Stores across the country are packed with products designed to make you look younger. Some are for wrinkles; others for turkey necks. But many of these items promise more than they can deliver.
Now a new article in MyHealthNewsDaily seeks to separate fact from fiction by examining the truth behind anti-aging products aimed at reducing the visible symptoms of aging.
Americans' desire for creams, salves and gadgets to try and keep the years at bay is expected to expand the market from $80 billion in 2011 to $114 billion in 2015. Even in a down economy, sales of "prestige beauty products" -- the high-end lines found in department stores -- shot up by 11 percent in 2011, according to The NPD Group.
"Yes, there has been a tremendous anti-aging craze accompanied by a boom in available products, technology and procedures. Increasingly, people are searching for products and procedures that deliver results without the cost, risks and downtime of more invasive cosmetic surgery," said Dr. Elizabeth Hale, a dermatologist at New York University Medical Center.
"There are many great options out there for people seeking results, but the key is to find a doctor that you trust and one that will help you to look natural. One should strive to look like a better, more relaxed, version of themselves; no one should look 'done'," she added.
Hale cited the following products and procedures that she uses personally and recommends on a regular basis:
- Daily broad-spectrum sunscreen (Coppertone, SkinMedica Physical Defense)
- Retinol or prescription-based tretinoin (Roc, Renova, RetinA)
- Stem cell-derived products to stimulate collagen and elastic (Lifeline Skin Care)
- Botulinum Toxin injections
- Hyaluronic Acid and poly-L-lactic acid fillers
- Fractional Resurfacing lasers
"With the right sunscreen, topicals and minimally invasive procedures, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle which includes exercise, we can all look... natural and rejuvenated," Hale said.
When it comes to commonly listed active ingredients in anti-aging products, here's some additional scientific evidence as to whether or not they work.
As you age, your skin begins developing fine lines as it grows thinner. Peptides -- the small proteins that help stimulate new cells to grow -- are supposed to make the skin more plump and, therefore, younger looking. But Hale says there is no conclusive evidence that peptides really do anything to reduce wrinkles.
Alpha-hydroxy acids, including lactic, glycolic and citric acids, are natural ingredients found in fruits and milk sugars. They can work as an exfoliant, removing dead skin cells to make room for new ones. But each acid has a slightly different impact, Hale said. Lactic acid, for example, brightens the skin by removing dead skin cells while glycolic acid makes skin look smoother by reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
The idea that this natural form of vitamin A reduces the appearance of wrinkles and boosts the thickness and elasticity of the skin is backed up by ample evidence, Hale said. Retinol is found in a variety of over-the-counter skin creams. The stronger form, called tretinoin (sometimes sold under the brand name Retin-A), is available by prescription. It may be more effective than over-the-counter products, but some doctors say it also can cause more side effects.
This plant compound is found in red wine, but is also available as a supplement. Studies show that drinking wine in moderation has some health benefits, but the jury it out as to whether supplements have a similar effect. A 2008 study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found the red-wine ingredient slowed down age-related decline in mice. Studies have not confirmed similar results from resveratrol supplements.
Antioxidants are commonly thought to help protect cells from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that could hurt cells and increase the risk of cancer. As for their health benefits, there are antioxidants that are effective -- but only if the formulation of the antioxidants is right. Vitamins C and E are the most commonly used, and the most time-tested.
Interested in more information about this topic? Check out Good Housekeeping magazine's five best anti-aging makeup products here.