Wrinkle Cream

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A wrinkle cream can be an effective anti-aging treatment for the face because it is used to reduce fine lines and light to moderate wrinkles. These anti-aging creams act on the skin surface to make the skin smooth and younger looking. For the most part, anti wrinkle creams are designed to remove part of the surface skin and then allow new skin cells to form. The anti-aging changes will not be as dramatic as when compared to more drastic treatments like chemical peels or dermabrasion.

Results with these anti aging creams are not guaranteed. What may work rather well for one individual may not work at all with another. Some wrinkle cream products may not work at all. Part of this dilemma is because many of the ingredients used in anti wrinkle cream products have not been subjected to intensive research to verify the benefit they claim to provide. This can be very frustrating for individuals.

a face wrinkle cream to prevent aging of skin

The best course of action is to try a variety of over the counter wrinkle cream products to see which works best. For more potent prescription wrinkle creams, your doctor, dermatologist or plastic surgeon may use the same experimental approach to finding the right anti wrinkle cream for you. In this case monitoring by the physician is required because of the greater likelihood of side effects.

Wrinkle Cream Types

Tretinoin and Retinols

Tretinoin is a prescription anti-aging wrinkle cream (strength usually of 0.02% or 0.05%) containing a derivative of vitamin A. Over the counter vitamin A creams are known as retinols and are less potent than tretinoin. These anti aging creams lighten the skin and replace old skin with new skin. Using these wrinkle products has lead to the reduction of fine wrinkles, blotchy skin pigmentation (such as age spots), and rough skin that has been caused by repetitive sun exposure. They also have the effect of shrinking large pores in the skin and have anti-oxidant properties (see below). In fact, vitamin A was the first anti-oxidant used in cosmetics. In some formulations, it has also been used to treat acne.

Results are noticeable with daily application of the wrinkle cream after 2 to 6 months and the benefits remain with continued use. Use of this wrinkle product may cause temporary redness, dryness, scaling, burning and itching, and thinning of the skin. Also, the skin becomes more susceptible to ultraviolet light damage and therefore, the use of a sunscreen when outdoors is critical. This cream is not recommended for pregnant women or nursing mothers. Tretinoin, because it is more potent, has the ability to create more visible results, but also may cause more of the noted side effects.

Hydroxy Acids

Hydroxy acids are derived from fruits and dairy products. Basically, these products are exfoliants. They remove the upper layer of old and dead skin cells and encourage the growth of new smooth and evenly pigmented younger looking skin. Hydroxy acids stimulate the production of the skin protein collagen leading to thicker healthier skin and better moisture retention. Use of a sunscreen is strongly recommended when using these types of anti-wrinkle creams.

Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
Mildly damaged skin can be treated with an anti-aging cream with alpha-hydroxy acids. AHAs can be used to smooth out the skin in people of all ages and seem to be very beneficial on people with rough, sun-damaged skin. AHA creams may also contain a bleaching agent to help with blotchy skin pigmentation and a moisturizer to help fight dry skin. Reduction in pore size has also been noted with the use of this cream. For some people, noticeable results may appear after only six weeks of using this wrinkle cream.

Alpha-hydroxy acids can be very irritating to the skin. Reported side effects with the use of this product include temporary irritation of the skin, itching, dryness, thinning of the skin, blistering, swelling around the eye areas, and redness. AHAs are also believed to be a frequent cause of irritation and flushing for individuals suffering with rosacea and should not be used by these individuals.

Glycolic acid, which is derived from fruit products (12% strength) is a commonly used AHA for anti-aging treatment. Another example of an AHA is lactic acid, which is derived from dairy products.

Beta-hydroxy Acids (BHAs)
A common beta-hydroxy acid used in anti wrinkle lotions or creams is salicylic acid. BHAs are also used in facial cleansers, moisturizers, anti-acne products, and makeup. As an anti-aging product BHAs smooth out the skin and reduce facial pore size, but can irritate the skin. Individuals with rosacea should avoid the use of this product.

Topical Anti-Oxidants

Anti-oxidants are compounds that neutralize skin-damaging free radicals. As skin cells age they begin to produce excess amounts of free radicals. Unfortunately, aging leads to a reduction of naturally occurring anti-oxidants in the skin cells. Therefore, the free radicals are present to damage skin cell membranes, proteins (collagen and elastin), and DNA. The end result is skin that is wrinkled.

