Can anti-aging cream work?

Can anti-aging cream work?

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I have a friend who told me that anti-aging cream cannot work to reduce wrinkles as it only penetrates x amount of skin layers and can never make a long term effect. Me not knowing much about how penetrative skin actually is, I was wondering if anyone knows if this is true and if anti-aging products are only working like a temporary moisturiser?

Since there are different formulations for anti-aging creams, it would be helpful to focus on the specific compound or combination of compounds.

According to a comprehensive literature review done in 2007, certain compounds (Vitamin C, alpha-hydroxy acids, Vitamin A, Vitamin B derivatives, and botanicals) have had varied success in literature demonstrating anti-aging efficacy with Vitamin C and alpha-hydroxy acids being the better candidates.

Vitamin A/retinols have been shown to reduce wrinkles in some studies but no large studies have been conducted to show efficacy, Vitamin C has been shown to be the most effective (statistically significant improvement in texture, wrinkling, etc.) and alpha-hydroxy acids have been shown to increase collagen density, for example among other improvements. A lot of these and other compounds have had positive or encouraging results replicated in literature, on mostly animal and human cell models so whether they actually have a significant effect on a large group of people needs to be looked at but to assess whether or not they actually "work" depends on what issues of skin damage as a result of aging one is targetting, the severity, the age at "treatment" and whether you're referring to over the counter or prescription-strength.

Huang, C. K. and T. A. Miller (2007). "The truth about over-the-counter topical anti-aging products: a comprehensive review." Aesthet Surg J 27(4): 402-412; quiz 413-405.

Here's Why You Shouldn't Use Anti-Aging Products

We always hear that the best way to combat the signs of aging are by starting early with preventative measures and taking care of our skin, but is there such a thing as too soon? If you're in your 20s and thinking about starting with the anti-wrinkle creams and serums, you might be wondering: Should you use anti-aging products in your 20s? I went straight to an expert to find out, and you might be surprised that your good intentions are causing some unwanted side effects.

The day I turned 25, things got real. I am, in every sense of the word, an adult, and that means far more than the ability to legally rent a car. Thirty is now closer than ever, so I decided it was time to get serious about an anti-aging routine. I diligently bought and applied the creams formulated for fine lines and wrinkles, and it was all fine and dandy — until I started breaking out. I don't normally get pimples, not even on my period really, so I was completely taken aback when my face was erupting with zits. I immediately attributed it to my new creams, stopped using them immediately, and went back to my regular old, drugstore moisturizer. Whatever, aging.

But I wanted to get the facts from an expert and find out what gives, and when I should start up again, so I interviewed dermatologist Dr. Jessica Weiser from New York Dermatology Group to find out the details on when you should start anti-aging products, and if your 20s are just too soon.

1. Your 20s Can Be Too Young

In general (emphasis on the general), you don't need to start anti-aging products in your 20s, and it can actually be too young. "The problem with many anti-aging products is that they are formulated for older patients," Weiser tells me.

2. Anti-Aging Creams Can Cause Breakouts

I wasn't drawing false conclusions — these creams can break you out if you start them too young, because the products are formulated for older patients. "As the skin ages, oil production typically wanes, leading to dry skin and therefore requiring richer, heavier creams to alleviate this dryness. Many of these heavy creams can cause occlusion (clogging) of young skin which has more natural oil production," Weiser says.

3. When You Start Depends On The Person

But that's not to say you shouldn't start in your 20s. An average twenty-something probably doesn't need to, but if you grew up at the beach, played sports outside, or spent a lot of time in the sun/tanning, you may need to start sooner than others to combat sun damage and to prevent accelerated aging. "Also, some people are not as genetically gifted as others, and thus will exhibit earlier signs of aging, for example those with dramatic facial expression and strong facial muscles."

4. Your Routine Should Depend On Your Skin Needs

Choose your products depending on what your skin actually needs, not what ads tell you in the media. "For early wrinkling and skin laxity, I recommend including a retinol-based product to maintain and stimulate collagen production in the skin. For sun-damaged skin, antioxidant-rich products whether serums, oils, or creams are a great way to reverse signs of sun related skin damage," Weiser said.

