Anti-Aging Skincare (doesn’t) works!

Skin Health Part 2

Now that I’ve got your attention, we are kicking off from where we left last week’s topic, “skin health and the aging process.” If you missed it (physiology of skin/ skin aging causes/ preventing and minimising skin aging) and are really keen, it’s available on the Grapevine website or at

The million dollar Question…Do any of those ingredients in the anti-aging creams, you know the ones; the ones with the bloody long and confusing names; the ones that seem to add $10 per letter to the cost of the cream; Do they actually work?

Well I’ve got a little bit of bad news first, there’s no such thing as a miracle in a jar.  Generally it’s going to be more important what we put into our bodies (rather than on them) that makes the biggest difference.  But what those skincare ingredients, some of which that are so well marketed, you actually lose $5 just by being in the TV room when their Ad comes on.  Just for laughs, next time you buy/are walking past one, have a read of the “effectiveness claims” on the container.  So far, my favourite one is “decrinkles the skin”, oh and let’s not forget the golden, “fights the 7 signs of aging.”  Just a question….what are the 7 signs of aging?  And yes they do exist (according to Olay anyway).  So while I’m not here to say throw out all your facial moisturisers, I’m probably not going to be endorsing the ‘pro-collagen extracellular booster lifting serum’ to be cost effective.

In contrast to the famous words penned by Jefferson in 1776, ‘not all cosmeceutical ingredients are created equal.’  So without further ado, I present the most evidenced anti-aging ingredients;

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) – include some well-known suspects; Lactic acid and Citric acid, but also the less well-known; Glycolic acid, Kojic Acid and Azelaic acid.  Officially they work by inducing epidermal effects through corneocyte disadhesion which disrupts ionic cell bonds.  In (crude) English….they kind of melt your face off; just in a good way.  It’s a mild chemical peel, which allows newer skin cells to surface (similar but deeper than Salicylic Acid).  The skin can be sensitive after use, Post use protective measures are important (e.g. sunscreen, moisturizers).

Amino acids/Antioxidants – Amino Acids are fundamental building blocks of proteins in the body.  In skincare (esp. arginine, glutamine) they act as water-binding agents, have wound-healing abilities as well as act as antioxidants.  Notable antioxidants (that don’t fit any other list) are Creatine, Carnitine, Carnosine, CoQ10 and Tranexamic Acid.  They reduce damage and stress on the skin (esp. CoQ10) and are part of a huge group of ingredients.

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) – is a water soluble antioxidant, proven as an anti-inflammatory that can stimulate collagen formation, lighten skin, treat hyperpigmentation, and heal wounds.  It’s present in every layer of our skin and is the gold standard in anti-aging skincare; unfortunately it’s just horribly unstable.  Due to its potency as an antioxidant (strangely enough) it oxidises very rapidly, turns yellow and will then be more useful as a paper weight than most other things.

Glycosaminoglycans – are a fundamental component of skin tissue.  Essentially they’re a group of complex proteins, just with famous names like Chondroitin and Hyaluronic acid.  Well known for effects on arthritic joints, they are also essential to the cell metabolism, collagen synthesis and elastin production in the skin.  Potent moistening effects are also seen (Hyaluronic acid holds 1000x its weight in water), which produces the much sort after plumping effect.

Hormones (Estrogen) – its use and effectiveness is geared heavily towards the peri/post-menopausal woman.  In the skin, estrogens affect skin thickness (collagen), wrinkle formation and moisture (plumpness).  Hence estrogens inclusion here, which unfortunately also means menopause is unequivocally linked to a reduction in skin health. Sorry…

Hydroquinone -is a strong inhibitor of melanin (skin pigment) production that has long been established as the most effective treatment for skin hyperpigmentation (brown spots).  While it’s available over the counter in low concentrations, prescription strength is honestly the only one to bother with.  Especially as it can be combined with other ingredients on this list that make it much more effective and reduce side effects.

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) – While there has been few investigations of the B vitamins as anti-aging ingredients, niacinamide shows results.  It’s shown improvements in fine lines/wrinkles and hyperpigmentation as well as improvement in elasticity.  It’s a skin barrier protector (moisturiser enhancer) and has shown benefit on all skin types.

Retinoid/Retinol (Vitamin A) – is the name for the entire Vitamin A molecule family.  It’s a huge group of over 2,500 chemicals, all of which are related to Vitamin A.  Retinol has value for skin on several fronts as it’s a cell-communicating ingredient and an antioxidant among other things.  Retinoids have benefits for more than 125 different skin issues, from acne to psoriasis to wrinkles and other signs of sun damage.  But Retinoids can irritate the skin (especially prescription strength ones.)

Peptides/Botanicals – While far too many ingredients exist in this category to cover here, suffice to say, no peptides have been scientifically proven to do anything.  Botanicals on the other hand are really interesting and some actually work….in clinical trials!  However they will always be incorporated as support for the big hitters already mentioned.

I’d love to be able to offer a recommendation from these ingredients but honestly the effectiveness and outcomes depends so heavily on individual factors like skin type, age and desired outcomes, it’s impossible.  All skincare (not just antiaging) should be done with advice and at least a little consultation of someone who knows their stuff!  But 3 things I can say, please DON’T base ANY health choice (including skincare) from anything seen on Dr Oz; anything worth using has to be used quickly (good ingredients oxidize fast); and combination products often work synergistically and give better results.

Well that’s it for another year!  Thanks again to all those who enjoy reading and hence make writing this little piece worthwhile.  Also everyone who makes Dayboro such a pleasant place in the world, thanks for another wonderful year (I’ll come out of hibernation this summer, I swear).  Lastly, as always, if you would prefer to talk in person about anything, don’t hesitate to drop into the pharmacy for a chat or see another local health care professional.

Written by Andrew Harvey

Dayboro Pharmacy, Phone 3425 1435,

Mon – Fri 8.30am – 5.30pm    Sat 8.30am – 12.30pm  *

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