DO ANTI-AGEING CREAMS REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
There are enough anti-ageing products on the shelves of beauty counters to paralyse even the most decisive of us, and most of them contain so little active ingredient that they are worthless. In the cosmetic industry an expensive product does not necessarily give a better result.
A little known fact is that the top layer of skin, called the epidermis has no blood supply, but absorbs oxygen and nutrients extremely well. We can take advantage of this with careful choice of properly tested products of proven worth. The products I have recommended below all have good scientific evidence of effectiveness.
TRETINOIN Retinoid creams have been proved beyond doubt to repair and regenerate skin. They increase the thickness of skin. They reduce cells becoming abnormal (precancerous), disperse melanin giving an even complexion and increase collagen and blood vessels in the deeper layers. Skin irritation is common to begin with, and so start twice weekly with tiny amounts and build up to daily. It take 3 – 6 months to have visible anti-ageing effects. ISOTREX and RETIN are the brands available in the UK. We can prescribe them here at the clinic. You need a 15 minute consultation first, and then we can usually give you repeat prescriptions as necessary.
AZALEIC ACID This has a lightening effect by reducing the amount of pigment produced by melanocytes. These are the cells that make our brown pigment. A concentration of about 15 – 20% is the usual strength. Skin irritation is common to begin with, so start slowly and build up. Marketed as SKINOREN, we can prescribe this for you. You must have a 15 minute consutation first to assess suitability.
AVAILABLE OVER THE COUNTER:
MOISTURISERS These simple products are essential in maintaining skin health. Use the lightest possible if you have rosacea or acne. Although heavier creams make your skin feel better, they block pores and increase the severity of the condition. Dry skin benefits from thicker moisturisers. Most moisturisers will have some or all of the following ingredients. Expensive ones re not necessarily better than cheaper ones.
VITAMIN C AND E Free radicals damage skin cells. The are by products of cell turnover and present in air pollution. Sunlight increases the quantity of them in the skin. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants which mop up the free radicals. (Imagine lemon juice on the surface of a slice of apple – it prevents the brown discolouration from oxidisation)
NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3) This is proven to reduce the movement of melanin from the deep layer of skin to the surface skin cells. It helps prevent sun spots and patchy skin colour and has anti-inflammatory properties.
COENZYME Q10. Several good studies show CoQ10 prevents sunlight induced ageing.
PEPTIDES. These are protein like molecules essential in skin growth and repair. There is evidence that applied onto the skin they slow the ageing process.
OTHER ANTI-OXIDANTS Vitamin C and E are the most well known, but others are also used in some moisturisers.
SUNSCREENS These are the mainstay of keeping your skin looking youthful. The highest SPF you can tolerate is the best. Make sure it protects against UVA and UVB. Ones containing titanium reflect light very well, but have a whitish appearance. They are however more effective. All products designed for babies contain titanium or zinc oxide and are actually very good choices for adult skin.
HYALURONIC ACID A new popular addition to moisturisers. It has the ability to attract water, enabling the skin to look more plump and youthful. Whatever the manufacturers say, this only has a temporary effect, lasting a few hours, but it is enough to give your complexion a boost. CeraVe, made by La Roche Posay is well priced.
SENSITIVE SKIN Look for trade names such as Diprobase, Oilatum, Cetraben, E45, Epimax and Doublebase. These are formulated to pharmaceutical standards and are good for allergy prone skin.
ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS (AHAs) Commonly used ones are lactic acid and glycolic acid. They break down the surface layer of skin and enourage new skin cells to grow. They also even out pigment and so have an anti-ageing effect. They are added in small quantities to the more astringent creams.
MY PERSONAL REGIME:
Morning: CeraVe moisturiser, followed by a factor 30 sunscreen.
Night: RetinA gel, followed by Nivea Q10 + C, antiwrinkle + energy cream.