What is the secret of youth? That seems to be a very pertinent question of today, one that has researchers, consumers and scientists going crazy to find and produce anti-ageing products. Cosmetic giants seem to have the sector overflowing with creams and serums that claim to turn back the clock, but is it all just hype?
Cosmeceuticals is a term that refers to the combination of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. These are essentially cosmetic products which contain active ingredients that are known to benefit the skin or hair. Typically they will fight signs of ageing such as wrinkles and contain ingredients like vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants and stem cells. Most cosmeceuticals work by improving the skin’s texture and structure through boosting collagen production.
Anti-ageing products today use a variety of active ingredients that are proven to give benefit to one’s appearance, sometimes they are used alone and other times in conjunction with another. One of the main examples of these ingredients is topical retinoid which is available by prescription only. Retinol is a compound of Vitamin A and antioxidant that works by targeting fine lines, wrinkles and areas of hyperpigmentation. Every day millions of free radicals work to break down the skin, but antioxidants fight against this process. Examples of other substances with antioxidant properties are aloe vera, caffeine, green tea extract, Vitamin E and coenzyme Q10.
Another primary ingredient used in cosmeceuticals today are alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids. They are typically derived from fruit sugars and work by removing the outer layer of dead skin cells to reveal and stimulate the growth of new skin cells. When used alone as chemical peels, they can be quite strong and therefore drying so it is recommended to use with caution. Many creams or serums that contain these acids will also contain a sunscreen to protect the new skin cells from sun damage.
Peptides are found in many anti-ageing products too. They are essentially short chains of amino acids that can stimulate and regulate collagen production. They are also able to enhance wound healing, cell repair and remedy unwanted pigmentation. Peptides are also used to enhance the effects of other substances like antioxidants, growth factors and vitamins.
Stem Cell based creams are too available and work by interacting with the skin’s own cells to protect them as well as stimulate new growth. A good example is the use of apple and grape stem cells which have shown in trials to combat the effects of environmental stress and photo-ageing.
Stop Smoking – Smoking cigarettes, as well as being a nasty habit has also been linked to premature ageing of the skin as well as increased wrinkles and dryness.
Sun Exposure – We all need sunshine in our lives, primarily so our bodies can manufacture sufficient Vitamin D, however too much can be damaging to the skin. Sun bathers should always wear sufficient UVA and UVB protection to avoid sun damage whilst allowing the skin to gently tan.
Keep Warm – If you’re exposed to cold winds and temperatures too often this can be very drying to the skin. If you live in a cold area, it would be wise to invest in a moisturiser to help protect your skin from such environmental damage.
Alcohol – Alcohol is known to dry the skin, especially when you consume too much. It can also lead to the permanent dilation of blood vessels.
Sleep Well – We all need sleep, but did you know that sleep is also a vital part of our body’s natural anti-ageing processes. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can lead to sagging skin as well as dark under eye circles.