Finally, at this stage of their lives, Millennials don’t have much disposable income, leaving little room for expensive anti-aging creams, serums or treatments. Basically, they value skin texture, radiance and visible results and hence their preference is for reasonably-priced and easy-to-use makeup and foundation—products that don’t require waiting for weeks to see any benefits.
Anti-aging moisturizers, although at times regarded as cosmetics, have well-established benefits in many skin disorders. They are most used as therapeutic agents by dermatologists and consumers alike. They come in various forms and textures.
This column will briefly review their overall formulation and efficacy.
Anti-aging creams are predominantly moisturizer-based skin care products marketed with the promise of making the consumer look younger by preventing signs of skin aging. Moisturizers are bland, oleaginous substances that are applied to the skin by rubbing. They are used to replace natural skin oils and to provide a soothing protective film. They slow evaporation of the skin’s moisture thereby, maintaining hydration, and improving the appearance and tactile properties of dry and aging skin. Basically, there are four different types of moisturizers.1
Moisture absorbers draw water to the skin cells to keep skin hydrated. Key ingredients are glycerin, lactic acid, urea, hyaluronic acid and alpha hydroxy acids. These creams do not contain heavier oils.2
Space fillers are emollients that fill gaps between skin cells that are missing moisturizing lipids. Key ingredients are lanolin, mineral oil and petrolatum.3
When skin is damaged or has depleted ceramide levels, it becomes dry and damaged. The key ingredient is ceramides.4 Moisture sealers are designed to drench the skin in moisture. Key ingredients are rose hip, avocado and hazelnut oils. These sealers work best for more mature dehydrated skin. Water that originates in the deeper epidermal layers moves upward to moisturize cells in the stratum corneum. Basically, skin moisturization involves repairing the skin barrier, increasing water content and reducing TEWL to restore the lipid barrier’s ability to attract and hold the water. Creams are formulated with raw materials such as dimethicone, petrolatum, mineral oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, silicones, shea butter, niacinamide, olive oil, rose hip seed oil, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to reduce transepidermal water loss thereby increasing the skin water content.
When the skin is fully hydrated, it is harder to distend, which is interpreted as increased skin firmness.
In Dermatology Times, dermatologist Dr. Zoe Draelos noted anything that increases skin water content, by definition, increases skin firmness. The more occlusive the moisturizer, the better the improvement in skin firmness. Hence, occlusive moisturization prevents the dehydration of the stratum corneum.
The Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF) is a natural mixture of amino acids, lactates, urea and electrolytes which help the stratum corneum retain water. Normally skin is considered “dry” when its moisture content drops to 10%, and there is loss of continuity of the stratum corneum. Typical humectants include glycerin, sorbitol, urea, honey, collagen, sodium PCA, hyaluronic acid, alpha hydroxy acids and sugars. But high concentrations of propylene glycol and urea can be irritating. Pure mixtures of amino acids are poor moisturizers. Urea and lactic acid are keratolytic.
Urea is a humectant in lower concentration (10%), but in higher concentrations (20-30%), it is mildly keratolytic. Lactic acid or glycolic acid, appear to increase cohesion of the stratum corneum cells, thereby reducing skin roughness and scaling. Other signs are sagging, wrinkles and photo-aging, such as redness, brown discolorations, yellowing, abnormal growths and poor texture.1
Actives can be divided into seven categories: sunscreens, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, pigment lighteners, collagen repairers, exfoliators and hydration/barrier repairers. Pigment modifying agents are hydroquinone, kojic acid, vitamin C and E, azelaic acid, ellagic acid (polyphenol), pycnogenol, fatty acids (linolic acid), niacinamide and soy. Anti-inflammatory botanicals are licorice extract, azelaic acid, aloe vera, chamomile, feverfew, oatmeal, pycnogenol, lycopene, silymarin, quercetin and allantoin. Antioxidants are EGCG, vitamin E, vitamin C, coffeeberry, idebenone, soy and vine shoot.
Despite a decline in category sales, the quest for younger-looking skin has led to gains in anti-aging technology. Anti-aging creams may include conventional moisturizing ingredients, and usually contain some specific anti-aging ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids or other chemical peels. They help to dissolve the intercellular glue that holds dead cells together on the skin. Products made with these actives, when used daily, gradually enhance exfoliation of the epidermis. This exposes newer skin cells to improve skin appearance. AHAs may irritate some skin, causing redness and flaking. Peptides, such as Matrixyl, copper peptide Coenzyme Q-10, Argireline or Acetyl hexapeptide-3, relax facial muscles to prevent wrinkles and fine lines from forming.
