How to Care for Aging Skin

Erasing Wrinkles?

Even if you do follow a skin care regimen, there's no way to stop its aging process entirely. No matter what, you're going to get some wrinkles at the very least. You can accept these changes as they come, get plastic surgery or try options that fall somewhere in between the two.

Wrinkles are the biggest skin complaint, and they can appear as early as your 20s depending on your genes. Most people first start noticing "laugh lines" around their mouths or "crow's feet" around the eyes We also get frown lines on our forehead. All of these wrinkles are due to repetitive facial movements -- laughing, squinting, frowning. There are many products available to counteract them, but little scientific research to back up their wrinkle-erasing claims.

Most over-the-counter wrinkle creams contain the same kinds of ingredients. Antioxidants are thought to counteract wrinkles by neutralizing free radicals -- oxygen molecules that destroy skin cells. Antioxidant ingredients include retinol, a vitamin A compound; tea extracts; and a plant compound called kenetin. Kenetin is also supposed to increase collagen growth. Many creams also contain hydroxy acids, like alpha and beta hydroxy, that remove dead layers of skin to expose new, ideally smooth, skin underneath. Anti-wrinkle creams have their own potential side effects: increased risk of sunburn, irritated skin and rashes. Results, if any, won't be permanent; you'll have to keep using the cream, which can be costly.

If you visit a dermatologist's office, you have even more options, and the results are likely to last longer than over-the-counter treatments. Some of these treatments may also be administered by a plastic surgeon. Dermatologists can prescribe creams with a stronger vitamin A compound known as tretinoin or retinoic acid (brand name Renova). Retinoic acid can also help lighten age spots.