Anti wrinkle or anti-aging products are the most lucrative segment of the cosmetics industry and yet not a single over-the-counter product, making anti-aging claims, has a shred of published data or research to back up its marketing claims. Not one.
Don't be fooled by the "clinical studies" done by the brands selling these products. These "studies" are nothing more than marketing gimmicks designed to create a sense of science around the products.
Let me be clear—there is no topical, over-the-counter product that can reverse, erase, or otherwise remove a wrinkle from the skin once it is formed. Not one.
First, let's look at what a wrinkle is:
Teachnically called a rhytide, wrinkles are the result of some very complex biological processes. There are several actions in play that result in the formation of a wrinkle.
1. Glycation: which is the bonding of proteins or lipids to sugar molecules in the body. This is a natural process of chronological ageing and not something that can be stopped. When glycation happens the actual skin cell production slows dramatically and this process speeds exponentially as we age.
2. Loss of fat from the dermal tissue and increase in thickness of the epidermal tissue. Dermal tissue is the living skin tissue—it's where we store all our elastin and collagen. As we chronologically age this layer of skin become very thin thus the skin has less strength and spring. The epidermal tissue is the dead layer of skin and as it thickens the skin support structure becomes compressed. Both of these processes happen in tandem and are a fact of ageing.
3. Collagen cross links decrease in production as we chronologically age. This means the actual support structure of the skin is diminished and folds and depressions form as a result.
So what does this mean in regard to anti-wrinkle creams? Don't they all say they can correct these very biological processes? Well they do, sort of. Look at the marketing language on any anti-wrinkle cream and you will notice it comes just shy of actually saying it can erase a wrinkle. Lots of caveat words are used: "reduces the appearance of a wrinkle," "women reported the felt their wrinkles were diminished," "the most potent anti-wrinkle product ever created by _________." None of these claims actually say a wrinkle can be erased.
Here is why an over the counter product cannot make the actual claim:
1. By definition of law over-the-counter products cannot have a physiological effect on the body. That means they cannot change the natural biological processes of the skin. Wrinkles are formed based on natural biological processes.
2. Over the counter products cannot build volume in the skin. This is because they only penetrate the very top layers of the skin (again because any deeper and they would no longer be a cosmetic). This means an OTC cannot increase the volume of the dermal tissue.
3. Adding collagen to the surface of the skin will not build collagen in the actual tissue. Collagen on the surface of the skin will hydrate but has absolutely no relationship to the development of collagen cross links.
Over-the-counter anti-wrinkle creams and serums have absolutely no ability to change the depth, severity, or formation of a wrinkle. Not a single one of them on the market.
There are great products for skin at every price point. I have said this for years—it is a myth that more money means better quality, and it is a myth that you cannot find great skin care at very low prices.
My regular mantra is: when you find something that works and you can afford it, then buy it. Of course, that leads to the question I was recently asked:
"How do you help a teenager find good skin care to treat acne?"
1. Teenage skin is actually adult skin.
Once puberty has set in, the skin is the skin the individual will have as an adult. Acne is not a "teenage" problem. Yes, it might be a little overactive during the younger years, but people who have acne will have it for life. Over 50% of adults suffer from acne and, with rare exception, developed it in early adulthood. Skin needs to be treated as if it were adult skin, because it is. While the teenager isn't fully an adult yet, the skin certainly is. This is not the time to look for a band-aid fix for the skin.
2. Acne is not about hygeine or diet.
True, a poor diet makes the problem worse, but it is not the cause of the problem—bacteria is the culprit. Kill the bacteria and you kill the acne.
3. Oily skin can be acneic, but acneic skin is not always oily.
Got it? Most people think drying out skin with acne is the key, but this will only hurt the skin, which is already dry. All skin needs moisturizer. The skin is mostly water and the better hydrated it is, the more healthy it will be overall—including a decrease in acne.
4. There is no magic bullet.
Treating acne is ongoing, and flare-ups will happen. Be patient and consistent with treatment, and remember that just because the teenager may break out from time to time, it does not mean the solutions are not working—like any part of the body, the skin is living and breathing and sometimes just does not behave as well as we would like.
1. Skin really only needs two skin care items to be healthy: good cleanser and good moisturizer.
Yes, sunscreen is important and there are other skin care items that make the skin look great, but the basics are cleanser and moisturizer. These two steps will address about 80-90% of all skin care concerns.
