JUN 09, 2017 11:49 AM PDT

Want Anti-Aging Results? Check the Active Ingredients

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

In 2016, the American cosmetic industry's revenue was a whopping $62 billion. And these numbers are only projected to rise in the coming years.

Of all the health and beauty categories grouped under the cosmetic market, facial skincare represents the largest share at 27 percent, just in the US alone. We clearly care a great deal about how our skin looks, and we don't mind shelling out money for the latest and greatest skincare products. But how effective are the anti-aging lotions and potions on the market? Are we paying for real results, or is it just psychological?

Whether a skincare cream will deliver on its anti-aging promises depends on the ingredients it contains. Because skin is a complex organ that takes a beating from exposure to the elements, finding compounds that reverse aging is quite difficult. Thus, there are only a handful of active ingredients that have truly been scientifically tested to show improvement in skin. These include antioxidants like retinol (vitamin A), vitamin C, and niacinamide. In addition, ingredients that exfoliate the skin, such as hydroxy acids, can help slough off dead skin and stimulate growth of new skin, thereby promoting a more youthful appearance.

But buyers beware. Because non-prescription skincare isn't regulated, manufacturers can be more loose about their anti-aging claims without having much science to prove it. So next time you're considering an expensive jar of cream, make sure to research the ingredient list!
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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