Does Wrinkle Cream Work?
I looked in a magnifying mirror the other day and saw more lines on my face than were there three months ago. That was enough to send me flying to the drugstore to find a magic potion. Do you remember The Exorcist? That was me, my head was spinning with all the products in front of me, and I thought, does wrinkle cream work?
Reading the label did not give me a clue as to which was the best, or even if it worked at all and judging from the advertising I had seen each one thought they were the best and could turn the clock back 20 years. Back to the drawing board for me.
Do Your Research
The first thing that hit me when I started my research is the amount of money Americans spend annually on anti-aging skin care products. According to The Statistics Portal, sales of anti-aging skin care products are forecast to be $2 billion. Lots of people obviously think the products must be doing some good.
I had heard from friends that the top department stores carry quality products, so I went to a few of their websites and was shocked. Nordstrom’s high-end anti-aging moisturizers were priced at $2,000 for a 16.5oz jar of Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream while Barney’s advertised their 111Skin and Cle de Peau Snyactif for around $1,000 per jar. That is way too steep a sticker price for me, particularly without a full guarantee that it would make me look 25 again!
Here is the caveat I found in my research. The FDA does not regulate the cosmetics industry very forcefully. As a matter of fact, manufacturers do not have to support their claims in any scientific clinical study as is required of prescription products like Botox. According to the FDA website:
“Under the law, cosmetics must be safe when consumers use them according to product labeling, or the way in which the products are customarily used. But the law does not require cosmetics to be approved by FDA before they go on the market.”
In other words, the FDA will give its approval to an anti-aging cosmetic cream if it "improves the appearance of wrinkles" or any other copy the manufacturer decided to put on the packaging, whereas an anti-aging medication would have to prove it is able to "cure, mitigate, or prevent" the skin aging process.
An additional problem for consumers is that when you read a moisturizer’s label, you cannot tell the precise concentration of the ingredients. As a consumer, unless you have done thorough research and you know which ingredients help with anti-aging, you are pretty much at the mercy of the manufacturer, their “proprietary” studies and their advertising.
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So Many Choices
Dr. Anna Chapas, Medical Director at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York, said she gets asked this question virtually every day: “Which is the best moisturizer and is it worth spending hundreds of dollars per ounce for the latest miracle cream?” Her answer: “I personally stick to a basic skin care routine and supplement with products that have been scientifically proven to work.”
She goes on to say that, “Without blinded and controlled scientific studies it is impossible to know if these luxury moisturizers really provide miraculous wrinkle cures or if they seem to work just because using a good moisturizer every day can improve the appearance of your skin.”
She went on to say, “One way to find out if an expensive cream is worth its extra cost for you is to buy some and apply it to only one half of your face for a month, while using a high quality moisturizer on the other half. If you can see a difference in the side treated with the expensive cream, then it might be worth the price. If not, stick to the drugstore brands with the same basic moisturizers but without the sticker shock.”
Since I am not inclined to use Botox or Restylane, I decided to find a “wrinkle removing” moisturizing cream that would be right for me and one that would not cost a mini fortune.
Do Wrinkle Creams Work?
I came up with a list of criteria that the product had to have. I wanted a product that worked quickly so that I would see almost immediate results, it had to have long-term benefits and it obviously had to help make the fine lines disappear. It also would not hurt if it helped mask some skin discoloration.
I knew I could not try all of the products on the market, so I went to some “Top 10” websites. Once I had their lists, I looked up each product, researched consumer protection sites, then looked for consumer reviews based on the above criteria.
So, what were the results? Are wrinkle creams worth spending money on?
From everything I read, researched and tried, the answer is yes and you do not have to pay thousands for it.
Ingredients to Look For
As long as the product has ingredients that help produce collagen, you will be headed in the right direction. While they are not going to be as powerful or immediate as Botox, early research on substances like peptides and pentapeptides show that just as they aid in healing wounds, they also stimulate the skin to create more collagen which helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Some of these products also contain hyaluronic acid, a gel used to treat wrinkles and restore volume to the skin. As an aside, it is also a primary ingredient in Restylane. Another ingredient to look for is retinol, an offshoot of Vitamin A, which many dermatologists swear by and which seems to make the skin come alive by adding collagen, shrinking pores and lightening spots.
While I wish the FDA had more control over cosmetic industry advertising claims, I do feel pretty confident that I can now go into a store armed with my list and come out with a couple of really good products to try and ones that my pocketbook will continually be able to afford!