There are thousands of creams, face serums, lotions and potions to choose from with new must have magic ingredients appearing weekly in the beauty press.
Anti aging skin care is a multi-billion dollar business and women all over the world spend a small fortune every year on the search for the ultimate youth giving face cream.
But don’t be put off by the huge choice and the marketing hype – there are some excellent products available and they can make a real difference to how well your skin ages as you get older.
Here’s ten practical tips to help you narrow the field.
1. Look for ingredients that work
There are relatively few ingredients that have been put through rigorous clinical testing and shown to be effective against skin aging.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA), retinoids and retinol compounds and Vitamin C are the most well tested and proven ingredients – for a more detailed guide to the best anti aging ingredients see here.
Peptides and pentapeptides are also used in many new products and offer exciting possibilities for the future. GABA is an amino acid increasingly used for its cell calming and muscle relaxing effect in botox alternative products.
Other active and effective ingredients include a whole range of naturally based antioxidants like pomegranate extract, vitamin E, aloe vera, licorice extract, zinc, green tea and grape seed extract.
In moisturizing creams look out for the top hydrating ingredients – sodium PCA, hyaluronic acid, glycerine and goji berry extract.
For sun damaged aging skin with evidence of uneven pigmentation and age spots – hydroquinone is a proven (and much debated) skin lightener and there are many natural alternatives.
2. High concentration of actives matters
Some ingredients don’t have any effect below a certain concentration.
Unfortunately a lot of anti aging skin care products don’t declare the level of each ingredient in the formulation. What manufacturers do though is to list the ingredients from highest to lowest concentration so you can draw some conclusions from that.
Effective anti aging skin creams also needs a good delivery system. That’s the bit in the formula that delivers the ingredients to your skin – for instance nanoparticles or microencapsulation. Good delivery systems make sure the active ingredients don’t go off and are absorbed quickly and deeply into the lower layers of the skin.
Better brands generally put better active ingredients and delivery systems into their products. Unfortunately, this tends to mean they cost more – but that isn’t always the case.
3. Avoid too many ingredients
Too many active ingredients in your anti aging skin care can dilute the effectiveness of any single one. A good base cream or serum plus one or two excellent high strength active anti aging ingredients at high levels of concentration is better than a lot of active ingredients at low concentrations.
4. Choose a good brand
Dermatologist recommended skin care is best in my experience.
Look out for long established high end anti aging lines like Murad Skin Care, SkinCeuticals, Perricone MD, Peter Thomas Roth, Obagi, Dr Brandt, Cellex-C, Skin Medica, BioMedic, La Roche Posay and others.
These are skin care companies that plough huge amounts of money into research and testing and are run by certified (often world renowned) dermatologists using active ingredients at high levels.
5. Give it time to work
The anti aging ingredients that really work take effect slowly over time. You cannot possibly judge the effect of an anti aging cream or face serum in a matter of days or even in a week or two.
The full effects will probably take closer to 4-8 weeks or more to emerge. Ignore any customer review if the user hasn’t used the product long enough to properly comment.
6. Don’t believe all you read
Ads are there to sell products – testamonials and before/after photos are not always all they seem. Look for hard clinical studies and see what customers who have actually used the products say about products in online reviews – Amazon is one of the best for this as they are not trying to push one product more than another and present all the reviews good and bad.
When you look at research claims bear in mind that much of the anti aging effect of a product will come from hydration (moisturizing your skin) alone. Added active ingredients need to justify the cost or you are better with a simple moisture cream. Very few brands show data that isolates the moisturizing effect of a cream from the effect of the anti aging ingredients.
7. Natural isn’t always best
There is a common assumption nowadays that a natural product or ingredient has to be better than a chemically derived or manmade alternative.
The truth is – many natural chemicals can be harmful or even deadly – many man made chemicals are life saving drugs. What really matters is whether the product is clinically proven to be safe and effective.
