You’ve seen the before-and-after photos – they’re amazing!
On the left, a lady who looks like she’s 95 years old… on the right, though, magic happens: that sad, tired face becomes radiant and joyful. Years drop off like melted butter.
We’ve all seen the photos, and many of us have ordered the concoctions they tout.
But… do they work?
Looking in the Mirror with Hope
You run to the store or order online and wait expectantly for the Fountain of Youth in a jar. Anxiously, you get in front of the bathroom mirror and apply it for the first time. Your skin DOES look better.
In the morning, you compare age lines and wonder if there are any fewer today. You do the same tomorrow and the next day.
Most of us stop after a week or so, and the bottle gathers dust. We’ll be nagged by the thought that maybe we didn’t give it a long enough try – until we see the next ad, then next potent mixture and we repeat the process again.
Do Anti-aging Products Work?
Advocates of anti-aging products say they’re a whole lot safer than surgery or injections, but can provide the same or better results – naturally.
And while science doesn’t throw its weight behind ANY specific product, there are plenty of studies showing positive effects of certain substances on cell health.
So the best answer to “Do anti-aging products work” is probably “It depends.” And what it depends on is not the brand name or the label or the price. More than anything, effectiveness depends on the ingredients.
87 year-old ballerina, Olga Suarez, says she tried one product after another before finding one that worked for her. (That’s Olga in the before/after photo above.)
Substances scientific research says are Good for Skin Cells
Let’s take a look at some of the substances SCIENCE says are good for the skin. That will give you a base to work from when comparing products.
It is important to remember that skin care products are classified as cosmetics. None can claim status as skin care medicines. As with many other physical applications, though, nature is often the best doctor and naturally occurring ingredients often provide surprising benefits.
- Hydroxy Acids: A class of exfoliants that help get rid of the dead skin and bring out the new. Most often seen as alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and may appear on the ingredients list in forms like glycolic, citric, or lactic acid. The proper form and amount of acid is good for your skin.
- Peptides: First considered for their role in healing wounds, these long-chain amino acids (pentapeptides) are instrumental in the production of collagen – and collagen is really good for skin. Young-looking skin is rich in collagen. Old-looking skin is not. Some consider peptides to be a valid alternative to Botox treatments.
- Retinol: This antioxidant is a compound of vitamin A and serves to combat destruction of cells by free radicals. Many studies confirm the value of antioxidants to cellular health. Niacinamide is another vitamin-based substance considered good for the skin. Another is vitamin C.
- Grape seed extract: Helps protect and heal the skin. This ingredient is widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Coenzyme Q10: This one is less proven than the other ingredients in topical applications, though many studies show its value when taken internally. It is a naturally occurring enzyme and serves to protect the health of skin cells.
The Fountain of Youth – Conclusions
When you shop for anti-aging products, pay more attention to the list of ingredients than to the price tag or marketing hype. If you don’t see many or most of the products we’ve listed here, something’s wrong.
Of course, the best cure is prevention. You can reduce you need for anti-aging products by protecting your skin from the sun, by not smoking, and by eating a balanced, nutritious diet.
Whichever product you choose, be sure to go lightly at first – apply just a little and look for any allergic reactions.
Once you are sure your skin not react adversely, be sure to be consistent with the application. Don’t miss days and don’t stop if you don’t immediately see results.
Take a before picture. Wait a month and take another. It may take some experimentation, but a little patience and perseverance will help you find the combination of ingredients that works best for your skin.
Remember: It’s not just beauty you are seeking… the main reward of taking care of yourself is improved health!
Abel Cane writes from the Pacific Northwest. He focuses on health and environmental topics. Look for Abel’s work on Braineebook or get a message to him via @braineebook.