Dermatologist gives insights to help you look your best at any age!
What ingredients should (or shouldn't) anti-aging creams contain and why (or why not)?
Broad spectrum sunscreen: because skin aging is mostly due to sun and not age (compare the buttocks skin to facial or outer arm skin of someone who has been in the sun during their life, or V of neck to breasts in a woman for the proof).
Retinol: Retinoids are the best studied ingredient for building collagen under your skin. Building your own skin collagen is the only way to get it! More skin collagen means fewer fine lines and wrinkles. (Did you know that using collagen containing creams won't build your skin's collagen because collagen molecules are too big to pass through the skin?) Retinol helps to smooth your skin's texture, giving you a more youthful appearing complexion. It also decreased age spots
Glycolic acid: This works fast to brighten skin, stimulate some collagen formation and your skin’s deeper production of hyaluronic acid, which makes skin look dewy and soft. It also lightens age spots and uneven skin pigment and smooths crusty age keratosis (seborrheic keratosis).
Hydrators such as hyaluronic acid: These will instantly plump crepey and limp skin and create a youthful dewy character to skin tone.
Antioxidants such as green tea and Vitamin C: They help skin fight free radical induced structural damage. Damaging free radicals form in your skin from exposure to UV sun rays and environmental stressors, and from normal physiologic activities. You want your skin to have a healthy antioxidant reserve to neutralize free radicals the minute they form in your skin so that they don't damage skin structures. Green tea antioxidant polyphenols are a proven antioxidant for the job. Vitamin C is too. Vitamin C can also stimulate skin collagen formation and lighten age spots, but it is less effective than retinoids and glycolic acid for these latter 2 benefits.
A good moisturizer: Your skin gets drier as you age, leading to a weakened skin barrier strength. If you don't use a good moisturizer, your skin will get drier and drier. Moisturizers with ingredients like ceramides and squalane are great choices to fight this aspect of skin aging.
Besides ingredients, are there other qualities anti-aging creams should have?
Your anti-aging creams must fit your skin type. If you have sensitive skin, don’t use harsh acid pH products. For example, don’t use Vitamin C or glycolic acid if your skin can’t tolerate them without irritation. If you have dry skin, look for hydrating products or be certain to top products with a moisturizer.
Some anti-aging active ingredients breakdown on contact with air, such as Vitamin C and other antioxidants like green tea polyphenols. Look for those products in air tight containers.
What should you look out for / how do you spot products that don't really work?
Too little of an ingredient to benefit skin: Many products ‘fairy dust’ the ingredients into their formulas and brag about it on the label. These products really have too little of the ingredient to do any good.
Fragile ingredients not dispensed in an airtight container: As I mentioned above, some ingredients breakdown on contact with air. Vitamin C is an an excellent example. As it breaks down it turns amber colored. Vitamin C serums that are amber are a inactive.
Active ingredients that are not stable: Tricky actives like retinol, Vitamin C and antioxidants, ideally, should be made in a pharmaceutical grade facility that know how to test for and ensure ingredient and product stability. My anti-aging products are.
What should you factor in about your own skin to help you pick out the best anti-aging creams specifically for you?
Your skin type and sensitivity need to be factored in. If you have sensitive skin from rosacea or seborrhea, you need to go slowly because the best products to fight skin aging by stimulating collagen formation can be irritating. If you start using them slowly your skin usually adjusts, but you have to be patient.
How long does it usually take for these products to work (if they are indeed effective)?
Hyaluronic acid will give your skin a more luminous and plump look right away. Skin brighteners like glycolic acid will work in a few weeks. Glycolic acid will also work quickly to smooth crusty age spots and lighten sun spots within a few weeks. Retinoids take months to begin the collagen formation process. You will see some complexion brightening faster than that though.
Which OTC anti-aging creams (night creams, day creams, eye creams, etc.) are my top recommendations, and what, specifically, makes them such a solid investment?
My Green Tea Antioxidant Therapy has the equivalent green tea antioxidants of 500 cups of brewed green tea per ounce of cream. These antioxidants help to reload and maintain a healthy antioxidant reserve in facial skin. They are in a pharmaceutical grade stable form and combined with caffeine to fight facial redness. The cream is dispensed in an airtight container.
My Retinol Anti-wrinkle Night Cream has the highest concentration of pharmaceutical grade retinol along with the same green tea concentration as my Green Tea Therapy. Use it at night and the green tea during the day. Retinol breaks down on contact with light so it is a night cream. My Retinol Cream is dispensed in an airtight container.
My Instantly Luminous Serum has multiple molecular weights of hyaluronic acid to stratify throughout the top layer of skin for more effective plumping. It also has sodium PCA, part of the skin’s natural moisturizing factor to help keep skin supple and feeling young. These ingredients are stable on contact with air and are dispensed in a dropper bottle.
My Professional Vitamin C Serum has a high concentration vitamin C in an acid pH and an airtight container for all the benefits of vitamin C.
My Daily Face Cream has squalane and a combination of deeply hydrating ingredients to maintain a healthy skin barrier so that you can tolerate powerful products that reduce the signs of skin aging. These ingredients are stable and the cream is dispensed in a jar.
My sunscreens are all broad spectrum SPF 30 or higher, mineral zinc oxide based and a must for daily wear for any meaningful anti-aging skin care routine.