8. Remember you’re unique
When it comes to skin care there’s no such thing as one size fits all. Your age, skin type, skin coloring, sensitivity all impact on how well a product works for you. Even lifestyle issues like diet, alcohol, smoking and sun exposure will make a difference to your reaction to products.
What suits others may be totally wrong for you so you need to accept a certain element of trial and error.
You can narrow the field by understanding and working with your own skin type and being clear about what you are looking for.
9. Can you return it?
Online suppliers are much better at this than retail in my experience. If you get a bad reaction or you feel your purchase just doesn’t do what it says the last thing you want is a hassle about returning it. Check the return policy before you buy and make sure you stick to the terms.
10. Decide what type of product you want
Before you start looking – take some time to think about what kind of anti aging skin care you are looking for. Products are usually categorized by area of application – sometimes by ingredient or by the desired effect.
1. Face cream
– The most common first buy is a face cream. Decide whether you want a straightforward hydrating cream (moisturizer) or whether you want additional active ingredients to zap wrinkles or lift and lighten skin tone. A face product with added actives will usually be called an anti aging moisturizer and tends to cost more.
2. Face serum
– You need to think about whether you want the additional expense of an anti aging serum. Serums are lighter, thinner and more liquid than creams and are used under and in addition to your moisturizer. They can really add a punch to your skin care regimen but obviously at an extra cost.
3. Neck creams
– Your neck and chest (decollete) is also an area of the body that shows age early on and there are lots of products in this category. Can you use your face cream on your neck or is it too heavy? A neck cream is lighter and avoids dragging delicate skin. Many skin care manufacturers don’t make neck creams and recommend extending face cream over the neck area. Check the label on your face cream or ask for advice before you buy an additional product.
4. Eye creams
– A big category on their own. This is a really delicate area of the face and the first to show the effects of aging. Products are light gels or lotions and come in small tubes or pots as you aren’t supposed to use much. Under eye moisturization is a difficult thing to get right to avoid dragging skin and causing makeup to run. Active ingredients can cause sensitivity issues and may not be present in the cream at high enough levels to work. Take your time choosing as it is an area where expectations and disappointment is high!
5. Hand cream
– Hand creams are increasingly coming in anti aging versions – usually targeting age spots and skin fragility. Consider an overnight cream with added anti aging ingredients – they do make a difference. The other option is looking at an exfoliating treatment for hands – these combine a light scrub with deep moisturizing ingredients so you exfoliate and hydrate in one go.
6. Microdermabrasion creams
– A microdermabrasion product for the face is worth considering as exfoliating once or twice a week is good for your skin as it gets older. Using a basic scrub – unless it’s very gentle – may not be effective and can even damage aging skin. The best microdermabrasion creams aim to reproduce the results you might get from an in office microdermabrasion treatment. Otherwise chemical exfoliation using a product with AHA or glycolic acid at low formulations is an alternative for exfoliating skin and treating age spots or uneven skin pigmentation – but tread carefully and read the labels and reviews.
7. Retinol products
– Retinol is an ingredient that has really captured the consumers imagination – probably because the perception is that it has been shown to work. Make sure you are clear about what you are buying which means understanding that a retinol is not as effective as a retinoid.
8. Botox alternatives
– With the never ending popularity of botox – there are now topical botox creams and serums try to reproduce the effect of botox injections using anti aging ingredients as muscle relaxants. There are many on the market but you may be advised to go for a proper dermatologist based product for good results. A botox alternative could be worth considering if you want a similar effect without injecting toxins – or if you are worried about the dangers of botox over long term use.
9. Wrinkle fillers
– In a similar way to the botox products – topical wrinkle fillers have come on the market recently in an attempt to mimic the action of a dermal filler applied in office. At the present time even the best is likely to be more of an anti aging cosmetic than an anti wrinkle treatment and should be considered part of your makeup routine.
There is a lot to consider in choosing the right anti aging skin care and more products are being launched all the time. Take your time before you buy and you should be able to find a good product that works for your individual needs.