Head to the beauty aisle at any pharmacy around the country and you can be sure that the dazzling declarations displayed on the shelves will be overwhelming. “Pick me,” purrs the night cream, which promises to turn back time while you sleep. “I’m over here,” calls the serum, jostling for space between the oil and the eye balm which guarantees instant youth. Of course, when using your favourite products, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that they do the job you’ve paid for them to do (from the moisturiser that gives your skin a hydrated plumpness, to the ointment that appears to dissolve ﬁ ne lines before your eyes – though the way your eyes crinkle when you smile is beauty personiﬁed). Still, science is a pedantic creature that doesn’t ‘do’ anecdotal. If you want to get your mitts on products proven to diminish the visible signs of ageing, keep a look out for these ingredients. Consider them your personal team of anti-ageing superstars, backed by scientiﬁc research.
1. RETINOIDS: THE SKIN-CELL REGULATORS
Retinoids are derived from vitamin A, along with their close relatives, retinol, retinaldehyde and tretinoin (try saying that without getting tongue-tied). According to Dr Karen Koh from the Australasian College of Dermatologists, retinoids (and family) diminish the signs of ageing, especially sun-related or photo-ageing, by promoting collagen production (which is damaged by UV radiation from the sun), as well as slowing collagen degradation. “Tretinoin is able to reduce the signs of early skin ageing, reducing ﬁ ne wrinkles, improving skin elasticity and helping even out pigmentation,” Koh says, “though retinol is the most often-used retinoid for anti-ageing and, compared with tretinoin, is less irritating to the skin.” A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, found that 12 weeks of applying topical retinol resulted in fewer facial wrinkles and a signiﬁcant impact on both the cellular and molecular properties for the epidermis and the dermis. Put it on at night, feel fresh-faced by morning.
Try: Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair 1%. This clinical-strength treatment helps to accelerate skin renewal while you sleep. Initially, it’s used with a moisturising buffer cream that reduces the risk of irritation or ﬂaking while your skin gets used to the highly concentrated retinol. The added goodness of a bioactive peptide and vitamin C in the retinol formula helps diminish the appearance of uneven skin tone and discolouration, while aiding hydration.
2. PEPTIDES: THE COLLAGEN BOOSTERS
What’s not to love about peptides? These short chains of amino acids have the ability to imitate the building blocks of skin – that is, proteins like collagen, elastin and keratin. “Some peptides have been shown to stimulate collagen synthesis and they can also assist in preventing or treating ﬁ ne wrinkles,” Koh says. New peptides are constantly being developed by scientists, as understanding of the skin – and use of peptides in cosmeceuticals – grows. According to a German study, published in May 2017, there is a wide range of biologically active peptides and peptide sequences that can speciﬁcally target the the cosmetically important skin layers. “Twenty years ago, no scientist ever thought that the development of synthetic or natural-related peptides for cosmetic purposes would be so effective,” says study author Silke Karin Schagen. All hail the power of peptides.
Try: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream. The star ingredient in this skin-ﬁrming cream is a highly concentrated amino peptide complex, which helps to renew the skin’s cells, reﬁnes pores and uses the power of hydration to help ﬁrm and plump. It contains olive-oil extract to boost absorption into the skin, improving elasticity.
3. ANTIOXIDANTS: THE ANTI-AGEING SUPERHEROES
A mainstay of superfoods the world over, from blueberries and dark chocolate to cranberries and walnuts, antioxidants are supplied mainly through our diet. The word ‘antioxidants’ is a collective term for substances that help to neutralise the harm inﬂicted on our skin by the sun’s UV rays, which cause damage to collagen and elastin ﬁbres. In skincare, Koh says, vitamin C, B3 and E are the most important antioxidants because they have small enough molecules to penetrate the skin from a cream. “Vitamin C, in concentrations of 5 to 15 per cent, increases production of certain collagens. This can be enhanced in combination with vitamin E,” she says. “Vitamin B3 [also known as niacinamide] regulates cell metabolism and regeneration, and at 5 per cent concentration can improve elasticity and redness, and even out pigmentation. Vitamin E, in concentrations of 2 to 20 per cent, can assist with smoothing skin, though its effects are not as strong as vitamins C or B3.” One study found that when used in combination with daily sunscreen and retinoids, antioxidants further enhanced the protective effects against wrinkle formation.
Try: June Jacobs Mandarin Moisture Masque. Packed with a potent blend of antioxidant-ﬁlled white, red and green tea extracts, combined with goji berry, pomegranate and grape-seed extracts, this hydrating, refreshing masque protects from environmental toxins, while enhancing the skin’s natural resilience and combating the visible signs of premature ageing.
4. HYDROXY ACIDS: EXFOLIATORS EXTRAORDINAIRE
Meet alpha and beta (commonly known as AHA and BHA respectively). Also called fruit acids, AHAs and BHAs have excellent exfoliation properties and clinical trials have shown that both of these ingredients are effective for reversing the effects of photo-ageing and improving wrinkles, skin elasticity, tone and hydration. “AHAs and BHAs stimulate exfoliation of the cells from the top layers of the skin, but also increase skin regeneration and hydration,” Koh says. In the AHA hall of fame, one of the most well-known fruit acids is glycolic acid. For BHAs, it’s salicylic acid. “Used frequently in acne products, salicylic acid dries out pimples,” explains Koh. “It is less irritating on the skin compared with AHAs and is helpful for people with oily skin and blackheads.” AHAs are water-soluble (and enhance natural moisturisation), so work better for dry and sun-damaged skin, while BHAs are oil-soluble, best for blemished skin and pores. A word of warning, though: these smart acids can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, so slathering on sunscreen in the daylight hours is essential.
Try: Vie Glyco 10 Resurfacing Acid Concentrate. You can refresh your skin while you snooze, thanks to this at-home acid peel that gently exfoliates your skin while stimulating cellular renewal. Containing the ideal concentration of 10 per cent glycolic acid, this formula moisturises and hydrates, while enhancing skin radiance, smoothing the complexion and tightening pores.
5. HYALURONIC ACID: THE EXTREME MOISTURISER
It’s a dry-as-a-desert fact of life that ageing causes the skin to lose moisture. Enter hyaluronic acid. It’s the key molecule involved in skin hydration and has a unique capacity for retaining water. In skincare, it also has the potential to have a positive effect on not only boosting hydration but also reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. A German study that examined the effects of hyaluronic acid antiwrinkle creams found that after three months of using the creams (many of which were popular brands), the depth of perioral and orbital wrinkles decreased signiﬁcantly in all study participants, with depth reduction ranging between 10 per cent and 20 per cent. Skin tightness increased signiﬁcantly in all groups, rising by 13 per cent to 30 per cent. Regular use of hyaluronic acid on the skin showed “clear and positive effects on wrinkle depth and skin tightness”. It’s no secret that the skin loves a drink, and hyaluronic acid quenches its thirst with the beauty of an oasis in the Sahara.
Try: Nivea Cellular Anti-Age Volume Filling Pearls. It was Marilyn Monroe who said, “Pearls are a girl’s best friend” (or was that diamonds?). Either way, the pearls in this hyaluronic acid-rich formula dissolve into an activated serum that rejuvenates skin. A variety of powerful hydrating ingredients help to stimulate cell renewal, improve firmness and reduce fi ne lines. Simply pump the product for the pearls to dissolve into a silky, moisturising serum that your face will thank you for.