In one of my all time favourite songs ever, Alicia Keys once sang “some people search for a fountain that promises forever young.” By now, I’m guessing that people have all come to a realisation long ago that the ‘fountain of youth’ doesn’t really exist. In spite of that, the growing desire for perpetual youth and an unquenchable thirst for ways that can turn back the clock is still evident. This has resulted in a boom of anti-aging skincare products. But do they actually work?
Before we delve deeper into this ‘fountain’ of anti-aging skincare, let us first step into the shallow waters to discover what skin aging is and what causes it.
What aging does to our skin, specifically our face
The face undergoes a lot of changes as we age, beginning in childhood when the rounded characteristics of a child’s angelic face transforms into more angular and defined traits that will distinguish the person through adolescence to adulthood.(5) Here’s a breakdown on what happens to our skin as we age as researched by Ramos-e-Silva et al. (2013).
The face appears round due to great skin elasticity and distribution pattern of fat. As the bones are still developing, the nose and ear cartilage offer subtle and delicate outlines.
During the adolescent stage, facial features are defined by bones and cartilage as they complete predicted growth.
As you go into your thirties, the brows begin to droop which causes the eyes to start appearing smaller.
Going into the fourth decade of life, the eyelids become more flaccid, resulting in a pseudo-herniation of the retro-orbital fat and the production of rhytidosis (excessive wrinkling of facial skin). The nasolabial folds (laugh lines) become more noticeable, and the brows continue to droop.
Deep wrinkles start emerging on the forehead in the fifth decade, and eyelids start sagging due to excess skin. The arch of the jawline loses its regularity, and vertical wrinkles emerge around the perioral region (the area surrounding your mouth: lips, upper lip area under the nose, nasolabial folds, and the corners of the mouth).
Even when relaxed, wrinkles become more apparent and visible in the sixth decade. The nasal tip and mid-face structures droop, resulting in the formation of the nasolabial groove and the loss of the jaw contour. The presence of extra chin fat and platysma sagging also contributes to jaw modification.
The seventh decade is characterised by thinning of the skin, greater narrowing of the eyelid opening, and resorption of face fat.
Entering the eighties, all previous changes are considerably more visible. Skin thinning and fat resorption continue to worsen.
Types of skin aging
There are two types of skin aging: intrinsic and extrinsic. Even though both these types of aging have independent causes, their outcomes become synergised and result in the aged appearance of the skin.(5)
Intrinsic aging, also known as true or chronological aging, is a natural outcome of physiological changes through time. Individual genetics are responsible for the interference in this situation, along with other factors that are present but have a lesser effect. Here are some factors that relate to intrinsic aging.
The primary impact of ethnicity on aging is related to pigmentation differences. Melanin pigmentation at high levels protects against the cumulative effects of photoaging. Darker skin is more compact and contains more lipids, which is thought to impact the improved resistance to ageing. Those of Asian descent were seen to acquire wrinkles later and with less intensity than Caucasians.
Estrogens regulate fibroblast collagen synthesis, boost hyaluronic acid synthesis, stimulate water retention, and enhance the extracellular matrix. Hypoestrogenism (estrogen deficiency), such as that experienced during menopause, can have a significant impact on the skin because it thins and becomes less hydrated. The replacement of estrogens promotes women’s skin regeneration during menopause.
Variations in anatomy
The thickness of skin is not the same everywhere. Depending on the area of the body, aging is more visible in areas that are thinner than the rest. This is most noticeable on the eyelids, which have the thinnest skin on the human body at 0.2mm. Besides that, there is significant variation in the composition and distribution of lipids in the skin.
Extrinsic aging is caused by aspects that may be controlled and occurs in varying degrees. These factors include sun exposure, smoking, as well as basic lifestyle aspects including nutrition, sleep, and general health.
In contrast to intrinsic changes, which occur slowly, photo-exposure causes a cascade of molecular and cellular changes that cause a quick and dynamic disorder in the skin. The effects of sunlight on the skin are significant, accounting for up to 90% of visible aging of the skin on the face, particularly in people with fair skin.
Even more than sun exposure, smoking has been found as a significant contributor to face wrinkles. There is a link between smoking and the appearance and severity of wrinkles. Smoking causes a number of detrimental changes that deprive cutaneous tissues (skin tissues) of nutrition. There is also a decrease in collagen fibres and elastin in the dermis and the lung, as well as an increase in free radicals.
The temperature of the environment affects how structural proteins and lipids are formed in the skin. High temperatures cause more water to evaporate, but even with plenty of air moisture, low temperatures cause a hardening and less water loss by the same mechanism.
