The Science of Anti-Aging Creams

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Companies who create beauty products have capitalized on the preoccupation, sometimes even obsession, of many people in preserving their youthfulness and beauty. Many beauty and skin care companies produce an anti-aging line. It seems that the skin care line is not complete without anti-aging creams, lotions and other products that aim to rejuvenate the skin to make you look younger. The focus on being eternally beautiful and youthful can be seen in their ad campaigns targeting baby boomers who wish to "look young and feel young," as one ad campaign phrases it.

I'm sure you've seen these ads. Famous Hollywood celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Courtney Cox, Andie MacDowell, and Ellen Degeneres all endorse anti-aging creams, lotions and other products that promise you younger looking skin. Elaborate ad campaigns all claim that these topical anti-aging products can smooth out the appearance of wrinkles and defy the natural skin aging process. While many big beauty companies like Olay, L'Oréal, Shiseido, Givenchy, Lancôme, and Estēe Lauder have all invested in anti-aging product lines that claim, through medical and scientific research, to have a proven age-defying effect when applied regularly. So, what are their scientific claims? And the real question now is, do they really have the anti-aging effects that they claim to have?

The science of anti-aging creams and other topical products, as opposed to expensive wrinkle-filling injections, can be explained in a number of ways—depending on the active ingredients they contain. Some involve the use of the ingredient Retinol, which is a vitamin A compound that counteracts the effects of unstable oxygen molecules, also known as free radicals, that tend to cause wrinkles as they destroy skin cells. By eliminating and/or neutralizing these free radicals on a daily basis—that is, as the anti-aging cream is applied to the skin twice each day, as recommended—the development of wrinkles is prevented.

Now, other age-defying topical products concentrate on pentapeptides, which are chain compounds composed of five amino acids that operate as chemical messengers within the entire body. Pentapeptide research was originally geared towards a faster way for wounds to heal. The ability of pentapeptides to increase the rate of production of cells that produce collagen and elastin was discovered by wound healing researchers, albeit accidentally. This then is where the age-defying capabilities of anti-aging creams lie. How so?

One, because collagen is known to be the foundational structure from which our skin gets its firmness that makes our skin young looking. When there is a high level of collagen in our skin, it tends to become more firm and compact, which smoothes out wrinkles and prevents them from forming. Hence, applying these anti-aging creams and lotions topically will induce the production of more collagen that will have the effect of younger looking skin. Two, elastin, as can be picked up from the word itself, which is derived from elasticity, is a type of protein that makes the skin elastic and flexible. It makes the skin bounce back when pinched or tugged.

Hence, the use of pentapeptides has become the newest and hottest thing that beauty companies have invested on. Well, why not? They not only increase the production of collagen that makes the skin firm, but they also induce the manufacture of elastin that makes the skin flexible and tight. And what are the three most important characteristics of youthful skin? Firmness, Elasticity and Tightness, of course! And so, this is the way anti-aging creams work: they make the skin more firm, elastic, smooth and tight through pentapeptides.

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