Anti-aging treatments

There are many products on the market today that claim to reverse the signs of aging. It can be quite frustrating to wade through these products to figure out if any of them do what they claim. What makes one product different from the next? Read on to find out what active ingredients are commonly used to reduce the signs of aging.

Tretinoin is a vitamin A analog. It has been shown to reduce wrinkles, lessen discolourations, and result in smoother skin over a period of 6 to 12 months. Over-the-counter products with tretinoin are not as effective as the prescription products. Tretinoin can irritate the skin, so start off with a lower concentration and increase gradually. It's most effective if you use it at night. It may be less suitable for people with sensitive skin, and it greatly increases the skin's sensitivity to sun, so using a sunscreen every day is an absolute must.

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (salicylic acid) stimulate dead cells in the skin's top layer to slough off more easily (exfoliate), and may reduce fine lines. AHAs are known to "irritate" the skin, so if you want to try a product, discuss your choices with a dermatologist and always follow the instructions for use. Freshly exfoliated skin is much more sensitive to sunlight, so use a good sunscreen daily.

Topical antioxidants, especially vitamins C and E and Coenzyme Q10, may temporarily improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles caused by sunlight and smoking. However, more research is needed to determine whether they can prevent sun damage or treat wrinkles. Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) may help, as it acts as a moisturizer and as a mild sunscreen.

Collagen and elastin are proteins that occur naturally in the skin, giving it strength and elasticity. In cosmetics, their molecules are too large to penetrate the skin, but they're added as a moisturizer to help make the skin feel smoother by absorbing water.

Hydroquinone is a depigmenting agent used to reduce solar lentigenes (age, liver, or sun spots) and other discolourations. It is often combined with a sunscreen, because sunlight reverses its bleaching effects.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team