anti-wrinkle creams that work for you?
January 21, 2009 9:27 AM   Subscribe

vanityfilter: I'm embarrassed to admit that I am very self-conscious about signs of aging. I wish I wasn't bothered about the lines around my eyes but I think about them too much! I have to ask- does anyone have any actual experience with anti-aging/ anti-wrinkle products that HAVE REALLY WORKED FOR YOU?

Please give recommendations only based on personal success stories.

Info about me- In my early 30s, female, medium fair skin.
I drink only water (mostly) and eat well (vegetarian) and exercise and militantly protect my face from the sun with hat and sunglasses and sunscreen. I'm pretty sure my lines are due to genetics. I feel they are more advanced than many of my peers and it makes me self conscious. Just wondering if there's anything i can do about it!

(Please don't recommend drinking more water.)

Many thanks in advance.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (27 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I personally believe that anti-wrinkle creams are a con and that the biggest determining factors are lifestyle related.

You say you eat well and you base that on the fact that you are a vegetarian. Your body needs nutrients from a variety of sources and if you're not getting essential vitamins and minerals from meat and fish, you sure as hell better be getting them from some pretty good alternatives. In my experience - and I know I'm going to get shot down for this - an entirely vegetarian diet cannot possibly provide you with everything your body needs.

Do you smoke? Do you drink? Both have a terrible effect on skin. Are you subject to stress? There's a reason for the phrase, "He/she's had a tough paper round" in reference to someone who appears particularly haggard. The stresses and tragedies of everyday life reveal themselves in the lines on our faces.

In terms of creams, I recommend nothing more than daily moisturising. I'm 25 and was appalled last year when I looked at photos of myself to see deep, imposing lines etched into my face. Ugly crows feet, lines across my temple, etc. I looked about 35! The problem was, I was living in a cold, mountainous environment, walking to and from school every day in gale force wind, totally exposed to the elements. My skin had dried out completely. I now moisturise every day and nobody remarks anymore that I look in my thirties and many people have also asked what the hell happened to me during that time.

In terms of diet, lots of antioxidants. Green tea is good, as is brocolli and other green vegetables.
posted by Zé Pequeno at 10:01 AM on January 21, 2009

ROC works.
posted by caddis at 10:08 AM on January 21, 2009 [4 favorites]

See a good cosmetic dermatologist or find a reputable med-spa in your area with a physician on staff. There are Rx creams like retin-a that can reduce wrinkles around the eyes. There are also chemical and laser peels that have varying degrees of downtime that can make a significant improvement. Nothing you can buy at the store will do anything more than moisturize. Not that there is anything wrong with that - but all the research points to the 10 dollar bottle from the drugstore being just as effective at moisturizing as the bajillion dollar one from the department store. I say this as someone who has spent waaay to much on the bajillion dollar ones and now uses nothing more than a bottle of neutragena and extra sunscreen with no noticeable difference.
posted by Wolfie at 10:12 AM on January 21, 2009

Retin-a. It also helps with age spots/freckles. Apart from the doctor's appointment to get the script the generic version isn't much more than stuff you'd buy in a drugstore (maybe less).
posted by Bunglegirl at 10:16 AM on January 21, 2009

I'm your age, with a similar complexion, and I really like Boots Restore & Renew. Mind you, I don't think it does anything more than moisturize, but it accomplishes that really damn well. I put a ton of it around my eyes in the morning and at night, and I think that area generally looks smoother than it used to.

A second thing I've recently discovered is AHA advanced lotion from Alpha Hydrox. It's OTC and very affordable. I find that it makes my overall complexion a little more consistent--fewer patchy dry, red areas.

Last but not least, keep covering up with hats and SPF and whatnot to avoid sun spots, which age your face far more than a few crow's feet (which I actually think can be rather pretty if the rest of the complexion is radiant). I just had a large sun spot lasered off my cheek, and I'm very happy with the results, but I should have done more to prevent it in the first place.

I don't think water and diet matter as much as people tend to think (unless one's diet happens to be really imbalanced). And to the responder who doesn't think a vegetarian diet is sufficient to maintain good health-- well, that idea has been roundly debunked (right along with the idea that meat & fish are the only sources of protein).
posted by cymru_j at 10:34 AM on January 21, 2009

Nothing works except botox injections done by the right doctor.

