Aging is inevitable, but a good wrinkle cream can help delay the onset of aging signs and even help reverse existing damage. An ideal cream needs to accomplish three key functions: perfect, prevent and protect. Skin types and needs vary, so be careful when choosing you skin cream. Make sure you choose a product that is right for you.
There a few active ingredients that have been scientifically proven to be effective. These are retinoids (retinol, retinyl, or retinoic acid), alpha hydroxy acids, azelaic acid, some growth factors (polypeptide hormones or biological factors that control growth, division and maturation of blood cells), antioxidants (vitamins A, C and E, coenzyme Q10, idebenone), hydroquinone, kojic acid, some peptides, and salicylic acid. Some treatments that contain these ingredients may require prescription. This is the case with vitamin A (in the form of tretinoin, Retin-A or Renova), which is known to be the most effective ingredient in treating fine lines and wrinkles.
Dermatologists agree that the number one anti-wrinkle solution is sunscreen. The sun’s UVA and UVB rays are responsible for about 90 percent of aging signs and skin damage. Therefore, a product that contains broad-spectrum sunscreen coverage is one of the best investments you can make in the maintenance of your skin. SPF of at least 30 is recommended.
In addition to sunscreen, dermatologists recommend keeping the face hydrated by using a day cream that moisturizes and contains antioxidants. Night creams should contain retinoids, peptides, or growth factors, as these substances are known for their repairing properties.
Some misleading terms that can be found on anti-aging products are the labels: “clinically proven,” “all natural” or “preservative free.” “Clinically proven” does not mean the FDA acknowledges the product to be effective; it only indicates that the product was tested on a group of people who evaluated the product after using it for a trial period. “All natural” is an impossible statement given that substances are not used in their pure forms (as found in nature) and they all undergo a chemical procedure. “Preservative free” is another misleading statement. Oftentimes, products need to sit on shelves for months on end; so some kind of preservative is necessary, whether it is ascorbic acid (vitamin C), tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), retinyl palmitate (derived from vitamin A), parabens or phenoxyethanol.
Recommended skin care regimes
Here are a series of skin care regimes you can follow in addition to your chosen anti-wrinkle cream categorized according to your skin type:
Oily skin or acne-prone skin: Lightweight, non-comedogenic creams are best for this type of skin.
Wash your face at least twice a day, using a non-comedogenic foaming cleanser that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Apply a light-weight non-comedogenic moisturizer that also contains broad-spectrum sunscreen in the mornings and at night, use retinol gel or serum. You may exfoliate once a week, but in some cases this can cause breakouts or irritation, especially on acne-prone skin.
Note: Skin prone to acne should avoid creams that contain cocoa butter, cinnamon and coconut oil.
Dry skin: Heavy-weight or thick creams are best for this type of skin.
Wash your face twice a day, using a gentle cleanser or creamy face wash. In the mornings, apply sunscreen and a heavyweight moisturizer on damp skin, to seal in moisture. Re-apply moisturizer in the middle of the day, if your face feels “tight” or dry. At night, apply a mild retinol along with your moisturizer. Exfoliate once a week.
Note: If your skin is very dry, rinse your face in the mornings with only water and properly wash your face at night. A suncreen+moisturizer smoothing cream that contains antioxidants, dimethicone, petrolatum or grape seed oil can also help improve this type of skin.
Combination skin: Medium-weight creams are best for this skin type.
Wash your face with a mild cleanser. During the day, use a medium weight moisturizer with broad spectrum sunscreen. This type falls somewhere between light-weight moisturizers (which are usually fluid, like lotions or gels) and heavy-weight creams which have the highest oil content. A medium-weight cream maintains the skin’s moisture balance while improving its texture. Also at night, use retinol cream.
Sensitive skin: Creams that contain soothing ingredients like aloe, chamomile, green tea or polyphenols are best for this type of skin.
Wash your face once a day. In the mornings, apply a cream-based moisturizer. At night, use a mild retinoid along with your moisturizer. Avoid exfoliation, as this can irritate the skin.
Note: Avoid products that contain fragrances, alcohol and soap. Also avoid creams that contain any type of acids, such as lipoic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid.