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.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Allen, Jane E. "Fine Lines Between Hype and Hope." Los Angeles Times. Feb. 19, 2001. (June 8, 2009)http://articles.latimes.com/2001/feb/19/health/he-27264
- Bakalar, Nicholas. "Wrinkle Removers, Backed by Science." New York Times. Aug. 19, 2008. (June 8, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/19/health/19skin.html
- Boncompagni, Tatiana. "What price youth?" Financial Times. June 21, 2003.
- Bouchez, Colette. "Hope in a Jar: Do Skin Creams Work?" WebMD. March 7, 2007. (June 8, 2009)http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/guide/hope-in-jar-do-skin-creams-work
- Cook, Nicola. "Here comes the science…" BBC News. March 27, 2007. (June 8, 2009)http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/magazine/6498421.stm
- Deutsch, Claudia H. "Scientific Solution to Save Your Skin." New York Times. July 13, 2003. (June 8, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/13/business/scientific-solution-to-save-your-skin.html?scp=7&sq=anti-aging+cream&st=nyt
- Duenwald, Mary. "New Creams Smooth Wrinkles, But They're Not Botox." New York Times. June 22, 2004. (June 8, 2009) http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/22/health/the-consumer-new-creams-smooth-wrinkles-but-they-re-not-botox.html
- Geraghty, Laurel Naversen. "Are Night Creams' Benefits Just a Dream?" New York Times. Sept. 21, 2006. (June 8, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/21/fashion/21skin.html
- Obagi, Suzan. "Why does skin wrinkle with age? How can you slow or prevent this process?" Scientific American. January 2006.
- Ohio State University. "Obituary Photos Suggest Growing Bias Against Aging Faces." ScienceDaily. May 18, 2009. (June 8, 2009)http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090513121059.htm
- Righton, Barbara. "Rip Van Winkle to the rescue." Maclean's. Jan. 23, 2006.
- Saint Louis, Catherine. "Applying a Balm to the Years." New York Times. May 13, 2008. (June 8, 2009)http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9407EFDA1E3FF930A25756C0A96E9C8B63&scp=3&sq=anti-aging+cream&st=nyt
- Singer, Natasha. "Anti-Aging Makeup: Multitasker in a Jar." New York Times. Aug. 18, 2005. (June 8, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/18/fashion/thursdaystyles/18foundation.html
- Singer, Natasha. "Buying Face Cream? Grab a Glossary." New York Times. Oct. 2, 2008. (June 8, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/02/fashion/02skin.html
- Trench, Brooke Le Poer. "Anti-Aging Challenge." Allure. April 2008. (June 8, 2009)http://www.allure.com/magazine/2008/04/anti_aging_challenge
- Wadyka, Sally. "The Thing About Retin-A: It Works." New York Times. Nov. 30, 2006. (June 8, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/30/fashion/30skin.html
- "Wrinkle creams: Your guide to younger looking skin." Mayo Clinic. Oct. 11, 2008. (June 8, 2009)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/wrinkle-creams/SN00010