As time starts taking a toll on our skin in the form of lines, wrinkles and loss of firmness, many of us start turning to so-called anti-aging skincare to reverse the damage. But while some products may help temporarily improve skin’s appearance by adding a cosmetic sheen, or superficially plumping up creases, they cannot make significant changes because they merely coat and address the skin’s surface and don’t address the underlying causes of these issues.
The truth is that from an anatomical perspective there are similarities between wrinkles and wounds and, like trauma, skin is equipped with everything it needs to heal them. It’s just that these abilities decline with age, illness and environmental damage.
When we’re younger and healthy skin is injured our bodies spring into action sending blood cells to help clot the cut, form a barrier, fight infection and deliver essential nutrients. Next, fibroblast cells enter the wound, dropping off collagen, which forms connective skin tissue to replace what was there before. In addition, natural moisture factors kick into high gear to help the wound stay lubricated, which is vital to the healing process.
As we get older, it may take longer for abrasions to heal, just like it may take longer for pillow case depressions to disappear from our faces after a night’s sleep. This is because the same internal systems that heal skin also keep it firm and smooth and they start to wind down with the passing years.
So, the most effective anti-aging ingredients are going to be the ones that help “upregulate” and support the skin’s natural healing mechanisms. And the list of scientifically-substantiated anti-aging/healing ingredients is short and sweet. Your most effective clinically proven skin healers and age erasers are simply Retinol and Vitamin C.
High quality and potent doses of retinol have been confirmed by decades of research to stimulate collagen synthesis and the production of healthy cells. Retinol is quite stimulating but can cause irritation if applied directly to wounds. Vitamin C, in it’s fatty or “lipophilic” form, can be quite soothing and at the same time accelerate healing. Vitamin C is a confirmed heavy hitting collagen booster that also bolsters good circulation, fights damaging free radicals and stimulates crucial natural moisture factors. But don’t be fooled. There are different kinds of Vitamin C and they are not created equally. For example, ascorbic acid, which is the water soluble version of Vitamin C, can sting and oxidize. For this reason I don’t use ascorbic acid as in ingredient in my formulations.