This product is a load of sh*t and everyone knows it!

    Good luck with your sales and marketing, morons!

  17. There are always haters. My pictures are not photo shopped. It works and the ingredients are a all legit in Canada yes optimera and it works well. What is in your cream!? It’s working and it’s ligimet and u hate it. So trash it. Great spent hundred of dollars for cream what doesn’t do nothing. Nerium is the first product which does what it promises. What else out there does!? Any!!!! … thought so cuz I searched them and no they don’t. Companies r pbl pissed off not to have there formula which makes it so great. You do your own research it’s a great product and it works! And no other company can copy the formula that’s why it’s under patent and I’m sure a lots are not happy about it.

  18. Jane s.

    I know people who love it…and also know people who have gone to the E. R
    from it. Some of their products do contain an ingredient that seeps into your skin, gets into your system, and causes heart palpitations and other heart problems. One woman I knew in particular had this confirmed and it was pretty serious . she woke up in the middle of the night after trying it for the first time just hours before with serious heart palpitations and other symptoms. She had blood work done and all other kinds of tests done and showed the doctor the product bottle & label and the doctor immediately knew that was what caused it, saying he had multiple cases of that happening before with other patients. Scary stuff! It obviously doesn’t happen to everyone, but if a Doctor immediately recognizes a Nerium bottle and freaks out that’s saying something.

  19. bridget

    I do have to add, from one “licensed” esthetician to another, esthetician school can last up to ONE YEAR to complete. Yes there is continued education once out in the field, but esthetician research to Bio Science research DOES NOT COMPARE. Frankly, I’m embarrassed for you that you even blogged such negativity for all your clients to see too. Yes, people react to products differently, this we know. So it should come as no surprise that some people can’t use Nerium. We need to start being more positive in this world. Being positive just feels better and can make a huge difference in one’s life. I’m sure you run your business in a professional manner but this negative letter to the world was uncalled for. I wish you true inspiring turn arounds in your life.

  20. bridget

    This is funny and yes extremely negative. You are just a “licensed” esthetician. These are Bio Scientists. Huge huge difference in education and research. Your negativity and close-mindedness is what will hold you back in life. Wake up people.

  21. Tracy

    I just spoke to someone about this product and they said they love the way their skin feels?! But they have terrible reactions to it. Hmm. Didn’t understand that relationship. Anyway, as an esthetician, I can appreciate the author’s point of view. It is not product bashing. Our clients are depending on our knowledge and experience to help them. The bottom line is this, folks. If you are buying a product from someone who did not go to school for skin specifically and who is not holding a license from their state of operation, then the product legally cannot be formulated to penetrate the cell wall and WILL NOT change the cell function. You are buying heavily marketed OTC skincare that will only sit on your skin and idle. If the person actually taking your money and talking to you about the purchase you are ready to make holds a high school diploma, or anything besides Licensed Esthetician or MD, they have no authority concerning how to advise you and what consequences you may endure. That goes for Sephora, Ulta, the real estate at the mall entrance side to any department store where the cosmetics are set up, Clinique lab coats, Lancôme Cruella De Ville painted booth attendees or any and all otc dermatologist approved/formulated/tested/certified/recommended product. That all means nothing. Rodan and Fields? Boo. Shame on them. Cindy Crawford and her meaningful beauty?! No.
    And any product that you see at any store that once was used in an esthetic setting in the past has been reformulated for public consumption.

  22. Alicia

    This product is not good for your skin especially if you have sensitive skin! If you take a close look at their ingredients the article is 100% true about what’s in it. Just google the ingredients yourself! If it is so good why do so many have allergic reactions just look at other sites and see for yourself! Also, someone on here mentioned how it is banned in Canada, now doesn’t that ring a bell! Many countries are a lot more strict on ingredients then the US is!
    I personally tried it and had a bad reaction but don’t take my word for it or what this article and others say and take a chance of messing your skin up with breakouts or rashes! So not worth it!!! Better buying a skincream from CVS at least your save some money!

    • Holly

      I have very sensitive skin! Bar soap burns my face. Prescribed medication burned my face. I’ve been using the product for over 3 years and my skin is so much healthier! The only issues I had were the first 90 days on and off as my face got used to it and it did what it’s meant to do. No problems since. And, it’s been the only product to get rid of my redness and dark discoloration. My skin is also not as dry anymore. It is not for everyone – same as all other products. But it is safe and effective. It was the number 1 product in Inc. 500 – I think that’s proof it works for lots of people. And it’s not banned in Canada. Other countries have regulations for products, which is why other countries use the Optimera formula. Again, not for all but for those it is, we love it!

  23. Kim

    I know this is an old article but I can’t help but laugh at the all the negative comments because I find it funny how people that have no clue about something but love to bash and be negative all because they truly have no clue what they are even talking about. Non of you are scientist and clearly have no education on the scientific data and research of Nerium’s line of products. I find it hard that a natural BioTech company that is working on find a cure for skin cancer and a scientific lab based out of Princeston University doesn’t have one up on you and your knowledge of the products and what they can do, LOL!! Let me educate you just a little : It’s a MOLECULE that is being used from the Oleander plant and not a leaf or a flower, if you do more research you will see that there are hundreds of species of the Oleander that have been used for centuries for medicinal uses and healing.. But of course those that are not educated or done proper research will say it is a poisonous.

