The Skin You’re In, Part 1: Wrinkle Creams

By Martin Brown

The very term, “wrinkle creams,” is so tied up with phony over-hyped products that give you little if any benefit that the occasional good product that comes along in this category is often a case of the baby being tossed out with the bathwater.

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to slow the inevitable effects of aging, which in simple terms robs skin cells of their elasticity and leaves all of us with skin that has far less luster and freshness. The bad news is that there is a lot of hype out there, and at least to date, there is no one silver bullet that is going to take tired skin cells and make it young again.

Realistically if you’re looking for a younger, fresher face to be staring back at you from your bathroom mirror every morning consider following these important tips.

While benefits are often exaggerated substantially, research indicates that certain anti-wrinkle creams contain ingredients that should reduce wrinkles and improve the overall appearance of skin.

Forget about a face-lift in a bottle, that might be something for 2028, but in 2008, depending on how long you use a given product, and the amount and type of active ingredients that product contains, you should begin to notice improvement in as little as two to four weeks.

Begin by looking for anti-wrinkle creams that contain one or more of these active ingredients that can create noticeable improvements:

Copper peptides.
Copper is a trace element found in every skin cell. In products applied to the skin, it’s combined with small protein fragments called peptides. This naturally enhances the healing of wounds and also stimulates the production of collagen.

Kinetin.
This is a naturally occurring factor in the growth of plants Kinetin can reduce the severity of wrinkles and uneven pigmentation while causing minimal irritation to the skin. Researchers are not exactly sure how Kinetin does this, but they suspect that it reduces wrinkles by assisting the skin in moisture retention thereby stimulating the production of collagen.

Tea extracts.
Green, black and oolong teas contain compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Look for green tea extracts, which are the ones most commonly found in wrinkle creams.

Retinol.
This is vitamin A compound and was the first natural antioxidant to be widely used in nonprescription wrinkle creams. Antioxidants are substances that “neutralize free radicals,” which are described as “unstable oxygen molecules that break down body cells.” In the case of skin cells, free radicals are associated with a basic cause of wrinkles. An important word of caution, however, is that Retinol is a less potent than the vitamin A derivative tretinoin, a prescription topical treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating wrinkles. You should avoid any vitamin A based substances if you’re pregnant or may become pregnant because they increase the risk of birth defects.

Other ingredients that can bring desired results are alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, and poly hydroxy acids. These synthetic acids are created from sugar-containing fruits. These “exfoliants” are substances that remove dead skin and spur the growth of new skin. The caution here is that all hydroxy acids increase damage caused by exposure to the sun, so if you are using any of these products be sure to wear a 45 spf sunscreen, or higher, within one week of use.

It is also important to note that there are some practical steps you can take to delay the aging of your skin.

First, reduce your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.
That means minimizing your time in the full sun and wearing lots of sunscreen when you are out in the sun. This exposure is the principal culprit in aging skin, including uneven pigmentation.

Second, never skimp on your use of moisturizers.
This is particularly true if you live in a dry, high altitude climate, and or live in a place with long cold winters. Dryness just sucks the life out of plump healthy skin cells. Moisturizers won’t prevent wrinkles, but they can noticeably slow their progress.

Third, and finally, if you love the skin your in, don’t smoke! 
Smoking, specifically nicotine, narrows the blood vessels in the top layers of your skin. It does great harm to collagen and elastin, which are the fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity. The surest way to age your skin in a hurry is to light up.

For more information about the skin you’re in, make an appointment to see your dermatologist. She or he can create a skin-care plan that addresses your specific needs. That can be very important in helping to identify that combination of products that works best for you.

 

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