Treating aging skin
Just like how no one can stop time (unless you’re Dr. Strange or some other fictional character), nothing can stop aging. But, with the right care, it may help to slow down the signs of aging and improve the skin’s appearance.
Researchers have advocated the development of three levels of approaches for the treatment and prevention of aging skin.(5)
The first method seeks to prevent photoaging by using sunscreens or sunblocks with chemical or physical broad-spectrum filters. In order to prevent sun damage, it is encouraged to practice a more mindful photo-exposure behaviour.
The second method employs formulations containing active ingredients in an attempt to delay or even reduce the signs and symptoms of aging. In this regard, retinoic acid, hydroxy acids, antioxidants, estrogens, and growth factors are utilised.
The third method is used when a more severe form of aging has already developed, necessitating more intrusive mechanisms such as chemical peeling with a greater acid concentration, laser use, filler and botulinum toxin (botox) injections, and so on.
Commonly listed active ingredients for anti-aging
Something as simple as moisturising can improve the appearance of your skin. It plumps the skin temporarily, while reducing the visibility of lines and wrinkles. Lotions, creams, gels, and serums containing water, oils, and other substances are examples of moisturisers.
Most often than not, anti-aging creams are moisturisers that contain active ingredients that provide extra perks. These ingredients are meant to improve skin texture, skin tone, wrinkles and fine lines. Your skin type and the active ingredients both play a role in how well these products work for you.
Here are some of the commonly listed ingredients that may help improve the appearance of an aging skin.
Retinoic acid (tretinoin) is one of the most powerful substances for treating the indications of aging, such as fine lines and spots,(3)(5)(6)(9) but it should be taken with caution to avoid side effects such as stinging and burning.(5)
In in-vivo investigations, retinol (vitamin A), the biologically active version of vitamin A,(9) has only a minor retinoid-like activity when compared to topical retinaldehyde and retinoic acid. It also boasts antioxidant properties.(5)
Retinaldehyde, a byproduct generated during the conversion of retinol to retinoic acid, is also beneficial in wrinkle reduction.(5)
However, the usage of retinoid in terms of its safety for women of childbearing age is still debatable. At the moment, it is advisable for young women not to use topical retinoids during pregnancy or when attempting to conceive.(5)(8)
Hydroxy acids, often known as fruit acids, are non-organic acids that have been utilised in the treatment of skin diseases for over 40 years. They are among the most commonly used and researched anti-aging skincare ingredients. These substances have been proved in clinical trials to be helpful in reversing the effects of photoaging and reducing wrinkles, skin elasticity, tone, and moisture. The two primary kinds of hydroxy acids are alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA).(4)
Eugene Van Scott first introduced AHA in 1984.(5) AHA comes in a variety of forms, the most common of which are citric, lactic, glycolic, malic, pyruvic, and tartaric acids. AHAs have been shown to produce softer, smoother skin, diminish wrinkles, lighten age spots, and reduce blemishes.(3)(4)(5)(8) It is to be noted that AHAs may cause stinging or burning sensations soon after application, especially in those with sensitive skin.(5)(8)
Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs), such as salicylic acid, are remarkably similar to AHAs with the exception of their solubility. In contrast to AHAs, they are lipid-soluble. This structure allows them to permeate the skin via sebaceous follicles, making it suitable for people with oily skin and open comedones. BHAs have also been shown to have less skin irritancy than AHAs.(4)
Polyhydroxy acids (PHAs) are a novel ingredient technology that expands on the AHA family. Furthermore, PHAs have been tested in numerous human clinical evaluations to determine their cosmetic benefits. They have anti-aging properties similar to AHAs but are gentler on the skin.(2)
Peptides are small proteins that appears to function as a cellular messenger. They occur naturally in living organisms and are made up of amino acids.(9) Peptides help stimulate new cells to grow and help skin cells to heal.(8) Certain peptides have been demonstrated to improve skin texture and wrinkles by stimulating collagen formation.(3)(6)(9)
Antioxidants are responsible for minimising the damage produced by free radicals, hence preventing cellular damage.(6) They also aid to reduce inflammation and protect against sun damage and skin cancer.(5) Here are a few types of antioxidants:
- Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic acid) – Given its stimulating influence on collagen formation and antioxidant properties, vitamin C is widely utilized in topical formulations. It reduces hyperpigmented areas and offers some UV protection due to its antioxidant qualities.(3)(5)(9) Wrinkle creams containing vitamin C must be stored in a way that protects them from air and sunlight before and between applications.(9)
- Vitamin E – In addition to being an antioxidant, vitamin E also moisturises. Some research has shown that it has topical effectiveness in preventing UVB radiation damage. Other actions include sunburn erythema decrease, tanning, and photoaging.(5)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) – Niacinamide, a niacin derivative, has the ability to treat some skin conditions, including aging skin.(1) It is a highly effective and well-tolerated antioxidant. Niacinamide improves the lipid composition of the epidermal barrier, lowering transepidermal water loss. It also works as a melanosome transfer inhibitor, which helps to improve hyperpigmentation. According to research, there is a considerable reduction in fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation, as well as an improvement in skin suppleness.(1)(5)(9)
So what’s the verdict?
