- There are some issues with the anti-ageing skincare industry.
- I have never been a fan of anti-ageing products.
- So, I decided to try anti-ageing for a month to see what I thought about it.
- I liked it, but am not entirely sold.
For all the talk about the rising trend of skin care among millennial women, it’s worth acknowledging that coveted (and often expensive) brand names in the skin-care sphere have been around for generations, and like many products marketed primarily towards women, they seem to exploit our insecurities for the sake of their bottom line.
The basic premise of most anti-ageing products is this: wrinkles and other signs of ageing are unattractive and staving them off would be desirable, despite the fact that skin ageing is completely natural.
Suffice it to say, I have some fundamental issues with the anti-ageing skincare industry as a whole, and the way it wants me to regard my body as something best preserved in an adolescent state for as long as possible.
All of that, however, doesn’t make a girl immune to a slight shock upon discovering what may be the beginnings of some facial wrinkles. (What can I say? Getting older, both emotionally and physically, is weird and uncomfortable.)
And the fact of the matter is, being an imperfect person who doesn’t always apply sunscreen, my skin is probably sustaining damage on a daily basis that’s going to make it age faster than my genetics alone would have it.
So although I am sceptical, I decided to give some anti-ageing products a try for a month, just to see what happened.
I picked products backed by (some) science
Based on research I’ve done before on skin anti-ageing, there were some products that I knew were worth trying and others that weren’t at all. Many anti-ageing creams and products are essentially useless, or at least highly dubious in their claims.
Retinols and retinoids are the only kind of drug with decades of evidence to prove their efficacy in fighting signs of ageing, though there is the possibility of antioxidant-based products having some effect, although few – if any – have been tested in long-term trials that could reliably support their claims. Such is the nature of most skin-care products being considered cosmetics rather than drugs.
Essentially, retinoids are a yes, antioxidants are a maybe, and virtually everything else (besides sunscreen) is a no. In the spirit of experimentation, I decided to try out some products that fall in that middle category.
According to Evan A. Rieder, MD, assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Health, vitamins C and E are known antioxidants, but that alone doesn’t prove their efficacy, as he told me in a previous interview for INSIDER.
“It depends on the vehicle it comes in, and on the way the molecules are structured.”
I used a powder called Topical-C by The Nue Co, which, as the name suggests, is a vitamin C supplement applied topically, meant to be mixed with water, serum, or a moisturizer just before application.
The premise, according to The Nue Co, is that vitamin C is “proven to boost collagen, fight sun damage, and firm skin,” and that this specific product is highly potent because the vitamin C isn’t activated until mixed with a liquid.
Most doctors and scientists won’t comment publicly on specific consumer products, but with Rieder’s words in mind, the claims seem plausible to me. For an extra boost, the moisturizer I mixed the powder with was a vitamin E face moisturizer by Malin + Goetz.
My first impressions were pretty positive
I was a bit wary about using a topical vitamin C product, especially one advertised as being highly potent, because of a prior bad experience. Normally I don’t have very sensitive skin at all, but once in the past, I tried a vitamin C serum that gave me some nasty red splotches.
Fortunately, no such thing happened with my C + E duo. I did have a slight uptick in acne, as my skin tends to be on the oily side and for that reason, I don’t usually add more moisture to it, but once my face adjusted to the new moisturizer it seemed to calm down.
The vitamin C powder (which I added a few shakes of to a small amount of moisturizer in my palm, then mixed) smells like citrus, which is pleasant. The vitamin E moisturizer has a slightly medicinal, in my opinion, but not very strong smell, which is sufficiently covered by the citrus scent when mixed together. Plus, the moisturizer feels very light and not gunky, so it doesn’t feel like my pores are choking.
My skin seemed to respond well to the moisturizer, at least
Yes, yes, scold me all you want – prior to this experiment, I didn’t regularly moisturize my face. So when I started using these products, it seemed like my baby wrinkles were fading before my eyes. And they may have been – moisturizers can have a “transitive” effect, also according to my previous interview with Rieder, by “plumping up” the skin while the product is physically present.
It’s not a lasting change, but it’s a visible one. And anyway, dermatologists generally recommend moisturizers for the sake of skin health, if not preventing signs of ageing, so it’s a net positive any way you slice it.
Ultimately, I can’t tell if the anti-ageing benefits are legit
Obviously, it’s not really possible for me to perform a long-term, controlled experiment on my own face to determine whether one or both of these products will keep me looking younger longer. But if people who buy skin-care products were solely interested in science-backed efficacy, there wouldn’t be many products on the market.
It’s no secret that lots of skin-care fans (both casual and diehard) maintain their facial rituals not out of steadfast belief in a company’s claims, but for lots of other, more subjective reasons as well. People like feeling like they’re doing something nice for themselves, it’s a relaxing way to start or end the day, it feels like a treat, it smells good, and so on.
Conclusion: If I’m going to have a routine, it should probably be sunscreen – but that’s not to discount other types of products altogether
Am I a total convert? Not exactly, and it would be hard to see some major results in a month anyway, but I can’t say that mixing two nice products together to apply to my face every night doesn’t make me feel like a fancy lady. I haven’t had any adverse reactions, and moisturizer is something that I should probably be working into my routine anyway. I know that in my case, I need to make a habit of regularly utilising the basics, like daily sunscreen application, first and foremost.
I’m not sure that I would regularly spend my limited disposable income on these products (which at full size are $US75 for the powder and $US50 for the moisturizer), but I’d be happy to receive them as gifts or possibly splurge on them should I come into some extra money at some point. And if the latter were the case, I’d want to talk to a dermatologist to get a professional opinion on if it makes sense for me.
If you’re in the market for new face goodies and your budget allows, however, I would certainly say they’re worth a try. If a skin-care routine is one of your preferred little luxuries, you might as well pick products that have scientifically plausible claims. Plus, smelling like oranges is nice.
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