How Anti-wrinkle Serums Work


Serums will dig deeper than creams and lotions will.
Serums will dig deeper than creams and lotions will.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Creams and lotions have long been the go-to treatment for facial care. We slather moisturizer on our delicate facial skin every morning with the promise that hydration will help ward off those pesky signs of aging. The only issue is few of the ingredients in creams and lotions are light enough to penetrate our delicate facial skin, so most of them stay sitting on the outermost layer. This is where serums come in. Anti-wrinkle serums are more liquid than solid and therefore are able to penetrate multiple layers of skin more quickly and easily. The major benefits of serums are that they offer the most lightweight formula and give the most intensive results.

Breakthroughs in ingredients have allowed manufacturers to create concentrated liquid plant derivatives that are more effective in combating aging skin compared with many creams on the market. And they tend to be milder, presumably because of a lack of filler ingredients that many creams have, so they're more appropriate for aging and sensitive skin. Be sure to keep in mind, though, that these are products where a little hype can go a long way, so be sure to put on your "buyers beware" cap when sifting through your options.

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Anti-wrinkle Serums & Peptides

Young skin looks smooth and wrinkle-free because of a surplus of collagen, which is the naturally occurring protein in our bodies that keeps us looking youthful. As we age and our skin does, too, we start to lose collagen and wrinkles appear. As the long strands of amino acids that appear in collagen start to break down, they create smaller chains called peptides, which signal to our bodies that more collagen needs to be made. Peptides in anti-wrinkle serums attempt to mimic this natural function to trick our face into creating more collagen.

There are particular peptides that are praised in skincare that specifically target different areas. Matrixyl is considered one of the most effective because it reaches lower levels of skin and not only encourages them to make more collagen, but also helps increase elastin, which improves your skin's elasticity, as well as hyaluronic acid, which plumps skin and helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Argireline is another peptide that helps relax tension in the face and therefore minimizes wrinkles. It's frequently compared to Botox, only it doesn't require injections. Eyeliss and Regu-Age are peptides that target the eye area by promoting lymphatic drainage that helps minimize puffiness and bags.

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Anti-wrinkle Serums & Collagen

Ditch the needles and replace collagen a smarter way.
Ditch the needles and replace collagen a smarter way.
Hemera/Thinkstock

As we mentioned on the previous page, collagen is the building block of our skin that gives it elasticity and strength, which helps us maintain a youthful appearance. Age naturally causes collagen production to slow down, but so do external factors like smoking, sun exposure and poor nutrition. As collagen breaks down, our skin starts to wrinkle. So it would make sense that the aim of anti-wrinkle serums is to build up our supply of collagen. These serums that contain collagen derivatives generally claim to plump and smooth facial skin.

According to a number of scientists, though, you should beware of the serums that claim to contain collagen. The protein molecule in collagen is too large to pass through our pores, so even if the product does legitimately have collagen in it, it's unlikely that our skin would benefit from it. Like creams that have ingredients that are too thick to penetrate skin, the collagen in these products will just sit on your face until you wash it off. If you want to add collagen, you'll have to do it through injections that need to be repeated every few months to maintain results.

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Anti-wrinkle Serums & Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a popular ingredient in anti-wrinkle serums for all the same reasons that your body loves it. It's an antioxidant, which helps it defend our skin against free radicals that attack proteins and DNA and ultimately leads to a breakdown in collagen. It also helps protect our skin from UV rays that can cause freckles, brown spots and discoloration on delicate facial skin. The only thing you have to watch out for with vitamin C is skin sensitivity. Serums tend to contain active ingredients in high concentrations, which is why they're so effective. But this also creates the possibility of an adverse reaction. With any new product, it's always a good idea to do a patch test on a small part of your face before slathering it all over.

Another thing to watch out for with vitamin C-based anti-wrinkle serums is that the active vitamin C is microencapsulated, or in an otherwise stabilized form. Because vitamin C is naturally occurring, it's not the most stable ingredient, which means it doesn't have a substantial shelf-life. If it's not properly preserved in a formulation, it's highly likely that it will quickly lose its effectiveness. Some manufacturers package their serums in amber glass bottles to help protect the ingredients from light -- which also decreases the time it takes certain ingredients to break down -- but once the bottle is opened and exposed to air, the ingredients can still become unstable. So if vitamin C is your anti-aging ingredient of choice, just look for brands that boast microencapsulation technology.

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Sources

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  • "Argireline - Acetyl Hexapeptide - 3" Wrinklereview.com. Aug. 21, 2012. http://www.wrinklereview.com/wrinkle-reducer/argireline.html
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  • Macrae, Fiona. "Wrinkle reducing collagen creams 'are a waste of money,' says scientists." Dailymail.co.uk. Jan. 17, 2011. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/beauty/article-1347679/Wrinkle-reducing-collagen-creams-waste-money-say-scientists.html
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