5. Sun Protection & Hydration Are Key In Your 20s

For an average twenty-something, instead of trying to fight lines and wrinkles that aren't there, focus on protecting yourself from sun damage and keeping your skin hydrated. "The important elements of skin care should be liberal sun protection, appropriate hydration, and the addition of either antioxidants or retinol as a preventive measure. Often a light serum can keep the skin bright, fresh, and youthful without going overboard," says Weiser.

Want more beauty tips? Check out the video below, and be sure to subscribe to Bustle’s YouTube page for more hacks and tricks!

Price doesn't actually matter

Nervous about your budget? Don't be! You may think the pricier the better when it comes to getting results, but that isn't necessarily true. "There is this misconception that more expensive products always work better," explains RealSelf's Dr. Joel Schlessinger. "But in reality it all comes down to knowing what is good and the science behind it." That means if a product has active ingredients such as retinol or antioxidants, it doesn't matter whether it's from a drugstore, a dermatologist, or a premier luxury line.

Do anti-aging products really work?

Yes! In Lab tests, we are able to see measurable improvements in skin's firmness and hydration and a decrease in fine lines and wrinkles. The products below are star performers, but some powerful ingredients to look for when picking an anti-aging product are retinoids, hyaluronic acid (or similar humectants), niacinamide, and glycolic acid, says GH Beauty Lab chemist Danusia Wnek.

It's important to know that the end of the day, sunscreen is the best anti-aging defense, no matter what anti-aging product you apply. Use one of the GH Beauty Lab&rsquos top-tested face sunscreens every morning before putting on makeup, and every two hours when you&rsquore spending the day outdoors. You&rsquoll help prevent future sun damage that can cause premature aging and, most importantly, help decrease the risk of skin cancer.

Now that you have the lowdown, below are the GH Beauty Lab's best-tested anti-aging skincare products that really work to remove wrinkles, including day creams, night creams, serums and more. Even better? Some of our beauty scientists&rsquo best-tested anti-aging products, below, are formulated with SPF!

Overall Opinion:

Pure Biology Enhanced Night Cream is designed to help plump fine lines and wrinkles on the face by helping greatly with moisture retention, but it did the opposite for my skin.

This retinol cream has a very thick texture that makes it kind of hard to apply to the skin. I ended up using a ton of product trying to cover my entire face and neck.

Once it’s applied to the skin, it leaves a super greasy residue that never dries down or goes away and leaves the face feeling sticky and gross.

The smell of this product is extremely unpleasant the only thing I can really compare it to is black olives. That sounds like a bizarre thing to compare a facial cream to but that is really what it smells like and leaves your face smelling that way the whole night.

The first night after using this product, my skin felt a bit drier than normal but I didn’t really notice any other differences to my skin.

After using this product for a longer period of time, I noticed absolutely no difference to the fine lines and wrinkles on my face. In addition, I began to develop dry, red patches all over my face and neck that were painful and flaky.

Overall, Pure Biology Enhanced Night Cream really didn’t work for my skin at all, and I won’t be using this product again.

After Sunscreen, Your Best Skin Care Bets

When Zeichner sees young adults who want to know how they can maintain their still-dewy skin, he suggests they add a daytime antioxidant moisturizer or serum to their regimen. These products contain ingredients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, green tea, niacinamide, and alpha lipoic acid. They may minimize the oxidative damage caused by stressors such as sun exposure and pollution.

Friedman believes that after sunscreen, a prescription retinoid or over-the-counter retinol is the next most effective product a 20-something can buy. "I think every young adult should use one," he says. "There is a ton of solid research showing that retinoids work to regulate skin function."

Retinoids can reduce acne, shrink enlarged pores, even out skin tone, treat precancerous skin lesions, and build collagen while speeding cell turnover.

Retinoids, however, should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Retinoids can cause redness, dryness, and flaking during their first few weeks of use. "They should be introduced into a skin care regimen gradually and cautiously," Friedman says.

Best Eye Cream: Mario Badescu Glycolic Eye Cream

This formula is packed with antioxidants that protect your skin from free radicals, glycolic acid, which improves your skin tone and nourishing cocoa butter. It’s formulated to provide intense moisture and encourage a more youthful eye area.

This formula is thinner than others. We found it remained shinier than other creams, but as it isn’t designed for whole-face application, this didn’t matter. It is perfect for brightening and hydrating your eye area while fighting wrinkles and crow’s feet!