With the world’s population having a longer life expectancy, good health is necessary for a better quality of life, even in old age, with more independence and, at times, intensive professional and social activities. Improving the appearance of aging skin is part of good health.
Depending on how frequently you use it, the type and amount of active ingredient in the anti-aging skincare product, and the type of wrinkles you wish to treat, an anti-aging skincare product might just work to reduce the appearance of your wrinkles.
If you want to take the guessing out of your skin care routine, try these more dependable strategies to improve and maintain the appearance of your skin:
- Protect your skin from the sun and prevent future wrinkles by limiting your time in the sun, and wearing sunglasses or a hat with protective clothing. Also remember to always use a broad spectrum sunblocking products to block out unwanted UVA and UVB rays.
- Don’t smoke or stop smoking if you have been for years. You can still reduce wrinkles and improve the tone and texture of your skin even if you’ve smoked for years or are a heavy smoker. It’s still better late than never.
- Moisturisers do not prevent wrinkles, but they do retain water in the skin, disguising fine lines and creases momentarily. Dehydrated skin would often look more dull and can show premature signs of aging. If you have trouble with aging skin while needing that extra boost of hydration, you can try The Satin Cream which rejuvenates and boosts skin elasticity for a redefined, youthful effect.
- Choose skincare products that have anti-aging properties as they may greatly help with improving the appearance of an aging skin. The OLUMES range is formulated for those who want to improve the appearance of skin aging (fine lines, wrinkles, loss of firmness, pigmentation) while diminishing the look of adult acne, scars, redness, enlarged pores, excess oiliness or dryness, bumpy, uneven skin texture and tone – all at the same time.
Stress, free-radicals, uv-rays and pollution can contribute to premature skin aging. Infused with the highest concentration with Kalalit extract and harmoniously blended with potent antioxidants alongside 24 types of botanical extract, the upgraded Satin Cream is the multifunctional-powerhouse you need to fight daily skin aggressor.
- Banik, K., Rath, S., & Gupta, B. K. (2019). Chromatographic Estimation of Niacinamide in Anti aging Dermatological product. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Analysis, 9(2), 62. https://doi.org/10.5958/2231-5675.2019.00013.9
- Green, B. A., Edison, B. L., & Wildnauer, R. H. (2003). A polyhydroxy acid (PHA) skin care regimen provides comparable anti-aging effects to an alpha-hydroxyacid (AHA) regimen. https://www.qvsiete.com/wp-content/uploads/PHA_2003-Poster.pdf
- Lewsley, J. (2022, February 8). Which anti-aging products work best, and when should you start using them? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/when-to-start-using-anti-aging-products
- Moghimipour, E. (2012). Hydroxy Acids, the Most Widely Used Anti-aging Agents. Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products, 7(1), 9–10. https://doi.org/10.17795/jjnpp-4181
- Ramos-e-Silva, M., Celem, L. R., Ramos-e-Silva, S., & Fucci-da-Costa, A. P. (2013). Anti-aging cosmetics: Facts and controversies. Clinics in Dermatology, 31(6), 750–758. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clindermatol.2013.05.013
- Rekstis, E. (2020, August 20). The Truth About Anti-Aging Creams And Serums. The List. https://www.thelist.com/32304/truth-anti-aging-creams-serums/
- Schagen, S. (2017). Topical Peptide Treatments with Effective Anti-Aging Results. Cosmetics, 4(2), 16. https://doi.org/10.3390/cosmetics4020016
- Thrasybule, L. (2013, May 30). The Truth About Anti-Aging Products. livescience.com. https://www.livescience.com/36720-anti-aging-products-lotions-supplements.html
- Wrinkle creams: Your guide to younger looking skin. (2021, May 4). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wrinkles/in-depth/wrinkle-creams/art-20047463