Whether you want to fight wrinkles, fade stretch marks or fake a sun-kissed glow, there's a moisturizer for you. One of the most common specialized moisturizers is anti-aging cream. Anti-aging creams typically contain collagen and elastin, which are proteins that help keep your skin toned and flexible [source: Mayo Clinic]. While these products may temporarily plump up wrinkles, topical creams can't replace the collagen and elastin from your skin's deeper layers.
Other ingredients designed to help smooth out wrinkles include alpha-hydroxy acids, retinoids, vitamin C, copper peptides and coenzyme Q10. Alpha-hydroxy acids help lift the top layer of dead skin cells to reduce the appearance of fine lines, and these acids may also stimulate collagen production. Retinoids reduce wrinkles and repair sun damage, and vitamin C can increase collagen production and protect skin from UV rays [source: Bouchez]. Copper peptides stimulate collagen production, and coenzyme Q10 reduces fine lines and provides protection from sun damage [source: Mayo Clinic].
Many of these anti-aging ingredients can also be found in toning and firming lotions. Coenzyme Q10 is used to improve skin's texture and reduce cellulite, and studies show that copper peptides smooth and firm skin [source: Cleveland Clinic]. Lotions that contain dimethylaminoethanol can also help firm skin and fight wrinkles by fighting free radicals and lifting sagging skin [source: Schwartz].
Although there are over-the-counter moisturizers that claim to get rid of stretch marks, doctors say they're not particularly effective [source: WebMD]. However, some research shows that creams containing tretinoin, an acid that rebuilds collagen, may improve the appearance of stretch marks that are less than six weeks old and still pink in color [source: Mayo Clinic]. If you're serious about banishing your stretch marks, you may want to look into stronger treatments like dermabrasion, chemical peels and laser treatment -- but always talk to your doctor first.
If you're looking to get a summer glow without exposing yourself to the sun's harmful UV rays, there are also skin-darkening moisturizers. These lotions give skin just a hint of color with the first use, and the color increases gradually with each application. The active ingredient usually found in these moisturizers is dihydroxyacetone, also known as DHA. It's a colorless chemical that produces a brown tone when it reacts with amino acids on the outermost layer of the skin [source: Mann]. Because skin is constantly shedding dead cells on the skin's surface, the color lasts about five days. Erythrulose is a skin-darkening ingredient that's often used as an alternative to DHA -- DHA can give skin an orange tint -- but DHA is the only FDA-approved sunless tanning ingredient. [source: Mayo Clinic].
Check out the links on the following page for more information on skin moisturizers.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Cosmeceutical Facts and Your Skin." 2009. (Accessed 09/08/09).http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/general_cosmeceutical.html
- Bouchez, Colette. "23 Ways to Reduce Wrinkles." (Accessed 10/9/09). http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/features/23-ways-to-reduce-wrinkles
- Bouchez, Colette. "Oily Skin: Solutions That Work -- No Matter What Your Age." (Accessed 10/8/09). http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/oily-skin-solutions-that-work?page=3
- Bouchez, Colette. "Top 6 AntiAging Breakthroughs." (Accessed 10/8/09). http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/features/top-6-antiaging-breakthroughs?page=2
- Bruno, Karen. "Women's Skin Care for a Soft Body." WebMD. August 6, 2009. (Accessed 09/08/09).http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/advances-skin-care-9/moisturizer-toning-cream
- Carpenter, Susan. "Vegan Beauty Care: When Going Natural Isn't Enough." LATimes.com. August 23, 2009. (Accessed 09/09/09). http://www.latimes.com/features/image/la-ig-veganbeauty23-2009aug23,0,5882317.story
- Clark, Susan, P. "Sunscreen and Your Makeup Routine." (Accessed 10/9/09). http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/sunscreen-and-your-makeup-routine
- Cleveland Clinic. "Understanding the Ingredients in Skin Care Products." (Accessed 10/9/09). http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/Skin_Care/hic_Understanding_the_Ingredients_in_Skin_Care_Products.aspx
- EczemaNet.com. "Moisturizing and Cleansing Key to Treating Atopic Dermatitis." March 2, 2006. (Accessed 09/08/09). http://www.skincarephysicians.com/eczemanet/moisturizing_cleansing.html
- Elias, Peter M. "Integrated Functions of the Stratum Corneum: Implications for an Optimal Skin Care Regimen." Skin and Allergy News. March 2005. (Accessed 09/09/09). http://www.skinandallergynews.com/webfiles/images/journals/sanews/aqa01032s30pdf.pdf
- Mann, Denise. "Summer Skin Makeover." (Accessed 10/8/09). http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/summer-skin-makeover
- Mann, Denise. "Summer Buyer's Guide." (Accessed 10/9/09). http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/guide/summer-buyers-guide-sunless-tanning-lotions
- Mayo Clinic. "Moisturizers 101: The Basics of Softer Skin." December 16, 2008. (Accessed 09/08/09).http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/moisturizers/SN00042
- Mayo Clinic. "Stretch Marks." (Accessed 10/9/09). http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stretch-marks/DS01081/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs
- Mayo Clinic. "Sunless Tanning: A safe alternative to sun bathing." (Accessed 10/9/09). http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/library/sunless-tanning/SN00037.html
- Mayo Clinic. "Wrinkle Creams: Your Guide to Younger Looking Skin." October 11, 2008. (Accessed 09/08/09). http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/wrinkle-creams/SN00010
- Medline Plus. "X-Plain Tutorial: Acne." March 6, 2008. (Accessed 09/08/09). http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorials/acne/dm019103.pdf
- National Cancer Institute. "Antiperspirants/Deodorants and Breast Cancer." January 4, 2008. (Accessed 10/8/09). http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/AP-Deo
- New Zealand Dermatological Society. "Emollients and Moisturizers." 2009. (Accessed 09/08/09).http://www.dermnetnz.org/treatments/emollients.html
- Schwartz, Robert. "Cosmeceuticals." (Accessed 10/9/09). http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1067778-overview
- SkinCareGuide.com. "Skincare With Non-Comedogenic Cosmetics." April 1, 2008. (Accessed 09/08/09).http://www.skincareguide.com/basics/skincare_cosmetics/non_comedogenic_cosmetics.html
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Parabens." October 31, 2007. (Accessed 09/08/09). http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductandIngredientSafety/SelectedCosmeticIngredients/ucm128042.htm
- WebMD. "Clear Skin Slideshow." (Accessed 10/8/09). http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/teen-acne-9/clear-skin-slideshow
- WebMD. "Skin Care For Acne-Prone Skin. (Accessed 10/8/09). http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/cosmetic-procedures-skin-care-acne-prone-skin
- WebMD. "Skin Conditions: Stretch Marks." March 1, 2007. (Accessed 09/08/09).http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/stretch-marks-overview
- WebMD. "Skin Conditions: Teenage Acne." March 27, 2009. (Accessed 09/08/09).http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/teenage-acne?page=2
- WebMD. "Skin Reactions to Beauty Products." (Accessed 10/9/09). http://www.webmd.com/allergies/relief-for-allergies-8/skin-reactions