Anti Ageing Creams: What’s In Them & Which Ones Should You Use?

By Rachel Doherty

There are so many skincare brands out there, with so many anti-ageing products to choose from, that you can begin to feel overwhelmed and confused about which products you should be using.

This isn’t helped by the beauty industry appearing to make a scientific breakthrough on a weekly basis, bringing out new products with new ingredients that we haven’t heard of before, and all promising to be the next best thing in skincare.

But what do these ingredients actually do? Which products should you be using?

Here are some of the most common anti-ageing skincare ingredients, and a little bit about what they do:

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) such as lactic, glycolic, and citric acids are naturally occurring acids found in fruits and milk, which act as chemical exfoliants to remove dead skin cells and stimulate the growth of new, evenly pigmented skin cells. Side effects include mild stinging during use, and sensitivity to sun-light, so you should always wear SPF when using AHAs in your skincare.
  • Antioxidants claim to fight cell damage from free radicals, which are molecules that could injure skin cells. Substances with antioxidant properties include beta-carotene, lycopene, selenium, and vitamins A, C, and E.
  • Retinol is a natural form of Vitamin A and an antioxidant that reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by boosting the thickness and elasticity of the skin.
  • Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and can help to protect your skin from sun damage
  • Coenzyme Q10 reduces fine lines and wrinkles, especially around the eyes, and helps to protect the skin from sun damage.
  • Niacinamide is an antioxidant related to vitamin B3 that helps the skin to retain moisture, and improves skin elasticity.
  • Peptides are small proteins that help stimulate the growth of new skin cells, and are widely used to promote healthy skin, especially in healing wounds, stretch marks, and wrinkles.

So, which ones should you be using?

It’s a common misconception that the products you should be using are dictated by your age, with different products available for people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50+. Experts now believe that rather than focusing on age-related anti-ageing skincare, we should instead be ensuring that the products suit our skin type, as this will ensure that they are the most effective.

Those with oily skin should look for products formulated specifically for oily skin, as most anti-ageing products contain oils and emollients. Instead, opt for water-based products with a light texture. Oily skin types should also look for products that contain salicylic acid, as it acts as an exfoliator, unclogging pores, and accelerating the skin’s renewal process.

Dry or sensitive skin types are more prone to redness, irritation, and itching by using products that don’t suit the skin. These skin types should avoid retinol, which can dry out the skin, and should instead look for products containing retinaldehyde, which is a weaker and less irritating form of retinol. Your anti-ageing cream should also be oil-based, and packed with antioxidants.

If you want skincare that truly packs a punch, you should start looking at the ingredients list, and familiarising yourself with what is in the products you’re buying – generally, the higher % the concentration, or the more active ingredients are listed, the more likely it is that the product will work.


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