Wrinkle treatments are sold using a lot of different claims. Applying cream to wrinkles can only do so much, since wrinkles appear from underneath – the process of our skin wrinkling is due to ageing and sun damage, with a loss of hyaluronic acid and the breakdown of elastic fibres.
We can’t change that from the outside of the skin using creams (instead we do have a lot of effective technology and under-skin ingredients that can), but we can do other things. Here’s what ingredients do the hard yards in your wrinkle treatments.
Important note: wrinkle treatments that come in the form of a cream are considered over-the-counter products, and thus companies do not have to scientifically validate their claims. The cream must be safe to use on the skin, but does not actually have to do anything in particular as a wrinkle treatment.
Common ingredients in wrinkle treatment creams and what they do
Retinol is a compound of vitamin A, a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals, which can cause the degradation of tissue like skin due to unstable oxygen molecules.
Also an antioxidant. If your cream contains vitamin C, keep the product out of oxygen and sunlight.
Alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids (salicylic acid) and poly hydroxy acids are known as exfoliating ingredients, which can – in a very minor way in creams – remove the top layer of dead skin cells, stimulating new cells and revealing fresh skin underneath. This is what some chemical peels are made of, but in stronger doses.
Coenzyme Q10 is an ingredient that helps your cells produce energy, effectively energising cells. This means skin cells perform better.
Peptides are used to assist in wound healing, for example in stretch mark treatments, but also more recently in wrinkle treatments.
Green, black or oolong tea extracts
Tea is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, so green tea especially can be found in a lot of wrinkle treatments.
Grape seed extract
Another anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient that can assist in wound healing.
This substance is a potent antioxidant related to vitamin B3 (niacin) that can help reduce water loss in the skin and increase elasticity.
How does cost relate to effectiveness of a wrinkle treatment cream?
Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell if your wrinkle treatment is going to be ‘effective’, without defining what ‘effective’ actually means to you. You cannot undo wrinkles using creams, so you’ll need to use other qualifiers to determine how good your cream is for your skin type.
Cost is not a good reflection of quality, though it can be an indicator of the amount of research and effort that has gone into a cream and if a company and brand is reputable. There are, however, no guarantees here either.
Ingredients that are more important to have added into a product, besides the ingredients listed above or other useful additions, are those that create a lovely feel and those that make it smell good. These are things that impact our choice to buy a product again, since there is almost zero evidence that any over-the-counter wrinkle cream really does anything to prevent or reduce wrinkles.
When we use a cream on our face, we are moisturising our skin, which is incredibly beneficial in creating a barrier to avoid loss of moisture. It’s true that using a good quality moisturiser is helpful in fighting wrinkles, but how you choose this is largely up to you. There are plenty of options.
A product that costs more isn’t necessarily more effective for your purposes than a cheaper product. Additionally, some ingredients can cause ‘effects’ that you can see, but do so using inflammation rather than actually improving your skin. Any product that causes noticeable change in your skin in a matter of days or a week may be doing so by inflaming your skin, thus pumping it out a bit. This is not healthy, and may worsen your skin condition over time. Other products may use moisture to plump out skin. If you stop using the product, the effect will disappear.
Contact our Melbourne clinic for advice and high-quality products that do what they say on the label. We are Melbourne’s expert dermatologists.