Today’s over-the-counter face products are better than ever at combating aging skin. What makes today’s over-the-counter skin care products better? Working with tools used to study cancer, scientist have been applying their knowledge of genes to better understand how skin ages. Along with this research, new technologies have been developed to keep you looking young, smooth, and healthy.
The Science of Anti-aging Creams
Past generations used skin creams that reduced the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by temporarily plumping up the skin. Today advanced multitasking moisturizers and facial serums, contain multiple compounds that work synergistically to turn back the clock, changing the skin at the cellular level.
Dr. Jeffrey Dover, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine spoke with WebMD and states “The ‘gold standard’ in anti-aging products remains prescription retinoids, a form of vitamin A…. and over-the-counter products containing lower concentrations of retinol have been shown to be effective in reversing the signs of aging.”
New skin care products, sometimes called cosmeceuticals, typically use retinol, or vitamin A, in combination with other ingredients such as proteins and botanicals. One newly discovered group of proteins temporarily relaxes the facial muscles used for crinkling. This makes skin look smoother for about twelve hours.
Cleansing Without Drying Your Skin
Traditionally, soaps have cleansed but also dried out the skin. Most bar soaps contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which strips away natural oils from the skin. (Some organic soaps, and brands, such as Burt’s Bees and Dove, do not.) In recent years, however, companies have created “moisturizing” soaps, and liquid non-soap facial cleansers that actually moisturize your skin as you wash. These new dual-use cleansers rid the face of dirt and bacteria and trap moisture in the outer layer of the skin.
These soaps and cleansers work by using emollients and humectants, such as hyaluronic acid, an essential nutrient that helps retain water in the skin’s lipid layers. Some contain sustained release ceramides that are skin lipids that help keep the skin moist and help ease the dryness of eczema. Some cleansers may even contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide that help prevent breakouts in oily or acne-prone skin.
Depletion of skin collagen leads to wrinkles. Fibroblasts are the key collagen producers but slow down production with aging. However researchers have learned by engineering peptides and a water-soluble form of vitamin B3 these older fibroblasts can be stimulated to produce collagen at a similar rate to when they were young.
Moisture is also needed for plump and healthy-looking skin. Hexamidine (used to retain moisture in disposable diaper linings) locks in moisture and has been incorporated into skin care products. “Hexamidine has been shown in research to improve the lipid structure of aged skin,” says Mary Begovic Johnson, principal scientist at Procter and Gamble Beauty and Grooming.
Sun and Skin
The best thing you can do for your skin is to prevent damage caused by the sun. Dermatologists say that about 70% of the visible signs of aging can be prevented by limiting exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV), which includes both UVA and UVB rays.
New broad-spectrum sunscreen ingredients have been developed to block both UVA and UVB rays for longer periods of time. In the process, these products can help reduce sun damage — patchy, uneven skin, sallowness, wrinkling, and age spots.
L’Oréal has developed Mexoryl which contains a chemical called ecamsule which filters out UVA rays. Johnson & Johnson has also developed a UVA-shielding compound called Helioplex for their sunscreens and moisturizers. Other companies have developed their own patented formulas and compounds that work by stabilizing avobenzone, the oil-soluble ingredient that absorbs UVA rays, and makes it last longer.
Look for these longer-use UVA blockers in your moisturizers and makeup, as well as sunscreen, making it easier to protect your skin as part of your daily skin care routine.