When I was 18, my friend told me her mother brought her first anti-wrinkle moisturizing set. According to her mother, anti-wrinkle care starts at a young age, which makes sense logically given prevention is better than treatment, which comes after the fact that wrinkles and other fine lines have already formed. Since then, I was sold and got my own anti-wrinkle set and have never looked back since. Although there is still a lack of solid medical proof that it works, I believe that giving it a try and working to prevent wrinkles is better than risk doing nothing at all.
The anti-wrinkle industry is a multi-million dollar business, but there hasn’t been enough scientific research to prove its true effectiveness, except that it may work to improve the appearance of wrinkles. Of course, other factors such as the length of time an anti-wrinkle cream has been used as well as how much of anti-aging ingredient inside the product also plays a factor.
From Mayo Clinic, common anti-aging ingredients include:
- Retinol. Retinol is a vitamin A compound, the first antioxidant to be widely used in nonprescription wrinkle creams. Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals — unstable oxygen molecules that break down skin cells and cause wrinkles.
- Hydroxy acids. Alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids and poly hydroxy acids are synthetic versions of acids derived from sugar-containing fruits. These acids are exfoliants — substances that remove the upper layer of old, dead skin and stimulate the growth of smooth, evenly pigmented new skin.
- Coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 is a nutrient that helps regulate energy production in cells.
- Copper peptides. Copper is a trace element found in every cell. In products applied to the skin, it’s combined with small protein fragments called peptides. Copper peptides enhance wound healing. They also stimulate production of collagen and may enhance the action of antioxidants.
- Kinetin. As a plant growth factor, kinetin may improve the appearance of wrinkles and uneven pigmentation with minimal irritation. It’s unclear how it works, but it may help reduce wrinkles by helping skin retain moisture and by stimulating the production of collagen. It may also be a potent antioxidant.
- Tea extracts. Green, black and oolong tea contain compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Of course, every day there are new products coming out and it seems that everyone’s jumping onto the anti-aging bandwagon including Garnier (I thought they made haircare products!) to Clinique’s youth surge line (which only came out approximately 2 years ago), and even a L’Oreal Men’s anti-aging line! How do you choose the right one? It depends on a variety of factors: its ingredients, what it does/targeted effect, age range (don’t use one that’s too strong/out of your age range), your personal moisturizing level preferences, to name a few.
Ultimately, given that anti-aging products have not yet been scientifically proven, other more known methods should also be used concurrently to prevent aging of the skin. This includes:
- Protect your skin from the sun. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light speeds up the natural aging process of your skin, causing wrinkles and rough, blotchy skin. In fact, sun exposure is the No. 1 reason for signs of aging in the skin, including uneven pigmentation. Protect your skin — and prevent future wrinkles — by limiting the time you spend in the sun and always wearing protective clothing and hats. Also, use sunscreen on exposed skin when outdoors, even in winter.
- Choose products with built-in sunscreen. When selecting skin care products, choose those with a built-in sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Also, be sure to select products that are broad spectrum, meaning they block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Use moisturizers. Dry skin turns plump skin cells into shriveled ones, creating fine lines and wrinkles long before you’re due. Though moisturizers can’t prevent wrinkles, they can temporarily mask tiny lines and creases.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the outermost layers of your skin. It also damages collagen and elastin — fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity. As a result, skin begins to sag and wrinkle prematurely.
- Eat a healthy diet. There is some evidence that certain vitamins in your diet help protect your skin, particularly vitamins A, C, B3 and E. More study is needed on the role of nutrition.
Of course, genetics come into play as well, but it shouldn’t hurt to use both anti-aging skin care and prevention strategies. As with everything in life, all in moderation!