Does retinol deserve the hype? A Stanford dermatologist weighs in

With each year that brings me closer to a certain milestone birthday -- hint, rhymes with "dirty" -- I find myself increasingly investigating the skin care industry's latest potions of youth.

Among the myriad serums that promise plumping, moisturizing, collagen-boosting and dewy flawless skin, one standby always seems to reign: retinol.

A derivative of vitamin A, retinol has been around for decades and has been a go-to skin care solution for dermatologists -- some might even say the gold standard. It's used for all sorts of skin remedies, including fighting acne, reducing wrinkles, reversing sun damage, shrinking pores -- all the good stuff.

While I'm all for a magic youth facial serum, I'm also skeptical about the hype -- and I've heard some not-so-flattering things about retinol, including that it can make your skin itchy and dry, or even make it more susceptible to sun damage and skin cancer. So I asked Stanford dermatologist Zakia Rahman, MD, to weigh in.

What is retinol? Is it the same thing as a retinoid or vitamin A?

Retinol and retinoids aren't exactly the same thing, but they are both chemical derivatives of vitamin A, a central vitamin needed for many functions of the body. Both have utility in skin care, particularly for reducing wrinkles, improving collagen production and treating acne, among other functions.

Retinols and retinoids are born of the same vitamin but retinoids are more potent and are classified as a pharmaceutical, meaning you need a prescription to use a retinoid cream. Although recently, an over the counter retinoid (adapalene 0.1% gel) has become available without a prescription. Retinols have a naturally weaker affect and are found in over-the-counter creams broadly known as cosmeceuticals.

Retinols can still be effective, but the results won't be as stark and will take longer to appear. That said, they're very accessible, and you don't need a prescription. Often, retinols are a good place to start for people who are just looking to try it out. Personally, I'm a huge fan of retinoids and likely the majority of dermatologists who you speak to are on some type of topical retinoid regimen.

How do retinols/retinoids work?

Retinoids and retinols change how a cell functions, specifically the speed at which a cell turns over, or divides, to create new cells. Retinoids encourage skin cells to divide more rapidly, building up the protective top layer of skin, the epidermis. As we age, there is a decline in the natural production of collagen and elastic fibers that give your skin lift and bounce in the epidermis. That makes our skin more frail and thin, which leads to wrinkles, sun spots and other types of visible skin damage.

Retinoids help mitigate those issues in a variety of ways. They thicken the epidermis through increased cell proliferation at the top level. They increase the production of natural chemicals (such as hyaluronic acid) in your skin that keep it plump and moist. They stimulate collagen production and inhibit the breakdown of collagen that already exists. They also block several inflammatory pathways that exacerbate pimples and acne.

Retinoids have so many benefits. Are there downsides?

There are definitely side effects with both retinols and retinoids, but I want to emphasize that they're temporary, lasting around three to four weeks. The most common side effects I see with patients are redness, dry and scaly skin and itching or burning. In more extreme cases, people who already have naturally dry skin can sometimes get nosebleeds and cracking at the sides of the mouth.

Retinoids also initially increase the skin's sensitivity to ultraviolet light. But after a few months of regular use, that sensitivity dissipates. So all you have to do is make sure you're wearing sunscreen every day, which we should all be doing anyway.

These changes can be fairly mild, or they verge on intolerable. But there are tricks that can mitigate irritation. For instance, when first starting a retinol or retinoid, I tell patients to start with a low dose once a week, and then slowly work up to twice a week and so on. Another regimen I like is to start using the retinoid/retinol daily, but apply it with a moisturizer (such as one based in hyaluronic acid or dimethicone). In a few weeks, the peeling effects will go away, but all the beneficial effects will remain.

I have a regimen of things that I use and recommend to patients incorporating retinoids into their skin care routine, including hyaluronic acid and rich moisturizers, sometimes even vaseline.

The good news is, eventually your skin adjusts and you can increase the strength of the treatment and the frequency. After that, it's smooth sailing.

Research into longevity and healthy aging has progressed rapidly in recent years, but intense interest from the public, corporations, and the media has created an environment in which unfounded claims can be hard to separate from scientific facts.

