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Thursday, September 8, 2022

Wrinkle Cream - Does It Work?

Inevitably, wrinkles emerge as we age. Is there any cream that really works to smooth them, or is it all just money down the drain? 

Maybe there will come a day when we can embrace our wrinkles, knowing that every line is a mark of wisdom. But in the meantime, most of us are still fighting each new sign of aging, and that certainly includes the lines on our face. Some of those creams, lotions, and serums can cost a boatload of money. Are the most expensive ones the best? Senior Spirit checked out the most recent information, and what skin-care experts use on their own lines. 

Ingredients that Work From Within
The good news: experts agree that there are some products that will help reduce the appearance of facial lines over time. Retinols and stronger retinoids are similar compounds made from vitamin A. Retinols are generally found in over-the counter creams, while retinoids require a prescription. Both are capable of increasing cell turnover, increasing collagen, and stimulating the body’s production of hyaluronic acid, which keeps skin hydrated. 

Words to Look For

  • Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals, which are harmful molecules that can damage skin.
  • Hypoallergenic products are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
  • Noncomedogenic products are less likely to block pores or cause bumpiness or breakouts, which can still happen in older skin.
  • Broad spectrum sunscreen will protect against both UVA and stronger UVB rays.

When Creams Aren't Enough

If you want to investigate options that move beyond wrinkle creams, you have your choice. Most involve consultation with a dermatologist to evaluate your own unique circumstances and budget before selecting a course of treatment.

  • Dermabrasion scrapes off layers of skin to reduce wrinkles and depressions.
  • Chemical peels dissolve the upper layer(s) of skin to create a smoother result.
  • Laser skin resurfacing directs short, concentrated pulses of light to remove skin very precisely in order to stimulate new collagen and improve smoothness.

Stopping Movement
  • Botox injections prevent muscles from contracting, which temporarily eases frown lines between brows and at the outer corners of the eyes.

  • Hyaluronic acid is the most common filler used to lift up skin around the mouth, nose and chin. Most fillers provide a temporary fix of several months.

  • Facelifts come in a variety of iterations that may involve a single area, such as the brows, or the entire face and underlying musculature. Effects usually last for up to 10 years.

The science on how well they work is broad and convincing. “Every dermatologist I know, myself included, uses these as part of their skincare regimen,” says Zakia Rahman, clinical professor of dermatology at Stanford University.

Both retinols and retinoids can cause skin irritation, so start with a lower concentration such as 0.25 and work up gradually. Both products are also capable of making sunburns worse and they do not work as well when exposed to sunlight, so apply them at night. They should never be used by anyone who may be pregnant. 

Vitamin C may also inhibit and/or repair minor wrinkles. “It’s a potent antioxidant,” says Dr. Rahman, and it can enhance collagen production. However, if you’re choosing between vitamin C and a retinol or retinoid, go with the latter, since study after study supports their effectiveness.

Plumping Up
Moisturizing creams containing hyaluronic acid can make your skin look better temporarily, by attracting water into the skin. But using such a cream won’t change how much hyaluronic acid your body produces or work on a molecular level like retinoids and vitamin C. 

You can’t tell how effective a product is by feel or thickness, according to the experts. But dermatologists do suggest you use a moisturizer daily since it will keep skin hydrated. Dry skin “loses support and develops a sunken appearance,” according to Northeast Dermatology Associates in the Northeast US. They contend that any moisturizer is better than nothing. 

Quit Smoking
Research has found that smoking can accelerate the formation of wrinkles. Perhaps it’s due to the reduction in blood supply to the skin caused by smoking. Whatever the reason, you can begin reversing the process by quitting smoking. 

Sunscreen: Just Do It
Sun exposure ages skin prematurely. Skin exposed to the sun will develop discoloration, fine lines, wrinkles, and a leathery appearance as elastin, collagen, and skin cells are damaged over time. The damage occurs down deep, so it takes years to become visible.  

“I see many patients who have a lot of sun damage,” says Kathleen Suozzi, MD, and director of aesthetics at Yale Medicine Dermatology. “They feel like their skin aged them, that they appear older than some of their peers, and they’re regretful of not being better with sun protection in their youth.” 

We can’t go back in time, but it’s critical to use sunscreen daily now that we know better. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. It’s also smart to wear protective clothing and a hat with a wide brim. 

Which SPF to Use
Many older adults wonder if the higher the SPF factor, the better the sunscreen. It’s a bit complicated, but Steven Q. Wang, director of Dermatologic Surgery and Dermatology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, explains. 

“The SPF number tells you how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product exactly as directed versus the amount of time without any sunscreen. So ideally, with SPF 30 it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you were not wearing sunscreen. An SPF 30 allows about 3 percent of UVB rays to hit your skin. An SPF of 50 allows about 2 percent of those rays through,” Dr, Wang says. “That may seem like a small difference until you realize that the SPF 30 is allowing 50 percent more UV radiation onto your skin.”

Theoretically, it’s better to use the product with a higher SPF. But what often happens is that it creates a false sense of security and users will stay out in the sun longer and not reapply the sunscreen. “They end up getting a lot more UV damage, which, of course, defeats the purpose,” according to Dr. Wang.

All in all, experts agree that wrinkles can be kept to a minimum by using a retinoid at night and a moisturizer, perhaps one containing vitamin C, during the day. This should be covered with broad-spectrum, high-SPF sunscreen whenever you are going outside.