The range of wrinkle creams on the shelves can be pretty overwhelming. Backing up their claims of life changing power with scientific buzzwords, it can be difficult to figure out what these facial creams actually contain, and what they can actually do for your skin. Do any of them actually work?
Although it’s impossible to ward off the signs of aging completely, some anti-wrinkle creams definitely do help the situation. Here’s a guide to some of the most common anti-aging ingredients to help decode the labels and sort out the potent from the pointless.
Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Pluses: Exfoliates and tightens the skin, reducing fine lines. Good for dry or normal skin.
Minuses: Only considered safe to use if it is 10% of the facial cream or less. Increases sensitivity to the sun.
Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
Pluses: Exfoliates and tightens skin, reducing fine lines. Good for sensitive skin, oily skin and those prone to acne.
Minuses: Contains Salicylic acid, an ingredient that is banned in the EU and has been linked cancer.
Pluses: Occurs naturally in the body. Firms sagging skin.
Minuses: Has been strongly linked to allergies and is believed to irritate the skin, eyes and lungs. There have been suggestions that DMAE is contaminated with formaldehyde.
Pluses: Believed to thicken the epidermis and improve the skin’s elasticity by encouraging collagen production. All natural antioxidant found in berries.
Minuses: Still a relatively new ingredient that needs further research to confirm its effectiveness in anti-wrinkle creams.
Pluses: An anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient that provides natural protection from the sun.
Minuses: Not as potent as other ingredients.
Pluses: Hydrates the skin, making it smoother and softer.
Minuses: None known.
Peptides (such as pentapeptides and copper peptides)
Pluses: Increase your skin’s production of collagen, helping to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. They are sometimes called “Botox without the pain” and they are generally considered safe to use.
Minuses: Products that use peptides can be expensive.
Pluses: Retinol contains vitamin A, which can reduce fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin tone. This product is considered very effective and appears in many wrinkle creams.
Minuses: May be irritating to sensitive skin and makes the skin more sensitive to UV rays – not for those who already burn easily.
Pluses: All the advantages of a Vitamin A cream (reducing fine lines and wrinkles, improving skin tone) without the irritation caused by the other forms.
Minuses: Less effective than other Vitamin A creams.
Pluses: Tretinoin contains lots of Vitamin A, and is the most effective of the many Vitamin A-providing ingredients.
Minuses: Often prescription only and can be irritating to sensitive skin. Increases the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays.
Pluses: This acts as an antioxidant, reducing fine lines and wrinkles and encouraging collagen production in the skin.
Minuses: Facial creams often don’t contain enough of this to be effective. Look for those with at least 10% Vitamin C.