Today, the Today Show came up with a "Turn Back Time" selection of the "Best Anti-Aging Products for Under $100." Covering all bases of an anti-aging skincare regimen, the Today show Under $100 has "a supercharged antioxidant", cleanser, eye cream, moisturizer, nighttime retinol and sunscreen. I took a look at the Today Show’s picks and came up with a few suggestions of my own.
“Today Show’s “supercharged antioxidant”: Skinceuticals Serum 10 AOX ($87)
Skinceuticals Serum 10 AOX has 10% ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and ferulic acid, an antioxidant that also gives UV protection and hydrating sodium hyaluronate. It is a simple enough formula, but is marred by some dodgy ingredients. Propylene glycol, which encourages the penetration of other ingredients, is classified as an irritant by the National Library of Medicine and is associated with organ system toxicity. Similar issues are found with ethoxydiglycol.
Alternatives to Skinceuticals Serum 10 AOX:
Skinceuticals uses the most basic form of vitamin C, ascorbic acid, that is the least stable and potentially most drying and irritating of the various forms of vitamin C. A great alternative is tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, a stable, potent and gentle form of vitamin C. It is in Medik8 C-Tetra($70 in the shop) at a 3% concentration (because it is stable, less is needed than with ascorbic acid).
Your Best Face Advanced CE Concentrate ($50 in the shop) has three different forms of stable and potent vitamin C with a concentration of 8.7%: tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate/ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate/MAP and aminopropyl ascorbyl phosphate/AAP. The formula is rounded out with vitamin E. And that's about it! Note there's nothing nasty and the preservative is natural radish root ferment.
Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum ($29 in the shop) has a highly stable and non-irritating form of vitamin C (Stay-C 50), vitamin E and ferulic acid. Ferulic acid works to enhance the performance of vitamin C and E, as well as acting as a natural sun protector. Mad Hippie also includes mineral rich konjac root, hydrating hyaluronic acid, soothing chamomile and oil balancing clary.
“Today Show’s “Resurfacing Cleanser”: Roc’s Max Resurfacing Cleanser ($9.99)
The resurfacing or exfolatiating action is provided by lactic acid and this cleanser, somewhat unusually, is based on bentonite clay. Less novel is the use of a common surfactant found in detergents and soaps, palmitic acid. Roc also contains betaine, an anti-irritant, but otherwise the formula is an unremarkable and has some red flags in the forms of chemical fragrances, preservatives and polymers.
Alternatives to Roc’s Max Resurfacing Cleanser:
La Vie Celeste Exfoliating Mother of Pearl Cleanser ($40) uses Mother of Pearl and pink and white clays to cleanse and exfoliate. There are no detergents, oils, fragrance and toxic chemicals. A great pore closer. Antioxidants also play a key role in the form of tea, apple, gingko biloba and ginseng extracts.
Nutra-Lift Glycolic Plus Non Soap Cleanser ($20) is a gel facial cleanser with 10% glycolic acid (AHA), rose hips, lemon and grapefruit seed oil, chamomile, and calendula. With only natural ingredients, the soapy stuff is provided by sodium olivate (saponified olive). Gentle but super effective.
For a zesty, lemony start to the day suki exfoliate foaming cleanser is a pot of sunshine. This also uses saponified olive oil, a sugar scrub, lemongrass and seaweed extracts. Great for breakout prone skin.
Today Show’s “Nighttime Retinol”: Jan Marini Age Intervention Retinol Plus ($60)
Jan Marini tends to formulate at the cutting edge and it is not surprising that her retinol cream should also have the anti-aging peptides Matrixyl 3000 and N-hydroxysuccinimide, an ingredient usually used for dark under eye circles. However Jan Marini doesn’t formulate for purists and there are plenty of silicones in Retinol Plus as well as BHT, which is associated with cancer.
Alternatives to Jan Marini Age Intervention Retinol Plus:
Skinfinite Platinum PM Cream 1% Retinol ($79 in the shop). The 1% retinol is entrapped in molecular microsponges that enhance skin penetration in a time-release delivery system. There are several moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter, almond oil, beta-glucan (D), and ceramide-2.
Prana Reverse A ($48 in the shop). An excellent retinol that does a great job of bringing down sun-damaged skin. Reverse A gets my vote for its natural ingredients and slew of anti-agers. Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant and produces energy in cells and I especially like l-Carnosine.
Arcona Vitamin A Complex Repair ($68) has retinol and retinyl palmitate, which is easily absorbed by the skin and once it is there is converted into retinol. There’s also glycolic acid and fructooligosaccharides, which helps build collagen and retain moisture.