That's why it costs what it does (about $2k a pop).
posted by Zambrano at 10:34 AM on January 21, 2009

Meditation, massage, stress relief in general. Your post is not long enough for me to tell, but if you are 'militant' about sun, food, drink, etc. you may be causing yourself stress by trying too hard to do everything 'right'. I could be off on your personal lifestyle, but living a relaxed and balanced life helps. I really notice how much older my face looks if I am struggling in my life.
posted by Vaike at 10:36 AM on January 21, 2009

L'Occitane Very Precious Cream. It's like youth in a jar, for me at least.
posted by Breo at 10:36 AM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've found I look better when I stick with doing daily facial massages either when I wash/exfoliate my face or apply moisturizer.
posted by spec80 at 10:37 AM on January 21, 2009

2k worth of botox? Does your face move at all? I'm in Southern California, aka botox central, and the best doctors don't get nearly that. I'm not a Botox person, but 2k would be comically frozen.

SkinActives SkinActives is a super fun company to work with if you like to customize your products.

Not a cream, but effective - IPL.
posted by 26.2 at 10:47 AM on January 21, 2009

Moisturizer. Regular use will make you look years younger.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:10 AM on January 21, 2009

Renova or Retin-A (they are the same thing) work really well for me. I use a .25% concentration on my face before bed. I usually do it two or three days in a row with one night off because it makes me red and irritated. To further moisturize and reduce the redness, I wait about 20 minutes and follow the retin-a with Aveeno Ultra-Calming Nightly Moisturizer. During the day I use the Aveeno Ultra-Calming Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15. I've noticed a reduction in my fine lines and an improvement in facial skin elasticity and plumpness, but it takes a few months of regular, dedicated use for the improvement to be visible. Also, you may find yourself looking worse, especially if you have acne, before you look better. It's worth continuing, though.

I also wash my face with a mild sulfur-based soap because of my acne. It evens out skin texture, too.
posted by xenophile at 11:49 AM on January 21, 2009

Moisturizer - my favorite is the night treatment and I believe it's by Elizabeth Arden. I use that before bed and in the morning with an SPF moisturizer (I'm using a Garnier one but I think it's only available in Asia).

Oh, and exfoliation is great too - not sure if it will iron out wrinkles but it definitely gets rid of the dead cells and gives you a glow.

There's that skin buffer that Susan Lucci always pushes - my wrinkled buddies (from smoking and drinking) use that. Doesn't quite work as well for them since they continue smoking and drinking heavily. Ah well.

Oh and drinking lemon water helps your skin also - just make sure to chase and rinse with regular water to avoid wearing down your tooth enamel.
posted by HolyWood at 11:51 AM on January 21, 2009

How much sleep do you get at night?
I was amazed how much better my skin looked once I started regularly sleeping 8-9 hours.
posted by susanvance at 12:06 PM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

Retinol containing creams (or a Retin-A prescription) will help soften the lines a bit. I use ROC day cream on the little smile lines that have popped up and it does make them look almost gone sometimes (provided I'm properly hydrated).

My only issue is the retinol can make my skin flaky so I can't use it very often. YMMV.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:06 PM on January 21, 2009

Have a look at Paula Begoun's section on wrinkles and anti-ageing. I think she has some of the most reasonable advice out there and lots of reviews and recommendations as well.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:31 PM on January 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

My mother has fabulous skin - she's in her 70's now - and I thank her every time an esthetician cluck-clucks over my skin. One of my sisters, however, has terrible wrinkles around her eyes, she looks older than me (the oldest) and my other sister (who has two kids). So it's really a crap shoot, and what works for me will not work for you. It's a thing that the hive mind can't help you with because we all don't have your skin or your wrinkles.

You need to find a GOOD dermatologist who walks a fine line between medical and beauty. You don't want one of the high powered (also expensive) ones that are only doing beauty, because they'll try to sell you the moon. Someone who plays in the middle ground is what you need.

Don't go to a day spa and ask the esthetician there, unless it's a place that's in the derma department of a hospital or clinic. Again, they will be trying to sell sell sell.

A good derma will give you a choice of products that they feel work and not militantly insist you buy thing X. It will take some looking to find this person, but I'd try Yelp as a start, the beauty forum in CL is a good control group (but they are bitchy). Go see them, see how they are, see how comfortable you feel in the office and with the doctor. BE FRANK AND CANDID, don't expect them to see your wrinkles and say "oh my god we must do something about that" - a good dermatologist will ask you what bothers you and then you can discuss options.

