Anti-Aging Creams: What Really Works?
There are countless face creams that promise to turn back the clock. Find out how anti-aging creams work, and what ingredients you should you look for.
Americans spend billions of dollars every year on anti-aging cream and other beauty products. There is no miracle cure for aging skin, unfortunately, but the right face cream can prevent or reduce the signs of aging.
"Anti-aging creams do work," says Nanette Silverberg, MD, director of dermatology at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York, N.Y. But before you head to the drugstore or makeup counter to purchase an anti-aging cream, do your homework so you know what ingredients you should look for and how you should interpret the claims on these products' labels.
Ingredients to Help Aging Skin
Finding the anti-aging cream that’s best for you will depend on your skin type and your skincare concerns — wrinkles, fine lines, discoloration, or dryness. Though some anti-aging creams are more expensive than others, you can find a great face cream that is also affordable, since effectiveness depends on what ingredients it contains, not how much it costs.
Below are some of the most effective ingredient combinations for various skin conditions:
- Dryness and scaling. "Keep in mind that any basic moisturizing of the skin helps with anti-aging," says Gregory Papadeas, DO, FAOCD, a board-certified dermatologist in the greater Denver area and past president of the Colorado Dermatological Society. "Daily moisturizing keeps the proper collagen in skin." For the best anti-aging effect, Papadeas recommends using face creams that contain alpha hydroxy acid or glycolic acid.
- Texture problems like fine lines. If you’re concerned about fine lines, look for creams that contain vitamin A, like the prescription formula Renova (tretinoin), and hydroxy acids. "Vitamin A creams and alpha or beta hydroxy acids will smooth the surface keratinocytes in the skin, while plumping deeper tissues," says Dr. Silverberg.
- Sun and environmental damage. Antioxidants can help repair sun-damaged skin and protect it from future damage. "Antioxidants such as vitamin C and CoQ10 can reduce free-radical damage from sun exposure," Silverberg says.
Sifting Through Dubious Product Claims
When considering an anti-aging cream purchase, proceed with caution. Keep these tips in mind as you read product labels:
- While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates medications and prescription cosmetic products, the regulation of nonprescription face creams and other cosmetic products is less stringent.
- Manufacturers of cosmetics are not required to prove the safety or effectiveness of their products before they go public. If an anti-aging cream label says that it can reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, or age spots, these claims do not have to be substantiated by clinical evidence.
- Although you can’t always trust the claims made on anti-aging cream labels, you can trust the ingredients list. The FDA requires that all of the ingredients be listed, and they must be listed in descending order of quantity. So always scan the ingredients list to see if it contains anything that you’ve found can irritate your skin and to get an idea of the concentration of the ingredients in the product.