This is a very special time in my life. It's the time when I still have baby-smooth skin of an early twenty-something, yet look old enough to be taken seriously. The guys who try to talk to me are intelligent. I'm being called a "woman" more frequently, instead of a "girl." I'm on the cusp of looking just old enough to appear on a morning TV show. I'm aware that refraining from smoking has served me well thus far, but it's only a matter of time before the tanning bed of my teen years, weekends at the beach and lots of sugar consumption catches up with me. And lately, I've also been having this conversation a lot: New acquaintance mentions a life event (13-year-old daughter, graduating from grad school 10 years ago). Me: Wait a second, you don't look old enough ... Aquaintance: "Oh, I'm 37." Me: "... wow. What is your skincare regimen??" So yeah, wrinkles have very much been on my mind lately. I'm going to cut down on the sugar and carb intake (seriously, I promise it's for real this time), but I would feel much more confident armed with a cabinet full of potions to repair the hidden damage before it's too late. So I tried slew of different non-toxic products that promise to address the signs of aging before they even start (and most address current wrinkles as well!). I can't tell you how well they work--that would require a ten-year-long experiment with a hundred women and some control subjects. But I can stick to products with proven ingredients, and tell you about their look, feel, and smell.
Proven Anti-Aging IngredientsI pulled my wish list of ingredients from this Prevention.com article. While many anti-aging ingredients--like caffeine glycolic acid--are only good for temporarily perking up your visage if you already have wrinkles, I was looking for ingredients that get soaked into your skin and do their work silently but effectively for the long haul. Here are the four I looked for in my products, excerpted from Prevention:
Now that we have that established, let's take a look at the products I tried!
DNA Repair Ingredients"DNA repair ingredients" are a host of compounds (some are derived from plankton or rose myrtle extract) that reverse sun damage," says Debra Jaliman MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and media spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology. They also have growth factors that stimulate collagen, a skin-firming protein that depletes with age and makes skin look loose. “And these effects are permanent,” she says.
Vitamin CYour skin relies on antioxidants like vitamin C for protection against free radicals that can cause damage and speed up signs of aging. "Since the skin receives the most free radical assault from UV light, replenishing and increasing your skin's antioxidant defense is an attractive strategy for photo-protection and repair," says Lawrence Samuels, MD, chief of dermatology at St. Luke's Hospital in St. Louis, MO. "Vitamin C is also essential for normal cell growth and collagen production." And unlike B vitamins, it's actually absorbed by your skin.
PeptidesHow cool is this: "Peptides trick your skin into thinking it's lost collagen, so it makes more," says Dr. Samuels. And the skin-smoothing effects are permanent: The cells continue to produce collagen, even after you stop using the product. That's the kind of trickery we can get behind.
Retinol"Retinol's a remarkably diverse and unique work-horse that plays a key role in the health of the skin and the aging process," says Dr. Samuels. “When applied to the skin, retinol converts to retinoic acid which helps promote growth of new, healthy skin cells.” Not just that, it can also lighten brown spots and stimulate hyaluronic acid production, which preserves collagen, and firms and tightens skin.