Sunscreens provide a high level of UVA protection.9 Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals.10 Dyschromia corrective actives include hydroquinone, arbutin, kojic acid, retinoids, L-ascorbic acid, lactic acid, licorice root extract, azelaic acid, phenyl ethyl resorcinol and undecylenoyl phenylalanine. These products must contain a combination of ingredients that protect against UVA and UVB radiation. For UVA protection, use zinc oxide, avobenzone, ecamsule, titanium dioxide. For UVB protection, use cinnamates (octinoxate), salicylates, (octisalate), and titanium dioxide. Different grades of antioxidants could be used; for example, you could use primary antioxidants (electron donors)such as L-ascorbic acid, resveratrol, tea polyphenols, vitamin E, glutathione, or secondary antioxidants such as chelate metal ions, eg L-ascorbic acid, silybin, resveratrol, ergothionine, or you could use co-antioxidants (to facilitate other antioxoidants) such as L-ascorbic acid, vitamin E, glutathione, and ergothionine. Overall you could use antioxidants such as synergy of vitamins C and E, plant stem cells, caffeine, coffee berry, green tea, idebenone and ferulic acid.
The primary causes of wrinkles are sun damage, genetics, chronological aging, hormone loss, fat and bone depletion, muscle sagging and disruption of skin’s protective skin barrier. Skin hydration smoothes the skin surface. It makes the skin surface soft, more extensible and pliable. An ideal moisturizer should have the following attributes: reduce and prevent TEWL, restore lipid barrier, provide immediate skin hydration, be cosmetically acceptable and reasonably priced. In today’s climate, formulas are often hypoallergenic, non-sensitizing, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic. Skin irritation is the most common adverse effect of moisturizers. These sensory reactions are identified as smarting, tingling and stinging. Based on the skin response, it is classified into four mechanisms: sensory/subjective irritation, allergic contact dermatitis, non-immunologic contact urticaria and irritant contact dermatitis.
Unfortunately, most anti-aging products and treatments do not impart long-lasting effects. One clinical study found that the best performing creams reduced wrinkles by less than 10% over 12 weeks which is hardly noticeable to the human eye.2 Another study found that cheap moisturizers were as effective as high priced anti-wrinkle creams.3 A 2009 study at Manchester University showed that some ingredients did have positive effects.4 Retinoids, in the form of retinyl palmitate in various formulations, has been shown to reduce fine lines and pores.5 L-ascorbic acid is one of the most effective and commonly included ingredients in wrinkle creams.*6 It is also thought to help the healing process. Epidermal growth factor has been shown to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and sagging.7 It also helps healing of wounds, burns and has anti-inflammatory properties when applied to the skin.8
A youthful appearance greatly impacts confidence, happiness and professional success. Skin is one of the clearest indications of age. Products using the latest anti-aging ingredients are changing the face of skin care as we know it.
- Alexiades MR et al. J.Am. Acad. Derm. 2008.
- Wrinkle creams. Consumer Reports 2011-07-28 Retrieved 2012-02-14
- Anti-wrinkle eye creams. Archive- Home & Garden 2012-02-14
- Antiaging cosmetic reduced wrinkles in clinical trials. Eurekalert. Org.2009-04-28
- Archdern,ama-assn.org 2007-05-01
- Indian Dermatology Online Journal Retrieved 2015-07-01
- Journal of Controlled Release, April 2007, Pages 169-176.
- Skin Pharmacol and Applied Skin Physiology Jan-April ’99, pages 79-84.
- Sunscreens Explained skin Cancer.org. Retrieved 2012-02-14, Draelos MD, “article”. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery March 2015.
- The Nutrition Source, Chan School of Public Health 2016-02-13.
Navin M. Geria
Chief Scientific Officer
AyurDerm Technologies, LLC
Navin Geria, former Pfizer Research Fellow is a cosmetic and pharmaceutical product development chemist and the chief scientific officer of AyurDerm Technologies LLC, which provides Ayurvedic, natural and cosmeceutical custom formulation development and consulting services to the spa-wellness-dermatology industries. He has launched dozens of cosmeceutical and ayurvedic anti-aging products. Geria has more than 30 years of experience in the personal care industry and was previously with Clairol, Warner-Lambert, Schick-Energizer, Bristol-Myers and Spa Dermaceuticals. He has nearly 20 US patents and has been published extensively. Geria edited the “Handbook of Skin-Aging Theories for Cosmetic Formulation Development” focus book published in April 2016 by Harry’s Cosmeticology. He is a speaker, moderator and chairman at cosmetic industry events.