What’s in your anti-ageing product?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Anti-ageing ingredientsWhen it comes to skin care products, it seems we’re all chasing the dream of eternal youth. We’re presented with one ingredient after another that promises to reverse the visible effects of ageing, turn back the clock, or restore the skin we were born with.

Most of these active ingredients are based on the fact that as we age, the balance between collagen synthesis and collagen fragmentation is altered. Collagen is the substance responsible for the strength, flexibility, structure, volume, and elasticity of our skin. Over time, our bodies produce less collagen, resulting in sagging, fine lines, and wrinkles as the skin becomes less resilient. Oxidative stress from environmental factors and decreased oestrogen levels during menopause also contribute to changes and degeneration in the connective tissue of the skin.

The major targets of anti-ageing agents in skin care products are collagen metabolism and the effects of oxidative stress, with moisturising agents being an important part of the approach. Regenerative processes may include stimulation of the production of proteins (such as collagen and elastin), prevention of water loss, stimulation of the skin’s blood circulation, replenishing the sub-epidermis with natural lipids, and maintenance of the natural homeostasis of the skin cells. Antioxidants are also commonly included. Phew, a mouthful, right!

Here are some of the active ingredients you’ll find in your products, and how they work:

Glycans are sugar molecules that aid in cellular communication. Our natural stores of glycans decrease with age, as does the ability of our cells to regenerate effectively. Products containing glycans aim to restore that efficiency of communciation, switching the production of collagen back on and boosting the elasticity of skin.

Ceramides are natural components of human skin found in all four layers of the epidermis, creating a barrier to reduce infection and help retain moisture. As we age and the levels of natural ceramides drop, our skin becomes dry and inflexible; ceramides in a skin care products assist in regulating trans-epidermal water loss so that the skin can more efficiently regulate and repair itself, resulting in a firmer, smoother structure.

Rhamnose is a sugar molecule that gives a jump-start to ageing skin cells, thickening the epidermis and increasing production of elastin, collagen, and other beneficial proteins while diminishing the enzymes that break down collagen.

Activinol is composed of biologically-derived phytochemicals with protective or disease-fighting properties, designed to boost the key molecule activin to help the repair process of the skin and strengthen the support structure, resulting in a firmer, less-wrinkled appearance.

Retinol, a vitamin-A derivative, speeds up cell turnover, removes the dead cells that cause dullness, and boosts collagen and elastin by stimulating cellular repair at the deepest level of the skin. It also pumps up circulation by increasing blood-vessel formation, so skin looks healthier.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a nutrient that helps regulate energy production in cells, providing defence against cell damage. A related compound, Idebenone, helps skin renew itself regularly, preventing damage that can cause signs of ageing. Idebenone also has antioxidant properties, quenching the inflammatory reactions that play a major role in ageing.

Antioxidants help fight cell damage from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can injure cells and increase inflammation. Over time free radicals in our bodies and in the environment break down our skin cells, causing wrinkles and degeneration; antioxidants turn those free radicals into harmless compounds and can help stimulate collagen and boost cell repair. Vitamin C and vitamin E work to improve wrinkles, smoothness, tone, and laxity of skin.

Peptides are short chains of amino acids that can be synthesised to stimulate collagen production, growth factors, and antioxidant enzymes in the skin. As we age, our skin becomes thinner and loses fat, causing it to sag and develop fine lines; peptides can increase turnover of skin cells, stimulate growth of new cells, and help restore elasticity.

Lipo-hydroxy acid (LHA) renews epidermal cells and exfoliates by decreasing the amount of bacteria in pores, allowing other anti-ageing ingredients to penetrate faster and work more effectively. LHA adds radiance, smooths lines, and has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) hydrates the skin from the inside. It is naturally produced by the body and is present in every tissue, enabling the storage of water and rejuvenating the skin every two to three weeks. As we age, our cells’ capacity to store HA decreases, causing dryness and wrinkles. Cosmetic products containing HA hydrate the skin, restoring plumpness and minimising lines and sagging.

Anti-ageing skin care is big business, and there is a multitude of products available, many of them very costly – which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re any more effective than their more economical counterparts. If you’re serious about an anti-ageing skincare regimen, you may want to visit a dermatologist for advice and recommendations of products containing the active ingredients that would best suit your skin’s requirements.

Other articles you may be interested in:
Your body by the decade: 50-60
Anti-ageing products
The top anti-ageing products
Being sexy knows no age
Stages of ageing

Written by

Fiona Rom, freelance writer and editor, believes that beauty and wellness have much to do with your state of mind, and that a sense of humour is your best defence against almost any challenge the world throws at you. Fiona on Google

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  1. portia.dekock

    Very good article, very informative thank you. I am in the middle age and am fighting a constant battle with finding the right product that shows visible results.

    4 years ago •

  1. Safiya Rawat

    Good article, but drinking enough water, exercising and a healthy diet will also make a huge difference.

    5 years ago •

  1. Sue1N

    Great article! We all need to know what our beauty products contain and what all the jargon means.

    6 years ago •

  1. me

    This article is very informative, thank you.

    6 years ago •

  1. Motata

    Great article. I am obsessed with checking out ingredients of a product before I buy it. Research, research, research. Thanks for this article :-)

    6 years ago •

  1. Gross

    Thanks for this – good to have it in laymens terms and easy to read

    6 years ago •

  1. Ayesh

    Very informative article. Although I don’t think I’d be needing anti-ageing treatments any time soon. too many other things to worry about now!

    6 years ago •

  1. steenkamp

    very interesting, thank you. Makes you take a second look at products before you buy

    6 years ago •

  1. Azraa

    Thanks for the information. Can these products be taken orally, as I use a skin supplement, which has most of these called dermagen

    6 years ago •

  1. StephanieM

    Very informative… thank you so much.

    6 years ago •

  1. Adele

    Very interesting, really enjoyed it and thanks for the article.

    6 years ago •

  1. Tzar

    Fantastic article
    I love it

    Rooibos also has antioxidants

    6 years ago •

  1. Carlene

    Thank you, this article is very helpful in navigating one’s way through the myriad of products available these days!

    6 years ago •

  1. foreverGLAM

    There are so many products out there and the adverts can be very convincing. Thanks for explaining these ingredients in detail.

    6 years ago •

  1. Leana

    Wow!!!! That’s amazing… just think I would rather stick to natural goodies. It’s easier.

    6 years ago •

  1. Larissa B

    i use the clarins hydra quench moisturizer, it does contain HA, works awesome for me

    6 years ago •

  1. Pseudo_kate

    Wow, hard to keep up. Thanks so much for the article, it helps a lot!

    6 years ago •

  1. Pannack

    Very interesting! I have sensitive skin and so cannot use the products with retinol yet

    6 years ago •

  1. SG

    Very interesting and informative. I fond a healthy diet makes a huge difference as well.

    6 years ago •

  1. Ladyconfused

    Very interesting, always see the things on the lable but not always sure what they are for.

    6 years ago •

  1. Cupcake

    Im glad I dont have to worry about ageing yet, but wonder what products actually work.

    6 years ago •

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