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The ABC of anti-ageing

Date
Product ingredients can be confusing - so which ones count?

Product ingredients can be confusing - so which ones count?

Soap and water and cold cream have taken on new appeal with the arrival of skin care that actually works. The topical ingredients that do something - the retinoids, the peptides and their various cosmeceutical cousins - are so confusing that it's tempting to put them into the ''too hard basket'' and stick to what your mother used. But you'd be selling yourself and your complexion short (and wrinkly).

Even people who have worked in the beauty and fashion industries for years grapple with the anti-ageing actives of modern skincare. What does what? What is most important? What order are they supposed to go on? Jo Smith, a British hair stylist who has worked on international runway shows for the past decade, says she's still thrown by skin care. ''I've spent major money on La Prairie but I shy away from the cosmeceuticals because they're so confusing,'' says Jo, who now owns a Toni&Guy salon in Melbourne's CBD. ''I know from the shows that they work but I don't know what I should be using. I've actually given up on it and just bought the Olay cream for 'the seven signs of ageing' so I don't have to worry about it.''

Who can blame her. It's easier to go with what the big marketers tell you that you need - to believe that one jar of cream you can pick up at the supermarket can do the lot. Jo is confused. We're confused. That was obvious from my last blog and we all want to know more. Let's bring in the experts. Maria Zhao, a dermal specialist, says there are four anti-agers we should be seeking for our daily skincare. They are all available over the counter. First (though to be applied last) is full-strength sunblock. But we know that. And the others?

  • Vitamin C: Zhao says this brightens the skin and increases its water content. It is best used in the morning, after cleansing, as it functions as a free radical scavenger. However, it is difficult to find a stable, non-irritating Vitamin C product that absorbs well: it oxides very quickly. This may be a case where you get what you pay for. Or to head to a skin clinic. Try Kiehl Dermatologist Solutions Powerful Line-Reducing Concentrate (limited-edition 75ml, $109); Garnier Dark Spot Corrector (50ml, $16.95).
  • Vitamin A and fruit acids: These resurface the skin. ''As we age the desquamation (cell turnover rate) is slower so dead skin cells begin to just adhere to one another,'' says Zhao. ''This can cause dullness and pores become congested with debris.'' Resurfacing products come in many strengths and forms. Of course they do. They are best used at night. ''At-home products include cleanser, serum, lotion and cream that contain AHA, BHA (salicylic acid), retinoids and lactic acid in their ingredient list,'' Zhao says. ''Use your resurfacing products mainly at night for normal maintenance. If you want to increase the use to daytime, do it with caution, as they make your skin more prone to sun damage.'' You don't have to look far or pay a lot for products with these ingredients. Try: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo (40ml, $25.95); DermaQuest Skin Therapy Power Acid resurfacer (75ml, $150).
  • Peptides: Peptides in skin care creams may help with the production of collagen, says New York dermatologist Dr Fredric Brandt. They may help relax wrinkles. Can be used day or night but use last-thing before sunscreen. Many mainstream products contain peptides. Try: Skin Physics Dragon's Blood Facial Sculpting Gel (50ml, $69); Jane Marini Age Intervention Peptide Extreme (30ml, $110ml).

I hope this helps. Do you look for the anti-ageing ingredients when you choose your skincare? Or do you go by brand? Is it the feel of creams, their cost or their effectiveness that is a priority for you right now?

26 comments so far

  • I had read about Retin A on another of these columns. Can anyone advise how you obtain it? I went to a dcoctor to get a prescription and he refused. Tried to buy it on line from all day chemist in US - no luck either.

    Commenter
    Crinkle
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    September 20, 2012, 11:30AM
    • Find another doctor..preferrably one who bulk bills......and ask him for a prescription for 'Retrieve' cream which is trentinoin 0.05%. It comes in a 50gm tube and is about $34.95 at a discount over the counter pharmacy.

      You could probably get it cheaper from an overseas internet site.....some are very reputable but after investigating a Canadian site for another very expensive prescription cream I have been bombarded with all those dreadful emails for cheap Viagra...they are so cunning.... they use different email addresses all the time, so it's almost impossible to rid yourself of them by blocking the sender. Obviously these creeps have hacked a legitimate website.

