Do anti-aging creams work?

Anti-aging Cream Claims

Based on the research discussed on the last page, you may think that all you need to do is find an anti-aging cream that's heavy on the retinol, with maybe a mishmash of other helpful ingredients thrown in. However, while anti-aging cream labels may tout the presence of any or all of these ingredients, they likely won't tell you how much of each ingredient is inside. The concentration of active ingredients makes a huge difference in efficacy.

Simply pumping up the amount of retinol isn't going to do the trick, though. Increasing the amounts of some of these ingredients brings with it an increase in unwanted side effects, such as a rash or a higher risk for sunburn. Many users are prone to slathering their brand new product all over their face, which causes irritation and leads them to abandon the product before it can have an effect. If a product is going to work for you, it will need at least eight weeks to work its magic [source: Geraghty].

As for that magic, be wary of what the label promises you. While the label may be full of words that sound complex and scientific, you're likely just buying some excellent copyediting. When the terms are put into plain language, even the priciest products offer nothing more than moisturizing and exfoliating. Since the terminology sounds technical, consumers can be forgiven for thinking they're buying something close to medicine, but if these creams actually did change the fundamental structure of your skin tissue, they'd have to be classified as a drug. Such a classification requires years of expensive testing and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Anything you can buy without a doctor's note lives in a regulatory gray area, evaluated for safety but not effectiveness. Its claims have been carefully worded so it can remain on the cosmetics aisle.

Then how to explain a smug friend who claims that her $200 moisturizer brings her wondrous results? The truth is, any moisturizer, whether it costs $10 or $1,000, will temporarily plump the skin for a few hours by infusing it with moisture. If your friend were to stop using the cream, she'd see her skin return to its original appearance, meaning she's made a very expensive commitment. The cheaper creams work just as well, so don't feel bad about sticking with sunscreen and an affordably priced moisturizer. And until there's a real way to turn back time, you may just want to accept that beauty is more than skin deep.

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