Retinoic acid. Retinol. Retinaldehyde. Copper peptides. Palmitoyl Oligopeptide. Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7. Hyaluronic acid. Alpha & Beta hydroxy acids. Antioxidants. Vitamin C & E. Niacinamide. Botanicals. Botox cream.
There are hundreds and hundreds of choices for skincare products with thousands of different ingredients which promise to make us look younger, have fewer wrinkles and brown spots, and have a youthful glow. What really works?
Cosmeceuticals are over the counter skincare products that contain chemicals which can reduce the signs of aging. These products, unlike medications, are not approved by the FDA. For some products, there may be scientific studies, but not the rigorous testing that pharmaceutical agents must pass before approval.
How does one accurately determine which skincare products to buy and whether the products are effective?
As a dermatologist, I enjoy reviewing the scientific evidence. I then compare results by overlaying images using CompariSkin.
My skincare recommendations are as follows:
4. Retinoic acid and/or Peptides
5. Moisturizers, which smooth and soften the skin, are available in most sunscreens and other cosmeceuticals. I recommend their usage over retinoic acid for those with constant dry skin.
Sunscreen is at the top of my list as one needs to look no further than your mirror or take a picture to compare your left and right side to see the effects of UV light. Which side has more wrinkles? More brown spots?
90% of the changes seen with aging are sun related. The changes range from wrinkles, brown spots, and mottled coarse skin to severe skin cancer. More skin cancer occurs on the left side from the ultraviolet light passing through the car window glass. Applying a broad spectrum SPF30 sunscreen daily is the most important part of any regimen. Studies confirm that there is a 50% reduction of precancerous spots or actinic keratoses with the daily application of sunscreen.
After sunscreen, Retinoic acid (Retin A) has substantial scientific data proving its’ efficacy for skin roughness, mottled hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. Retinoic acid or Retin A has been available for decades and has more studies than others to prove its’ efficacy.
Prescription retinoic acid, when tolerated, still remains the favored anti-aging product with the effectiveness proportionate to strength. The prescription has become expensive. Today hundreds of over-the-counter cosmeceuticals contain retinol derivatives. Retinal aldehyde (RAL) and retinol (ROL) are the most effective, but the concentration must be at least .025%. The .1% cream is more effective, but can be drying and irritating to the skin. Other retinoids, as retinyl palmitate and retinyl-acetate are not significantly effective.
Additional products that are beneficial for deep and superficial wrinkles are peptides.
The peptides, which are chains of amino acids, are critical for protein development. They moisturize and generate Collagen I, II, & VII, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. Objectively, I have seen wrinkles soften over thirty percent, even in an 89 year old. Many peptides occur naturally, and the cosmetic companies are creating new peptides synthetically as well. Palmitoyl oligopeptide and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-21 have proven effective, and many others exist.
Begin with a peptide that meets your budget, that is well tolerated, and that fulfills your realistic expectations. If you can begin with a sample, even better.
Layering several products may diminish each one’s effectiveness. With multiple choices, I frequently use the split face approach: one on each side, or different products morning and night. Applying the skincare product as directed, for the recommended time, provides the true efficacy.
I am looking forward to observing results with the new botox cream as well future compounds. To what degree can our complexions and wrinkles be improved?
Snapping images with close-ups, for side-by-side comparison using CompariSkin, provides the best objective evidence. Using medical technology for evaluating progress can be cost-effective, educational, and fun!
Gary Lichten, M.D.