Peruse the ingredients list of any moisturiser these days and you'd be forgiven for thinking you needed a chemistry degree before putting it on your face. Just pronouncing contents such as N-acetyl glucosamine, gamma amino butyric acid and palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 is enough to add another wrinkle to your brow, let alone choosing from the abundance of products promising to restore the soft epidermis with which you were born.
The business of skin care has evolved, with science and cosmetics research continually pushing the boundaries of beauty. According to Paula Begoun, author of Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, skin care took a new direction in the '80s when Retin A, a vitamin A derivative, was found to stimulate cell turnover and increase collagen production. Then came the rediscovery of alpha hydroxy acids in the '90s. "[These] were the culprits that took simple sorbolene-based cleansers and moisturisers into the cosmeceutical stratosphere from which they've never returned," Begoun says. "If we had this conversation 15 years ago, I would have said 'Skin care isn't rocket science', but today, that has changed." For a product to deliver noticeable anti-ageing results, Begoun says, it needs to contain an active cocktail of cell-communicating ingredients such as peptides that tell the skin to repair itself and act more "youthfully", antioxidants, exfoliants, lightening ingredients and intercellular substances that mimic skin structure such as ceramides and fatty acids. The ingredients also need to be present in sufficient concentrations and be able to penetrate the outer layer of the skin.
The one anti-ageing treatment that all dermatologists and skin care experts, including Begoun, agree on is a broad-spectrum sunscreen. "Seventy to 80 per cent of what we think of as ageing is the result of UV exposure," Begoun says. "Without question, avoiding sun damage is your best anti-ageing strategy."
The new buzz
* Idebenone Claimed to have higher antioxidant properties than vitamin E, kinetin, co-enzyme Q10 and vitamin C. It works by helping to prevent the sun damage to skin cells that can lead to wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. It also interferes with the production of collagen-degrading enzymes so skin looks less wrinkled. Found in Priori range, Prevage.
* Resveratrol Dr Daniel Maes, Estee Lauder's global vice-president of research and development, says, "Reservatrol is an ingredient extracted from red wine [that is] shown to be a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It provides significant benefits to reduce redness and damage to the skin generated by sun exposure and abrasive dermatological procedures and has skin whitening benefits." He adds that research has demonstrated that it may help to activate a gene that increases the life span of skin cells. Found in Cellex C Advanced C Neck Firming Cream; Caudalie range.