Everyone is affected with signs of aging at some point in their life, be it visible wrinkles, blemishes, pigmentation changes, expression lines, discolorations, poor texture, or other environment-related conditions of the skin. As we age, the production of skin reviving and plumping collagen gradually slows, revealing fine lines and wrinkles.
Anti-aging creams promise to reduce these signs of aging. Yet, despite the ever-rising demand and great popularity, there has been skepticism and anxiety related to anti-wrinkle creams. Many believe that anti-aging creams are but fads, and do not work at all. Debates still continue whether anti-aging creams are cosmetics or drugs. Many argue that most of the anti-aging creams only enhance the outward appearance of the skin and only temporarily at that; and therefore should be placed on equal footings with other cosmetics.
So the promises of younger, fresher looking skin are nothing but lies? No. Fortunately for wrinkle-cream customers, that’s not always so. Granted, in most scenarios, wrinkle creams only offer what can already be achieved through the use of moisturizers and sunscreens. But with a little knowledge of active ingredients used nowadays in certain anti-aging creams, the promises may as well be fulfilled.
Anti-aging creams come under the category of “cosmeceuticals”, mixture of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals; which means they are cosmetic products containing certain biologically active ingredients claiming to give medical or drug-like effect. With ample scientific research and knowledge collected thus, researchers HAVE found out such ingredients which are almost just as effective and relatively inexpensive compared to medical cosmetic procedures.
Active Anti-aging Ingredients:
Most people usually stick to buying cosmetic products of their favorite brands. But to actually gain satisfactory results from anti-aging creams, you’ll have to go an extra mile and start with researching products containing active ingredients which really work on aging skin.
The active ingredient in Retin-A is tretinoin. The chemical is the only one till date to achieve FDA approval ratings for anti-aging as well as anti-sun damage properties. Retinoid prevents the loss of collagen from skin due to excessive exposure and consequent photo-damage.
In anti-aging creams, retinoid-derivatives in the form of retinol and retinyl palmitate (combination of pure retinol and cleansing agent palmitic acid) are used. However, these must be present at a sufficiently high concentration of 0.04% to 0.07% to be effective. Customers should also take care to note the expiry date of the product, since products containing retinoid tend to expire after a month or so post opening.
Side effects may include mild irritation and redness. Customers with sensitive skin should use a much lower concentration of retinol (approx. 0.025%). It is also advisable to avoid the use of products containing retinoid during pregnancy or breast feeding period, since it is a Vitamin A derivative which is associated with birth defects.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs):
Various alpha and beta hydroxy acids are already popular ingredients in various cosmetic products like cleansers, moisturizers, toners, etc. Two most popular AHAs are lactic acid and glycolic acid, known for their ability to efficiently penetrate skin.
AHAs have superb exfoliation properties helping in removal of dead skin cells and growth of new ones. Effectiveness of anti-wrinkle creams containing AHAs depends upon concentration (5% to 8% are sufficient) and frequency of application.
AHAs can increase sun-sensitivity by almost 50%, therefore an effective sunscreen providing UVA and UVB protection is an FDA requisite in final product formulation. Irritation, redness and possible scarring can also occur as side effects. Some people tend to be allergic to certain hydroxy acids. Therefore it’s best to consult a physician before trying a product with an AHA mentioned in ingredients.
Peptides are short-chained proteins which occur naturally in the skin, mainly acting as messengers (in the form of signal peptides) or hormones. They are well known for their natural skin-healing benefits. Peptides such as oligopeptides work as collagen boosters, while Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5 and Tripeptide-1 stimulate the skin for synthesizing collagen of types I and III, and simultaneously decreasing enzyme production to protect collagen and elastin integrity. Pentapeptide-18 and Acetyl hexapeptide-8 (Argireline) are peptides that are known to tighten the skin, thereby reducing the appearance of wrinkles.
There are minimal side-effects related to use of peptides for anti-aging treatment. Not only they help against wrinkles, they also increase skin’s moisture retaining ability, elasticity, and resilience.
Anti-oxidants are substances that are known to protect the body from damage caused by free radicals-unstable molecules that damage cell membranes, proteins, lipids, and DNA. Free radicals are also one of the major causes of premature aging. Anti-oxidants are already popular for their extraordinary health benefits, and their use in anti-aging products is relatively new yet promising.
Green tea, rosemary, grapes, and tomatoes contain the most effective anti-oxidants and products containing extracts of same can give visible satisfactory results with regular application. A 10% concentration of green tea extract in a given product is especially effective for fighting aging.
It should be noted that although anti-oxidants can be used in diet and applied topically, the effectiveness of an anti-oxidant diet for anti-aging is somewhat debatable. Also, most anti-oxidants will only help in prevention of wrinkles, and may not work to remove those which already exist.
Excess exposure to sun leaves visible skin prone to aging effects of UVA and UVB rays. Increased levels of exposure can cause wrinkling, discoloration, formation of freckles and dark spots, damaging of elastin and collagen, skin cancer, as well as DNA mutations. Yes, those 2 minutes you saved by opting out sunscreen application will take its heavy toll.
Sunscreens and sunblocks are applied topically in various forms to prevent such skin related hazards. Following the age old adage of “prevention is better than cure”, sunscreen application substantially reduces chances of photo aging.
Nowadays, sunscreens with active anti-aging ingredients are on rise. These will not only prevent photo aging, but will also treat existing signs of aging. The most effective ones contain tretinoin, the efficacy of which has been already discussed in the Retinoid section as a miracle chemical with proven anti-aging as well as anti-sun damage properties. Other anti-aging sunscreens contain anti-oxidants in the form of minerals.
Vitamin C is one of the most widely used skin-care ingredient, given its astounding skin healing properties. It skin rejuvenation and anti-wrinkle properties have been scientifically proved: It is essential for synthesis of collagen in skin, thus curing wrinkles and fine lines; and it is a well-known anti-oxidant, capable of preventing skin-damage due to free radicals.
Vitamin C on its own is rather tricky, since it oxidizes instantly and may cause more harm than good when used topically. To overcome this barrier, anti-aging creams use the vitamin’s more stable and effective derivatives like magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate, etc.
Vitamin C taken in dietary form is good for health, but provides insubstantial anti-aging benefits for skin, since higher concentrations for anti-wrinkle properties are required than those available to skin through vitamin rich diet.
Anti-aging creams do work, wonderfully. The effects of a given anti-aging product will depend upon active ingredients in its formulation, their respective concentrations, and frequency and regularity of application. Also keep in mind that many of the active ingredients listed above work best in ‘synergy’, i.e. combined form, than by themselves. For instance, AHAs sun-sensitivity factor can be negated by adding sunscreen in its formulation, and a sunscreen with retinoid will work wonders on wrinkle-ridden skin.