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Do Anti-Aging Skin Creams Work?

We spend a lot of money on our looks. A 2017 survey of over 2,000 American men and women found that "women who invest regularly in their appearance spend an average of $3,756 a year, just narrowly surpassing their male counterparts who spend a comparative $2,928 a year." That’s over $200,000 in a lifetime. Now, this included both makeup and hair (and we all know the hair salon can cost a small fortune), but it's still a staggering sum.

Of the $300/month spent by women in this study, $17 went into anti-aging products. Anti-aging skin creams are popular beauty products for good reason. People flock to them for their ability to reverse wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots. But do anti-aging creams work? 

The answer is a resounding yes––for certain ingredients, many of which have been approved by the U.S. FDA to fade wrinkles and have been used for decades in clinical skin care. Dermatologists will tell you: fighting wrinkles and smoothing skin is possible for most people with the right ingredients.

Knowing what to look for makes all the difference. If you have any interest in anti-aging products and ingredients, keep reading for the full story. 

What Are Anti-Aging Skin Creams?

When you look into anti-aging skin creams, you’ll find a plethora of manufacturers all advertising the same thing. They can make you look younger, remove the appearance of wrinkles, and brighten your skin. 

So, what’s in the best anti-aging skin creams? 

Some ingredients you should look for include:

  • Retinoids
  • Vitamin C
  • Peptides
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)
  • Kojic acid

Each ingredient has its purpose, but retinoids are hands-down the most thoroughly understood and most effective wrinkle-busting ingredient. They may be the most powerful tool that dermatologists have.

Retinoids help to speed up the skin cell turnover process to bring new, young cells to the surface and help support collagen and elastin production. Why is collagen essential in the aging process? 

Collagen's primary role is hydrating your skin and improving elasticity. As you can imagine, when the growth of new collagen declines, you become more prone to wrinkles or dried-out skin. As you age, collagen production gradually decreases. 

In some studies, taking peptide supplements helped reduce those pesky wrinkles and dry skin. However, not everyone wants to add another supplement to their daily routine. 

Instead, look for products that contain retinoids for the best results. 

Some of the best anti-aging skin-brightening creams also include Vitamin C and hydroquinone. vitamin C is a natural supplement that you can easily get through your diet, supplements, or creams. It helps eliminate age spots and gives you a more youthful appearance. 

Hydroquinone is a bit more aggressive in eliminating aging spots and is often provided in over-the-counter medications for melasma or hyperpigmentation spots.

Retinoids and Your Skin

Retinoids are one of the most beneficial anti-wrinkle ingredients for fighting the look of aging; they absolutely should be on your radar for skincare.

All of the best skin-tightening anti-aging creams include retinoids since they can smooth out the appearance of age spots, fine lines, and stimulate collagen growth. Can it really be that easy? In short - yes. 

Retinoids are all a form of vitamin A and are often offered through prescriptions or over-the-counter skincare creams. There are two main types of retinoids:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) options like retinol and retinal
  • Prescription options like tretinoin (retinoic acid) and adapalene

Retinol is the most common OTC ingredient, common in thousands of anti-aging creams from high-profile makeup manufacturers.

Tretinoin is the most common retinoid offered by prescription. It is pure retinoic acid and can even be combined by dermatologists in custom-blended formulations.

Retinol is not as strong but can be an effective agent in anti-aging skincare products. Unfortunately, it is not particularly stable and degrades easily in the presence of UV rays (light), which means OTC products may contain imprecise amounts of retinol. Retinol is also not as well-regulated by government agencies like the FDA, meaning concentrations can vary.

With retinol and other OTC retinoids, you most likely will not see as rapid or profound results compared to tretinoin. 

Tretinoin is pure retinoic acid. This is the substance that acts on your skin’s retinoic acid receptors (RAR) and triggers an accelerated skin cell creation and turnover process – the mechanism by which retinoids “work.” Both retinol and tretinoin (and other retinoids) stimulate these RARs when they’re on your skin. These receptors kickstart the collagen-creating process, potentially helping to reverse Father Time. 

Tretinoin is roughly 20 times more potent than retinol.

With retinoids, you will start noticing improvements in:

  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Dark spots
  • Hyperpigmentation
Learn everything there is to know about retinoids in our deep-dive brief: The Definitive Guide To Retinoids from Nava MD.

Oily Skin

Does retinol work well as an anti-aging cream for oily skin? Retinol products are highly beneficial for people who deal with oily skin and clogged pores even. One of the many positive effects that retinoids have is clearing pores and helping with acne. Many acne products use various types of retinoids because of their functionality on all skin types. Some people also combine retinoids with AHAs and vitamin C.

Some Of The Research On Retinoids

How do we know retinoids work?

For one, retinoids have been around for a very long time. Men and women have been successfully getting better skin for decades.

Second, there’s plenty of research to back up their functionality. 

The list goes on. Retinoids can help with skin smoothness, tone, and more, and there's gobs of research published to back up the claims.

Keeping Your Skin Healthy

Most experts suggest applying anti-aging skin creams with retinoids at night. This allows them to set in overnight while your skin is doing its best healing and recovery, and it keeps your skin from harsh UV rays. Retinoids make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. 

The right skincare products can help give you a more youthful-looking appearance. However, keeping your skin healthy also starts in other areas of your life. What ways can you help keep your skin healthy and reduce damage? 

  • Use a mild facial cleanser
  • Avoid frequent exposure to the sun
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Use sunscreen
  • Drink water
  • Eat healthily
  • Get enough sleep
  • Manage stress

In a day-and-age where everything is on-the-go and on-demand, your skin takes a lot of damage: it’s literally your first defense as a “barrier” against pathogens. Things like stress and lack of sleep contribute to skin damage and can even speed up the aging process. 

Take some time to evaluate other parts of your life and consider how you can incorporate healthier habits. Your skin and body will thank you. 

Your Next Skin Care Regime

Anti-aging skin creams are useful if you have the right ingredients.

The type of cream you select can make a huge difference though, and retinoids should be your top consideration. Retinoids are some of the best substances you can use on your skin to reduce the effects of aging and give you a more youthful appearance.

Tretinoin can take a little getting used to, but given how long it’s been around and the depth of experience that dermatologists have with this Swiss-Army-knife of beauty products, it’s a go-to among skin experts.

Find out if a prescription retinoid might be right for you with Nava MD’s free online consultation. We ship custom skincare formulations right to your door, if prescribed, with easy follow-up and an affordable process. 

Get started by clicking here.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency