There are many over-the-counter products that advertise dramatic results for rejuvenating the skin. Celebrity spokespersons trumpet the benefits of skincare products that turn back the clock, giving the skin a healthy youthful glow, and removing lines and wrinkles in a matter of days. Americans will spend $5 billion on skincare products and cosmetics this year alone. Some of these products are quite pricey, costing hundreds of dollars for a small jar of product that lasts a month. Because the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate these products, it’s difficult for the consumer to know how much of the benefit they are.
There are certain ingredients that one should look for in any anti-aging product. The ingredients should address the leading causes of aging of the skin: internal sources such as diet and genetics and external sources such as UV radiation, pollution, wind, and smoking. On the cellular level, the damage from free oxygen radicals to cellular DNA, lipid, and proteins affects the integrity of our skin cells including the production of collagen. Since collagen is the main building block of our skin, decreased collagen production will cause noticeable signs of aging such as wrinkling.
Some of the more effective antioxidants occur naturally in the skin including vitamins A., C., and E. Our skin also contains coenzyme Q.-10 which neutralizes free radicals. As we age, our production of these antioxidants decreases. In addition, a diet that is lacking in sufficient amounts of these vitamins also contributes to the aging process.
Vitamin A in its biologically active form is retinoic acid or tretinoin. Vitamin A increases the growth of the epidermis as well as the metabolism of fibroblasts and collagen. They also decrease metalloproteinase which degrades collagen. Topical application of vitamin A products improves fine and coarse wrinkling and pigmentation. One of the more common vitamin A products on the market is Retin-A.
The Vitamin B group contains certain subgroups which improve wrinkles such as vitamin B 3 (niacinamide) and DMAE. Gels containing both of these drugs improve wrinkles, pigmentation, and yellowing of the skin as well as improve sagging.
Vitamin C is the most plentiful antioxidant in the skin. These biologically active forms include ascorbic acid and alpha hydroxy acid. Skincare products containing vitamin C often include tea-based products, which seemed to cause less irritation to the skin. Cellex-C is a common brand but there are many more products on the market that contain this antioxidant vitamin C products have been shown to increase blood supply to the skin, increased gene expression of type I collagen, and thus improve wrinkling, roughness, skin laxity, and sallowness.
Vitamin E is a lipophilic antioxidant. By that, I mean that it scavenges free radicals preventing their damaging lipid cell membranes. Products that contain tocopherols and tocotrienols are Vitamin E products. Studies have shown that vitamin E in combination with vitamin C decreases damage to sunburn cells and thus serves more as a protective agent.
Coenzyme Q. 10 and Squalene are also lipophilic antioxidants that decrease with age and radiation. A synthetic form of coenzyme Q. 10 is idebenone. Alpha lipoic acid is another free radical oxygen scavenger that increases collagen synthesis.
Alpha-hydroxyl acids (AHA) thin out the top layer of skin and speed up the normal process of skin cell exfoliation and regeneration. They can also increase the thickness of the skin and improve the quality of elastic fibers and collagen. Many AHA’s occur naturally in foods. Roman women knew the benefits of treating their skin with wine and grapes, which contained tartaric acid, as well as citrus fruits. Ascorbic acid is found in fruits, vegetables Gary products, and tea. Glycolic acid is found in sugarcane and lactic acid is in sour milk and tomato juice. Over-the-counter concentrations of AJ’s are quite low but can be beneficial as a home therapy supplement to in-office chemical peels which are done with a higher concentration. AJ’s continued to be one of the most effective anti-aging compounds.
Botanicals are finding their way into skincare products for their antioxidant properties some of the more common ones include bioflavonoids and anthocyanins. Both of these have antioxidant and anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties. It is for the anti-inflammatory effects that they are probably most useful when combined with other antiaging ingredients.
Pentapeptides have been linked to increased collagen synthesis. One commercial product from Paris, Matrixyl, has been shown to decrease wrinkle depth and volume as well as improve the roughness of the skin even when compared to vitamin C. An eyelid-firming gel that we sell in our product line contains pentapeptides to decrease capillary fragility, reduce inflammation, and speed up the metabolism of red blood cells which cause discoloration.
In addition to using various antiaging products as part of your skincare regimen, it’s important to keep the skin moist. Petrolatum-based products are the most common to maintain the skin barrier to decrease water loss. Glycerin products are key methods, which means that they will actually hydrate the skin rather than decrease water loss. Liposomes also serve a similar function.
In choosing skincare products. Read the label to see if it contains the proper ingredients. Establish a good regimen of gently cleansing your face as well as using toners, anti-aging products, and moisturizers.