      That's why I stick to a good Oz discount pharmacy.

      Commenter
      LesleyB
      Date and time
      September 20, 2012, 11:59AM
    • I have bought Retin A (tretinoin) very easily via ebay. Look for someone with 100% feedback. I bought mine from Thailand (where no prescription is needed). It's a generic version called Retino I think, but exactly the same stuff. Buy either a 0.5 or 0.025 strength when starting out. I have heard about alldaychemist.com and of people in Oz buying from them. In fact, that's where I'll get my next batch. $25 delivery fee but the retin a is $3-5 per tube. You should also look into Retin-A micro too - I've heard good things about it. Ebay and the internet are your friends.

      Commenter
      Internet savvy
      Date and time
      September 20, 2012, 12:51PM
    • I haven't used it but I checked All Day Chemist out of curiosity - it's there under the name Tretinoin and it's the same thing. I understand you should go for the 0.5 strength, and friends who use it say you have to start very slowly, every second day until your skin adjusts to it. You may get redness, sensitivity and flakiness for a while. Using 30+ sunblock is a must as it increases the skin's sensitivity to the sun. Good luck

      Commenter
      jetsam
      Date and time
      September 20, 2012, 12:54PM
    • Go to a more sympathetic doctor. Ask the receptionist if the doctor prescribes Retin-A before you make the appointment.

      Commenter
      Dr Geoff
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      September 20, 2012, 12:58PM
    • You can only get it - the stuff that works, that is - on script. Get to your GP and ask for the lowest strength to start with. It's generally indicated for the treatment of acne, but as we should all know by now with the number of articles on it, it also works as a prime anti-ageing ingredient. Only use it at night, sparingly, either directly onto a particular area, such as under the eyes, or mix a dab in with a good, rich night cream. Either way, the golden rule is to use sunscreen from the first night you use Retin A onwards. I use Stieva A, in the highest dose available, but it has taken years to get there - and years off the age of my skin.

      Commenter
      reality bites
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      September 20, 2012, 1:11PM
    • Crinkle, get a referral to a dermatologist. They'll be more open to giving you a retinoid prescription. Unless you're 19 or something...?

      Commenter
      Jayde
      Date and time
      September 20, 2012, 2:02PM
    • Thanks for all the replies everyone. What I found odd was the doctor I went to said he would not prescribe a Retin A cream but told me to go get Botox instead! Go figure.

      Commenter
      Crinkle
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      September 20, 2012, 2:43PM
    • I got mine from a doctor who does procedures at a beauty salon (Dr Frank Vella, he does travel around but is Central Coast based, NSW http://www.wrinkledoctor.com.au/central-coast/date-2012.html). He offered it with five repeats and I get it on PBS. I have also seen a GP who does Botox and fillers as well, she too offered Retrieve. I use .5 but I started on .25. I have never had any reaction to it and it does make skin look good.

      Commenter
      Anna
      Date and time
      September 20, 2012, 6:09PM
    • NO NO NO do NOT buy your medication from Thailand or similar places. Counterfeit medications are widespread in south-east Asia and you have absolutely no guarantee of what you are actually getting! If you end up with a bad reaction or worse still, skin cancer etc down the track then you also have no recourse.

      There are several good reasons why retinoids creams are script only in Oz, including the fact that these creams are highly teratogenic, and significantly increase sensitivity to sunlight. Increased sensitivity to sunlight = increased risk of skin cancer. Research into the effects of retinoids on other cancers has been going on for years too - google it.

      I was a scientist (cancer research) for many years and now I'm a pharmacist and I had to comment when I read the reckless comments about online purchases of drugs and the constant recommendations on this blog for retinoids creams. People... They aren't a simple moisturiser. They work by changing DNA expression in your skin. What else can you think of that is a result of altered DNA expression...think about it.

      Just be a little more informed and be careful. And DON'T try and have babies while using these creams or for a while after.

      Commenter
      Pharmacist
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 21, 2012, 6:53AM

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