Is your skin starting to look dull and tired? Do those fine lines and wrinkles remain on your face when you relax your expression? Have the dark spots from previous sun damage increased in color or concentration? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be time to consider adding anti-aging products to your skin care routine. So how do these products work? Our Guest Beauty Editor, Michael Moore, gives us the skinny on younger looking skin in his latest Simply Moore newsletter.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) – Alpha hydroxy acids work mainly as an exfoliant. They break down the intracellular cement, or the “glue” that holds cells together, allowing the dead skin cells to come to the surface and slough off. This sloughing, along with AHAs ability to stimulate collagen and elastin production, stimulates the regrowth of new skin cells. Alpha hydroxy acids help to improve wrinkling, roughness, and mottled pigmentation of photodamaged skin after months of continued application. There are many different types of AHAs derived from various natural sources. Glycolic Acid is derived from sugar, Lactic Acid derives from milk proteins, Mandelic Acid from almonds, Malic from apples, Tartaric from grapes, and of course Citric Acid from citrus fruits.
Retinoids – Retinoids are derivatives of Vitamin A that are highly exfoliative. They can refer to prescription-strength retinoic acids like tretinoin or tazarotene, or non-prescription retinol, the gentler “cousin” of retinoic acid. Retinoids are still the most highly recommended by dermatologists because of their long proven effects to improve the cellular function of aged and photodamaged skin. They improve skin texture, wrinkles, scar tissue, acne, and also diminish brown spots.
Retinoids work on a molecular level because skin cells already contain retinoid receptors that help regulate certain cell functions, such as collagen production. Retinoids improve skin texture and reduce dark spots by speeding up skin cell turnover that slows down as we age. They reduce blackheads and minimize pores, both of which worsen with too much sun exposure. They not only help to decrease the amount of collagen breakdown from sun exposure by preventing the rise of an enzyme called collagenase, but they also help to stimulate the production of new collagen.
Since AHAs and retinoids are recommended for almost every skin type (ask your skin care therapist which type of AHA and which percentage of retinol is best for your skin type). Because they are highly exfoliative, they can be irritating in high percentages and when used very frequently. These ingredients also make the skin more susceptible to sun damage (because the new skin cells have not had time to strengthen), so it is imperative that you are using a good physical-block sunblock when using these (as opposed to a chemical sunscreen). These are also recommended for use at night because they are photo-deactivated, meaning direct sunlight will break them down and make them less effective. It is also best to start slowly, a few nights a week until your skin can tolerate more frequent, nightly use. There is no reason to be too aggressive at first because that may lead to excessive irritation and, many times, the person may stop using the cream (when all that was really needed was lower percentages for a longer amount of time for their skin to get used to it). The more you can continue to use these, the more anti-aging benefits.
Peptides – Newer anti-aging treatment technology focuses on compounds called peptides: short-chain amino acids that function as chemical messengers throughout the body. Initially, research on peptides was done in relation to wound healing and diminishing stretch marks. Since stretch marks are the result of split and broken collagen fibers, their researchers theorized that a peptide involved in collagen production and wound healing might also help repair stretch-marked skin. It wasn’t long, however, before women discovered that they could also help build collagen reserves anywhere they’re needed — including the tiny lines around the eyes, mouth, and forehead.
As part of the body’s natural response to help skin heal, published studies showed peptides are instrumental in increasing cells in the skin to produce more collagen. But collagen isn’t just for healing boo-boos. Collagen is the support structure that gives our skin a firm, young appearance. When levels remain plentiful, our skin looks young and fresh. When levels decline, we lose that support and wrinkles begin to form. While wrinkle-filling injections can temporarily fill in the gaps, researchers believe that topically applying these peptides to the skin will help it make more collagen on its own.
Recently, attention has been focused on yet another entry in the anti-aging category: peptides for relaxing wrinkles. These products combine two types of peptide technology — palmitoyl pentapeptide and acetyl hexapeptide, (also known as ‘argireline’) — for a compound that may mimic both a wrinkle-filling shot and a Botox injection. Botox works by destroying a protein involved in the release of a neurotransmitter that would otherwise keep a muscle tense, allowing a wrinkle to form. By stopping the tensing motion and relaxing the muscle, the wrinkle can’t continue to deepen. The argireline complex attempts to mimic that same Botox action by blocking the action of the protein. It doesn’t destroy the protein, like Botox does, but instead simply keeps it from connecting to the cell and allowing the muscle contraction. The palimtoyl peptide, meanwhile, works on producing more collagen. The end result is similar to injections, but less dramatic and not as instant.
Caviar – As an ingredient in anti wrinkle face cream, caviar is prized for its high density of amino acids, structuring peptides, vitamins, minerals, proteins and essential fatty acids. When applied topically, caviar’s lipids keep moisture in the skin, it’s proteins firm and condition, and it’s vitamins prevent or delay aging.
Caviar extract has also been found to speed up the natural production of collagen up to 67% and significantly reduces the protein cross linking that deepens wrinkles. Caviar extract is very rich in vitamins A, D, B1, B2, B6 and minerals Co, Cu, P, Si, Zn as well as amino acids. Those ingredients intensify the firming and hydrating processes inside the skin cells and at the same time slow down the aging process by moisturizing the skin. Studies have also shown that caviar extract reduces the inflammatory environment around the aged skin cells, helping the skin to look firmer and less puffy.
Plant Stem Cells – Because of their ability to regenerate tissues, stem cells are vital in skin repair, similar to peptides, to help repair wounds and regenerate new skin. Have you noticed how a baby’s skin will heal without scarring? That’s a sign of new stem cells that are capable of complete repair. As we age, sun damage, environmental elements, and other factors can weaken and reduce the skin’s supply of key stem cells. A decline in skin stem cells also means that critical repair of wounds—which include redness, acne scars, age spots, sun damage, and sagging collagen and elastin—no longer takes place as quickly or efficiently as it once did.
Just like humans, plants have stem cells that work to form different tissues and organs in the plant itself, and then continue to create new cells to regenerate and repair the plant as it grows. In fact, because plants cannot escape the danger around them, it has been argued that their stem cells may be even stronger than our own, capable of withstanding all types of environmental stress. When we apply plant stem cells to the skin they help to protect our own stem cells so they live longer, and stimulate them to get active again. Stem cells help to improve the overall skin structure by encouraging the production of collagen and elastin and stimulating cell turnover. These components help firm wrinkles and slow the development of new lines.
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