Anti-aging is a multi-billion dollar industry built on selling the promise of youth to women all over the world, but especially in the United States. Go to any drugstore or department store, salon or big box warehouse, and you’ll find aisle after aisle of tubes and bottles that promise to erase wrinkles, firm, tighten and even out the skin. Everything from the packaging to the advertising is slick and attractive. Models are flawless. The hook is compelling.
Advertised Results vs. Real-Life Results
Here’s the thing: The majority of ingredients found in today’s creams, serums and lotions are ineffective at best. And, many of them aren’t good for your long-term health. Your average tube of eye cream or day serum contains over a dozen ingredients that aren’t even for your skin. Preservatives, fragrance and color make up the bulk of the ingredients.
The hard truth is that a majority of skin creams on the market that promise younger-looking skin don’t do much more than hydrate it, giving a temporary smooth, plump appearance.
For example, hyaluronic acid, a common ingredient, is touted as an ingredient that smooths skin and reduces the appearance of wrinkles — and it does, for a few hours. It’s true that hyaluronic acid is the ingredient used in dermal fillers, but applied topically it isn’t able to penetrate the skin. Instead, it “floats” on top and helps create a temporary plumping, smoothing effect.
So, while it does offer some temporary cosmetic benefits, it doesn’t actually have any long-lasting effects for your skin. That doesn’t make it completely bad, it’s just important to realize it’s not going to make any changes to your skin long-term.
Does Anything Work?
Actually, yes. There is a short list of ingredients that have been scientifically proven to improve the appearance of your skin, and can actually turn back the clock a little. It doesn’t happen overnight, but they do work. These ingredients include Retinoids, Vitamin C and Peptides.
Retinoids in particular are proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve texture and even stimulate collagen growth. This last part is the most important. Collagen is a big part of what makes your skin smooth, plump and wrinkle-free. It breaks down with age and exposure to the environment.
It’s important to note that products containing Retin-A are only available with a prescription. There are over-the-counter products that contain smaller quantities of Retinoids but they are not as powerful. They can take longer to work and the effects may not be as dramatic, but if you’re looking for a drug or department store product that will truly improve your skin then check for Retinol, Retin A or Retinoid on the ingredients list.
Peptides are another product that can help stimulate collagen growth, but only in certain formulations. Look for the ingredient Matrixyl. When collagen breaks down it forms short-chain fatty acids (peptides) that signal the body to produce more. Products containing these signal peptides (Matrixyl) can help stimulate collagen growth. Look for serums rather than heavy creams that don’t penetrate the skin.
Other ingredients such as hydroxy acids can help exfoliate skin and Vitamin C can help improve tone and texture. Using a combination of these ingredients can realistically improve the look of your skin and even slow down and improve the outward signs of aging.
Don’t be fooled by price tags! Don’t assume that because a product has a big name and a high price it will be more effective than less expensive brands.
When it comes to purchasing products that will actually make a visible, lasting difference in your skin, you’ll need to look at the ingredients. Layering can be an effective strategy for creating the best results.
What Else Can You Do?
Whether or not you choose to spend money on topical products to help minimize wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines, there are additional ways to slow down the process, and yes even reverse some of it.
Exercise has been clinically shown to improve the skin. There have been several studies that show moderate exercise helps slow down age-related changes to the skin, and can even reverse some of those changes.
Eating a varied diet of whole foods is another method. Eat lots of fatty fish, green vegetables and berries to help your skin stay glowing and healthy.
Finally, stay out of the sun! Use sunscreen and wear sunglasses and a hat. And don’t forget your chest and hands applying sunscreen and anti-aging products. Like the skin on your face, your chest and hand get a lot of sun exposure, and tend to show the signs of aging even more than the skin on your face.