In February, a group of 16 researchers from Harvard, MIT, and other institutions around the U.S. and Europe launched the nonprofit Academy for Health and Lifespan Research to promote future work, ease collaborations between scientists, and ensure that governments and corporations are making decisions based on the latest facts instead of rumor, speculation, or hype.

The Boston-based organization will form a nexus for work on extending the human health span, fighting the myriad diseases associated with aging, and fostering the work of junior researchers. Harvard Medical School Genetics Professor David Sinclair, one of the new academy’s founding members and director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at HMS, spoke to the Gazette about the status of aging research and the mission of the academy.

David Sinclair

GAZETTE: Tell me about the academy. Is it intended to be mainly an advocacy organization?

SINCLAIR: The academy has been formed because our field of aging and longevity research has reached a point of maturity where the leaders in the field believe that we can have — or will have — a big impact on the planet. That impact will be in medicine, in health span, and in its knock-on effect on [everything from] human productivity to Social Security.

We wanted to come together to speak with one voice, to be able to help corporations and governments understand what things they should be thinking about now and give realistic projections of what life is going to be like 10, 20, 50 years from now. Because it’s not a question of if there’s going to be an impact, it’s really a question of what kind of a future we want to build when this happens.

GAZETTE: What kind of impact are we talking about? When you think about 10, 20, 50 years in the future, how do you see aging being transformed in the U.S. and around the world?

SINCLAIR: The 16 researchers in the academy have all been working on this for most, if not all, of our careers. So that spans — for many of us — over 25 years. When we started, research on aging at the molecular level was the backwater of biology, but in the last 25 years, aging has moved to the forefront of science. It’s actually rare to open a leading scientific journal and not see a new breakthrough in our understanding of the aging process.

Recently, we’ve moved from being able to extend health and lifespan of simple organisms like yeast and worms and flies to being able to do this quite easily in animals, in mice and monkeys. With that knowledge — how to keep the body younger and not develop diseases of aging — we think it’s now prime time for having an impact on the globe.

By impact, I mean that instead of tackling one disease at a time, which is the way 20th-century medicine and pharmaceutical development was practiced, we believe we can [develop] medicines that will treat aging at its source and thereby have a much greater impact on health and lifespan than drugs that target a single disease.

Heart disease medicine may keep your heart healthy for an extra five or 10 years, but does nothing for your brain. So, we’re ending up with a population of people who live longer but not better and who need a lot of help, if they’re not completely [in the grip of] dementia. We don’t think that’s necessarily the only or the best approach.

Now, we have the knowledge. We’re developing the technologies to not just delay these diseases of aging but actually reverse aspects of them. Imagine you have a treatment for heart disease, but as a side effect you’d also be protected against Alzheimer’s, cancer, and frailty. You’d live a longer and healthier life.

The reason we can extend the lifespan of animals is not because we can just make them live longer, but we keep them healthy. The animals don’t get heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, until sometimes 20 percent later in their life. And so that’s 20 percent longer youth, not just 20 percent longer life.

GAZETTE: Are there regulatory hurdles? When we’ve spoken in the past, you’ve mentioned that the FDA considers aging a natural process and therefore won’t approve drugs to treat it. Are we at a point where that is becoming a hurdle in getting advances out to the people who need them?

SINCLAIR: Opinions are changing rapidly about whether aging should be a condition that a doctor can prescribe a medicine for. That’s essentially what a disease is. It’s something that a doctor can read the label that this medicine is for aging or age-related conditions. We’re not at that point yet.

We currently live in a world where aging is so common that it’s considered by most of the world, including the medical community, as something that’s natural and inevitable. And if something’s considered inevitable, typically you don’t focus on it in the same way as something you can treat. Cancer was a natural part of life at one time, in the same way that aging is today. A hundred years ago, doctors didn’t focus on treating cancer as much as we do now, because then you couldn’t do much, if anything, about it. As soon as you show you can modify the disease process, like we learned in the 1970s with the discovery of oncogenes that cause cancer — and increasingly so today — then there’s renewed hope, and views about the condition shift.

There are now dozens of companies working on therapies that could potentially extend overall human health and lifespan, but none of them are working specifically toward an approval for aging because the FDA wouldn’t even know where to start. But that may be changing quickly. I’ve been part of a group that talked with the FDA, and they are willing and also quite enthusiastic about considering a change that defines aging as a disease. They would like us, first, to show that it’s possible to change the rate of aging, which in my view is backward, but that’s what they want.