Using great formulas is important, but also using them properly is critical for success.
Step 1: Cleanse every day, but only once per day. Yes, this flies in the face of most skin care advice, but for acne skin, over-cleaning will lead to drying out the surface of the skin. The drier the skin, the more bacteria can grow, and the more bacteria growing, the more breakouts. Clean only at night, using warm water and a washcloth. Make sure the water is standing, not running. Rinse the washcloth completely between wipes across the face. Do not rub too hard, but be thorough.
Step 2: Apply moisturizer immediately after cleansing. Always! No exceptions. Of course, it is important to use a good formula, but without moisturizer the skin cannot heal.
Step 3: Rinse the skin with warm water every morning using good friction. Apply moisturizer immediately after rinsing the skin.
2. Anti bacterial treatment is NOT about using acid or peroxide on the skin.
This might have been true about ten years ago, but it is not the best option anymore. Technology is the key—blue light at a 414nm wavelength can kill up to 95% of all acne-causing bacteria. For many decades these treatments were only available at a doctor's office, but there are home devices that work and are sold in the drugstore. Yes, it is an investment, but they do work and last a very long time.
1. Alcohol—whether it is direct or in a formula, like a toner or a moisturizer. Cetyl Alcohol is the only exception, as this is a hydrating compound. But any other form is going to dry out the skin.
2. Peroxide—in any form. It will clear up the acne but also causes pigment issues later.
3. Acids—acneic skin is already exfoliating too much. Extra acids will only make the skin more sensitive.
4. Sulphur/camphor/menthol—these are simply outdated acne treatments that have never really worked at all.
Cleanser: Neutrogena One Step Gentle Cleanser (approx. $8 for 150mL)
A great all-in-one product, safe for all skin types, soap-free, and perfect for using around the eyes.
Moisturizer: Olay Total Effect 7-in-1 Moisturizer (approx. $25 for 50mL)
Don't let the "anti ageing" label worry you, this is a great all-purpose moisturizer that will work for 95% of people.
Blue Light Technology: TANDA Clear+ ($195)
The exact same technology used by doctors to treat acne. This home care product provides thousands of treatments.
Spot Control: TANDA Zap ($49)
The same technology as TANDA Clear+, but in a small size for occasional breakouts. Usually clears up mild acne within 24 hours.
Tomorrow: Fact or Fiction? Anti Wrinkle Creams Can Make You Look Younger.
Your semi-annual opportunity to meet me in person is fast approaching.
Twice per year I go out on the road to meet readers and fans. I will be available to answer all your cosmetics questions and to help you find the right products for your personal style.
Of course, you can also have a personal appointment with me to have a new spring look created just for you. Usually when you book with me in studio this would cost $250. Come meet me at any of these public appearances and you can have the same professional services that are provided in my studio.
My semi-annual tours are my favourite two months of the year and I am looking forward to seeing you at a location in your city.
Remember there is no cost to come to these events; all you have to do in reserve your persona appointments by calling the location you wish to visit! Spaces are limited and always fill up very quickly!
March 20 - Ottawa, Ontario
Pygmalion Spa - 646 Somerset Street West - 613 695 7709
April 6 - Toronto, Ontario
Andrews - 55 Avenue Road - 416 969 9991
April 9 - Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Salon 12 - 155 Belvedere Avenue - 902 566 4780
April 10 - Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Allison's Salon - 119 Kent Street - 902 566 4780
April 12 - Toronto, Ontario
Paramedical Skin Health - 2120 Queen Street East - 416 916 7395
April 19 - Old Chelsea Village, Quebec
Loyly in the Parc - 10 Scott Road - 819 827 6084
April 20 - Ottawa, Ontario
Daya Spa - 200 Dalhousie Street - 613 244 4333
April 22 - Ottawa, Ontario
Terra20 - 2685 Iris Street - 1 855 837 7220
April 23 - Gatineau, Quebec
Studio 157 - 348 rue Main - 819 663 8387
April 24 - Aylmer, Quebec
Studio 157 - 1170 chemin d'Aylmer - 819 663 8387
April 26 - Brooklin, Ontario
Orchid Spa - 24 Princess Street - 905 655 2424
Tomorrow: you asked and I answer: teenagers, acne and navigating the skin care aisle at the drugstore.