Amongst amino acids, is one of my favorite ingredients, L-carnosine. Carnosine actually extends the Hayflick Limit. Skin cells can only reproduce themselves around 52 times and then that’s it, they’re a gonna. Carnosine extends their ability to reproduce to just over 60 times, making it a real anti-ager. What makes it stand apart from other antioxidants is its potential ability to fight against, not just oxidative damage done by free radicals, but also damage done by sugar-related glycation. Recent studies suggest carnosine acts as a natural anti-glycation molecule. Glycation has been long regarded as a major cause of aging and is believed to be the main culprit behind deep wrinkling, the thinning of skin and the mottled appearance of age spots.

So there plenty of good reasons to hunt down carnosine. Infomercial addicts might know that its in Cindy Crawford’s Meaningful Beauty, but we can do much better than that rather mediocre potion with our Five Best: CircadiaOsmotics Renovage eye cream ($78 in the TIA shop), KaplanMD’s Perfecting Serum, GloMinerals GloSuper Serum and for the more mainstream there’s Olay’s Professional Pro-X.

KaplanMD PerfectingSerum ($180). Although this is at the very upper end of what I will pay for a single product, it has become a go to serum that gently improves my complexion no end. Unlike many serums, KaplanMD’s is very hydrating due to a whopping 50% sodium hyaluronate with a helping hand from glycosaminoglycans. The ten actives include Dr Kaplan’s signature black cohosh, which along with grape and soy. As well as carnosine, there is Matrixyl 3000 and one of my favorite botanicals, milk thistle. It is worth noting that carnosine and silybum are marketed together as something called Amerliox. Anyhow, milk thistle is a powerful antioxidant, natural sunscreen and tests have shown it to help calm rosacea. As someone who is prone to rosacea, I am grateful that this serum has proved to be very kind to my skin as well as extremely conditioning.

Dr Pugliese’s Circadia Myo-Cyte Rx Serum. At $150 for half an ounce, it is expensive and, unless you’re flush, best saved for the really stubborn wrinkles.  This is a blessedly simple formulation of some excellent anti-agingingredients: hyaluronic acid, peptides, amino acids, vitamin C and a couple of botanicals. The three peptides: acetyl hexapeptide, palmitoyl pentapeptide, palmitoyl tetrapeptide. The first is the neuropeptide that relaxes the facial muscles and thereby reduces expression wrinkles. The second and third team up to form Matrixyl 3000, a potent booster of collagen production. As well as L-carnosine, there is threonine, which helps keep connective tissues and muscles throughout the body strong and elastic. Finally, there is L-glycine, an amino acid that helps the body produce proteins. The botanicals, passion flower and chamomile, both contain apigenin, a flavenoid that is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-irritant, lightening agent, anticarcinogenic, and antiseptic. Rosemary contains carnosol, an antioxidant. If only Dr P could find alternatives to parabens, propylene glycol and diazolidinyl urea, he’d have an absolute winner.

Osmotics Renovage Cellular Eye Repair Cream ($78). Renovage/teprenone is supposed to stabilize things called telomeres. It’s pretty complex and you can read more in my post on telomeres, but in a nutshell, they allow cells to distinguish chromosome ends from broken DNA. As we get older, they get shorter and teprenone prevents that happening. Maintaining telomere length extends, we are told, the Hayflick Limit (the number of times cells reproduce) by one third. So this is bringing a rear guard action of reinforcements to carnisine. This cream is good at smoothing out wrinkles and tightening the skin. I don’t really have dark under eye circles but about half way through my test I looked Panda-eyed for a couple of days and the Osmotics creamdidn’t seem to particularly help. It is, however, a good depuffer. A couple of the botanicals are worth a call out. Peumus boldus, is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant (although should be avoided by pregnant women). Resveratol has also been isolated from polygonum cuspidatum root extract, also known as Japanese knotweed.

GloMinerals GloSuper ($115). With a good dose of expression line inhibitor Argireline, this hits most of the antiaging bases. There is power peptide Matrixyl 3000, carnosine, and the potemt free radical scavengers spin trap and superoxide dismutase. If that wasn't enough, there is a growth factor, retinol and niacinamide and marine peptides.

Olay Professional Pro-X Wrinkle Smoothing Cream ($40). Of all the mass-market drug store brands, Olay takes its anti-aging ingredients seriously. Its signature ingredient is carnosine, used in the Regenerist range and now in the new and (relatively) pricey Professional Pro-X products.In addition to carnosine, there is niacinamide, which is another Olay regular (you’ll find it, for example in Olay Total Effects Eye Treatment). Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 and a precurser of the co-enzymes NADH and NADPH. These enzymes are essential for cell energy production and lipid synthesis. Unfortunately, levels decline with age. Fortunately, niancinamide is proven to reverse that decline. Niacinamide is also very helpful for moisture retention. And, according a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, it “significantly decreased hyperpigmentation and increased skin lightness” after four weeks of use. My guess is that the Olay Pro-X range justifies its prices (Olay is usually under $20) with the addition of peptides, specifically palmitoyl dipeptide-7 and palmitoyl pentapeptide-4. And with good reason. Palmitoyl pentapeptide-4 is Matrixyl, a peptide that does have some data behind it to suggest that it gets results.