Your Guide to Anti-Aging Ingredients
You hear them advertised on TV and see them on the Web, but do you know what the best anti-aging ingredients really are?
As you search for the right anti-aging product, you'll come across countless creams, lotions, serums, and cleansers that promise to improve the appearance ofaging skin. Shopping for anti-aging products can be overwhelming, but having an idea of how different ingredients work can help narrow your choices. Keep in mind that most just make your skin look more moist, lessening the appearance of aging skin; some can actually affect the skin and lessen the damage; and a few protect against further damage.
The Beauty Shopper's List for Anti-Aging Ingredients
- Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). AHAs can help your skin appear more fresh and youthful by reducing the signs of sun damage, exfoliating the dead outer layers of your skin, and helping your skin retain moisture. Glycolic acids are a popular AHA.
- Ammonium lactate. If your skin is dry and flaky, ammonium lactate can help keep it moist and remove dead skin cells.
- Antioxidants. Products that contain antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C and coenzyme Q10, can repair aging skin, and may even help protect itfrom further sun damage and the effects of free radicals, molecules that irritate your skin and cause it to become inflamed.
- Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). Similar to AHAs, BHAs help to exfoliate your skin. They are intended to help reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and texture abnormalities. In a product ingredient list, BHAs may be listed as salicylic acid, salicylate, sodium salicylate, willow extract, beta hydroxybutanoic acid, tropic acid, or trethocanic acid. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that BHAs should be used with sunscreen to avoid skin irritation.
- Growth factors. These are compounds that may be found in anti-aging products, due to their ability to stimulate cell division, blood vessel growth, and to help produce skin-firming collagen and elastin in your skin.
- Lactic acid. Lactic acid, an AHA derived from milk, is often added to moisturizers to help get rid of dead skin cells and enhance the moisture content of your skin.
- Peptides. Peptides are protein components that are sometimes added to anti-aging products because they can increase the collagen in your skin, making it appear thicker.
- Petrolatum. Petrolatum, the main ingredient in petroleum jelly, is common in lotions and creams that soften skin by creating a barrier to help seal in moisture.
- Retinoic acid. A specialized form of vitamin A, retinoic acid is the only skin care product ingredient that has been approved by the FDA for reversing signs of sun damage. It is available by prescription only. After applying retinoic acid every day for several months, you should begin to see the texture of your skin improve — your skin pigmentation will even out, and there will be increases in the amount of skin-firming collagen.
- Sunscreen. Sunscreen is one of the best ways to prevent signs of aging caused by sun exposure, including fine line and age spots. Many anti-aging skin care products contain sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15; look for "broad spectrum" protection that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
- Urea. A common ingredient in moisturizers, urea increases the ability of your skin to hold water and reduces the scaly appearance of dry skin.
Most anti-aging skin care products contain more than one of the above ingredients. Keep in mind that some of these ingredients can irritate your skin as they slough off top layers, so be cautious when using anti-aging products on sensitive skin. Also, since trying too many products can often do more harm than good, consider consulting a dermatologist to help select anti-aging products that will do the most for you.