Vitamin C 
This anti-oxidant helps recycle vitamin E and promotes collagen formation. It also repairs skin cell damage that is usually caused by ultraviolet light and activities such as smoking. A wrinkle cream that contains vitamin C can reduce wrinkles, thicken skin, and provide protection from the suns damaging rays. Some noted side effects are minor skin irritation and stinging.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is the most significant anti-oxidant found in skin. Without sufficient vitamin E, skin wrinkles become more prevalent. A wrinkle cream with vitamin E acts to neutralize free radicals like other anti-oxidants do and eventually leads to soft and smooth skin and a noticeable reduction in wrinkles, depth of wrinkles, and length of facial lines. The side effects of using vitamin E creams are red and swollen skin and possible contact dermatitis.

In cosmetic products, tocopherols and tocopherol acetate are common forms of vitamin E that may be present.

Alpha-lipoic Acid (ALA)
Alpha-lipoic acid is a naturally occurring anti-oxidant and mild exfoliant that acts to diminish fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots. Its use results in firm and toned skin giving it a smoother appearance.

The advantage of using this substance in a wrinkle lotion or cream is that it penetrates skin cells rather easily for maximum effectiveness. It has a protective effect on vitamins C and E and therefore boosts anti-oxidant activity within the cell. Inflammation is a common side effect of using this product.

Tea Extracts 
A variety of teas such as green tea show anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and therefore are commonly found in wrinkle cream products. The main benefit is the repair of sun-damaged skin. Preliminary indications are that green tea may also lead to wrinkle reduction.

Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin (OPCs) 
Oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes are produced from grape seeds or pine bark and are powerful anti-oxidants. There are indications that such substances protect and strength collagen and elastin and if so, they would be very useful ingredients in anti-aging or anti wrinkle cream products.

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Copper Peptides

Copper peptides (a copper protein complex) have been used for wound healing. They are known to be important in the synthesis of collagen and elastin, which are structural proteins in the skin matrix that degrade with age. Some tests have shown improvement in sun damaged skin, disappearance of fine wrinkles, a decrease in skin pigmentation problems, thickening of the skin, and increase in skin elasticity and hydration with the use of copper peptides. It is suspected that they may enhance the effectiveness of anti-oxidants as well. Copper peptides are non-irritating and few side effects have been noted.

Growth Factors

These products are naturally occurring hormones extracted from cultured epidermal cells, placental cells, human foreskin and plants. These compounds act as chemical messengers helping the aged cells to function properly and act to increase skin collagen. It is also suspected that these substances help skin retain moisture and may also exhibit anti-oxidant properties.

Growth factors have resulted in moderate decrease in fine lines and wrinkles and a lightening in sun-induced skin pigmentation problems. The advantage of these compounds for use in a wrinkle lotion or cream is that they are non-irritating and ideal for individuals with sensitive skin.

Kinetin, derived from plants, is a growth factor commonly used in cosmetic products.

Soy Isoflavones

Soy isoflavones or phytoestrogens are protein extracts from soybean and soymilk. Use of these substances in a wrinkle product may result in the reduction of wrinkles.

Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE)

This topical cream is thought to improve skin firmness and lifts sagging skin around the eyebrows, jaw and cheeks.

Coenzyme Q-10

Coenzyme Q-10 is a nutrient that helps regulate energy production within the skin cells. Preliminary tests have shown that this anti aging product can significantly reduce fine wrinkles and little to no side effects have been noted.


Collagen is a skin protein that gives skin its firm structure. With age collagen decreases leading to the formation of sagging skin, loss of firmness, and wrinkles.

The effectiveness of an anti wrinkle product based on collagen is in doubt. The reason for this is because collagen is not absorbed into the skin and does not stimulate the body to produce more collagen. Any apparent benefit may simply be due to a feeling that the skin is tighter or be due to other ingredients that may be in the anti wrinkle cream product such as moisturizers.

Other Resources

Visit our best wrinkle cream page for more information on creams that are used to combat wrinkles as the skin ages.

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