All About Anti-Wrinkle Products

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In terms of your diet and health, it's what's on the inside that counts—and the same is 100% true when it comes to caring for your skin! But what you choose to put on top of your skin also can make a difference in terms of how your skin will appear to "age."

The Paula's Choice Research Team knows that giving your skin the right ingredients it needs to be healthy, act younger, and appear less-wrinkled can yield some amazingly beautiful results. Now you, too, can find out what every state-of-the-art antiaging product should absolutely contain, whether it's labeled as firming, lifting, re-sculpting, rejuvenating or whatever the name or claim on the label happens to be.
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Brilliantly Formulated Anti-Wrinkle Products

Want Results? Treat Skin-Care Like Your Diet

This isn't about all-natural versus synthetic ingredients; rather, it's about comparing the needs of the body with the needs of the skin. Everyone knows that our bodies need an array of nutritionally-balanced foods to keep us healthy. Yet the cosmetics industry wants you to believe in the benefit of their ever-changing roster of single magical, miracle ingredients! The more exotic-sounding the ingredient the better to convince consumers that it might finally be the answer for their skin. But haven't you noticed that even with all the new miracle ingredients introduced almost every month, none of them ever work as promised or have the research supporting the (often) absurd claims?

The fact is a state-of-the-art moisturizer cannot rely on one ingredient to enhance skin's function any more than your diet can rely on only one nutrient to fuel your body. Skin needs a balanced mixture of powerful ingredients to improve the appearance of wrinkles. Think about it this way: if you only consumed one food or one vitamin you would soon be unhealthy and malnourished. The same goes for skin! It's the body's largest organ and requires a complex range of ingredients to look beautiful and ward off telltale signs of aging.

Start Ignoring Those Product Names!

Ready for a shocker? Other than providing ingredient information, product names or descriptions tells you NOTHING about what you are actually buying. For most dermatologists, this is old news. In her skin-care research even Dr. Zoe D. Draelos, who's a consultant for Proctor & Gamble, admits, "Whether the product is a facial foundation, an anti-aging night cream, a sunscreen, a topical antioxidant, or a skin-lightening serum, the formulation is basically a moisturizer." The truth is, there is NO inherent difference between a product labeled as a moisturizer versus one labeled anti-aging, anti-wrinkle, anti-gravity, lifting, firming, or any other term you've seen. According to Dr. Draelos' published research, "The majority of the [skin care] products are moisturizers with added ingredients to support marketing claims."

In order to provide any benefit to skin—regardless of whether these products are in cream, lotion, serum, or even a liquid formula, and regardless of the claim or product name—all moisturizers should work to supply the skin with proven ingredients that can help skin fight signs of aging. Don't depend on cute product names and fantastical claims to determine a purchase; that will waste your money and hurt your skin in the long run. Your skin needs (and you need to use) ingredients that support and maintain its structure, reduce free-radical damage, and help damaged cells function more normally. Remember: no matter what the packaging or container says, looking for those types of ingredients is as close to "anti-aging" as you can possibly get in a product, and The Paula's Choice Research Team will help show you the way!

The 5 Things Your Skin Simply Can't Go Without

1. Antioxidants

Without question, topically applied antioxidants are essential for skin and there are many brilliant ones that can and should show up in a skin care product. Antioxidants vary from different forms of vitamins A, C, and E; superoxide dismutase; beta carotene; glutathione; selenium; green tea, soy extract, grape extract, pomegranate extract, among dozens of others. And the more included in your skin-care product, the better!

Antioxidants can:

  • Reduce or prevent some amount of the daily free radical damage and inflammation that destroy skin over time.
  • Boost the effectiveness of sunscreens and help skin resist environmental assaults.
  • Help skin heal and produce healthy collagen.
  • Become unstable when packaged in a jar because, once opened, jars allow air in and cause antioxidants to deteriorate.

2. Skin-Identical Ingredients

Healthy and young skin naturally contains substances that keep it smooth, retain water, protect from the environment, fight infection, and repair skin's actual outer and inner barrier structure. These ingredients range from ceramides to lecithin, glycerin, fatty acids, polysaccharides, hyaluronic acid, sodium PCA, collagen, elastin, proteins, amino acids, cholesterol, glycosaminoglycans, and many more.