Today Show’s brightening and refreshing eye cream”: Strivectin SD Eye Concentrate ($65)
Strivectin’s signature ingredient is myristyl nicotinate, a form of vitamin B3 like niacinamide. Although it is the star of the show, it is followed by tons of synthetics and potential irritants in the form of alcohols and preservatives. Of the first 40 ingredients, only five are desirable. More interesting ingredients eventually follow including ceramide 2 and some peptides. But one can’t help but wish the formula was inversed.
Alternative to Strivectin SD Eye Concentrate:
Coming at just under the $100 threshold, AQ Eye Skin Solutions ($99 in the shop) is just about the best eye serum there is. Diminishing lines and crow’s feet, while tightening with a concentrated formula of Matrixyl 3000 and Human Growth Factors.
Amarte Eyeconic Eye Cream is an unusual and powerful eye cream with 3.8% retinol and epidermal growth factors. The botanical extracts include ginkgo biloba nut, which has high levels of quercetin, a common and powerful antioxidant. Great for smoothing crepey under eye skin.
Medik8 Dark Circles ($60 in the shop) relieves puffyness and diffuses dark circles with Haloxyl (at 6.0%) for lightening and Regu-Age(r) (at 10.0%) for tackling puffiness and discoloration.
Today Show’s “Anti-Aging Moisturizer”: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream ($26)
Olay’s Regenerist range focuses on two ingredients, a peptide and niacinamide. Unfortunately, amidst the all the silicones, aluminum starch, copolymers and parabens, they begin to look a little forlorn.
Alternative to Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream:
If you are after niacinamide, then there is the above-mentioned Osmosis Correct. Or on a similar price point there’s Mad Hippie Exfoliating Serum ($35 in the shop). This little fellow has it all – gentle glycolic exfoliating, Matrixyl 3000 and a decent price point. On the brightening/lightening front, Mad Hippie has also included Gigawhite, which is a complex of six botanicals that are supposed to help fade age spots. Exfoliating Serum also has apple stem cells, vitamin C, white tea, ceramide-3 and melatonin. Read the full review.
Stemulation Boost Crème ($75) has many natural ingredients and niacinamide is rounded out with oat-derived beta glucan (known to stimulate immune defense, fibroblast growth, and collagen synthesis) and lactic acid (which exfoliates to increase cellular turnover and improve skin texture and tone). Read the full review with before and after pictures
Today Show’s “lightweight barely-there sunscreen”: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Cell-OX Shield ($30)
La Roche-Posay uses a sunscreen active called mexoryl (or Ecamsule) in its Anthelios sunscreen, which has to be combined with two other actives in order to be full spectrum. These are octocrylene for blocking UVB rays and avobenzone for blocking UVAs. Unfortunately, they can penetrate into the skin and act as a photosensitizer, resulting in an increased production of free radicals.
Alternative to La Roche-Posay Anthelios Cell-OX Shield
Mineral sunscreens are less irritating and potentially safer form of sunscreen. However, they can leave a chalky residue and be hard to apply evenly. The Today Show picked Anthelios because of its smooth application and against it I would pit MD Solar Sciences SPF 50 Crème ($30 in the shop) is a mineral sunscreen with a light-weight barely there formula that is specifically formulated for rosacea and acne-prone skin.
Also cosmetically "friendly" are antioxidant-packed Prana Natural Defense SPF25 ($39 in the shop) and Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer SPF 30 ($45 in the shop) is a 3 in 1 facial moisturizer, sunscreen, and make up primer .
Today Show’s “Attack Cellulite”: Vichy Celludestock $39.50
There’s really only one ingredient of interest in Vichy’s cellulite cream: caffeine. Caffeine has a dehydrating effect on fat cells, triggering the evacuation of sodium and water and the intake of potassium. As a result, skin on the thighs and buttocks usually appears more even (and less like cottage cheese). Unfortunately, the results are not permanent.
Alternatives to Vichy Celludestock
Osmotics Blue Copper 5 Age Repair Body Lift ($95). For a more permanent solution for cellulite and stretch marks (see our tester’s before and after pics), copper peptides stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, and it helps skin flush damaged collagen and elastin As our reviewer put it: “Osmotics is to your butt what Zamboni is to an ice rink”.
Give Osmotics a helping hand with a stimulating scrub. Red Flower Lemon Coffee Blossom Olive Stone Scrub ($66) It has coffee grains that exfoliate, but also stimulate making it a treatment for cellulite and for contracting broken veins. Invigorating and, with apricot, lemon and olive oils, exotic.