“Consumers spend billions of dollars each year to achieve youthful and glowy skin, and there is a multitude of products out in the market that advertises their ability to treat certain skin conditions like fine wrinkles,” says Dr. Lindsay Clark, MD, a specialist in anti-aging and metabolic medicine.
There isn’t enough evidence to prove that over-the-counter products do work. While there may be certain active ingredients in the product that are known to reduce signs of aging, the challenge is finding which ingredient is most effective and safe to use for that particular individual’s skin.
Anti-aging products consist of a huge part of the skincare market ranging from topical creams and serums that all make various claims to prevent or reverse signs of aging. There are specific ingredients in the product that are scientifically proven to achieve those results and a consultation with a dermatologist can help you determine a skin care regimen that is best suited for your skin type.
Here are some ingredients that are known to slow down the process of aging and help bring out brighter and healthier skin.
The highly touted tried-and-true method for reducing the appearance of fine wrinkles and boosting elasticity is a chemical known as retinol. This naturally-occurring form of vitamin A works to reduce signs of aging by slowly peeling the top layer of the skin and encouraging more cell turnover, creating new and healthy cells to replace the dead cells.
Retinol is an increasingly popular product used in many over-the-counter products in varying concentrations and combinations. Retinoid, which is a stronger form of retinol, is available through prescription. Prescription-strength retinol may be more potent, however, you may run the risk of causing more damage from the side effects, including burning, stinging, or tingling skin.
Women who are or plan to get pregnant should avoid using any form of vitamin A as it may potentially lead to birth defects.
Alpha-hydroxy acids or AHAs, are natural ingredients found in fruits and milk, such as lactic, citric, or glycolic acid. “These acids are commonly used in skin care ingredients as they work to exfoliate the top layer of skin, allowing for the deeper layer of skin to the surface – otherwise known as the process of skin turnover,” says Dr. Clark.
Each acid has its own unique benefits and properties. Lactic acid, which is derived from sour milk, has a brightening effect on the skin whereas glycolic acid, which comes from sugar cane, makes the skin tighter and smoother.
AHAs can be used in a variety of ways which is the reason for it being a popular choice. Deep chemical peels can be done under a dermatologist’s guidance and can be beneficial for greatly reducing fine lines, wrinkles, and sunspots.
Using AHAs regularly can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun so it is highly recommended that sunscreen is incorporated into your daily regimen even if you do not spend too much time outside.
“As we age, our body produces less collagen and elastin, causing our skin to loosen and develop fine lines,” says Lindsay Clark, MD. “These substances help maintain the skin’s integrity and smoothness, and peptides which are small proteins can help stimulate the production of collagen.”
There are still doubts about the effectiveness of peptides and some experts are unsure of what formulation works best. They can act as a great moisturizing barrier for hydrating dry skin, however, there is little to no data to support the fact that peptides can actually reduce wrinkles. They are large molecules and depending on their formula, they may not penetrate the skin deep enough to address those issues.
These substances are commonly known to target free radicals that damage cells and increase the risk of inflammation and in severe cases, cancer. Their main benefit to anti-aging isn’t curing but preventing the formation of certain issues.
Substances with antioxidant properties such as vitamins A, C, or E, beta-carotene, and lycopene are found in a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and some types of meats. Antioxidants benefit one’s overall health, but particularly help protect the skin from environmental stressors such as UV rays or pollution.
They prevent damage to the skin by protecting the key protein structures in the skin by slowing down the degradation from the damage done by free radicals. If you are not yet seeing the signs of aging but are anxious about the future, look for products that contain these key ingredients and most especially, incorporate them into your diet.
Apart from the above-mentioned ingredients, skin-care products without the right formulation and concentration for your skin, can achieve nothing or even do more harm than good.
Other ingredients that are advertised or marketed as “anti-aging products” are not entirely wrong, but are based on shaky grounds for evidence that they do achieve those results. Usually, the risk of buying an anti-wrinkle moisturizing cream is a loss of money that could have been spent elsewhere. That being said, it is not advisable to experiment with these products without doing the right research or seeking consultation from your dermatologist first.
Anti-aging products that are over-the-counter should be used at one’s own discretion. Products that are not recommended by dermatologists may contain harmful chemicals that can cause irritation, burns, or darkening of the skin, leading to more problems than when you first started.
About Lindsay Clark
Lindsay Clark, MD began her professional medical career as a Hospitalist for John Muir Medical Center and Alameda Hospital, where she cared for patients in the ER, ICU, CCU, and on inpatient floors. She helms Dr. Clark & Associates, a Cosmetic Dermatology practice providing laser skin treatments, fillers, body treatments, and hormone therapy. Dr. Clark is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and is working toward a Master’s Degree in Anti-Aging Medicine.
She is the Medical Director & CEO of Enhance Medical Group and is a skilled physician and mother who devotes her spare time to environmental preservation.
To learn more about Lindsay Clark, you can visit her website.