Thanks to tireless scientific research and studies in skin care, the aging process is no longer as inevitable as it was once thought to be. But when it comes to anti-wrinkle ingredients, some have the hard evidence to back up their claims while others just don’t live up to the hype. I’ve narrowed down these heavy-hitters as the Five Best ingredients to look out for in anti-aging skin care products.
Matrixyl & Matrixyl 3000
Matrixyl and its big sister Matrixyl 3000 have been around for a few years now. There has been compelling anecdotal evidence that well-formulated serums with either ingredient are extremely effective — that’s certainly been my experience. The trouble was that there wasn’t any independent research until 2013. Then, Matrixyl got its first independent endorsement when University of Reading researchers found that it can nearly double the amount of the protein collagen needed to give skin its elasticity. A bit of tech background: Matrixyl is palmitoyl-pentapeptide 3, and this is a peptide that specifically stimulates collagen synthesis and skin repair. Finally, I must make a personal plea to be wary of potions that claim to have turbo-concentrations of 10% or 20% Matrixyl or M3000; more does not mean more potent, and all the trials are at 4%.
Human conditioned media
Surely a breakthrough in skincare, human conditioned media made its way out of wound healing trials and into cosmetics with great effect. If it can heal a wound, it can repair a wrinkle. Look out for human fibroblast conditioned media, human adipose stem cells or epidermal growth proteins. Typically, they are taken from human adipose (fat) cells. From the progenitor cell, many thousands of new cells have been grown in the lab. The many different proteins signal cells to do different things. FGF (found in E’shee products) are involved in angiogenesis and wound healing, for example. While overall skin tone and firmness can be addressed, human conditioned media really comes into its own as a wrinkle eraser.
Recommended Products: AQ Skin Solutions Active Serum ($149 in the shop), ReLuma Skin Illuminating Serum ($145/20 ml), ReLuma Anti-Aging Moisturizer ($85), Stemulation Elevate Eye Cream ($75)
The stalwart of anti-aging skincare has tended to provoke either a love or hate reaction. I was one of vitamin C’s detractors — it didn’t work, made my skin dry and went all brown in the bottle. So, how did it come to be on my Five Best list? Well, the thing is that vitamin C has come a long way, baby. New versions are stable and powerful, and that means you don’t need the super high concentrations that caused skin irritations with the old versions — you don’t need to insist on 20% vitamin C! Less can be more. The important thing is to know your vitamin Cs, and look out for the good ones. Tetrahexydecyl ascorbate is effective at low concentrations and ideal for those with sensitive skin. MAP (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate) is also a great choice and is specifically good for the suppression of melanin and hyperpigmentation. Those with acne-prone skin should look for sodium ascorbyl phosphate, also known as Stay C 50. Although prized for its antioxidant qualities, vitamin C also boosts the immune system and synthesizes collagen.
Recommended Products: Your Best Face Advanced CE Concentrate ($50 in the shop), E'shee Vitalizing C Serum ($119), Medik8 C-Tetra ($70 in the shop), Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Vitamin C Active Moisture Serum ($68)
With one of the longest research pedigrees (thorough studies have been ongoing since the 1970s), there is no doubting copper peptides’ prowess. As the Cleveland Clinic points out, studies have shown that copper peptides promote the production of collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycans while acting as an antioxidant. Clinical studies have found that copper peptides also remove damaged collagen and elastin from the skin and scar tissue because they activate the skin’s system responsible for those functions. There is a study showing that copper and LED light increase collagen production significantly. And when it comes to hair growth, copper helps in two ways: increasing follicle cell proliferation and decreasing programmed follicle cell death, which results in smaller follicles. Once fairly rare in beauty products, copper is coming into its own in anti-aging skincare and hair care products.
Recommended Products: Truth Vitality Advanced Complex ($59-79 in the shop), Truth Vitality Brow Empower ($39 in the shop), Medik8 Firewall ($145 in the shop), Kenneth Mark MD Antioxidant Hydrating Cream ($120)
Hyaluronic acid, or the molecularly smaller sodium hyaluronate, offers a simple but effective solution for aging skin: moisture. Topically adding sodium hyaluronate transforms the dermis layer of your skin into a super-sponge for your face. By helping to maintain and attract water within the extracellular matrix, it not only hydrates the skin and increases its volume and density, but, by effect, temporarily stabilizes the intercellular skin matrix — the glue that holds your face together. Fun fact: your skin’s dermis layer is made up of about 70% water and claims nearly 50% of your body’s total hyaluronic acid allotment.
Recommended Products: Your Best Face Hydrate B ($45 in the shop), Hyalogic Episilk Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($59.95), Medik8 Growth Factor ($160), Arcona Peptide Hydrating Complex ($75).