When searching for a cream or lotion, make sure you look for ones that will protect you from the sun and moisturize your skin. Your skin should always be protected by sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 when you're outside. A good moisturizer can combat the effects of aging [source: AAD]. It literally plumps your skin, which makes it appear firmer. Moist skin is also more elastic.
Next, make sure you pick something that affects the right part of the skin. Many creams and lotions are formulated to target age spots. These deal more with the surface of the skin. To help firm your skin, you should look for products that boost collagen or elastin -- or both -- below the surface.
The favored anti-aging topical product hands down is retinoic acid, also called tretinoin. It's available only by prescription. This vitamin A product encourages collagen growth but is used more for wrinkles than for skin firming. The over-the-counter version is called retinol [source: Lyon].
There are several other ingredients that look promising for skin firming. New research shows that copper might boost collagen growth and also help get rid of damaged collagen and elastin [source: Cleveland Clinic]. Researchers also are focusing on the effects of hormones and aging. Estrogen seems to offer the some firming benefits, but more studies are needed to confirm these findings [source: Schwartz]. L-ascorbic acid, the only effective vitamin C derivative for skin care, encourages collagen growth. It's being used more and more for its skin-firming benefits [source: Cleveland Clinic].
Overall, whether you choose lotions, creams, cosmetics or other treatments, you have many options available to you to help you firm your skin. The days of the dreaded "droopy dog" skin might finally be over. To learn more, check out the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Mature Skin." (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/sun_mature.html
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Cosmeceutical Facts & Your Skin."http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/general_cosmeceutical.html
- American Academy of Dermatology: AgingSkinNet. " Dermatologists' Top Tips for Mature Skin." (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/dermatologists_tips.html
- American Academy of Dermatology: AgingSkinNet. "10 Tips: Selecting Age-Fighting Topicals." (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/age_fighting_selecting.html
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Facial Skin Rejuvenation." (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/cosmetic_facial.html
- American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. "Aging Skin." (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.asds.net/AgingSkin.aspx
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "Body Contouring After Major Weight Loss for Women." (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Patients_and_Consumers/Procedures/Cosmetic_Procedures/Body_Contouring_After_Major_Weight_Loss_for_Women.html
- American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "Plasma Skin Resurfacing." (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.plasticsurgery.org/Media/Technology_Briefs/Plasma_Skin_Resurfacing.html
- Cleveland Clinic. "Understanding the Ingredients in Skin Care Products." Jun 12, 2007. (Accessed 7/17/09)http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/Skin_Care/hic_Understanding_the_Ingredients_in_Skin_Care_Products.aspx
- New Zealand Dermatological Society Inc. (NZDS) "Aging Skin." June 15, 2009. (Accessed 7/17/09)http://dermnetnz.org/site-age-specific/ageing.html
- Draelos, Zoe Diana, M.D. eMedicine from WebMD. "Facial Foundations, Powders, and Blushes." April 30, 2009. (Accessed 7/17/09)http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1066966-overview
- Encyclopædia Britannica. "Collagen." 2009. (Accessed July 19, 2009)http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/125409/collagen
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- Fagien, Steven M.D.; Klein, Arnold W. M.D.. "A Brief Overview and History of Temporary Fillers: Evolution, Advantages, and Limitations." Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Vol. 120, Issue 6S. November 2007.http://journals.lww.com/plasreconsurg/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2007&issue=11001&article=00004&type=abstract
- KidsHealth. "What Are Wrinkles?" (Accessed 7/17/09)http://kidshealth.org/kid/grownup/getting_older/wrinkles.html
- Lyon, Lindsay. "Aging Skin Doesn't Have to Be Wrinkled." U.S. News and World Report. 1/28/09. (Accessed 7/17/09)http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/baby-boomer-health/2009/01/28/aging-skin-doesnt-have-to-be-wrinkled.html
- Lyon, Lindsay. "3 Wrinkle Treatments that Work." U.S. News and World Report. June 11, 2008. (Accessed 7/17/09)http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/2008/06/11/3-wrinkle-treatments-that-work.htm?s_cid=related-links:TOP
- Mayo Clinic. "Aging: What to Expect as You Get Older." (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/aging/HA00040/NSECTIONGROUP=2
- Mayo Clinic. "Wrinkles: Causes." Jan. 27, 2009. (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/wrinkles/DS00890/DSECTION=causes
- Mayo Clinic. "Wrinkles: Treatments and Drugs." Jan. 27, 2009. (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/wrinkles/DS00890/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs
- Mayo Clinic. "Skin Care: Top 5 Habits for Healthy Skin." (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/skin-care/SN00003#
- National Institute on Aging. "AgePage: Skin Care and Aging." (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/skin.htm
- National Institute on Aging. "AgePage: Beware of Health Scams." (Accessed 7/17/09)http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/quackery.htm
- Schwartz, Robert A., M.D, M.P.H; Centurion, Santiago, M.D; and Solis, Cristina S., R.N., B.S.N. "Cosmeceuticals." eMedicine from WebMD. May 21, 2008. (Accessed 7/17/09)http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1067778-overview
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Cosmeceutical." Feb. 24, 2000. (Accessed 7/17/09).http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductandIngredientSafety/ProductInformation/ucm127064.htm
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