The 3 Wrinkle Treatment Ingredients You Need Now


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Strategically choosing (and properly using) the right treatments—combined with protecting your skin from environmental damage—is the key to younger-looking skin. Whether you’re struggling with your first few wrinkles, or more advanced signs of aging, this guide will help you fine-tune your anti-aging arsenal. But first, let’s answer the question of what causes wrinkles.

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What Causes Wrinkles in Your 30s, 40s and Beyond

It’s an inconvenient truth, but not wearing sunscreen every day, rain or shine, summer or winter is a major factor in the development of wrinkling and other signs of aging, like brown spots and an uneven skin tone. The damage from skipping this step is accumulative, steadily destroying skin’s support structure of collagen and elastin. Along with this comes DNA damage that leads to abnormal skin cells that cannot behave like young skin. In other words, even the best anti-aging products won’t stand a chance if sunscreen isn’t a daily part of your skincare regimen. [1,2,3]

Irritation and inflammation to skin also decreases youthful substances in the skin (such as ceramides, antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and lecithin), leaving it more vulnerable to damage by the sun, smoke, air (oxygen), and pollution. [1,2,4]

The takeaway? If you want any of your anti-aging efforts to pay off, wear sunscreen every day and avoid irritants, like high amounts of alcohol and fragrances, in your skincare products.

The 3 Anti-Wrinkle Products Everyone Needs

Aside from the basic skincare staples—cleanser, sunscreen, moisturizer—the three types of treatments below should be the major players in your anti-aging routine, regardless of your skin type or age (you can’t start too soon!).

If you’re not using a daily AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or BHA (beta hydroxy acid) exfoliant, now is the time to start. One major aspect of skin aging and sun damage is that the outer layers of skin become thick and rough, while the inner layers become thin and "brittle" as collagen breaks down. [5,6] Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) such as glycolic and lactic acids, and beta hydroxy acid (BHA, also called salicylic acid) each have unique properties to address these concerns.

Both AHA and BHA exfoliants reduce signs of aging and discolorations, so which one to use can cause some confusion. Use these tips to determine which is right for you.

  • A daily BHA exfoliant is best for you if you’re dealing with clogged pores of any kind—blackheads, blemishes, enlarged pores. If you have dry skin and pores-gone-wild, try a moisturizing lotion BHA (likewise, a liquid BHA is excellent for oily or combination skin).
  • A daily AHA exfoliant is best for you if clogged pores aren’t the issue (lucky you). For those who are only dealing with surface-level concerns—think dry skin and sun damage—an AHA may be all that you need! Try a lightweight lotion AHA for sheer moisture and a healthier glow.

Still have questions? Check out our article on "How BHA Exfoliants Work," or the AHA version here.

Simply put, retinol is anti-aging royalty as it’s one of the most well studied skincare ingredients available today. Either as a prescription or over-the-counter form, retinol is a powerful wrinkle-fighter that works from the deeper layers up, strengthening skin’s elasticity, helping skin cells make healthier, younger-acting cells and enhancing the production and proliferation of new skin cells. [7,8,9,10]

For more advanced signs of aging (like deep wrinkles), Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment is a nighttime step with a concentration of retinol that provides prescription-like results—yet goes above and beyond with added vitamin C, peptides, anti-inflammatory and reparative ingredients.

Looking for a retinol treatment whose strength you can custom tailor as needed? The Resist 1% Retinol Booster is a concentrate that lets you do just that—use one drop for a mild AM treatment or 2-3 drops for extra stubborn concerns.

Of course, vitamin C is known for its anti-aging benefits, but when used in a routine alongside retinol the benefits of both ingredients are significantly increased—especially during the daytime underneath your broad-spectrum sunscreen. [11,12] Vitamin C also has its own impressive benefits for skin: Research has shown it can lighten skin discolorations, reduce inflammation, help skin heal, and build healthy collagen. [13]

To get a high-potency dose of vitamin C anytime, try our best-selling Resist C15 Super Booster, which can be mixed into any other serum or treatment (AM or PM).

Bottom Line

When added to your daily skincare routine, the trio of treatment types discussed above can deliver dramatic results. Just remember that experimentation is critical to finding the best combination and application of these anti-aging celebrities. And one more comment—although the ingredients above are 100% worthwhile, for best results look for products that utilize them with other proven anti-aging ingredients like antioxidants and reparative agents!

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth scientific research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! Learn more at Shop Paula's Choice.

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References Cited:

  1. Baumann L. Skin ageing and its treatment. J Pathol. 2007;211(2):241-51.
  2. Puizina-Ivic N. Skin aging. Acta Dermatovenerol Alp Pannonica Adriat. 2008;17(2):47-54.
  3. Flament F, Bazin R, Laquieze S, Rubert V, Simonpietri E, Piot B. Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2013;6:221-232.
  4. Rabe J, Mamelak A, McElgunn P, Morison W, Sauder D. Photoaging: Mechanisms and repair. J Am Acad Dermato. 2006;55(1):1-19.
  5. Babilas P, Knie U, Abels C. Cosmetic and dermatologic use of alpha hydroxy acids. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2012;10(7):488-91.
  6. Kootiratrakarn T, Kampirapap K, Chunhasewee C. Epidermal permeability barrier in the treatment of keratosis pilaris. Dermatol Res Pract. 2015;2015:205012.
  7. Rossetti D, Kielmanowicz M, Vigodman S, Hu Y, Chen N, Nkengne AOT, Fischer D, Seiberg M, Lin C. A novel anti-ageing mechanism for retinol: induction of dermal elastin synthesis and elastin fibre formation. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2011;33(1):62-9.
  8. Thomas J, Dixon T, Bhattacharyya T. Effects of Topicals on the Aging Skin Process. Facial Plast Surg Clin North Am. 2013;21(1):55-60.
  9. Mukherjee S, Date A, Patravale V, Korting H, Roeder A, Weindl G. Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety. Clin Interv Aging. 2006;1(4):327-348.
  10. Kockaert M, Neumann M. Systemic and topical drugs for aging skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2003;2(4):435-41.
  11. Gianeti M, Gaspar L, Camargo FJ, Campos P. Benefits of Combinations of Vitamin A; C and E Derivatives in the Stability of Cosmetic Formulations. Molecules. 2012;17(2):2219-2230.
  12. Carlotti M. Photodegradation of retinol and anti-aging effectiveness of two commercial emulsions. J Cosmet Sci. 2006;57(4):261-77.
  13. Telang P. Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013;4(2):143-146.

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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