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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Anti-wrinkle creams: do they work?

Wrinkles are a by-product of the aging process. With age, skin cells divide more slowly, and the inner layer, called the dermis, begins to thin. The network of elastin (the protein which causes skin to stretch) and collagen fibers (the major structural proteins in the skin), which support the outer layer, loosen and unravel, causing depressions on the surface. With aging, skin also loses its elasticity, is less able to retain moisture, oil-secreting glands are less efficient and the skin is slower to heal. All of these contribute to the development of wrinkles.

In large part, your everyday lifestyle choices contribute to the way you age, and at what rate your body ages. Diet, environmental factors, exercise and the topical skin care products and skin care regimen you choose, all affect the way you are going to appear now and ten, twenty, and thirty years down the road.

Common ingredients in anti-wrinkle creams

The effectiveness of anti-wrinkle creams depends in part on the active ingredient or ingredients. Here are some common ingredients that may result in slight to modest improvements in wrinkles.

Retinol. Retinol is a vitamin A compound and is the first antioxidant to be widely used in nonprescr i ption wrinkle creams. Antioxidants are substances that neutralize free radicals — unstable oxygen molecules that break down skin cells and cause wrinkles. Retinol is less potent than the vitamin A derivative tretinoin, a prescr i ption topical treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating wrinkles. Avoid vitamin A derivatives if you're pregnant or may become pregnant because they increase the risk of birth defects.

Hydroxy acids. Alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids and poly hydroxy acids are all synthetic versions of acids derived from sugar-containing fruits. These acids are exfoliants — substances that remove the upper layer of old, dead skin and stimulate the growth of smooth, evenly pigmented new skin. Because hydroxy acids increase your susceptibility to sun damage, wear sunscreen during use and for at least one week afterward.

Coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 is a nutrient that helps regulate energy production in cells. Some studies have shown reduction in fine wrinkles around the eyes with no side effects. Other studies show that application before sun exposure protects against sun damage.

Copper peptides. Copper is a trace element found in every cell. In products applied to the skin, it's combined with small protein fragments called peptides. Copper peptides enhance wound healing. They also stimulate production of collagen and may enhance the action of antioxidants.

Kinetin. A plant growth factor, kinetin may improve wrinkles and uneven pigmentation with minimal irritation. It's unclear how it works, but it may help reduce wrinkles by helping skin retain moisture and by stimulating the production of collagen. It may also be a potent antioxidant.

Tea extracts. Green, black and oolong tea contain compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea extracts are the ones most commonly found in wrinkle creams.

Alpha Lipioc Acid is an excellent antioxidant that penetrates cell membranes to eliminate the free radicals that the are broken down. It also assists other antioxidants that are in the body such as vitamins C and E.

In addition to the use of a wrinkle treatment here are some other suggestions to promote healthy, vibrant skin:

•Use sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 every day.
•Maintain adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water.
•Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine.
•Avoid smoking.

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