In Australia, the government is 100 percent behind this, at the FDA level and in the Ministry for Health. I’m hopeful that one country in the world — it may be Australia, it may be the U.S., it may be an Asian country — will change its definition of aging. Once one country changes its definition, then it will be a domino effect and the others will follow.

One of the biggest changes that happened last year was the World Health Organization, in their international disease codebook, declared aging a condition that is treatable. So now doctors and countries can report back to the World Health Organization how many people in their country are suffering from this condition known as “old age.”

We’re generally in denial that, for most of the diseases that we get these days, the root cause is aging. I don’t know 10-year-olds that get Alzheimer’s disease or heart disease. It’s aging that increases the risk 1,000-fold for cancer, while if you smoke, it goes up fivefold. Which is more important to be focused on?

GAZETTE: What excites you most about the state of anti-aging and longevity research?

SINCLAIR: Well, I hate to pick favorite children. Someone will always be upset. I have my hands in a few pies, but the most recent one that I’m excited about is cellular reprogramming.

GAZETTE: And how does that occur?

SINCLAIR: We introduce a combination of genes into the animal, or the cell, and we see that the tissue is rejuvenated as though it was young again. So it can heal, it can start new growth, like it was young. And if we can figure out how to deliver that to patients in a safe way, then it’s quite possible that aging is a reversible disease.

GAZETTE: What genes are we changing?

SINCLAIR: We’re using a combination of Yamanaka factors [used to reprogram differentiated adult cells into induced pluripotent stem cells] that are used to make stem cells currently in a dish, but what we’re finding is that you can introduce them into the animal as well. They tolerate it well and tissues rejuvenate.

I haven’t published it yet, so I can’t say too much, but we’re writing up the paper now that shows that parts of the mouse’s body that we thought would not ever improve are able to be regenerated. So we’re licensing that technology and hoping that it will be tested in the clinic in the next two years.

How To Maximize Your Results

And by incorporating any of these four products into your daily routine, you will achieve them.

However how can your truly maximise those results to get them even faster?

We don’t mean weight loss diet, just cut out some foods which may cause inflammation in the skin.

Typically these foods are things like gluten, dairy and sugar.

If you have high amounts of either of these in your diet, try cutting them out for 1-2 two weeks and see if your skin complexion improves.

Wear Sun Protection

The sun is essential for good skin tone, but too much of a good thing can leave you with increase wrinkles, lines and a leathery appearance.

Make sure you are always using sun protection, whether it be sunblock or a moisturiser which has sunblock in it when outdoors.

Eat Your Veggies

Vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals that are not only good for your health, but great for the health of your skin too.

Load up on vegetables containing vitamin A such as tomatoes, red peppers.

And collagen boosting vegetables such as leafy greens and citrus.

Quit Smoking

If you don’t smoke, stay away from second hand smoke.

It’s hurting your health and your skin, studies have shown that exposure to secondhand smoke reduces your skin resilience and has an inflammatory response which can be harmful to good skin health.

Drink More Water

It’s no secret that not drinking enough water will make you dehydrated.

Well, it’s also making your skin dehydrated too, leaving you with wrinkles, dry sink and age lines.

Try increasing your water intake to 2 liters a day, and you will see improved results in no time.

There are five tips that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help improve your skin’s appearance.

If you utilize these five suggestions in addition to using one of our recommended anti-aging creams, you will notice significant changes in the way you skin both looks and feels you can slow down the signs of aging and reduce the visibility of wrinkles and fine lines.

Do you have any feedback on XYZ Smart Collagen, Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream, PureBiology Complete Anti-Aging Facial Moisturizer Cream or Baebody Retinol Moisturizer Cream?

Maybe you’ve tried them before and had awesome results?

You should check out our Plexaderm review, this is another great product in the battle against wrinkles.

Leave the team a comment below and let us know!


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About Robyn Coale RD, FNP

Robyn has been featured on NPR and Empire Internet Radio and also in SELF, Fitness Magazine, Women's Health, Women's Fitness, and Men's Fitness magazine. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Practice Group. Now works full time as a Nurse Practitioner in Manhattan in addition to her work with clients here, at Nutshell Nutrition.