If you spend any time watching television, chances are you have seen products claiming to reduce wrinkles and remove “years” from your face. These products claim to restore youthful beauty or remove unsightly marks, but how effective are they? A recent article published by the Mayo clinic staff examined the effectiveness of different skin care components and rated their effectiveness.
Of the common ingredients in skin care, the following compounds were found to be slightly or moderately effective: vitamin A derivatives, hydroxyl acids, copper peptides, kinetin, coenzyme Q10, and tea extracts. Vitamin A is a coenzyme that can appear as many different derivatives, including retinol and tretinoin. Retinol, a commonly used antioxidant, has been shown to reduce free radicals that cause skin cell degradation. Tretinoin, another vitamin A derivative, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating wrinkles, and is a more effective topical treatment than retinol. Certain vitamin A derivatives can cause birth defects at high dosage, and should be avoided if pregnant.
Hydroxyl acids, derived from sugar-containing fruits, function as exfoliants. Exfoliants are compounds that remove dead skin and stimulate the growth of healthy new skin. Hydroxyl acids are beneficial for improving the general health of skin by keeping skin smooth and evenly pigmented. While hydroxyl acids are helpful, they can make the skin more susceptible to sun damage, and without proper protection, can cause serious detriment.
Copper peptides are protein fragments (known as peptide) bonded with copper. Copper peptides are beneficial in wound healing. They are also effective in stimulating collagen production, which increases skin health and regrowth, and enhancing antioxidants.
Kinetin, a plant growth factor, is presumed to improve wrinkles and even pigmentation resulting from irritation. Kinetin is thought to improve skin moisture, increase collagen production, and acts as a powerful antioxidant. Tea extracts, commonly found in wrinkle creams, are useful as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
An important aspect of most cosmetic treatments is that they are not as strictly regulated by the FDA as drugs. Only when cosmetic treatments are marketed as drugs or when ingredients could be harmful does more stringent regulation apply. For this reason, most over the counter treatments are not regulated by the FDA, and may not be effective for wrinkle reduction. When purchasing cosmetic treatments, it is important to look at the ingredients. Certain ingredients, such as tretinoin and hydroxyl acids, may cause harm, especially at higher dosage. For over the counter medications or effective prescription medications, contact your dermatologist.
Chris Gromisch is a Junior Chemistry major and pre-med student at Trinity College.