They can also recommend a more clinical esthetician, and that will also help with any signs of aging.
posted by micawber at 12:50 PM on January 21, 2009

Just so there is no confusion, Retinol (which is in the ROC products I linked to above) and Retin A are quite different things. Retinol tends to be much milder to the skin and also has a milder efficacy. It is transformed in the skin to retinoic acid (Retin A). If the milder product works for you then perhaps you can skip the more aggressive product and its oft associated skin irritation. If Retinol does not work well enough for you then perhaps Retin A will. If that doesn't work there is always Botox.
posted by caddis at 1:55 PM on January 21, 2009

I think crow's feet and smile lines can be beautiful! They show your personality.

But I understand if you feel you stand out from your peers... I've been getting increasingly bad acne over the past year, way worse than when I was a teen. (I'm 28.) It made me super self conscious because no one else my age around me had the problem and it made everyone think I was younger... not necessarily a good thing when I'm trying to develop my career (they all assume I'm entry level). My bf kept saying the benefit was it made me seem younger, but I didn't WANT to seem younger in that way. :) The good news is I've been trying out some new products and they seem to be working.

Good luck! I hope you're able to improve them and also embrace them. :)
posted by thejrae at 2:30 PM on January 21, 2009

The people I personally know who are in their 40's and 50's who look deceptively younger also happen to be active runners. It's so dramatic I think there must be a correlation. I'm lazy but I do my best to keep exercising because that seems to be key in addition to eating well and drinking water.

BTW stay away from straws and water bottles that make you purse your lips together. There's a surge of women with "smoker lines" who have never smoked but suck on those water bottles.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 3:22 PM on January 21, 2009

As a relatively fit and attractive 33 year old male I have to say that I find wrinkles around eyes very attractive on women my age. So please don't try to get rid of them. I'm much more turned off by excess weight and blemishes though. Ymmv.

But to directly answer your question I think your regiment sounds very good. My plastic surgeon spouse sister does very well with Botox, but it's not an attractive look IMO.
posted by brandnew at 4:09 PM on January 21, 2009

For future prevention - sunscreen. The sun is enormously damaging to your skin. My Australian husband is constantly joking he had to marry a New Zealander because everyone over 30 in Oz is permanently leathered & weathered by the sun. Grain of salt, naturally.
posted by media_itoku at 4:12 PM on January 21, 2009

Just for the record, I dont believe that smoking and drinking or other lifestyle factors necessarily affect your skin, though people seem to insist this is true. I have various friends who drink, smoke, take drugs and party like crazy and still manage to have very youthful looking skin. I think a lot of it is to do with genetic elasticity.
posted by beccyjoe at 4:42 PM on January 21, 2009

There are topical things that work on preventing and reducing line/wrinkles/blotchiness, but you really have to find them for yourself because nothing works for everyone. This is a very long post because I'm distilling down what I've learned in 3 years of haunting the internets for skin help. The short version is this: hit skin-care forums and do a search on your specific skin issues. Then use common sense and trial and error to determine what works for you.

What has worked for me, a 38 year old sun avoider?


Tamanu oil, centella asiatica oil (the only place I've found it at is Tattva's Herbs, and they're sold out), R-ALA liquid and niacinamide powder. These are all combined in a base cream made by Skin Actives but you could really use a simple moisturizer from a drugstore that you like. I wouldn't add anything to a moisturizer that has much in the way of fancy ingredients because it can ruin your DIY ingredients.

I was a big lover of at home glycolic/lactic/tca peels before my work schedule got very crazy, and I still use them about once every other month. You can buy them on ebay, even the ones you can find in a dermatologist's office. It's also a very good way to truly frack up your skin royally if you misuse them, so pick one with a great reviews/feedback and leave it on for less time than they tell you to. Follow the instructions to the letter, etc. I've tried lactic acid peels (best for sensitive skin) and I didn't like them as much as the glycolic peels or the mild TCA peels. If you're going to go this route, you really, really must educate yourself about using them, like which one would be best for your skin type and your skin issues.

Internally: MSM capsules have really improved the texture of my skin. However, some people have gotten really bad diarrhea when they take it, so obviously YMMV. Start out with a lower dose rather than taking the 3,000 mg that the true fanatics take for skin/hair improvement.

