Monday, 5 October 2009

Slow Skin Aging with Topical Ingredients

Slow Skin Aging with Topical Ingredients

With the profusion of anti-aging skincare on the market,
choosing the best products can be confusing. How do you
know what really works and what is just marketing hype.
Read this article to help you identify what ingredients
really are "anti-aging".

Vitamin C - The slow aging benefits of vitamin C: it works
within the skin to promote collagen production by
stimulating the genes that make collagen and stopping the
enzyme that degrades it, it is an antioxidant and so
reduces free-radical production in the skin, it also
provides photoprotection from ultraviolet A and B, works to
lighten hyperpigmentation and may also assist with the
reduction of inflammation in inflammatory skin disorders.

While beneficial, vitamin C tends to be unstable in its
natural form. Ensure that the product you use contains
stabilised Vitamin C such as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate
or ascorbyl palmitate. Even so, vitamin C in these forms
must be kept away from direct sunlight and used once opened
otherwise they are prone to oxidation and stop being

In addition, vitamin C absorbs into the skin very slowly
and so higher concentrations are required for the above
benefits. Look for products that contain 10-20% vitamin C
as any less will not be effective. The exfoliation effect
is enhanced by an acidic form. Buffered vitamin C forms are
less effective so make sur that your product has a pH of
less than 3.8. If the pH and vitamin C concentration are
not supplied with the product, ask your supplier before
purchase to ensure you get the desired effects.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids - AHAs/PHAs will help slow aging by
revitalising the topmost layer of skin. AHAs work to thin
the strata corneum by breaking down dead skin cells. They
also work to increase collagen density and production as
well as the quality of elastin fibres. The net result is an
anti-wrinkle effect and a reduction in signs of photoaging.

Most over the counter AHA products contain concentrations
of 8-15% which promote visible results over time. However,
concentrations lower than 8% do not show significant
benefit and products such as cleansers and everyday
moisturisers that list AHAs are unlikely to contain enough
to make a significant difference.

The anti-wrinkle effect of AHAs is achieved by removing the
top layer of dead skin cells (stratum corneum) however it
also removes valuable antioxidants, particularly vitamin C
and E and may also increases sun sensitivity. These side
effects need to be countered by using sunscreen during the
day and applying an antioxidant rich moisturiser following
use of AHAs.

Due to their acidic nature AHA's produce a tingling
sensation on the skin. This effect is a sign that the
product is working to exfoliate the top layers of skin. The
exfoliation is gradual and results can be expected after 3
months of use. However, ongoing use of AHAs may have a mild
dehydrating effect on the skin due to the potential for
water loss as the strata corneum is thinned. To counter
this effect, use AHAs for 2-3 months then take a break of
2-3 months.

Copper Peptides - In the 1970s research showed that copper
peptides helped stimulate wound healing. This end is
achieved by promoting normal collagen growth rather than
the abnormal collagen growth found in scar tissue. While
these results were achieved with wound healing more recent
use has shown that copper peptides may also have a collagen
regenerating effect on normal skin. In particular, they can
help repair skin after exfoliation (seen as controlled skin
damage), minimise the daily assaults from sun damage and
pollution and reduce skin inflammation which is
significantly associated with hastening the aging process.

While copper peptides have a good safety and efficacy
profile, there are some notes of caution related to using
copper peptides. As with copper peptides, excessive or
overuse of AHA's is not recommended. Taking a break after
2-3 months is advisable as too much copper can have an
irritating and pro-oxidant effect. In addition copper
peptides are made less effective in an acidic environment
so it is best to use them away from AHAs, vitamin C and

Plant antioxidants - The most common significant finding
for antioxidants of plant origin such as the catechins
present in green tea, curcumin from the curry spice
turmeric and apigenin present in many fruits and
vegetables, is that they reduce the effects of UV damage in
the skin.

For example studies using 10% green tea extract have shown
that it works to minimise sun damage by reducing the
production of free radicals and inflammation that result
from exposure to UV rays. Apart from free radical damage,
inflammation is a potential driver of premature skin
ageing. Green tea would therefore be a useful addition to a
sunscreen or daily moisturiser as it will provide an
additional protective effective aside from the SPF factor.
Please keep in mind, green tea is in no way a substitute
for SPF rather it works by supporting the skins resistance
to sun damage.

The unknown factor associated with the use of polyphenols
and many other new topical ingredients is that unless a
human clinical trial has been conducted, the concentration
of the active ingredient required in the cream is unknown.
Adding minute amounts of an extract to make a label claim
may be beneficial from a marketing perspective but it
doesn't promote skin rejuvenation or slow skin aging.

When choosing a slow aging product for your skin, ensure
that you choose those with a high enough concentration of
the active ingredient where it is known and otherwise, that
it is in at least the top 2/3 of the ingredient listing.
Ingredients in the last 1/3 of the label listing are
included in very small quantities. The concentration of the
key active ingredient should be identifiable on the label.
If you are unsure about any of the ingredients in your
product, follow up with the manufacturer or ask the

About the Author:

Ananda Mahony ND is a naturopath and holistic skin
specialist. Her practice focuses on the treatment of skin
conditions. Ananda also owns Vitale Natural Skin & Body
Care, a natural & organic skin care store in Paddington.