Skin-Identical ingredients function to:

  • Provide skin with the ingredients it needs to repair its outer barrier; your skin can't hold moisture or look less wrinkled if the outside barrier of your skin is damaged.
  • Mimic the actual structure of skin to prevent moisture loss and make skin look smooth.
  • Help reinforce the skin's natural ability to function normally and fight environmental stress.
  • Dramatically improve skin's texture and, with continued use, can eliminate dry skin.

3. Cell-Communicating Ingredients

As a result of sun damage, age, and hormone fluctuations, skin cells become permanently damaged, which means they regenerate into irregular, mutated, rough, defective, and older cells. One way the skin can begin to produce healthier, younger cells is to give it substances that can communicate to a cell to stop making bad cells and start making better ones. It is an exciting area of skin care! The key players in this group are niacinamide, retinol, synthetic peptides, lecithin, and adenosine triphosphate.

Cell-communicating ingredients are believed to:

  • Have the ability to tell a skin cell to look, act, and behave more like a normal, healthy intact skin cell would.
  • Communicate with other cells that are causing damage, essentially telling them to stop behaving badly.
  • Reduce cellular damage that leads to destruction of skin's supportive elements, thus preventing significant wrinkles.

4. Sunscreen

The sun ages the skin and causes skin cancer—in fact, sun is one of the most potent natural carcinogens around! About 75% of what we think of as aging is caused by unprotected sun exposure. Sun damage begins within the first minute of the skin being exposed to the sun. Other than sun smart behavior, use of a daily sunscreen is vital. To ensure you're getting sufficient UVA protection, your sunscreen must contain one or more of these active ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, ecamsule, or Tinosorb.

Daily use of a well-formulated sunscreen should:

  • Prevent damage to your skin in the form of wrinkles, chronic inflammation, and "age spots," not to mention skin cancer!
  • Adequately protect against both UVB (burning rays) and UVA (aging rays) sun damage—what's known as broad spectrum protection.
  • Be rated a minimum of SPF 15, though anything above SPF 45 is overkill.
  • Remain the only real difference between a daytime moisturizer and a nighttime moisturizer.

5. A Formula That Suits Your Skin Type

Now that you know what should be in any "anti-wrinkle," "anti-aging," or moisturizing-type product you use, the question is: What type of product should you buy? Should you shop for a lotion, gel, serum, cream, liquid, or balm?

Here's how to choose the right product:

  • Thicker creams, balms, and ointments contain emollients that are best only for dry to very dry skin. There are hundreds of emollients, but some widely-used examples include all non-fragrant plant oils, shea butter, cocoa butter, fatty acids, and triglycerides.
  • Lotions and serums are ideal for normal to combination skin because of their lightweight texture.
  • Gels, liquids, or nonaqueous serums are extremely unlikely to clog pores and are best for oily or blemish-prone skin because they neither inhibit nor stimulate oil production.
  • Combination skin can benefit from using multiple products: i.e., a gel in oily areas (usually the center of the face) and a creamier texture on any dry spots.

No matter where you shop, no matter how much you spend, there's no magic potion for instantly younger skin; however, the good news is that there are remarkable ingredients with proven long-term benefit for your skin's overall health and appearance. Whether those ingredients come in a lotion, cream, gel, or serum texture, every skin type needs the same state-of-the-art ingredients to be younger, healthier, less wrinkled, and to fight environmental damage that ages skin. Repeat after us: Sunscreens, antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, and cell-communicating ingredients. That's what the best anti-wrinkle products deliver!

(Sources for the information above: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, February 2010, pages 719-724; Journal of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, February 2010, pages 219-222; Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprolology, January-February 2010, pages 20-26; Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, January 2010, pages 378-383; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, April 2010, pages 95-102; Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, October 2009, pages 932-936; Archives of Dermatological Research, September 2009, pages 609-613; Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, September 2009, pages 879-882;Journal of Investigative Dermatology, August 2009, pages 56-59; Journal of Cosmetic Science, July-August 2009, pages 415-422; The Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 2009, Vol. 5, pages 276-281; Experimental Dermatology, December 2008, pages 1063-1072; The Journal of Dermatology, October 2008, pages 637-642; Journal of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, September 2008, pages 1110-1118; Photodermatology, Photoimmunology and Photomedicine, August 2008, pages 164-174.)

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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 helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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