This is a guide to help you find your way through the thicket of competing cosmetic skin products and treatments, without sacrificing your health or your pocketbook.
PRODUCTS TO HELP YOU LOOK AGELESS
Every day, all year round, UVA and UVB sun rays age your skin and can cause cancer. So it’s important to use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even if you’re not going outside (window glass can block UVB rays, but is penetrated by UVA rays). Try to buy a screen that contains zinc. Because zinc is a physical rather than a chemical blocker (which can cause an allergic reaction), the sunscreen will be more gentle on sensitive skin and provide better UVA and UVB protection, according to Dr. Jessica Wu, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California. Dr. Leslie Baumann, author of Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients (available on Amazon.com), recommends using EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, (available on Amazon.com) because its zinc particles don’t streak or run into your eyes. It is also good for acne-prone or rosacea skin.
Dr. Wu states that retinoids are the most proven anti-aging ingredient. Their main job is to boost your collagen, a protein that helps keep skin firm, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles while helping to prevent new ones. Wu and Baumann like prescription-only retinoid tretinoin, and adapalene—which used to require a prescription but is now available over-the-counter as Differin (available on Amazon.com). For another over-the-counter option, they recommend a trial of RoC Retinol Correction Deep Wrinkle Night Cream (available on Amazon.com). Note: Retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays, so remember to always wear your sunscreen!
VITAMIN C SERUM
Dr. Baumann suggests that you use vitamin C under your sunscreen to protect you from any UVs that slip through. It also works as an antioxidant, and can help lighten brown spots. Look for 15% vitamin C, and make sure it’s packaged in an airtight pump. She and Dr. Wu both like SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic (available on Amazon.com).
OMEGA FATTY ACIDS
Omegas—especially omega 9s—help keep the skin moist and defended against irritants. Dr. Baumann likes argan oil as a moisturizer, because it doesn’t cause acne and is a good antioxidant. It’s available in Shea Terra Organics Argan & Rose Complex (available on Amazon.com).
Lashes and brows tend to get thinner and paler as you get older. Dr. Wu recommends the prescription drug Latisse for lashes. An over-the-counter option is Revitalash (available on Amazon.com). Coconut oil from the grocery helps fight breakage—just lay a thin coat on your lashes before you go to bed.
This is a form of vitamin B3. Dr. Wu states that it increases skin hydration, strengthens the skin barrier, and has skin-brightening properties. Niacinamide (available on Amazon.com) also helps fade uneven pigments—sun spots or acne scars—and is a great anti-inflammatory. She also recommends Olay Regenerist Instant Fix Wrinkle Revolution Complex (available on Amazon.com).
Dr. Baumann recommends adding antioxidant supplements to your diet to improve your skin’s overall appearance. She especially likes GLiSODin Advanced Anti-Aging Dermal Formula and Heliocare, which helps boost internal protection against UV rays and is especially good for skin that burns easily. (GLiSODin and Heliocare are both available on Amazon.com).
HYALURONIC ACID FILLERS
Dr. Baumann injects patients with Juvederm Voluma, a lab-made form of hyaluronic acid. She has found that it lasts two years and is reversible. Although creams and lotions are not as effective as injected treatments, she does recommend Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye cream (available on Amazon.com) and other anti-agers that can temporarily help plump and firm skin (by binding water).
ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS (AHAs)—aka GLYCOLIC ACID
These are relatively gentle acids that exfoliate dead, flaky skin to reveal a younger, smoother, skin.
AHAs also improve uneven skin pigmentation, erase some of the finer wrinkles, and help create fullness. The over-the-counter product Dr. Baumann recommends is Aqua Glycol Face Cream (available on Amazon.com). It is recommended that you start with a mild 10% solution and gradually work your way up to 20%. Bear in mind that as the acid removes more dead layers, your skin will become more sensitive to the sun.
BOTULINUM TOXIN INJECTIONS
Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin are all versions of botulinum toxin type-A. Dr. Baumann uses these injection treatments to relax facial muscles that have, by repeated movement over time, caused crow’s feet, and frown and forehead lines.
WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU
When deciding which cosmetic skin products or treatments to use, start with your own internist and dermatologist. Before undertaking any new skin treatment program, it’s important to consult with a medical professional who understands your special health needs and concerns.
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Amy Wolthoff, dermatologist.