Anti-aging Moisturizers

Woman applying moisturizer to face.
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Daily life isn't exactly kind to your skin. Sun, wind and environmental pollutants have an impact, no matter what climate you live in. Fifteen minutes in the sun here and there can add up over the course of the day. It seems as though your face and hands take on more than their fair share of hard times.

And you probably tend to treat your skin poorly at times, too. You might pile on makeup, use cleansers to remove that makeup, wash your hands with drying soaps, and pump on the hand sanitizer when someone sneezes at work.


In spite of that, you probably care about your skin's appearance and want to look your best. It helps to know, however, more about the things that contribute to aging skin. Some of the biggest factors in the natural aging process are the sun, the process of shaving and your daily cleansing routine [source: Mayo Clinic]. The sun's rays can damage skin cells. Razor burns, nicks and cuts from dull razors can irritate your skin, and cleansers and soaps remove the natural oils that help moisturize your skin. Washing your face can leave it drier than when you started, and dry skin lacks the moisture needed to keep skin cells hydrated and wrinkle-free.

One of your best defenses may be a quality anti-aging moisturizer that will help your skin build and retain a moisture barrier. And gender doesn't have to play a role in whether or not you use an anti-aging moisturizer. According to magazine polls, about one-third of adult men believe that the use of anti-aging moisturizers is acceptable [source: WebMD].

Once you've taken a good look at your face, hands and even elbows, read on to learn what ingredients to look for in an anti-aging moisturizer.


Anti-Aging Ingredients

Science has come a long way in helping men and women combat the early signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. There are moisturizers on the market that do more than just temporarily hydrate skin cells.

Some of the main ingredients used in anti-aging moisturizers are retinoids. Retinoids are a form of vitamin A, which the skin uses to speed up the growth of skin cells [source: Wed MD]. The more your skin cells rejuvenate, the younger your skin can look. Retinoids are known by many names including retinol, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde and retinyl propionate [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. These variations can be found in most over-the-counter anti-aging moisturizers. For those in need of something stronger, a doctor might recommend prescription-strength tretinoin to promote the turnover of skin cells.


Other ingredients you might find in your anti-aging moisturizer are peptides, including copper peptides. These ingredients work to smoothe skin and improve its ability to stretch as you move. Copper peptides might also help improve your skin's ability to heal after injury and increase collagen production [source: Mayo Clinic].

Hydroxy acids, including alpha hydroxy acid, beta hydroxy acid, poly hydroxy acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid, will also show up on anti-aging moisturizer and anti-wrinkle cream ingredient lists. These compounds serve as an exfoliant, working to remove dead skin cells and promote new skin cell growth. Growth of new skin cells can help combat uneven skin pigment and age spots, and decrease dry patches of skin. These compounds are often synthetic forms of sugar-containing fruits [source: Mayo Clinic].

Once you've found the right bottle of anti-aging moisturizer, what can you expect after using it? Read on to learn what to keep in mind when using anti-aging moisturizers.


Using Anti-Aging Moisturizers

Once you've found what you believe is the right anti-aging moisturizer, here are some key points to keep in mind.

Moisturizers are designed to make the outer layer of your skin softer and more elastic by increasing the hydration level of your skin. The general rule when using a moisturizer is that it should make your skin feel softer, smoother and refreshed. Some moisturizers are designed to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells, but if they leave your skin red, dry or itching, it's time to toss it out and find another brand with gentler ingredients.


Next, your moisturizer should reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Remember, a product claiming to reduce the appearance of wrinkles means that it will make them less visible, but it won't erase them forever.

Moisturizers hydrate your skin cells, but they won't make your fat cells multiply and rejuvenate. As you age, your skin gets thinner and fat deposits are lost, especially around your eyes, neck and cheeks. Use of a good moisturizer can decelerate the aging process, so when fine lines and wrinkles do appear, they are less visible. Once you stop using your daily moisturizer, however, your skin will go back to its previous appearance [source: Mayo Clinic].

You should also use your moisturizer as instructed. Just because your skin is looking better, that doesn't mean you should double the dose for extra moisturizing power. Your moisturizer was designed for use based on the concentration of its ingredients inside. Too much moisturizer can leave your skin irritated. You want to lock in your skin's natural moisture levels, not create a film on your skin that can clog your pores.

Finally, your moisturizer should not be the last line of defense. You can't forget one of the biggest foes to your skin: the sun. Read on to learn about your anti-aging sunscreen options.


Anti-Aging Sunscreens

Out of the many potential hazards to our bodies, the sun causes the largest amount of damage of your skin. In fact, it's estimated that 70 to 80 percent of skin changes, including age spots and wrinkles, come from the sun's ultraviolet rays [source: WebMD]. In order to protect your skin, it's a good idea to look for sunscreens in products that clearly list its SPF, or sun protection factor.

Dermatologists recommend that you always use a sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 15 before going outside, even during cloudy days [source: American Academy of Dermatology]. Apply it at least 20 minutes before you go outside. Make sure that you find a good sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, and add it to your daily skincare routine.


Many moisturizers today contain sunscreen, and some have an SPF rating of at least 15. Be sure to check the bottle to see if you need any additional protection. Most sunscreens only last about two hours. Therefore, if you apply your moisturizer in the morning and not again until bedtime, carry sunscreen with you so you can apply it during the day. If you are going to be out in the sun for long periods of time, you might want to consider moving up to an SPF of 30 to give your skin extra protection.

If you're debating whether or not to get a body moisturizer with added SPF, keep in mind that your clothes only provide an SPF level of about 3. Using an anti-aging moisturizer with sunscreen can help protect your skin and fight the signs of aging.

To learn more about the benefits of anti-aging moisturizers and other skin care products, see the links on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Cosmeceutical Facts and Your Skin." 2009. (Sept. 12, 2009)
  • American Academy of Dermatology. "Sunscreens/Sunblocks." 2009. (Sept. 12, 2009)
  • CBS News. "Latest in Eye Creams." May 14, 2002. (Sept. 12, 2009)
  • eMedicine. "Moisturizers." Aug. 28, 2009. (Sept. 12, 2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Skin Care: Top 5 Habits for Healthy Skin." Dec. 28, 2007. (Sept. 12, 2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Wrinkles." Oct. 11, 2008. (Sept. 12, 2009)
  • Mayo Clinic. "Wrinkle Creams: Your Guide to Younger Looking Skin." Oct. 11, 2008. (Sept. 12, 2009)
  • WebMD. "What's New: Advances in Face Care." Aug. 6, 2009. (Sept. 12, 2009)
  • WebMD. "Women's Skin Care for Your Face." Aug. 10, 2009. (Sept. 12, 2009)