    I encourage you to do some real research from 3rd party clinical trials and scientific data and do yourself a favor and stop Googling to get answers or reading what some lady thinks because her mama told her “Oleander is poisonous”. It’s a wicked world and it thrives on negativity and sadly that is what people look for.

    Best product I have every used and it is natural, but then again some people will use another product that has chemicals and synthetics that harm the skin, no clinical data, scientific research etc. and yet will use that and not bash it.
    Go figure…

    p.s. If the product was harming people it would still not be on the market and Nerium would not be going global and to date be the fastest growing company in the world that just hit a Billion dollars in less than 5yrs. I say that is a clue people are LOVING their Nerium, except of course the skeptics that think it’s poisonous.


  24. Colleen

    I found it to be similiar to the material I could dig up on it. The Nerium AD was never approved to be brought into Canada, so they took the oleander out and changed the name (Canadian Brand only) to Optimera
    I wondered how they could claim their Optimera was just as effective?
    Turned out to be a bad product and horrible experience.
    I’d be interested to see and read your take on Nucerity and their flagship product called “Skincerity”
    Last reader was correct. There is a viable product for sale here, which excludes these Network marketing companies far removed from a scheme.
    Thanks for the read
    Colleen Marie

  25. Kristin

    Approved by who? I have yet to see one creditable person approve this product. MC Anderson sent the company a stop and desist letter to get Nerium to stop affiliating with them.  Get past and actually look up the fancy names in the product and you will find Borax (Sodium Borate), Dimethicone which blocks oxygen from flowing into the skin as well and causes the skin to not release sweat properly YUCK! Dimethicone is a conman skin irritant as well and has shown that it speeds up aging, Sodium PCA is not suppose to be mixed with dimethicone, and my favorite Phenylpropanol known for causing stroke and hymorginghemorrhaging also known as  phenylpropanolamine. So brand consulants I’m sure yall will have a rehearsed response that the company has given you But I’m going to challenge you to think for yourselves for once and put the puzzle together w/out someone telling you what to think. The FDA is working on getting legisation passed so they can regulate the cosmetics bc of companies like Nerium they are out of control and raping people’s wallets as they damage their body.

  26. Tracy Middlebrook

    In regards to your claims regarding Nerium’s products, I will say your research was not thoroughly done. Based on a medical study that was done in which their findings can be found in the Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology Journal Volume 8 (peer reviewed source), the Oleander extract NAE-8 showed beneficial antioxidant properties without the induction of leukocyte activation and secretion of inflammatory cytokines. Which basically means its an anti-inflammatory agent and it does not stimulate your white blood cells. Being that it is a antioxidant, it fights against free radicals. So everything that you claimed it DOES it what it fights AGAINST and has had proven clinical success in its products. Is that going to happen with everyone? Absolutely not! Everyone’s skin is different and some are more sensitive than others. However, it does not mean the products do not work. Yes the oleander plant is poisonous, however this is why its an extract in which the amount used in the product is beneficial for the skin. If you get bitten by snake, the venom can kill you. Guess what the treatment is? An antidote that contains a small amount of venom to counteract the effects. It all depends on the amount. Customers are not getting a plant directly in a bottle and asked to smear it on their face. Nerium has partnered with Signum Bioscience that has done extensive research on NAE-8 to weight out the benefits vs the risk. A pyramid scheme is also illegal. Nerium has over 600 six figure income earners and the company is only 4 years old. Its a great company, with a great product, however we live in a world where people are not pleased and will always try to find the bad in something that is going well. Good luck in all your future endeavors.

  27. Elizabeth

    I did a favor and tried it. My mistake, the first night I had rapid and throbbing heart rate. I thought it was in my head. I woke up with rash/bumps on my face. The next night about 10 min after application I started feeling funny in my chest. I washes it off ASAP. I’m sticking with my organic raw products. I don’t need a product to swell my face to hide wrinkles, I’m good! Thanks for the article.

  28. Christy

    I found this article to be very negative. I, also a Nerium user, did my research as well. If you had done a full research on this product, you would have discovered that the oleander extract is not toxic to the skin, and that when it is paired with aloe vera, that’s when it has it’s best activation. The founders of this product have done decades of research themselves and this extract would have never been approved if it was toxic as you are suggesting. Anyone can google something and you will find good and bad on everything. It just depends on who’s writing the information and opinions. ( never trust Wikipedia) So, in my opinion, I feel your business is loosing customers because of this product and that upsets you, and naturally so. However, I don’t feel it is right for you to bash a company and make false statements about it just because you are upset. Bitterness is definitely the tone in your article. I have loved these products and what this company stands for. I was proud to finally see a company with values, and real products!

  29. Thank you so much for this very detailed and helpful article! I had been introduced to Nerium several months ago and used it for about a week. I noticed a huge difference in my skin and was excited about it, but still a little apprehensive about the ingredients and making sure they were safe. Another friend started selling Nerium recently, so I decided to finally do my research. Your article has helped me to understand how dangerous this product may in fact be! I do have a little problem, however, with your use of the term “pyramid scheme.” A true pyramid scheme is an actual scheme…there is no real product, just promises. Nerium is not a pyramid scheme. It is an MLM with a bad product and a great business model.