A good resource for a wide range of anti-aging strategies is the Essential Day Spa forum. The enthusiasm for certain products or DIY actives or procedures can be a little overwhelming, even deafening when someone first finds a product or active they really like. There can be bitching and claims that someone has doctored their pictures and general hysteria, too. Currently there is an avid appreciation of handheld LED devices (I have one, and it's well worked for me in improving my skin's clarity and tightness, but no one is going to mistake me for 20 years old). It's usually a good idea to follow the products/recipes on a forum for a while to see if they're something worthwhile after the initial flurry of "OMG, you guys this is totally the Holy Grail!"

I buy most of my actives from (essential oils, niacinamide powder, etc) Garden of Wisdom. Another good place for product reviews is Makeup Alley. Skin Actives isn't a bad place to start for DIY but the forum is ruled with an iron fist by the owner.
posted by Issithe at 8:19 PM on January 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

A dermatologist recently told me not to bother with skin creams, but that I was welcome to come back for some botox in a few years. She was 35 but looked like she was 21, and not in a creepy frozen way. YMMV.
posted by footnote at 8:31 PM on January 21, 2009

Get lots of sleep. Find ways of coping with stress. If that's massages or facials or running, then make the time for them. Positive outlook. Genetics. Exfoliation or microdermabrasion can help, but only if you're willing to fork out for the more expensive sorts of scrubs that have finer scrubby bits and won't batter/scratch your skin too much.

Moisturising helps a lot. At the moment, I'm loving the moisturisers from Lush. The weather is really cold and horrible right now, so I'm using my night moisturiser (skin nanny) during the day. Before then, it was Vanishing Cream or Skin Shangri La. They smell fantastic, too.

You need to consider cleansers and toners as well. Basically, anything that comes in contact with your skin. When you try a new product, give it a week or two to take effect. You might find that something that was fab for the first three days is too harsh for regular use, or the other way round. If you go to a day spa, ask them for a sample kit to take home with you. Most reputable ones won't have a problem in giving you a teensy vial to take home and see if it suits you long term.

I just happened to luck into a massive amount of Lush moisturisers, but normally I use Decleor (neroli aromessence), and have dabbled with Carita as well. Carita's a bit too rich for my skin, but I'll revisit it when I'm older and might need that little bit more. I find that skin care ranges have strengths and weaknesses, and you need to mix and match. Decleor makes fantastic moisturisers, but their cleansers and toners are a bit... shrug. Elemis makes fantastic cleansers and toners, but I don't think their moisturisers are good value. Ymmv.

There's also something called a nonsurgical facelift that you can try. It uses electricity to stimulate muscles in your face and neck. Sounds freaky, but I think it's a good laugh. And it is effective! You need to book a course, but try one and see what you think before you do.

Phytomer is good, but mainly, I like the massage techniques a Phytomer trained beauty tech can teach you.

A Phytomer move I learned from a friend who does Phytomer training: Figure 8 around the eyes. It works wonders, particularly after a long day staring at a computer. (around top of eye, just along the eye socket, over bridge of nose, under eye around where you feel your skull in your eye socket, back up again and around the other side)
posted by Grrlscout at 1:50 AM on January 22, 2009

Roc works, at the very least, to slow down this process. I've been using it for some years. Especially for deeper lines, massage helps amazingly. I was developing rather deep lines from my nose to the sides of my mouth, when I read about massage. In just a few days, the lines were drastically improved! Massage actually redistributes collagen beneath the skin. Roc promotes the formation of new collagen.

Some cleansers are formulated to tighten the skin. This can be a help, but I don't know about long-term effects. I used to use Clinque face soap. I got out of the Clinique habit years ago, because their moisturiser gave me clogged pores, and I found far cheaper products that didn't.

Don't sweat all signs of age, some of them are beautiful, as has been mentioned above. Especially if they are from smiling. (There is a photo of Queen Elizabeth, dancing with President Ford, in which she reveals the most amazing and unexpected complex of smile lines. Her face is lit like a Christmas tree. It made her look like a very pleasant woman, and no less regal).

Of course, the longer you postpone the process, the better off you are. I am so grateful I learned to care for my skin in my mid-20's.
posted by Goofyy at 2:13 AM on January 22, 2009

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