No one likes wrinkles, which are caused when collagen breaks down deep in your dermis, far below the skin's top layer. The key to improving or preventing wrinkles is two-fold: You need to stimulate collagen production while keeping free radicals such as the sun, stress & pollution from causing more damage. You have a number of options available to help you turn back time a bit without going under the knife. Here's a rundown of 5 options currently on the market that are created to minimize the appearance of wrinkles. Better yet, most of these can be bought over-the-counter:
Sun damage is the #1 cause of wrinkles. Wonder what your skin would look like if it was never exposed to the sun? Look at your bottom. Wrinkle-free, eh? That's what your skin would look like if it was kept under cover all the time as well.
A good rule of thumb: If it's daylight outside, you need sunscreen, no matter how cloudy it is. In the June, 2005 issue of InStyle Magazine, Dr. Fredric Brandt, dermatologist to the stars, suggests using a 'two-finger scoop' of sunscreen daily to the face & neck.
Also, don't forget the top of your hands. Dermatologists report seeing women with young faces & old hands all the time.
2. Vitamin A (retinoid) creams.
To prevent wrinkles or keep them from worsening, look for products containing vitamin A
Used nightly (or every other night), vitamin A creams stimulate collagen renewal & prevent skin cells from breaking down. Women in their 20s & early 30s can use these to keep fine lines from turning into deeper furrows. I've been trying one percent Retin-A on my skin for the past month & I've noticed a marked improvement even though best results can be seen in about 6 months.
(Just make sure you never go out without sunscreen when you're on these Vitamin A products, your skin is extra susceptible to sun damage).
3. Alpha-hydroxy acids or microdermabrasion.
If you're in your mid-30s & worried about wrinkles you might try exfoliating once a week with a alpha-hydroxy acid (AHAs) or a microdermabrasion kit.
Don't use both & be careful not to over-exfoliate. Chemical exfoliators (the AHAs) work great on oily or combination skin, while the physical scrubs are great for very sensitive skin (make sure it's in a creamy base).
AHA's are glycolic or lactic acid formulated to increase collagen in sun-damaged skin. They are also known to reduce pore size, redness, blotchiness & fine lines.
Microdermabrasives smooth fine lines & get rid of dead skin.
Free radicals -- the unstable oxygen molecules produced by pollution, stress & sun -- are a skincare nightmare. They attack healthy skin cells & cause collagen breakdown, all of which lead to wrinkles. Antioxidants like green tea, vitamins C & E, & coenzyme Q10 work together to neutralize free radicals.
A cocktail of these antioxidants are like a multi-vitamin for skin, according to dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross.
How to use it? Use antioxidants both orally & topically. IN Elle Magazine, dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD, swears by Heliocare vitamins. Topically, antioxidants are great for bolstering UV protection. Apply an antioxidant serum containing vitamins C or E, Co-Q, alpha-lipoic acid, grean or white tea, pomegranate or idebenone under your sunscreen (see products below). The antioxidants will fight those free radicals the sun generates.
5. Eye cream.
You might notice the area on your face that's aging the fastest is around your eyes. The skin around eyes is extra-thin & prone to developing undereye bags, crow's feet & dark circles.
To battle crow's feet you'll want to use a retinoid wrinkle reducer that hydrates.
To fight bags under the eyes, a skin-tightener with hyaluronic acid or retinol . But keep in mind that most doctors agree the only way to get rid of undereye bags is to undergo surgery.
Want to rid eyes of dark circles? You need a vitamin K-based eye product . By the way, those undereye circles are not caused by lack of sleep. According to Davide J. Leffell, MD, professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, dark undereye circles are caused by genetics & won't change with more or less sleep.
Some fun facts on wrinkles from the April 2006 edition of Allure:
In 1889, Margaret Kroesen created Frownies, an adhesive patch that held skin taut, smoothing out wrinkles.
1920, the year Coco Chanel made suntans fashionable after her return from a sun-filled vacation on a yacht.
1982, the year Chanel launched it's first anti-wrinkle cream with sunscreen.
1988, the year the FDA warned about the indiscriminate use of Retin-A, an acne drug, to treat wrinkles.
1995, the year the FDA approved tretinoic acid, the main ingredient in Retin-A, for the purpose of fighting wrinkles.