Do anti-aging products work?

Skin care experts give us the scoop

Our experts
• Jason Rivers, clinical professor of dermatology, University of British Columbia
• Danielle Edwards, education manager, Dermalogica Canada, Toronto
• Karen O’Neill, dermatologist, Mississauga, Ont.

Q: Can a skin lotion truly be “anti-aging”?

A: You can’t undo the aging process, but you can improve the appearance of your skin by hydrating it. And you can slow down the inevitable by washing and moisturizing your face morning and night, exfoliating a couple of times a week, and wearing sunscreen every time you walk out the door. Anti-aging products merely claim to improve the appearance of skin, warns Rivers. They don’t say anything about actually reversing the aging process — and they’re not allowed to. Some anti-aging products do work, particularly ones that contain vitamin A, but most don’t work, he says.

Q: So why bother?

A: While we can’t change what happened to our skin yesterday, we can protect it now. Only 10 to 15 percent of our skin’s appearance is genetic, says Edwards. “The rest is what we do to ourselves.” Not surprisingly, our experts all say the most important anti-aging tool is sunscreen.
Q: With so many choices, how do I know which are worth the money?

A: Products containing vitamin A (also called retinol) and glycolic acids do show results clinically, says Rivers, and have been available through dermatologists for about 30 years. Other good ingredients? O’Neill recommends vitamin C to “improve brown spots, stimulate collagen and help sunscreen work better.” Also look for hydroxy acid to exfoliate the skin, removing dead cells that can accentuate fine lines and make skin look dull.

Q: Are the best products expensive?

A: Studies show that people are more likely to think a cream works if it comes in an expensive-looking jar, says Rivers. He says he often recommends budget-friendly anti-aging lines to his patients (such as Neutrogena and Reversa).

Q: What skin care challenges do moms face?

A: The sleeplessness and stress that come with a new baby take a toll on skin. The best way for busy moms to slow down the hands of time is to keep skin care simple, says Edwards. She recommends choosing multi-purpose products that minimize the number of steps, such as exfoliants you don’t have to rinse off (she likes Dermalogica Daily Resurfacer, $98). And our pros also suggest tinted moisturizers with sunblock, such as Clinique Moisture Sheer Tint SPF 15, $35, or Smashbox Sheer Focus with SPF 15, $30.

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