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Wrinkles and Skin Creams

There is no solid scientific evidence that any non-prescription skin creams help to prevent thinning or wrinkling of skin. High-priced creams with long ingredient lists are no more effective than inexpensive creams from a drug store or supermarket.

Marketers of prescription creams containing estrogen or Retin-A cream have data that they prevent wrinkling, but I stopped prescribing retin-A cream to my patients because I felt that it only peeled off the outer layer of skin to make the skin appear more shiny and most of the women who use it get a peel and redness that is not flattering.

Eleven studies show that estrogen creams thicken the skin and help to prevent wrinkling, but many doctors are reluctant to prescribe estrogen in any form. The only measures that have been shown to prevent wrinkling are avoidance of sunlight, smoking or harsh winds and perhaps avoidance of non-prescription facial creams. That's right, some of the creams that are advertised to help prevent wrinkling may actually cause it. Evidently constant application of creams may strip off the protective keratin layer that covers the skin and increases fluid loss to increase wrinkling.

The data on the value of antioxidant vitamins in skin creams is shoddy. At a meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, five authors presented papers showing that vitamins help prevent skin damage from sunburns and aging. Each had a special formulation that I believe they will try to patent and sell for big bucks. There is evidence that sun burns the skin to cause it to release large amounts of oxidants that damage the skin, and vitamins A, E and C are antioxidants that could help to prevent skin damage. However, in their August 8, 2000 issue, Time magazine reported on a study they had commissioned, an analysis of some expensive skin creams. They found that the vitamins in most facial creams are inactive and so will not contribute much at all.

Creams that contain lactic acid or alpha glycolic acid do peel the skin and give it a shiny appearance which may appear smoother for a while, but they certainly have not been shown to prevent wrinkling and aging. Better measures are to avoid sunlight, wind and cigarettes. Also see my report on possible harm from fatty skin creams.

Cosmetic dermatologists use a variety of procedures to diminish wrinkling. Before you spend a lot of money, be sure you understand how long a procedure will last, what effects it may have on your particular skin type, and risks of complications. Check with a reputable, experienced dermatologist.

Checked 4/2/17

May 16th, 2014
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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