No element of skin care evokes more questions and claims than anti-aging products. When I'm in a department store or watching TV, I seem to encounter these two myths everywhere I look:
Myth #1: Losing collagen? Put it back with this cream!
It makes sense, right: If collagen loss causes skin sagging and wrinkles, then replenishing collagen should stop aging in its tracks. But it's not so simple.
There's absolutely no scientific evidence that collagen, elastin, or hyaluronic acid - the three main components of your dermis - can penetrate the epidermis. Even "nanotechnology" has not been proven to be able to get these substances into the skin.
The molecules are simply too large. (Quick science lesson: The epidermis is your topmost layer of skin. The dermis, the next layer of skin, is where wrinkle-causing changes take place.) Be wary of creams and lotions that claim to topically replace collagen, elastin, or hyaluronic acid.
Myth #2: If you're going to splurge, splurge on a great night cream.
There's certainly no harm in using a pricey night cream, but I urge my patients to realize that they're often really paying for beautiful packaging, yummy smells, and that daily feeling of pampering.
And there's nothing wrong with that! When it comes to clinical benefits, though, there's no reason to believe that you have to pay big bucks for effective ingredients. In fact, consider the other side: Large cosmetics companies (the ones you can find at your local drugstore) actually have a larger budget for research and development than smaller operations.
Contrary to many products' claims, there is also no evidence that your skin goes through special rejuvenating processes at night that it doesn't go through during the day.
If you're going to spend a chunk of money on any one thing, antioxidant serums are the place to splurge. The best ones have been packaged properly - which is an expensive process. Look for ones in an amber or aluminum tube (or jar) with a small mouth that does not allow air in. Look for ingredients such as Vitamin C and ferulic acid.
Want more help? Talk to your dermatologist about a prescription retinoid (although they are not appropriate if you're pregnant) - that's the only thing proven to diminish existing lines, and it can also help prevent new ones from forming. And yes, it is best to use retinol and retinoids at night, as they're deactivated by the sun.
Wishing you great skin!
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Dr. Baumann is author of the best-selling book, " The Skin Type Solution." To learn more about her revolutionary skin typing system, visit her Web site, SkinTypeSolutions.com.
All of Dr. Baumann's recommended skin care products are available online, and a portion of proceeds goes to The Dermatology Foundation.