Let’s face it, we’d all like to find that ‘miracle’ product that will give us glowing, radiant skin and eliminate wrinkles and fine lines. Dream on! While some products are effective for treating mild conditions, these creams are far from miraculous and the sad reality is that the majority of skincare products do not get rid of wrinkles, scarring and discoloration. The closest we’ll get to miracle skincare is to buy cosmeceutical products containing active ingredients for aging skin.
Research shows that our skin will respond to certain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, peptides and other molecules. In addition to cosmeceuticals, there are many other treatment options that can help improve the texture and appearance of our skin.
Here are some of the ingredients found in cosmeceuticals that have been proven to be effective.
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)
ALA is an antioxidant that penetrates the skin cell membrane and works to decrease free radicals and increase the effectiveness of other antioxidants, such as vitamin C. Five percent ALA is frequently added to cosmetic products along with other antioxidants. ALA is less effective as an antioxidant for the dermis, but does promote protection against sunlight damage in the epidermis.
Coenzyme Q10 (or ubiquinione)
This is a potent antioxidant as well as working to maintain cellular energy production. Reduced CoQ10 levels in aging skin increase its vulnerability to solar damage as well as reduce its (energy dependent) ability to repair and regenerate. When applied topically, a regular application of CoQ10 can improve wrinkle and elasticity. For best results, use a product with a concentration of at least 0.5 %.
In topical products, copper is combined with small protein compounds called peptides. These copper peptides are able to promote wound healing and also stimulate collagen production. Marketers claim that these products improve skin’s elasticity and hydration. Clinical studies found that copper peptides do modestly improve fine wrinkling and decrease age spots and discolorations.
Hydroxy acids contain groups of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids, and poly hydroxy acids. These are synthetic compounds that are developed from sugar-containing fruits. Common AHAs include glycolic acid and citric acid. These products are able to act as exfoliants, removing the uppermost layer of skin, stimulate new skin cell growth, and decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles though collagen production. AHAs are well known to increase epidermal and dermal hyaluronic acid concentration, another element that promotes skin hydration.
These are potent antioxidants of plant origin: the best known include the catechins present in green tea; genistein, an isoflavone found in soybean; apigenin, present in many fruits and vegetables; and curcumin, from the spice turmeric. When topically applied, these extracts can reduce the effects of aging in the skin. However, the concentration required for these to have their optimal effects remain to be determined.
Vitamin A (Retinol)
Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A used in over the counter wrinkle creams. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant, which means that it can rid the body of free radicals that break down skin structure. Extensive research shows that vitamin A is a moderately effective ingredient for improvement of skin tone and appearance.
Vitamin B3 or Niacin (also known as nicotinic acid) is converted in the body into nicotinamide, which is an essential factor in maintaining a healthy metabolism. Many cosmeceutical products contain vitamin B3 as a key antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. When put on the skin, vitamin B3 has been reported to improve the skin’s barrier function, increase collagen production, and reduce pore size and skin blotchiness. However, these effects are modest on their own and only seen with fairly high doses (two percent to five percent).
Vitamin C-rich products, when in the right formulation, can help to reverse some of the results of aging. There is only one true form of vitamin C and many derivatives, some of which absorb into the skin better than others. The derivatives include magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate and ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate. It is important when choosing an anti-aging product to make sure that it contains L-ascorbic acid, as this form of vitamin C has proven results when it comes to rebuilding and maintaining the dermal network.