Selecting an Effective Anti-Ageing Cream

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Millions of advertising dollars are spent by cosmetic companies each year to promote their latest anti-ageing creams. Full-page magazine advertisements proclaim research results, and a trip to your local chemist can result in a giddying array of creams each proclaiming its virtues.

The USA’s Harvard Medical School recommends that consumers should treat the claims made by cosmetic cream companies with scepticism “Because the FDA [and the Therapeutic Goods Administration here in Australia] doesn’t regulate such claims, there often is little or no scientific evidence to back them up. In truth, most cosmetic products will remove more cash from your wallet than wrinkles from your skin” (Harvard Medical School, “Skin and Repair”, p. 30).

So, what’s one to do, when it appears that snake oil salesmen are around every corner? Well, according to Harvard, the best clinically proven anti-wrinkle creams contain Vitamin A-based retinoids, which can reduce fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen. They also stimulate the production of new blood vessels in the skin, which improves skin colour. Additional benefits include fading age spots and softening rough patches of skin. However, it takes three to six months of regular use before improvements in wrinkles are apparent, and the best results take six to 12 months.

Apart from retinoids, Harvard recommends creams that contain ceramides and waxy lipids (fats) that are naturally found in the skin can help the skin retain moisture. Some moisturisers contain botanical ingredients, such as jojoba oil, coconut oil, safflower oil, and linoleic acid, which help maintain the skin’s outer layer of keratin and keep skin supple. Manufacturers use other ingredients, such as cetyl alcohol (a fatty alcohol), palmitic acid (a fatty acid), and dimethicone (a silicone), to give moisturisers a creamy, velvety, or translucent look and feel, and to help keep skin soft and smooth. Some moisturisers also contain sunscreens and cosmeceuticals, which help prevent or even correct fine wrinkles, uneven skin pigmentation, and other signs of aging and photoaging.

For good advice about your particular needs, it is recommended that you talk to a professional such as your GP or pharmacist and take time to read labels.

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